Breaking myths is a time honored way to inspire hate, as the international communications consultant Elisabetta Ghisini (and head of Verba International) just discovered when she blogged about our book for the top Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera. Elisabetta wrote that I Hate People! (or Io Odio La Gente, the title of our Italian edition), “is also a social phenomenon, it demystifies the myth of teamwork and shreds to pieces the perception that working as a group is more productive.”
This was not well received by certain Italians. Ghisini (author of Communicating the American Way) added fuel to the fire when she called our concept of the Soloist, “a revolutionary concept where power is no longer measured by the number of people working for you.”
This earned her hate from certain Italian readers of her blog who frowned on her casting doubt on the cult of American teamwork. What makes this ironic is that she has told me repeatedly that Italians admire Soloists and are naturally skeptical about bloated teams. But Italians also revere Silicon Valley and view it as the Hollywood of high tech. By suggesting that the Valley was no longer infatuated with hierarchy and massive head counts she had pierced the myth.
Of course there’s a deeper irony. No one hates and loves like Italians. A spirited free exchange of ideas in business comes naturally to them. Phony rituals surrounding teamwork are frowned upon, and talent and egos are respected and loud voices and abrupt manners easily forgiven. But by writing that our Soloist manifesto has become “defacto” in the best Bay Area companies, that Silicon Valley is “a conglomerate of prima donnas,” Elisabetta may have gone a step too far.
She painted an honest picture of modern business that conflicts with the fantasy projected to some Italians.
Bravo, Elisabetta, for your bold blog post — proof of the indomitable power of the Soloist spirit. We look forward to a day where more individuals will be able to say without fear,
“Hating is Beautiful in Silicon Valley.”
— Jonathan Littman