Italians do it better (the MBA)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pure Morning

In these days my flatmate noelle is really into movies production. Among the thousands of videos edited, there is this one which brings me back to this winter break in Finland.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

George, a real entrepeneur

After one year and a half spent on business cases, the very big learning point is that all the succesful business were drawn on a paper napkin and started in a garage.

The other way round not necessarily works. So it doesn't pay if you spend the weekends in your garage with a pencil and a pile of paper napkins in your hand.
Anyway.. Most of the time you read of entrepeneurs who got their business idea when they recognized that they need something that was not available on the market and they started producing it by themselves. So, for example, the owner of technogym was, 20 years ago, a muscle-fanatic who needed some weight machine and started building some of them for his own use.. and then started selling it.

And i told you about this necessity-driven business because I just burned my frozen pizza which was supposed to be the dinner for tonight. This created a necessity and this necessity made me discover that bread with gorgonzola cheese and salmon are a very tasty fit!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

How not to win a competition

During the last three days, I've been involved in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC).

The idea is the following. Students form six teams of five people each and analyze six business plans from real entrepeneurs. Due diligences and interview are done and then each team acts as if it was a real Venture Capital Fund and select one business plan to invest. A panel of ten real venture capital partners evaluate the investment decisions and the due diligence process made by each team and elects a winner.

We didn't win. Indeed, some signals during the days before should have told that in advance.

  • The day before the competition not all the team members were aware that we were the VC and not the entrepeneur
  • Lamberto was in charge of changing the slide during the presentation while Diego was commenting. He fell asleep and tried to recover after seeing Valerio waving his arms from the opposite side of the room. After being stuck on slide one for 3 minutes out of 6, the presentation lept ahead to the final slide.
  • Valerio wrote the executive summary of the investment without having read the business plan we choose.
  • I was supposed to be the king of the valuation and at 3 a.m. i was still reading through a pile of non-sense technical notes from HBS.
  • Only two people out of five have read the business plan. And they were smoking on the terrace while the others were working.
  • At 4 a.m. Lamberto finished the presentation of the investment decision leaving the name of the company blank (some XXXX).
  • At 4.30 a.m. the name of the company was on the presentation but instead of CV Warehouse the name was WcWarehouse... which posed some doubt among the team members.
  • Everybody before the final decision thought we were the absolute winners.

Finally this hassle is over and now we have an extra excuse to go out and party. My religion forbids me to read more than six business plan a week.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Brain & Company

In november, when I was in NYC, I was contacted by a consulting company. The phone call was about an opportunity for a full time job at their Milan Office. I said: "ok, why not, let's do this interview". They told me the people from the Milan office would have contacted me soon to let me know when and where the interviews would have taken place.


Three months later, a nice lady calls me with a sort of embarassed tone and asks me "Ehmm... Mr. George Ottathycal... here is the Milan office of B***. Is it too late if we ask you to have an interview with us?"
Surprised i said "well, it's too late indeed. I already signed up a contract with a competitor".

"Oh I'm sorry, i think your cv has been hiding under a pile of other paper"


Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's a fuckin' GDP competition

Few days ago the spanish prime minister declared that by 2010 Spanish GDP per capita will be higher than Italian one.

And since that declaration, it's tough to be an Italian in Spain.

Thursday afternoon. I go out of the school, the car is not where i parked it. Stolen? No. Towed. 200 euros to have it back.
Thursday night. After the BOW, on my way to another party i hit the invisible curb that splits two lanes in pedralbes. Two tires fucked. 320 euros to buy new ones.
Saturday. Big decision. I rent a scooter. I can't stand using the car in Barcelona anymore.

Saturday night. I'm in a club. At 4.30 i decide to go and a friend of mine ask me a lift home. Ok fine, but i don't have an extra helmet. But i think "but who careeeees??".
Jacket flying in the air, smiling face, wind in the eyes. I felt like Gregory Peck in "Vacanze Romane".

