Tag Archives for " travelling "

May 5, 2017

Buenanotte da Firenze

Catch up on previous ‘observations’ here.

30. Nothing is more exciting than a double decker train. Nothing. I took about 17 photos to mail to Richard Branson when I get back. (Travelling on trains in England at rush hour is horrible, thanks Richard).

Double decker train

Even Linzi looked excited!

31. A group of Americans who randomly sit near each other will invariably have the ‘so where y’all from’ conversation. After everybody has established where everybody else is from, they’ll talk about where their parents are from. And then grandparents. At which point the urge to shoot myself in the head becomes too strong, and I have to stop listening.

A group of Brits who randomly sit near each other will silently judge where everybody is from solely based on accent, and say nothing more of it.

A group of Italians who sit near each other will walk into each other, glare incredulously, then wander off to get an espresso.

32. Answering the phone by saying ‘pronto’ is my favourite Italian turn of phrase. I may start doing that at home, just to unnerve people.

We’re at the end of our time in Italy. We’ve been in Florence for the last eight weeks, as a life experiment. I get itchy feet every three or four years, so this was how we decided to scratch the itch this time.

Something that has become apparent to me recently is that if you want to tell interesting stories about your work, you need an interesting life outside your work.

You don’t necessarily have to pack up and move abroad. But you need hobbies. You need varied interests. You need to surprise people once in a while when they ask what you did at the weekend.

If work is your life, you’ll end up writing boring marketing that talks too directly about features and benefits. Your spectrum of topics will be too narrow.

It’s something to think about.

News Recap

I’m running a webinar on Thursday 11th May, talking more about practical storytelling in business use. If you still need to register, you can do so here.

I have a handful of Uncover Your Story spots available in May at a reduced rate. Details here.


P.S. In some ways, I’m looking forward to getting back to Sheffield. We’re not from Sheffield; we chose to live there. There are many things I love about Sheffield in the summer.

I’m looking forward to getting back to a more permanent working arrangement. My business direction has changed a bit while I’ve been here, and I’m looking forward to making it all happen.

We may come back to Italy. We’ll be in England for the summer, then have a think.

April 19, 2017

Ciao! From Florence (Observations, Part 5)

Catch up with previous ‘observations’ here.

26. According to an Italian, this is what breakfast is supposed to look like.

Italian Breakfast

27. According to an Italian, this is an appropriately-sized Easter egg.

Easter egg

(See a trend happening here?)

28. An Italian on foot will make no progress. Walking speed is approximately 0.33MPH, and progress is slowed by walking into people all the time. Besides, whenever you see someone you know, you both have to stop so you can go:

Italian Facebook Like

An Italian on a scooter will make too much progress, at the expense of his own and everyone else’s safety. Under no circumstances are mirrors to be checked before changing direction. Indicators, if used, must not be cancelled.

29. Like in Latin America, where everything happens ‘mañana’, everything here happens ‘domani’ (tomorrow). When we gonna pay? Domani. When we gonna go to work? Domani. It’s basically a filtering mechanism to find out whether something really matters.

April 9, 2017

Ciao! From Florence (Observations, Part 4)

More ‘observations’ from Florence today. (Catch up on ‘observations’ part 1, part 2 and part 3).

19. No matter how nice the restaurant is you’re in, you have to be prepared for the toilet being a seatless, paperless, wonder. ‘Be prepared’, as the Scouts say.

20. An Italian doesn’t walk to the bar; he struts to the bar. Normally in a straight line, walking into people and furniture along the way.

21. The Italian Facebook like looks like this:

Italian Facebook Like

22. All simple systems must be made complicated. Take buses for example. Can you pay the driver when you get on a bus? Err, no. Of course you can’t. You have to buy your ticket before you get on, from random shops and bars.

