Myth Maker OR The most transformative 6 months of my life

Written by

sd entrepreneurs.001

In the past 6 months, I’ve radically changed. I’m a new person with a new job and new ambitions. Come on a journey where, in 11 chapters between San Diego and Berlin, I explain what happened and why you should care.

“It is indeed amazing how malleable the world is and how easily it models and remodels itself according to the inner vision of man, how readily it responds to his ‘theorizing’! Thus the most important advice which an educator can give to his pupils may easily be: Be careful how you interpret world. It is like that.”

Erich Heller, The Disinherited Mind, 1975

1. It’s about trusting your guts

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.02.48

I am sitting in a room overlooking the bay of San Diego with thirty brilliant entrepreneurs from all over the world. Just being in their company makes me feel smarter and more sensitive. Something big is about to happen.

The mentor, Blake La Grange, who brought us together, asks, “What’s something you believe deeply that everyone needs to know?”

This simple question sends me into a tailspin. I write on my notes:

“Everything that matters has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The really interesting part is the struggle.
All that matters is following your bliss.”

sd entrepreneurs.001

These phrases are the seed of everything I will do in the next few years. I will clarify what they mean as you read on.

In the room, though, I both had a moment of insight. And one of deep insecurity. I’m not ready to trust my guts.

I fumble to the group that I don’t believe in my truth.

“What’s something you believe deeply that everyone needs to know?”

I hear my colleagues say fantastic, simple, profound things. They ring true, feel true, and are powerful. I still don’t believe in mine. I will need a few weeks to get there.

It’s a start.
Often, beginnings are stormy and complicated.
I am all about embracing the difficulty.

2. It’s over

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.08.49

The next day, the whole group takes a walk together. It is a much-needed release after the hours spent sitting in whiteboarding sessions. When we head back to the whiteboard, another breakthrough happens.

I don’t recall what’s being said, but in my notes I find:

“What happens if I am a bad boy?
Why am I trying so hard?
What if it was effortless?”

Before I begin finding my bliss, I need to see something about myself more clearly. I’ve been trying very hard to be good.

“Matteo, make yourself useful.” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this word growing up. Useful is good; help, and all will be well.

But this curse of usefulness doesn’t stop at home. In business, you’re often asked to write your positioning statement in the form of being useful.

“I help a certain group achieve a specific result, avoiding a pain.

What if I wasn’t useful?

While in the room with the entrepreneurs in San Diego, I am brought back to my old flat in Berlin Schöneberg in 2019.

In 2019, I took a year off to do some soul-searching and find my next mission in life.

“What can I do that is useful?” I asked myself.

And I started answering with a mind map of all of my abilities.

Screenshot 2024 02 05 at 12.13.24

Before today, I couldn’t see anything wrong with this.

The whole question is posed in the wrong terms.

“What can I do that is useful?”

Can you see it now?

It doesn’t unleash the imagination.
It limits the scope.
It turns everything black and white.

If you also haven’t seen it, don’t worry.

This kind of thinking surrounds us.

I help. I am useful. I deliver results.

What if I didn’t help?
What if I wasn’t useful?
What if I didn’t even do anything?
What if I wasn’t a good boy?

These are much better premises to unleash the imagination.

The soul-searching I did in 2019 was shallow because it was limited by the need to help.

Let’s ask a better question:

“Who am I?”

I’m a queer nerd fascinated by freedom, independence, mythology, creativity, technology, empathy, flow, health, fitness, entrepreneurship, cars, beauty, introspection, and deep connections.

I am a college dropout.
I started living by myself at 19 years of age when the average Italian does that around 30.
I have always carved my path in life. 

I’m a rascal, a rebel, an early adopter, an independent thinker.
 
I’m bad!

I don’t help. I am not helpful. I don’t deliver results. I am.

Only by being who I truly am can I unleash my true value.

Back in San Diego, I open my laptop and visit business.facebook.com, where I manage my advertising campaign. I disable everything. No new customers will ever discover my current offer. It’s over.

As the day ends, I know my days teaching business storytelling are numbered. Something way more interesting is coming.

3. It’s complicated

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.10.35

The mastermind is over. It’s the next morning, and most of us have left the Airbnb. The janitor is nervous. I’m past the checkout time. But a wave of serenity makes my movements slow. Or is it that somehow I woke up obsessed with Luz Casal’s “Un año de amor,” which is now blasting from my iPad?

