What is the purpose of your life?

A few days ago, Mark Zuckerberg delivered a commencement speech to the Harvard graduates, class 2017. It was an inspirational, sincere and rich speech.

Many hints of this speech are interesting and relevant, two more than others.

First of all, the sense of purpose. Having a purpose in life is crucial, it directs us and leads us when we might be in trouble. However, hardly ever is a purpose individualist. We usually aim at a scope that has advantages for us, and for those around. That contributes to creating a more just society, in accordance to our vision of justice.

The purpose is also a sense of community. Zuckerberg explains this broad vision telling the story of the visit President JFK paid to the NASA space center. He saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded: “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon”. Continue reading

The courage that can challenge fear

ante-coraggio-500x300.jpgTelling pain is everything but an easy task. Even more, living it. There are no words to describe the pain and suffering of the families of the victims, most of whom are kids and teenagers, who lost their lives or are struggling for it right now, yesterday night in Manchester in the horrific, coward and devastating explosion at the end of a pop concert.

As a father of two teenager boys, and as the General Manager of a university in which boys and girls in their 20s are the core of our daily job, I want to express my deep grief and condolences to families and friends, and to all of us. Continue reading

The left-handed lame: a profile of the brave innovator

Ohfajar 07-1480-kQfD-U10701252322527UpB-1024x576@LaStampa.it.jpgAristide Boucicaut is the inventor of the “Bon Marché”, the first modern mall, a store where you can find everything. In the beginning, Boucicaut worked using a strict method of classification. He organised products by category, with a precise order, well dividing them. Great success. But after a year or two, he realised the profit was not increasing. Thus, one day he mixed up all the products, putting potatoes next to clothes. And the profit went up again, because a housewife has to pass by clothes to find potatoes, and ends up buying them as well. Just like Columbus, he found what he was not looking for. The Anglo-Saxons call it “serendipity”, a lucky and unexpected event. This is one of the secrets of innovation, although it does not happen just by chance, but requires hard work, knowledge and research.

This is the example of innovation that Michel Serres gives. He is a Professor of History of Science at Sorbonne University and author of important philosophical essays, and will present his last book, Le gaucher boiteux, The left-handed lame, at the next Book Salon in Turin. Continue reading

Why we are distracted and won’t admit it

distractions-700x420Any of us reading these lines in this very moment would reply with a clear-cut “yes” if I asked: “would you define yourself as a multitasking person?”. Instead, if I asked “are you usually distracted when pursuing a really important and complex task?”, the “yes” would be certainly less convinced.

We commonly persuade others and ourselves that we are able to manage many tasks at the same time, limiting distractions as much as possible. However, a study from the neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and the psychologist Larry D. Rosen, published in the book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World (MIT, 2016), show that our brain is not structured to deal with many tasks simultaneously. Continue reading

To raise brave girls, encourage adventure

We are raising our girls to be timid, even helpless, and it begins when we caution them against physical risk. The fear we learn and the experiences we don’t stay with us as we become women and morphs into all those things that we face and try to shed: our hesitation in speaking out, our deference so that we can be liked and our lack of confidence in our own decisions.

Caroline Paul, the video, in the aftermath of the International Women’s Day: