A few days ago, I visited our Training Center to meet 15 of our latest Gelato Class
students. I always do my best to visit and speak to each of them in an attempt to better
understand their thoughts, ideas and expectations. These visits break my daily routine
and give me a great perspective of the market. I particularly like to see the excitement
in their eyes – it energizes and inspires me tremendously.
The morning of the class, a more aged face caught my attention, the face of Bob from
Iowa. That very nice gentleman came to me and asked a question so simple and
disarming that I did not know what to say and therefore spent the rest of the day
thinking about it. Finally, I decided to use this column to answer Bob’s question, “Do
you think I am too old for this?”
On my way back to the office, absorbed in my thoughts and embarrassed by my
speechlessness, I ran into Yuri, our young training center assistant, whose second
child, 4-month old Giovanni, cannot wait to start selling PreGel products. Once
in the office, I sat down and started thinking if it could ever be too late, or too early
for that matter, to start a new adventure.
The images of the recent Vancouver Olympics are still in my mind, and I recall the
amazing performance of the 16-year-old American athlete, Nagasu Mirai, who
double-axeled herself into an exceptional fourth place. Now, how can such a
young person find the strength and discipline to train eight hours a day and to
perform in front of millions of people? Just a few seconds before she starts, the
lights dim, the silence reigns, the world watches as the first notes draw a smile on her
face. No pain, no stress, no regrets, just a big smile. As I write this column at the age
of 39, my father (age 70, though he states to be 50), has the same smile after
56 years of daily gelato production in our family stores.
The answer then dawns on me, both smiles come from within. Young and old join in a
common spirit of satisfaction that is ageless. If you know what you want, you will
find the strength to achieve your goals. The secret, I believe, is to be able to make that
decision despite eager sponsors and vendors, promising salaries or overoptimistic
business plans. The first step is to decide if you are on board and that it is something
you really want.
So Bob, I am sorry I am a bit late, but my answer would be to go for it. If you want
to become an ice skater or if you see yourself serving gelato behind a counter, a dream
can be fulfilled at any age. I will not be able to help you much with the first option,
but if you decide to become a gelatiere, I promise I will be on your side all along the
way. No guarantee of success, but be reassured it is going to be exciting and fulfilling.
The rest are just numbers, and for what it’s worth, you already have my vote for effort:
it is a 10.