Greg Hickox, an AI whisperer turned coach whom I got to know and appreciated a few months earlier as we were navigating the subway in NY, has a bit of time before his flight. I can’t say we stroll on the beach as we must carry our trolleys. We Uber to a nice location and look at the waves from a restaurant.

71F43D10 1E6E 4D97 8184 453CA727BB28 1 105 c

“I’ve been making myself small,” I tell Greg. “What I know about communication is not just about telling a story or pitching a product, but how our stories create our world.”

Myth Maker is starting to emerge.

In business, we simplify things until they become useless; they lose all their power. I have simplified the most powerful thing: mythology. And I’ve made it simple and understandable for business professionals through business storytelling—no more.

Greg is extremely empathetic and a great source of encouragement today. Alas, the time for his flight has come. I will take him to the airport and then have the driver drop me off at the hotel, where I will spend a short night.

4. It’s the imagination

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.12.39

My Lyft driver was already waiting for me the next morning at 4 a.m. The ride to the airport may have taken 5 minutes, but it remains unforgettable. The huge SUV smells like a wet dog, a disgusting smell that will stay in my nostrils all the way to Berlin.

I look for some perfume, but all the shops are still closed. I embark, hoping my neighbors can’t smell it.

As the plane follows the straight line that divides California from Mexico, I further elaborate my thoughts.

The issue is the imagination. I haven’t used mine.

Two years ago, I encountered AJ&Smart and Jonathan Courtney, and I fell in love with how they marketed and sold their course.

That’s the biggest mistake I have ever made in business.
It may seem harmless.
What’s wrong with a marketing framework?

Instead of dreaming about creating a different world, changing people, my work, and how much I would grow, I just dreamt about how to market and sell my simplified business knowledge to business people.

I dreamt of a marketing machine. Not even an original marketing machine. A copy of someone’s marketing machine.

I wasn’t in my imagination. My work was imagined by someone else. I was living the dream of the author of the blueprint, Russell Brunson.

I can still see the border with Mexico from my seat. Oddly enough, I had booked an aisle seat, United. As we fly over New Mexico, I head over to “I want my name,” my trusty domain registrar from New Zealand, and shell out a few Euros to buy “ImaginationAction.com”

We’re conditioned not to use our imagination.
We’re asked to think in buckets.
We’re required to think only about what’s possible.
We must be rational.
We need to have our heads on our (broad) shoulders.

Let’s write a better story!

What if I had a dream? 
What if I could imagine myself the way I wish to be?
What if I was courageous enough to see how to change the world with my imagination?
What if my head was connected to my heart instead of my shoulders?

I will devote the next years to ensuring that nobody around me fails to use their imagination and be themselves.

In the meantime, at JFK airport, I shower in the tester bottle of CK-one. And I still smell like dog!

5. It’s the fear

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.14.40

I’m back at the farm in Germany in the peace of the countryside and start to make sense of all of this experience.

0114EFAD 3651 4A5B 8192 9DD385FE86B0 1 102 o edited

If I unleash my imagination, I will find a worthy dream.
My imagination will run free if I stop pretending to be such a good boy.
If I stop simplifying and dumbing down high concepts, I can elevate more people.
In all of this, I need to be myself.

So what’s the problem? Be yourself, unleash the dream, elevate, go forth, and be merry.

Conditioning. I am not supposed to be individual, independent, or one of a kind. That’s bad.

And I must be useful. I can’t just be. Come on. Just be? Certainly, I am not valuable enough to just be. I can’t afford it. I am not allowed. If I do it, the fog of fear will surround me.

About this time I watch the second chapter of Dune in Berlin’s IMAX theather. I hear the Bene Gesserit mantra in my ears as I write this:

“Fear is the mind-killer.”

Fear is all around me when I must make big decisions.
I can choose to respect the fear. Stay within the perimeter that fear sets for my actions.

Then I will do what “is sensible, is good, is right.”

Only by going through fear can I access the full power of my imagination.

But how can I trust myself to be bad, to face fear, and to do what everyone says is wrong?

That were most people stop. 
I do, too, usually.

But at times, I didn’t let fear stop me.

When I was 14 years old, I spoke up in front of the whole school to talk about the political ideas I believed in. I discovered that if you speak up, people take note.

