What are the biggest lessons you have learned in the corporate world?

Your mileage may vary, but these are my Top 12 lessons I learnt in corporate world:

  1. Fly one inch below the radar:the less you are noticed, the better. Do your work & get results, but do not seek publicity or engage in politics. Do not join factions, spread rumors or hold grudges. Results will speak for you much louder and longer term than anything else.
  2. Always have a back-up plan: corporate world will sooner or later betray you. It’s not you: it’s them. Be ready and it will not be a big deal. If you think that you are different or irreplaceable and do not need a back-up plan, you should prepare not one but two of them (and check that they are working in case of need).
  3. Choose your boss carefully: if your boss is a loser, your life will be a misery in no time.
  4. Treat the cleaner like you treat the CEO: this is self-explanatory and, incidentally, the right thing to do.
  5. Never do gossip: you are wasting your time (that you should spend in finding ways to achieve results) and you will only attract the worst people around you.
  6. Do not date a colleague: after two weeks it will be a hell and it is totally not worth it (for both of you). Stay sane and don’t do this mistake.
  7. To make real progress,you must leave: those staying too long in a company will be eventually taken for granted, like furniture (this is very important for the point 8 below).
  8. Study Game Theory as soon as possible: you must come to terms that you and your employer have often irreconcilable objectives out of your career. For this reason, you will never get what you are worth or deserve unless you are able to force your employer into a “dominated game(google it).
  9. Do not work overtime unless it is absolutelynecessary: there is a life out there.
  10. Never be too good:in Venice we have an old saying very fit for the corporate world “I tropo boni i magna i cani”(literally: “those who are too good are eaten by the dogs”).
  11. Solve problems:most of the people around you will do barely enough at work, but only a very limited number of people in the company actually manage to solve problems. Problem solvers are golden nuggets in any corporate environment. If you learn how to solve problems you will quickly become essential (this very important for the Game Theory point n. 8).
  12. Be creative: if you are smart and find a way to solve problems in creative ways, do not be afraid to follow that route even if it is different from the past. Laziness and established procedures kill the corporate innovation spirit. Be different, solve problems and you will be rewarded.

Bonus Point:Smile a Lot. A good attitude is more than 50% of the work done. It is incredible how much it helps just to keep a smile on in order to positively impact the workspace and people around you, and still so many people forget to smile for weeks (if not months).

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Who is the best tailor in Hong Kong?

I come from Milan – and I am thus used to Milanese-style tailor made suits – and I deem necessary that my tailors must be in the “reasonable” price range regardless of brand or “big names”: i.e. what I consider exceptionally good value for money.

I have tried many tailors in Hong Kong in the last three years and, as always, your mileage may vary but these are my favorite two:

A. SuitsPractical Tailor at 8th Floor, AIE Building, 33 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong (Practical Tailor). Two-piece suits with fabric by Vitale Barberis Canonico (Italian fabric, stunning value for money) start at 7,000 HKD. Prices increase if you choose Loro Piana (above 9,000 HKD) or Zegna (above 11,000 HKD). Their cut is fantastic, quite modern and understated (you won’t look like your grandpa, but neither like a Rock Star) while their finishing is on par with some of the best Milanese tailors, for a fraction of the price. If you ask for a rush service they can probably make your suit in 1 week (with 1 fitting session only). They take photos of you before, during and after each fitting session so to guide their tailors during the cutting process to make sure that their suits will perfectly fit your body structure. If you need any changes they will accommodate most of the requests promptly.

B. ShirtsWilliam Cheng & Sons at 38 Hankow Road, TST, Kowloon (William Cheng & Son). They mostly use Japanese cotton fabrics (which are very good and competitively priced), starting at 380 HKD. Their fabrics’ selection is quite ok and their price is competitive. I have used their shirts daily and they hold the test of time beautifully. Their tailors are very good, quick and they can even deliver your shirts to your flat or your hotel in less than a week (so you don’t need to go back to TST if this is too time-consuming for you).

Let me know in the comments if you want any more details.

A few updates:
1. As with most tailors in Hong Kong, the two tailors above will give you little-to-zero recommendations regarding style, details, fashion, etc.: I would advise you to do your own research first and have already a fairly detailed idea of what you want before even stepping in their shops.

2. Be extremely detailed if you want a particular fabric, hand-made finishing, inner lining, etc.: these shops are really busy and if you don’t give them the details, they will go with the most “plain vanilla” option without even asking, which may not be the best for you.

3. If you go for a suit (and you’re not in a rush) always ask to have a supplemental fitting session: it will take approximately 24/48h more but this suit will last you a lifetime and you better have it done properly.

4. Check carefully the length of the arms of your shirts/jacket as occasionally they cut them a bit too shorts (William Chen) or a bit too long (Practical), but maybe this is just my taste.

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Has anyone surprised you after their death, e.g. receiving an organ from a donor, a sizeable inheritance, or a visit from a friendly ghost?

This did not happen to me but to a good friend of mine.

She had a boyfriend a bit older than her and they were a great couple. She was a medical student in her mid twenties and had a troubled past. He was a lawyer in his mid forties and was already divorced once. Once they became a couple he quickly turned her life upside down: she was naturally an introvert while he was the star of every party, a fantastic storyteller. He subtly and gradually pushed her out of her shyness egg to try to experience new things together. He taught her to drive and when she finally got a driving license, he bought her a small second-hand Fiat 500. He taught her new recipes to cook and they traveled a lot together across Europe.

They had been together for a bit more than one year when suddenly one day he died of heart attack. Apparently he had an undiagnosed problem with his heart and died in his sleep.

Her life was authentically destroyed. She had been grieving for months until one day she was driving the car and in a split-second of absent mind she crashed into the car in front of her. Luckily she was not injured and the damage to the cars was not really big: she stopped the car on the side of the road in order to fill the joint accident statement.

She struggled to stay calm then opened the passenger seat compartment where she found the car’s hand-book with the form to fill.

Once she opened the hand-book she unexpectedly found a hand-written message from her boyfriend saying something like this:

Darling don’t worry! If you are reading this it means that you are not badly injured. That’s great! Don’t worry if it was your fault: these things happen! Don’t worry if the car is destroyed: we will buy a new one as this is actually quite old already. Now go ahead and fill this form: write slowly and double-check what you write, even if you are a bit in shock. Also double-check what the other driver writes so that you both agree on how the accident happened. Don’t worry about anythingelse: I’ll wait for you at home. I love you.

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