After 2 minutes, in balmes, i see a big checkpoint of the local police. I stop. The guy sees me from some hundreds meters of distance. Coming towards me and poiting in my direction he moves his head saying "yes dude.. u see right, it's the police".
Not only I had to pay 105 euros, which is fine, but i had to wait one hour and a half to have all the modules filled up and my ticket given. Unbelivable. Spanish can be lazy even in collecting money.

However, during the long waiting time, they know how to entertain you. First of all the policemen come in different shape and behavior. You have the tall skinny one with the sense of humor of a fire extinguisher, the fat guy always angry but with the veto power and jus primae noctis over the colleagues, and the one that is totaly aphatic, looking at the watch just to reach 7am, the time in which their shift ends.
They stopped a guy on a car, completely drunk. Breath-test. You have to blow a lot of air to let the machine calculate the % of alcohol. But i didn't thought that much.
Policeman, while the guy was blowing in the tube: "Siga, siga, siga, siga, siga, siga, siga, siga, siga, siga, siga.... HEI! porque ha parado!!!!??"
Drunk guy: "Se acabò el aire!"

So now spain has 625 euros more in its GDP and Italy will have the same amount less since i will cut costs in the next future.
Ah well.. i forgot to mention that i went to an AMAZING party held by first years girls for a restricted elitarian group of second years. As soon as party pictures are available I will write about it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Toed again

Today my car has been toed again. Second time since I'm here in BCN. Nothing more to say, except 200 euros to have it back. Tomorrow i will go and rent a scooter. I cannot bear anymore to be so upset. And i don't want to live my last days in IESE with the pain of moving around the city.

And by the way the girl at the police station didn't notice that the signature on the ticket was "fucku bitch".

Ok now you may think that i don't know that indeed the car has been towed and not toed. Indeed it's true. I made a mistake. Thanks noellie for made me notice.
We should celebrate this by making some stairs. I think a new stair would fit perfectly in our livingroom.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Talkin' on the balcony

The funny thing about the MBA is that by the end of the second year we have seen so many injuries that in comparison the world war was just mickey mouse episode.
I was just talkin about it with noelle and the reason is simply that everbody gets engaged in sports of every sort and kind, from rugby to hiking. Sports that many didn't even practice before. The mindset is the one we had when we where fourteen. A kind of "i'm invicible" and "i have everlasting energy in my body". But osteoporosis is subtle and starts early, and broken bones are just around the corner.

Talking about injuries it came to our mind the day when an MBA fellow crashed into a glass door. Usually this kind of accidents belong to candid camera shows only and they don't seem that painful. In his case it was. He was kind of lobotomized for 1 month. So we were trying to emulate the accident and it seems difficult to understand why people hit the door with the head instead of with the foot. And probably what happens is just that yuo hit first with the foot but then the body doesn't have the time to react and just follows in the direction of the door.

The awful thing is that when you hit the door with the foot you have few fractions of a second in which you realize that in a while something really painful is going to happen. You know you head is the next. And you can't do anything to avoid it.

The same thing, but for a different reason, happens when you crawl in the dark of your room at 4 in the morning, waving your arms in the dark in a desperate attempt to reach the bathroom without turning on the light (that otherwise will flash your eyes to death). And is exactly at that point that you do the fatal step and you hit the corner of the bed with the small toe.
At that point the event is just concretized in a low tone sound and the an interrupted movement of the leg. And it is exactly at this point that you realize what happened and you know that in a while a really painful intterrupt will hit your brain.








Friday, January 12, 2007

I didn't faint... almost

New York State Law 2165 indicates that anyone taking 6 credits or more must provide the universities with 2 measles, 1 mumps and 1 rubella.
That's why, before leaving for the US I did, in Italy, the vaccinations mentioned above and I sent a paper to the US signed by the doctor that said that I am immune. Unfortunately in the US they have 2 shots while in Italy these 2 shots are used only on kids while adults have a single shot, but with a higher dose of drug.
Obivously no way to convince the health office of Columbia that I am fine with my immunization. So my grades are on hold until I don't provide this proof.