In 2011, I left the cushiest job available in Rome. At the time, I managed around 3 million Euros of digital marketing budget, and – as long as I promoted a new movie – I could do whatever I wanted with the money. Yet, I needed to abandon corporate and become an independent professional. The reward came when Netflix hired me, but that’s another story.

In 2023 I started to say no paid workshops because it gives me the space to write this long article (it’s almost a book) to you and write my future.

The rewards of going through fear are outsized. And I want you to reap them.

6. It’s the map

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.19.43

As I take longer and longer walks in nature, things start to become clearer and clearer. I am getting closer to accepting my bliss. The puzzle pieces start to slot into place.

It becomes clear that I’ve spent 46 years following the wrong map.

At the beginning of the 1900s, resources were scarce, information was expensive, identity was fixed, work was predictable, and the rate of innovation was picking up.

Fast forward to today, resources are plentiful, information is cheap, identity is fluid, work is unpredictable, and the rate of innovation is off the charts.

Many of us are navigating through 2024 using a map from the 1900s.

Technology has flattened the world. Today, the richest person on earth is using the same smartphone that everybody else is using. How unbelievable is that? They fly private, drive million-dollar cars, and live in mansions. And have the same exact iPhone the rest of us have.

Innovation makes formal education irrelevant. And makes a fixed, unchanging identity less appealing than ever. I can still study to become a lawyer or a doctor, but suddenly, the less formal options seem more enticing.

I changed careers every 7 years or so since 1996. That’s at least 4 identities I have worn since graduating high school. And I am just changing my identity again this month.

Information is so abundant that its excess has led to a new issue: addiction. Simply sitting down to edit this lengthy article is now seen as a challenge. Our collective focus leans more towards consumption than creation.

This information is not just for us. But about us. A part of our identity has left society and gone into the cloud. That’s the same cloud that will, in a few decades, upload our souls and make us immortal.

The most misleading map coming from the last century is that of scarcity. We live in a season of extreme abundance. A degree of abundance in means of production, innovation, information, and financial tools that change everything.

Negating this abundance puts me in a corner.
Joining this abundance has me in a whirlwind. There is such a thing as too much!

I am caught in a dilemma. I must abandon scarcity. 
But if I fully embrace abundance, the pace could break my bones.

The world is caught in a dilemma. 
The institutions around us are not changing and adapting. 
The markets are. The financial industry especially.

There are two competing maps.  Two visions of the world. Two ways of making decisions.

Here are six aspects where I invite you to do a personal survey.

  • expensive vs. cheap information
  • plentiful vs. scarce attention
  • fixed vs. dynamic career
  • concrete vs. digital identity 
  • slow vs. fast innovation rate 
  • scarcity vs. abundance

If you’re serious about this survey, you will discover something wonderful.

7. It’s an emotion

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.20.29

While in Berlin, I stay connected with the same group of entrepreneurs. During one call, I witnessed the group have a giant aha moment. It was during one of the weekly open coaching calls that the mentor regularly runs with experts from all walks of life.

When asked what was holding this group back, all sorts of mechanical things came up: acquiring clients, running ads, creating landing pages, opening a YouTube channel, and generating content regularly.

If you stay at the surface level, the solution is simple:

  • Ali Abdaal can teach you how to run a YouTube channel
  • Neil Patel, how to create a landing page
  • Brian Moncada, how to create ads
    The list could continue. Boring.

There’s a more interesting question to be asked:

“Why are you struggling with these mechanical things?”

When asked what really was blocking them from progressing, these entrepreneurs showed their human side, sharing very natural and common feelings: fear of failure, lack of confidence, getting lost in details, procrastination, anxiety, worry about the future, and bad relationship with money.

The problem is technical and mechanical. I need a successful YouTube channel. 
But the solution is not a framework.
 
If you attach a framework, like Ali Abdaal’s framework to creating a YouTube channel, you will miss the “why.”

Should we then address the “why” with some bespoke courses?

  • Ali Abdaal on how to win fear and gain on-screen confidence?
  • Neil Patel on how to fix your anxiety and write winning copy? 
  • Brian Moncada on how to fix your relationship with money and optimize your ads?

No, please, no! If the problem is an emotional state, the solution can’t be another course or framework.

If we run towards a simple solution, we won’t really work through the problem. 
 
Coaching is the perfect approach to reveal the issue in all its different facets and get a better, more interesting insight. 
Let me run you through an example of how I just coached myself.

