July 27 2011
7:30am: An early start this morning – Milan bound. I like to drive myself, but for longer rides, I rely on Giacomo, a new member of my team. Antonio Citterio joined the car ride so we continued to catch up on the ongoing projects, but usually my head is in my Blackberry catching up on e-mails or phone calls.
10:30am: We made it to Milan in great time, no traffic and nice and early for our American friends. I arrived at our Via Durini showroom to welcome an American hotel group which manages different hotel brands, from hip design venues to more traditional family hotels. Together with Gianluca, our NY-based hospitality sales director, we discussed the exercise programmes that we are currently developing for them, as well as the equipment designs that are most suited to their various brands. It’s exciting to see such innovation filter down into the hospitality sector, especially their willingness – we’ve been waiting for this moment!
12pm: To AC Milan training camp (no, not a training session, but presentation of the team for next season). While en route to the camp, I have a flashback to 1986 when I approached the club for the first time. I was very new to the industry and attempting the unthinkable – selling my product to the most powerful sports team in the world. AC Milan were the European champions and I was just a man who had started his business in his garage. Now, 25 years on, we are a key partner for their athletic programmes – a proud achievement – and today I picked up an award on behalf of the company as the longest standing partner of the club. Following the presentation and a quick chat with some of the players, such as Clarence Seedorf, media and fellow partners, I was on my way back to the city. I have a feeling that my award, a personalised signed jersey, will shortly be in the hands of my son…
4pm: I met with the HR Manager Community, a network of European HR managers from Microsoft, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and Google, to name a few. The meeting – following our involvement with the Workplace Wellness Alliance, launched this year at Davos WEF – was called to discuss how we plan to develop a “wellness” programme for the corporate world. If you think about it, it really is a win-win situation for the companies in question and their employees – the employees have access to wellness programmes, and the company sees improved productivity.
By 8pm it’s time for a “boys” dinner with friends from Milan. We all work in very different industries, including banking and law, so we are never short of conversation. We head to one of my favourite Milanese restaurants, Il Bolognese. I’ve been going there for 15 years. The head chef serves the best selection of antipasti from the market each day, conveniently providing no options whatsoever. They know me well – in fact at dinner I ordered a bottle of red wine from Romagna, my region, and without mentioning a specific label, they served me Alta Vita, the wine from my own vineyards – I was very impressed! The overall feedback without me mentioning a word about Alta Vita was fantastic. A text to the winemaker to say “well done” shortly followed.
After a delicious meal with the boys, I checked into my hotel for a good night’s rest.