Today, bored by this neverending ping-pong of email between me and the health office of Columbia, I decided to make a move and have a blood test in a Hospital in Barcelona. In this way I should be able to have a certificate that I am fine with the Columbia requirements.
This for me is a big step because every time I have a blood test, I faint. Every superhero has his flaw. Superman has the cryptonite, Bertrand has Tibidabo, I have the needles.
I faint whenever I expect it less. Even after 10-20 minutes from the test. The most tragicominc occurence happened in the elevator of an hospital in Milan. I wooke up when the elevator reached the ground floor and people witing for it saw the door opening and a body (mine) lying on the floor. Really embarrassing, i won't whish for it not even to my worst enemy.
So I was prepared to that. But this time didn't happen. They told me to stay a bit ona chair and I felt comfortable.
So i went to pay and get my bill to get the results back.
141 Euros!!!! (170 dollah!).

I fainted.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iTrip, iPod, iSpeed

Just arrived at IESE. Sitting in the library trying to put some order in the pile of paper i have in the pigeon hole.
I arrived in barcelona after a 8 hour trip by car started around 6 a.m.
I was happy to experience my new iTrip with my (old) iPod. It doesn't work that well in the cities where the whole bandwidth is covered by radio stations but works very well on the highway. So i started my trip with the idea of doing it as quickly as possbile. I was trying to keep an avarage speed of 160 Km/h which means that as soon as was possible i was pushing very hard on the gas. In Italy everything fine. In France they stopped me four times and i've been cought once also by the camera.

The worst one was when they pulled me out the highway and i had to follow them in a town in the countryside!
I was driving with Jimi Hendrix telling me something like:

Angel came down from heaven yesterday
She stayed with me just long enough to rescue me
And she told me a story yesterday,
About the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea
And then she spread her wings high over me
She said she's gonna come back tomorrow...

And while i was being carried away by his voice, not paying attention to the cars around me, that i noticed something. And I told him: "Hey Jimi, there are two angels, not one. And they are waving from that blue car!".
Then I got closer and i noticed a yellow sign on the trunk: "Gendarmerie". And they were not waving, they were telling me to slow down.
So i slowed donw a little. But i thought "ok if i slow down too much is like admitting that i was going too fast". So i kept going at 140-150 for a bit. And that's when they really got pissed off. They overtook me again and this time they made me follow then in provence!

Every time was difficult to explain why i was going fast.. I told them that I know only three words in French: Yves Saint Laurent!
They also knew only three words of english: Driving License please
Mmm.. i guess i cannot use the art of speaking learnt with Brian Leggett and not even my negotiation skills learnt with Velamuri.
Then I tried to say that indeed it was not 180 but 150 which is very close to 130 which is the limit and also that there were not that many cars around at the moment.
And it worked out! No tickets. Every time they told me "ok.. but beware that next time we will withdraw your driving lincese!". "ok ok..."
The only thing pending is that picture they took with the camera. I saw the flash firing in front of me. In theory they shouldn't send anything since i have a foreign plate. But I fear the moment i have to travel back to italy. Mmm.. maybe i should pass through gibilterre, morocco, libia and then all the way through italy from south to north. That's a good idea! Hooray!
I just hope that all this hassle is not just because of the world cup.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

El post fantastico

One of the funny things about Spain is how they dub movies and tv series.. and how they translate titles. Take for instance the spanish version of "The simpson". Ok the title is left unchanged even if I'm sure somebody would have preferred it to be renamed in "Los Nueno". But while all over the world Homer says "Doh!" as exclamation, in spain he says "Mosquees!". Don't ask me why.
The best, however, is knightrider. In Italy is called "supercar". Which is quite funny but not as funny as "El coche fantastico" of the spanish version.
I wrote about this just because it happened to me today to watch at the very first episode of this serie. At the beginning, Michael Knight is not David Hasseloff but another actor that then is shooted on the face and with surgery, made by the knight foundation, is reshaped as Hasseloff.
So he has been shooted almost to death but then he weaks up as David Hasseloff!
What a double trauma!