Why do I run ads? I’m in a rush. 
Why am I in a rush? I am anxious. 
Why am I anxious? Because I don’t believe my offer is enticing. 
Why don’t I believe my offer is enticing? Because I am trying to please the market. I am niching down. I am holding back my value.
Why am I trying to please the market? Because I don’t believe in my value.

Wow. That’s way more interesting, right?

What are my next actions?
Stop ads.
Stop my offer, too. 
 
And then? 
Create a better coaching approach that expresses the full spectrum of my values. 
And hold off on running ads as long as possible.

You see how, if I would stop at “I am anxious,” I could just go ahead and mechanically fix my ads without ever fixing myself or my business.

The problem manifests in to-do lists, systems, and dashboards. And I am only human. The first thing I will do is always optimize the lists, the system, and the dashboard.

With an expert guide, though, I can start to dig deeper and realize that most problems only manifest as mechanical but have an emotional origin. 
The problem appears on the outside (on a dashboard) but originates on the inside (a fixed mindset.)

Strong from this realization, I will help thousands of people with the coaching approach I am developing.

Going through the fear has allowed me to clear my agenda. I have so much time to think, build, and imagine. I feel free like never before. I don’t even need the other entrepreneurs to have moments of insight.

8. It’s the future

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.22.10

I started holding regular calls with a group I affectionately call the “guinea pigs.”

It’s here that I get to see the future for the first time.

A group of entrepreneurs naturally share what’s important to them and start coaching each other. 

I am attentive. My presence is needed, but it’s delicate. I am here to clarify, go deeper, and occasionally ask questions. 

Nobody is driving the conversation.

I, for sure, am not in control, and I don’t need to lead. 

Leadership is shared because of the trust we built in the previous sessions.

This is the future for the brightest entrepreneurs.

I work with founders who feel comfortable being open and vulnerable, talking about themselves and crying in front of their peers.

Yes, crying is a big part of being a great entrepreneur.

These founders are quick to understand and change. And equally fast in applying their new mindset to their daily business issues.

Individuals who know that the big problems in business stem from even more significant issues within themselves. They don’t shy away if the solution to a big block lies in a nudge, a push, or a shove. They don’t care if the help they need looks like productivity, spirituality, or “magic.”

Pinch me because I might be dreaming.

I just ended one of those calls talking about tarot cards. Much better than any simplified psychological profile, tarot cards mirror our state and personality and allow us to have deep conversations about what it means to have ideas, be in charge, and manage teams. They are the ultimate management tool. 

But don’t tell the corporates…

There is nothing else I would rather do than hang out with remarkable, caring, intelligent entrepreneurs who want to better themselves and their businesses.

I am starting to fill my agenda again. But only with stuff I adore doing.

9. It’s in person

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.26.29

Three years ago, I bought a small farm near Berlin. I dreamt of a space for reflection that I could share with friends and clients. A month ago, the first three clients joined me for in-person workshops, some garden work, and long walks in the forest. They get a 5-star treatment here. 

three.004

First, the airport pickup happened on my 1972 Alfa Romeo. 

three.005

The accommodation is a former village pub built in the 1700s. I prepare all meals personally with the best quality ingredients. 

three.001

All the sessions happen in nature, in my dream office, or driving in the beauty of the countryside. 

three.002

The experience of being here already relaxes and elevates. Add to that that I have refined my coaching techniques to the highest degree, and it makes for a perfect experience.

Everyone coaching with me is automatically invited to one of those fantastic retreats.

Three years ago, it was an idea. Today, my vision came to life. 

That’s not the only three that matter today…

Three decades ago, I used my voice in front of a large audience for the first time. It was the school assembly, and I almost shit my pants. Last week, I had the time of my life on the stage with the participants of the Freelance Unlocked conference.

As always, I slept too little the night of the talk. As my talk approaches, the butterflies start to fill my belly.  

20 minutes to showtime. I give my mindset a simple instruction: enjoy yourself.  

The mic is on; the intro is done. I occupy the stage with a massive smile. I know everything will be fantastic when I get the audience to giggle at my first interaction.  

three.006

I am a deep introvert and a stage animal. I can switch it on and make magic happen.  

three.009

The first three minutes are pure interaction—not for my benefit but for the audience to recognize who they are and celebrate each other.  

