Firenze, 12 November 2021
Brunelleschi was a sculptor and clock-maker. In what is considered year 1 of the renaissance, 1401, he lost in the competition for the Bronze Reliefs of the Florence Baptistery Doors – the Gates of Paradise (I am just meters away from them as I write this) to Ghiberti. This may have been his greatest blessing as it supposedly meant the end of his ambition to become a sculptor, and he instead pursued architecture.
Exactly next to the Baptistery is the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore, where many of us had the privilege to photograph during the Florence capsule shoot. The Duomo was left roofless for almost a century, because the previous architect had already designed a base that required a dome larger than any other ever built in the world, leaving only two options: either a dome with a large, cost-prohibitive scaffolding system, or a self-supported dome, which had not yet been invented!
This time, it was Brunelleschi’s turn to win the competition, and he was commissioned to build the largest unsupported dome EVER build in the world to date!
Here is what’s striking in the story: Not only did Brunelleschi have no precedent to base his work on, he did not even possess any architectural experience either!
Our Renaissance hero’s story is one about breaking moulds. When you have no map to follow, when the problems are increasingly complex and messy and need creative solutions, when the well-being of our tribe is at stake… you have a choice to either merge into the traffic, or to stop copyediting the word and instead start designing it!
I hope we, your hosts, gave you a compass, rather than a roadmap. Now, use your remarkable hearts to bring something fresh in this industry, something human, something truly yours. Do it now, that things are not yet comfortable, now that you are not yet aware of the limits of your safety zone. Because, when you do not know the rules, you end up making them!
- Ask for a compass, not a roadmap.
- If what you do does not feel hard, then it probably does not matter enough. If you merely followed the recipe, then you did not expose yourself to enough risk and fear – you simply coasted.
- If you are not breaking things, then you are just merging into moving traffic.
Comfortable is not the same as “safe”. Because someone more hungry, and more visionary, will sooner or later show up. Jeff Koons, whose exhibition was in Florence at the same time we were, reinvents himself every few years. (Sure, his balloon animals remain his trademark, but they simply fund his constant transformations).
I hope the Retreat will be a compass for you to take on your journey. The best kind of journey – the only worth taking – is one without a map. Now please… go! Break things! Rebuild them better! Do it for you, but most importantly, do it for the ones you seek to serve, because there is always a gap in the world where YOUR version of “better” is eagerly expected and welcome!
Remember “Sawu Bona” (we talked about during the keynote): understand the worldview of the people you seek to serve, be it vendors or couples, acknowledge them, deeply understand their emotional needs. Be generous to them! What they need is usually as complex and as simple as this: people want to be seen as who they want to become. This is what modern Marketing is all about.
Farewell! It has been an honour and a privilege!