There are huge differences between being cultivated, nice and pleasant people, and being geniuses. Very often, genius is not even nice. They wear sunglasses during a magazine interview but you forgive them because being in their company for 10 minutes repays you for all the time you waste on a daily basis coping with idiots.
I’ve always had some talent at spotting geniuses and am not ashamed to confess that all the three geniuses I’ve met in my life are all male.
One is the publisher of my second book, Alberto Castelvecchi, the other is somebody who doesn’t even know, and the third the guy down here.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that all the three are Italian, or maybe Leonardo Da Vinci is still in the air.
This guy here, Federico Palmaroli, founded a Facebook page that has nearly a million followers and the highest engagement rate ever: Le più belle frasi di Osho is extremely popular in Italy and especially in Rome, to the point you can hear the people talking about it in the street.
What Federico does on Facebook it basically dusting off old pictures of late Indian guru Rajneesh Osho and Italian and international politicians and subtitling everything with funny stuff in Roman dialect; the lines cannot really be translated, but it all makes you laugh until you die – and it’s not just that kind of ha-ha laughing – it’s something more, it’s something that also makes you think and could potentially make you cry.
In a word, it’s genius.
However, this article is not about what Federico Palmaroli does; it’s more about what he doesn’t do.
I came up with the idea for an interview when I found out that, apart from the Facebook business, he is a regular employee in the Italian public sector.
That knocked me out.
I had figured him out doing some kind of creative work in his life, not certainly being buried in paperwork into a public office when you have to clock in and out and file forms to request office stationery.
The succinctness, the acumen and the mastery of the language he shows in his Facebook thing are second to none, and you can perfectly picture him doing anything would make people laugh and stop and think, from penning bestsellers to writing theatrical plays.
So, I really want to know how you survive a public sector job where you are not even allowed to manage the official social channels because of bureaucracy, where your professionalism might not be as appreciated as it should and when every and each line you drop on Facebook and elsewhere is damn
Waiter: Hey guys, what can I get you?
Me: A cappuccino, please.
Federico: A tea.
You want tea? So British from you.
Well, I don’t drink coffee. Hey, can I have some lemon, please?
So very British from you.
So, ask me your questions.
I know you are a key accountant in a public office. Why?
Because this is my job.
Why is this your job? Why aren’t you on stage? Why don’t you write scripts for comic movies? What the fuck?
Well, you know… life happens, you just take steps into your career that you think are right… I do like my job, but this Facebook page thing has probably saved my life.
Come on, Federico. How can someone like you survive in an office all day long?
Maybe it’s because of my double personality. I’m Gemini.
I am sorry for trying to convince you that your day job doesn’t fit you. But I know it doesn’t.
Are you trying to sell me some career services?
This could be an idea. But the question is: how can you do stuff like real estate negotiation when you have a sharp mind like that? What did you study at uni?
Well, it was the 90s when I went to Uni. Communications Degrees didn’t exist yet.
I have a Communications Degree and it’s useless. Why did you study Law?
You know, it was kind of easy and most of the people in my high school picked it, so it’s just what I did.
Are you happy?
I am fine.
There is no way to extrapolate anything else from him.
And I give up, but I also give you my best nugget of wisdom ever: don’t stay in a job that you can do only because you can.
And the rest of you – whether you are geniuses or not – I just want you to think seriously about that because too much talent is being spoiled around.
Life is too short to be spent in the wrong place.