23. “Running the kids to school” means strapping one to the back seat of your push bike, one to the handlebars, and embarking on a daily ride of peril. Don’t forget to stop and do this if you see anyone you know:

Italian Facebook Like

24. Apparently this constitutes successful parking:

Florence parking 1

(Yep, that’s parked, not stopped)

And this:

Florence parking 2

25. According to Italian history, Christopher Columbus was Italian, and did ‘discover’ America. Anyone who lived in the Americas before that was purely incidental, and probably an alien.

April 2, 2017

Ciao! From Florence (Observations, Part 3)

More ‘observations’ from Florence today Observations 1-5 can be found here. 6-10 are here.

11. Can’t get up in the morning? Always sleeping through your alarm? Don’t worry! Florence’s bin lorries arrive promptly at 6.30AM. Just to make sure you’re fully awake, all bins are banged repeatedly on top of the lorry.

12. An Italian walking towards you has a 75% chance of walking into you. An Italian walking towards you while looking at a phone has a 100% chance of walking into you. After all, didn’t you know his day was more important than yours?

13. If you can’t think of a word, just say ‘prego’ in a really exaggerated way. It might be right.

14. Taking your dog into shops, supermarkets, pizzerias, hairdressers and bars is completely fine.

15. It took me a few days to realise this, but Starbucks don’t have their horrible tentacles here. Long may that continue.

16. Surprisingly, ‘gluten free’ is a big thing here. Don’t come though if you’re vegan, or allergic to dairy.

17. Payment terms for everything are relaxed. “You pay when you like,” is the Italian philosophy. You almost have to hunt people down to pay. It isn’t how I would run things, but it’s nice to be on the receiving end of that level of trust.

18. If you go to a football game and a drunk guy appears nearby clutching a megaphone, you need to move seats.

March 20, 2017

Ciao! From Florence (Observations, Part 2)

More observations from Florence today. If you missed observations 1-5, you can catch up here.

6. The Italians are the people dressed for the arctic, in winter coats and scarves. The tourists are the people basking in the 19 degree (Celsius) sunshine.

7. Bus journeys are 40% – 100% faster in the afternoon, once the driver has had 17 espressos.

8. Cafes here are more like coffee refuelling stops than sit-in cafes. Most Italians just stand at the bar, nail an espresso, and move on. Finding somewhere to work with my laptop is proving tricky.

9. The universal laws of cycling apply. Cyclists may travel in any direction, down any side of the road. Cyclists are also not required to stop at red lights, which are only for guidance.

10. Irish pubs are NOT to be entered, under any circumstances. Not even to watch the rugby. The most dickhead of tourists can be found in Irish pubs.

What’s Coming Up

I’m doing something a little different this week. I’ve been working on a new sequence to send people when they first opt-in to my world, called the Six Laws of Story Selling.

I’m going to publish the series in this daily column, starting tomorrow. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. My favourite sign from last week:

David Sign

March 15, 2017

Ciao! From Florence (Observations, Part 1)

It’s Day 3 in Florence. Unsurprisingly, I have some observations…

1. I can’t decide what’s more of a menace, traffic or pedestrians. Either way, no prisoners are taken!

2. Good driving is optional. For example:

a) Don’t like parallel parking? Always hitting the kerb? Don’t worry about it! Abandoning your car in the road is also fine.

b) Changes in vehicle direction are usually indicated by telepathy.

3. When crossing the road, the red man means ‘don’t cross, you’ll die’. The yellow man means ‘don’t cross, you’ll almost certainly die’. The green man means ‘proceed with caution, you could still die’. (See observation 2B).

4. I actually know a little Italian, but any time I’m asked a direct question, all I can hear is ‘pffffffffffft’ as a brain fart goes off in my head.

5. The Duomo’s nice. The river’s nice. But my favourite thing? Possibly the signs…

Florence Street Sign 1

Florence Street Sign 2

Florence Street Sign 3

Florence Street Sign 4

Florence Street Sign 5

Florence Street Sign 6

Ciao for now. More stories to follow, no doubt.

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