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Back to the future

It's monday morning and is going to be the last one in Italy. Tomorrow, around five or six am i will leave for Barcelona. By car, again. If it happens to you to live around the autoroute that connects milan to barcelona, passing through Genova, Nice and Montepplier, just come to one of the crossing bridges and wave when you see me on my black VW.
I spent these days in Milan basically doing nothing and everything. Nothing because if I have to summarize what i did i can say only "visiting friends". But my schedule was quite tight. I was happy to se all of them but sometimes i had the feeling that something has changed. With most of them I still have many things to say and reasons to spend time with. With others I had the feeling that something is broken. They don't have any interest in knowing what i did these years, they don't even want to know and They keep talking about thins i'm not interested in talking about. It's something like going back to a world that i don't feel like mine anymore.
By the way.. this not the whole picture of my break in Italy. For instance, I enjoyed a lot spending some time with my nephew. Isn't he so cute?

I also had some time to read a book i bought in NY, watch some movies i always wanted to watch, download some new music.

Muhammad, a prohep for our time
The biography of the eminent life of Muhammad, which explains how Islam was born and developed through the life of its prophet. Interesting, I always wanted to know something more about this faith, just to know something about what is going to be the topic of the next century. Nice to see how jihad was not a concept of holy war and how Islam was born with the idea of giving an identity to the arabs living in Mecca and at the same time spread good value and peace among them. Hard to think that someone 1400 years later came up with 9/11.

Anything Else
Nothing is like love, luckyly.
Not so recent movie by Woody Allen. I saw this movie on a 42inch plasma TV at my best friend's house. Was great. You can see how this movie has been shooted with perfect lights and how the lips of Christina Ricci rise at the corner when she looks at him at their first meeting in the Village. I saw it again on my crapy TV at home and was horrible. I always thought that plasma monitors where just a new status symbol for the masses but I have to admit that there is a real intrisic value in it! Ok a part the device, the movie is really good. The plot is very easy, a troubled relationship between a young writer and a very fashinating but complex girl. She is vary nasty with him and he is so in love that ends up carrying the whole wieght of this relationship, helped by the not always wise suggestions of an improvised friend Woody Allen. I should have watched when it came out, in 2003.

David Bowie
The man who sold the world, China Girl, Heroes. But not only these, I would also mention "while my guitar guitar gently weeps" by George Harrison. By the way, did you know that the real name of david bowie was David Johnes but he changed his surname to not be confused with another David Johnes of the group "The monkeys". In the sixties, with his music, he was so far beyond that people therew tomatoes at him when he performed in clubs.

Ok time to pack now and then some visits to some art gallery in Milan. See you soon in BCN!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Happy 2007 dear reader. How was your new year's eve? Write it as a comment while i take time to tell you how was mine. As you can see from the subject of this post, I've been to Finland, and more precisely in Lapland as a guest at Juha's house. He is a nice fellow of the MBA who invited me and other 25 people to his countryhouse in Lapland. And it came out to be a great holiday that gave me the opportunity to celebrate the new year's eve with some of my closest friends at the MBA sorrounded by a beatiful landscape of deep snow and soft hills.

(Noelle, Ash and I jumping. I almost touched the sky!)

During this trip i learnt several things such as:

- how to drive a raindeer (I also got an official driving license!). The trick is to yell "hop hop hop" and clap hands to increase speed, be quiet to decrease. No handbreak turns are possibles however
- santa claus exists and i saw him!
- in lapland there are more raindeers than people and every raindeer has an owner, there are no free raindeers.
- how to ride a snowmobile at high speed (but unfortunately no driving lincense this time)
- a finnish shaman told me that i am a sort of inseminator who's task for 2007 is to make raindeers pregnant. In the meantime I have to keep practicing with girls (hey girl-reader, just drop me an email and i will try to fit you in my schedule).
- how to survive after three sessions of "sauna at 100 degrees + dive into the snow".

Ok that's it for this post. There are so many other funny things to tell and show but i am very busy and most of them i am sure will be published by Pradeep and Noelle in their blogs!
For the ones who are in BCN, see you soon!