Then, two quotes appear on the screen. The talented Timothy Chalamet sets the tone for the talk: fear.  

three.007

After that is Joseph Campbell’s turn.

three.008

By the time I share the two quotes, the audience has already tuned to the frequency of deep, profound, and intimate insights. They’re smiling, connected, and energetic. I feed on their energy, and they feed from my energy. And then again. The room is an energy multiplier. It’s the power of true natural resonance.

My words flow. They flow differently from all my rehearsals. They flow in the way the room is pulling them from me. It’s a dance. I look at the time. Thirty minutes have already passed. Reluctantly, it’s time to end. The schedule requires it, but the audience would want more.  

What’s better than that? Leave them wanting more.  

In the past three decades, I have painstakingly honed my ability to speak in public, to move, to evoke emotion, to persuade, and to sell. This last talk is the best of my life so far.

What makes it extra unique is that I am a new person on stage. I brought to a 30-minute speech all the transformations I share with you in this article.

Things take time. Visions can come true. Conviction is what makes them possible. If you’re convinced, all the other puzzle pieces will fall into place naturally.

10. It’s who I am

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.39.49

While I was still in San Diego, one morning, I shared the kitchen space with Zander Howard-Scott, another empathetic genius, brilliant cellist, founder of the Creative Sovereignty community and a wonderful person to hang out with. As he headed out to shoot a video on the beach, I asked my tarot deck what my new project would look like.

The four of coins came out. It looks like four coins, with a coat of arms in the middle showing a phoenix rising. It symbolizes stability. Real-world stability. Stable money, stable action, stable business.

D8D50384 A384 4653 8767 69034DEC1E90 4 5005 c

Everyone needs stability to make the best decisions of their lives and unleash the full power of their imagination.

There and then, I knew Myth Maker was more about making people’s lives easier than just about ambition and dreaming big. We all need a solid foundation.

Now that a few months have passed, the significance of this stability is becoming ever more apparent.

The journey through fear of the last few months has led me to another massive realization.

What I do has no value until I believe that I have value no matter what I do.

I need to trust that my uniqueness is enough. That I don’t need any output. Gloria Gaynor singing “I am what I am.”

If my value is who I am, who am I?

I’m no compromises. I have my way.
I’m an underdog. I never fit in. And I will never do.
I’m the years of therapy. I’m all that pain transformed into faith.
I’m queer. I’m discrimination, fighting, and acceptance.
I’m my body. I wasn’t for many years until I fell in love with my body.
I’m a walker. I’m a driver. I like to move.
I’m the tarot card without a name everyone fears: 13. I have unlimited energy to renew. I’m a phoenix rising from her ashes.
I’m creative. A volcano.
I’m restless. I never stop.
I’m open. I love sharing.
I’m an enabler. I make it possible.
I’m an elevator. I like to bring people up.
I’m a speaker. I can kill it on stage.
I’m a coach. I can listen.

I’m a myth maker. A creator of worlds.

But there is nothing I need to do. All I need is to be.

11. It’s Myth Maker

Screenshot 2024 06 11 at 12.43.13

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Sorry for quoting the ever-present Steve Jobs.

“You already have permission”

Sorry for quoting the ever-present Seth Godin.

Steve and Seth are onto something. I have been listening, but I haven’t grasped the deeper meaning of their words.

I can build worlds. And so can you.

Worlds are made of simple basic components. They need a guiding principle, a story like the idea of the “digital frontier” of the Internet or the “land where dreams come true” for America.

They need powerful visual symbols, like the cross, the swoosh, and the cyberpunk aesthetic.

They need rituals, like product launches, conferences, and celebrations.

They need to give people a sense of connection, community, and belonging, like wearing a certain type of fashion, belonging to the same club, or even just reading the same news.

All of our stories, symbols, rituals, and communities are human-made. 

What’s preventing me from creating a world? If I hold such great principles in my head, why do my actions come out tiny?  

Does this happen to you, too?

It’s time to dream bigger. Trust that the information has been acquired. The next step of the journey comes from the heart, the hip, and the hands.

We all need that stability.
We must find our worth inside.
We can then imagine our future.
Based on who we are inside, we begin trusting our decisions.
Once we know what to do, we must create our mythology.
It’s the only way we could be useful: create a world for our peers to inhabit. A better world. With higher values.

Build this world with me. Become a myth maker.

P.S.
Remember the Lyft driver? I gave them five stars.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This