How Entrepreneurial Skills Can Improve Your Career
An interview with Anna Giova, a winter session 2019 participant.
Anna has a degree in modern literature from the Tor Vergata University in Rome. She is a freelance journalist and works as a marketing specialist for a marketing and communication agency in Rome.
Anna, tell us a little bit about your previous career and what was the spark that made you come to Los Angeles
The spark was certainly linked to a desire to “get a move on”, and also linked to a series of very important professional changes that I went through last year. My last professional experience was in a hotel where I achieved several professional awards. I mainly dealt with sales, marketing, and events planning.
My main desire was professional growth but after a year of hard work I started to realize that I was not growing at all and I no longer had the same stimuli, I was also very fatigued. I told myself: “This is the time to change” and I decided to not get used to a system I didn’t belong in.
So I gave a month and a half notice and left my position to do the so-called “jump”. I wasn’t afraid of being unemployed and I had great support from my family. In the meantime, a friend of mine was about to open his company in Rome and he offered me a job. However, I felt that I was still missing something, and this something was an experience abroad.
How did you hear about us?
A person I know told me about M Accelerator three years earlier, during an event in Rome. I contacted him and shared all my doubts and questions with him. After that phone call, the question wasn’t “Should I do it?” but “why shouldn’t I?” I made this decision in a week and left in late December.
The company that wanted to hire me in Rome accepted my decision to go to Los Angeles for three months. They saw it as a professional enrichment for myself and for the staff. A week after I decided to leave, I realized that I really had to do it.
Did you decide to enroll in the course to develop your business idea or to have a growth experience?
One of my priorities was to grow outside my comfort zone, improve my English and test myself to understand what I am capable of.
Regardless of the project, I decided to live this experience to become stronger, to be more independent and more daring. What I’ve learned in LA is the fact that everything can be done, everything is really possible.
I noticed that in Italy, problems come first. The first thing Alessandro told us instead was “Problems can be looked from many different points of view, if we want to do things, ok let’s do them, period”. The idea of being able to overcome your limits was something that I started to feel, live firsthand and bring to my business.
I put into practice what I learned from M Accelerator every day in my job. I think out of the box. I try to think as my target would.
Do you think this experience has helped you improve your English business?
It has certainly improved. I am no longer afraid of making mistakes and the most important thing is to communicate. The goal here is to exchange information, be simple, and be direct. So paradoxically, I learned to use simpler and more direct English. Meetups were something that helped me a lot. Now, I always try to watch movies in English to improve my grasp of the language. I learned to be less afraid and get more involved.
Mentors made sure you understand the concept more than correcting you on individual grammatical errors. How you communicate your idea is way more important. Of course, you need to improve the technical components. I do marketing and communication and I will definitely have to improve on the little things but now I know that I can speak English in public.
Speaking to an audience has never really frightened me much. When I was a child, my father would have us read the prayers at church to make us overcome the fears of public speaking. When I was 17 I started to be a tourist guide for my town, Pietralcina, and it was a great experience to test my public speaking.
Which event that you attended in LA was the most interesting to you?
I got a lot of contacts during those events. The meetings were also important in helping me improve my speaking ability and great to see how many people wanted to share their projects with me.
Here in Los Angeles, the kids believe that through sharing there is growth and I think the same. Some events, such as Google, were certainly far-reaching, with high-level entrepreneurs. On the other hand, events like Grid 110, organized by other accelerators, were more focused on networking. These events make you understand there are people out there who want to do and change things.
For example, we are experiencing a very critical moment for the environment due to pollution and I saw that there are many startups working on new ideas to make things better for anyone.
Any plans for your career?
My plan, for now, is to see how much I can give in my current role at the company I’m at.
Another plan is to experience Rome differently, with the eyes of a person who has been abroad and to face the same challenges that I experienced in America.
I will try to find Los Angeles in Rome and join networking events in the city. Finally, I would like to focus on my passions since I didn’t have a lot of time for them in the last 5 years. For example, I would like to do something related to the arts. In the past I was involved in artistic activities, taking part in musicals. I was so passionate about it and I want to do it again.
Any advice for future participants?
I think it’s ok to be afraid, it is completely normal but we should replace fear with excitement.
It’s very important to live an experience abroad and try to understand the culture of another country. LA is the home of technology, it is a unique experience to be exposed to this place.
Try to live all the experiences and never say no to an invitation. Join all the networking events that M Accelerator proposes and don’t let your shyness and fear win.