Monthly Archives: February 2013

#EK – Oscar Pistorius – Nothing could predict such a tragedy

By Gianni Merlo, AIPS President, La Gazzetta dello Sport


MILAN, February 15, 2013 – How can Oscar, the friend who transmitted his joie de vivre to me, have become an alleged murderer? This is the question that torments me. The news came at dawn and it seemed the stuff of nightmares to me; the sort that bring your heart to your mouth before the sudden awakening. At that time, they were still four shots in the dark in the world of a different Oscar.

In 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, when we wrote the story of his life together (and I have to admit that he is able to write very well), I met a young enthusiast who believed in the values of life. I was with him in Pretoria for three weeks. Up to then, his life had certainly not been easy, but he’d always faced it without complexes or fears. He never looked for an excuse. He had an elegant, blonde girlfriend from a good family. He maintained that women had always played a fundamental role in his life. He was very close to his mother before her untimely death and, at that time, he was also close to his sister Aimée. There really wasn’t anything that could predict such a tragedy as this. I defined him “a magnificent savage” because he had all the defects that were then the virtues of a young man of 20 years of age.

And when he came to Italy, he conquered it with his simplicity. One evening in Milan, we went to dinner with founder of the Italian fashion label Ottavio Missoni (himself an accomplished athlete in his youth), and Candido Cannavò, the former director of our newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport who had the newspaper’s iconic pink running through his veins, who immediately adopted Oscar and defended him in all circumstances, having him become the banner of a cultural revolution in the world of disability. Our newspaper launched a real campaign to allow him to follow the dream of his life.

Oscar has always said he’s normal and never felt disabled. He has helped many to understand how to deal with certain situations. He trained for a long time at Grosseto, and then more recently he went to Gemona, but he never revealed imbalances or flashes of sudden, blind rage.

The only news of behaviour that was a bit unusual came from South Africa when he was arrested for common assault at a party but was released after a night in jail with no charges. He was also in the headlines when a horrific speedboat crash left him seriously injured after being launched into the air when the boat hit a submerged jetty.

At the time he said he was rushing into the night to leave a horde of drunken, coarse friends behind.

Arms and violence are a part of daily life in South Africa. I haven’t seen Oscar for a long time and perhaps fame has faded the friendships of the era of the positive evolution. Someone told me that he’d changed in the last year. We helped him to rise quickly and now I have a doubt. Have we unwittingly cultivated a monster?


#EK – How to Get a Job Without Experience


You know the Catch-22: “You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.”

Young job seekers have always faced this dilemma. In today’s shrinking job market, people with years of experience also struggle with it. Whether they face the reality of a layoff, or merely the threat of one, many older workers are trying to reinvent themselves in order to become marketable in a changed economy.

Whether you’re launching your career or trying to change its direction, you can get around this Catch-22 with some creativity and humility.

Here’s how I did it:

I was a clinical psychologist in a community mental health center. It was professionally satisfying and financially unrewarding. I decided it was time to make more money. I would become a business consultant.

Imagine my surprise to learn that I could not find a single company eager to hire me. Apparently, they couldn’t see that my ability to counsel sexual offenders was a transferable skill!

I couldn’t get business experience without getting hired. I couldn’t get hired without business experience. What to do?

At a party, I met Dr. Charles Daily, an organizational psychologist and entrepreneur. Dr. Daily was trying to market a new product to help companies make better hiring decisions. He had a good idea and no money to hire someone to help him realize it.

I said to Dr. Daily, “I’ll do telemarketing cold calls for your new product. But I insist on being paid. The first payment will be a title appropriate to the job I will be doing – say, ‘Business Development Associate.'” The second payment, if I fulfill my end of the deal, will be a good reference and introductions to colleagues who might be able to help me.”

For the next two months, two days a week, I did my best to help Dr. Daily get traction for his new service. I made hundreds of calls – hating every one of them. I ultimately was able to set up two in-person appointments for Dr. Daily.

Neither of those led to new business. But Dr. Daily said my job had been to open doors; it was his job to close deals. I’d performed well and would get paid, in the form of introductions to some business associates. Those introductions, along with a resume that included my new title, eventually led to a job with a talent management-consulting firm.

How can you use such a strategy to get out of the no-win loop that circumscribes your professional growth?

Look for a company with a great idea and no money to execute it. Then:

Be specific about what value you will provide. I wanted experience in the sales and marketing of professional services. I said I would make phone calls and get appointments for Dr. Daily. I didn’t say I would generate sales because I didn’t think I could do that.

Be specific about what value you will receive. For me, appropriate compensation was a title I could add to my resume and introductions and a reference from Dr. Daily. Compensation is about value received for value given – and you’re thinking too narrowly if you define value only in monetary terms.

Be specific about time frame. I promised to work two days a week for two months. Be sure that your commitment doesn’t preclude you from actively continuing a job search – or performing well enough to keep your present job.

What? You’re too proud to offer your services at no charge? Get over it. If you choose the right opportunity, you’ll gain industry or functional experience that has immeasurable value – and will ultimately lead to a real paycheck.

Larry Stybel is co-founder of the global career management firm Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire. He also is Executive in Residence at the Sawyer School of Business at Suffolk University.

%d bloggers like this: