My job is the impossibile and it must become yours

The main topic is… What is impossible?
Your main job is the impossible.
The impossible is my job: but has to become yours!
Gianni Degli Antoni (gda), professor, mentor, genius.

Enjoy his very own words and discover who gda really was in the brief video below (italian):

While the internet overflows with anecdotes, memories and gratitude, and while traditional media doesn’t give a damn, this is what I feel like writing after gda, my beloved professor, mentor and friend Gianni Degli Antoni, left us (Saturday April 9th 2016) .

Yes, gda, the father of Italian computer science. This is how many have defined him to be, and I can testify it to be true, actually it would be more appropriate to remember him as father of many Italian IT companies, his true obsession. Also because he did so much more, in so many other fields. For example, myself.
My father told me that the first time I “met” him I was only a few months old, as they both walked with their children in their strollers at the park in Piazza Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, between the Polytechnic Institute and the Mathematics faculty.
Yes, my father, who back then was a working student in mathematics, the same man who thirty years earlier developed his senior thesis with gda, thirty years before me, graduating in mathematics with a major in computer science.
The very same man who sent me to Gianni to help me with my “scholastic orientation”… at 17, when honestly I was “oriented” on a whole lot of anything but school.
I remember it as if it was yesterday, while I was waiting for my turn, he spoke calmly on the phone and at the end of the conversation he looked at me glowingly and said: “It was a super pissed off American soldier. He said that the guys of our department have hacked their system: it’s amazing!”

In the end I did end up enrolling there, and also developed my senior thesis with gda and with my father as co-supervisor. My thesis, focused on micro payments. Mine, was the website, that gda suggested I open to learn the basics of Web Marketing.
All concepts that would be useful for my future.
The gda effect.

You might be thinking, graduating with a father professor support team must have been easy…
But that is because you’re NOT aware of the gda effect:

  • 2 months after I started working, I showed up and handed him a first draft to read.
  • A few days later he told me it was not ok, I had to work harder on it.
  • 2 months later, I saw him again, I handed him my draft and he told me the same thing.
  • 2 months later the same thing
  • 2 months later the same thing
  • 2 months later the same thing
  • 2 months later the same thing
  • A month later ( more than a year had gone by and by then I was a working student) I showed up with my father and let both know that I couldn’t have done any better, and that if it wasn’t good enough this time I would have rather not graduated!
  • My father grinned while gda said: Well then, now I will really read it.

Welcome to leadership Luigi.
Exactly the gda effect.

I graduated after testing 3 or 4 micro payment systems in labs in Crema, after an official event with Ericsson in the department and, after having held the first few lessons in University.
Il giorno della mia tesi con Gianni Degli Antoni
All valuable lessons for my future job. Precisely the gda effect.

But not before my boss in Ericsson “lent me” the first WAP mobile phone (mobile internet back then, a piece of junk) available in Italy.
It was still an unprecedented prototype of the R320 that risked getting mouldy in a forgotten drawer, still wrapped up.
I had spent three days and nights creating an app which was able to supply real data going through the whole wireless stack, and I had done it only to brag about it with gda, selling it out as the first of its kind in Italy!
Gda was not impressed at all, but that was recurrent with him; the experiment allowed me to get assigned to the HIUGO startup, a group of crazy American and Italian geniuses who wanted to create the first ASP mobile in the world. It failed the day after Telecom started charging WAP, around 2000 or somewhere back then.
In the meantime I had discovered the world of startups and the Human Computer Interaction.
Precisely the gda effect.

Yes, innovation. Just what we talked about at every meeting with him in his legendary office in Via Comelico in Milan (they should close it and not assign it to anybody else, withdraw it just like they did with Zanetti!).
In this location you could meet startuppers, actors, athletes, 007s, famous singers, big time authors, judges and politicians!

  • Just like when in the end of 1998 he told me that some American Stanford students were killing it with an innovative search engine
  • Just like when he forced me to learn the XML. To this day I think in XML!
  • Just like when he pulled me into SecondLife for didactics, yes him, the man that had invented the virtual reality experiment Little Italy ten years earlier!
  • Just like when I found myself at a conference held by Adam Petri, always in Via Comelico, and I overheard him telling Petri : “ you still haven’t discovered the true potential of your Petri net”.
  • Just like when I found out about e-cat merging with some scientists who were secretly working in his department on researching alternative energy.
  • Just like when he lectured me for not having a blog, which were going to be the future
  • Just like when he encouraged me to study and get to the origin of new communication techniques in London and Orlando, and on my return he still told me I hadn’t figured out a damn
  • Just like when he pointed out the existence of the newly born Linkedin website and in his office I encountered with the very first italian clubs for networkers

LinkedIn? Networking?
Precisely the gda effect.

After a while I got into consultancy, I thought I was ahead of things, and he just brought me back to earth:

Oh, you’re a consultant…well good.. so your job is just to get paid…

And indeed, briefly after I realized it sucked and started complaining about it to him during our legendary lunch meetings, and one day he looked at me with a smile and said:

Remember, if you complain you are a thief…

It took me months to comprehend the true meaning of the sentence and after that I just dropped everything, stopped making excuses and I decided to start being serious with my new career, which had already been figured out but kept on the down-low till now. Precisely the gda effect.

Dear Professor, you would be proud of me now: I love what I do and everyday my job is the impossible.
Only now I understand why you were so committed to me: I was the impossible.

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