The Italian translation of Designing Your Life was recently released, and Francesca Parviero, who attended the New York Designing Your Life for Women workshop in October 2018, wrote the following preface for that edition:
“It was the June 2nd, 2018—or was it the 1st? I cannot say for sure. I was on a plane on an international flight, on my way to Milan, back from an extraordinary trip—one of those that change one’s life forever.
For the first time I had been to Silicon Valley, looking at it through my eyes: a forty-something-year-old digital consultant who for the first time had left two young children at home for an extended period of time; also, the mentor to about forty wonderful Engineering students from the Politecnico in Milan. They had enlisted me to accompany them as they presented their research project in IT and biomedical engineering. We had spent sixteen days pitching ideas to the best tech companies in Silicon Valley, four meetings a day, from sunrise to sunset, passionately, covering both business and universities. The key words for those days were community; listening; and radical collaboration.
At the last moment, my seating assignment on the plane changed, and I sat next to Vida, a senior program manager from the US on her way to Austria to oversee a study of European registration processes for her company. We introduced ourselves; as she mentions her career, she almost omitted the name of her company: “I don’t know if you know the company I work for, it’s called Lynda.com, we produce content for online learning.” Vida could not have known that her interlocutor was the first Italian partner of LinkedIn, the author of a book on LinkedIn focused precisely on how to publish content and online learning through LinkedIn Learning, the post-acquisition name of the company that Vida worked for.
After I had identified my main area of work (the one I had left out when we first met), as we were talking Vida asked me if I had ever read a best selling book in the US, written by two Stanford faculty; all her friends and contacts had, and she was surprised I hadn’t: “Francesca, you absolutely have to read it!”
I have to thank her for putting me in touch with this volume, with which I fell in love, and which started a virtuous circle that had brought me to writing this preface, in a book that I am certain will revolutionize how many people approach continuously planning one’s life, and toward a full and happy future both on the personal and professional levels.
Before my “love at first sight” was to become boundless passion, before deciding to express the utmost support for the theme of this book and its authors, I travelled far: I went to New York to personally try the potential of this method. I took the “Designing Your Life, Woman Edition” workshop, and I experienced the great competence of the team that works on it.
During those few days in NYC, I was in contact with a community of about 40 women from several US cities; Maria Cristina, a former colleague of mine from several ventures, was with me. I didn’t know it yet, because I only figured it out later, but I would choose her as the first member on my life-design team. Each one of us designed her own different odyssey toward her future, starting from the furthest to the closest possibility. You might not believe it, but I am bringing each one of these three to fruition.
I get emotional when I think that this book is born out of the experience of a faculty team from Stanford, the cradle of many themes reflected in my own path. This book also represents the pinnacle of tens of years of practicing, of long experience with thousands of people and of experiments carried out with professionals and students.
Design Your Life concerns design thinking and applies it to the project of having a fulfilling life; it frees up (at last!) the word “happiness” as a key in one’s work life and in creating a professional path. Each one of us has the right and responsibility of being happy in our lives, of carrying out the activity that most closely matches one’s dream job, and of making one’s unique path a reality, instead of something that is predetermined or designed for us.
I’d like to think that this model might become a widespread model for learning, starting with younger students: they would be my first choice as readers, in order to allow them to break a cycle of dissatisfaction that they often inherit from their parents or from situations in which limiting beliefs have to be redefined as soon as possible, through a healthy dose of reframing.
I honestly believe that Design Your Life can be a turning point for adults, teachers, parents, professionals, managers, for those who have been working for a while and for those who are looking for new and rewarding opportunities.
Through her empathy, Vida introduced me to a method that has marked my life: it has allowed me in a few short months to regain the energy I had lost; it led me to meeting the workshop instructors, Kathy Davies and Susan Burnett (respectively Managing Director and Instructor at D Life Lab at Stanford); it created the circumstances whereby I am here, now, writing this preface, while you are reading a book published less than a year from that lucky encounter.
For those in HR, this book will definitely move the responsibility onto each person working in an organization: becoming aware that our happiness and satisfaction are in our hands, and not in someone else’s, is a huge step forward. This method is the opportunity that enables it, as well as a basic competency of the digital mindset.
Design Thinking keeps growing in the world of work, in which the future is ever more present. After applying it without any hesitation to designing products, processes, and services, now the true resources at the center of any organization dynamic are at the core of Design Thinking: people.”
Praface translated from Italian by
Maria Galli Stampino,Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs
at The American University of Rome and Professor at the University of Miami.