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An american tour: Hassles, glories, and learnings

On Easter Monday, April 10, 2023, I embarked on a journey that will remain in my memory for a long time. With my authorial book in hand, the first stretch of what I ended up calling the “American tour” passed through the south of the United States, more specifically Atlanta, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina. Two hotspots of my adventures when I lived in the United States, in Atlanta to complete high school and in Greenville to attend college. They were very intense and challenging 6 years, but also extremely rewarding.

In fact, the first week of the tour was especially planned to publicize my book, “Inner Wor(l)ds,” and to reconnect with former professors and classmates. In Atlanta, I arrived the same day I left London and was warmly welcomed by the mother of my former English teacher, Edward Ellis, who still works at the Benjamin Franklin Academy. The reception was really off the charts, it felt like I was arriving home in Brazil after years of absence, everything tidy, house and guest room spotlessly clean and immaculately organized for my arrival.

However, soon after came the first hassle: I had forgotten my backpack in the taxi, with laptop, passport, wallet, everything inside it! Like it simply wasn't just beside me when I got out of the car. Anyway, until the driver contacted me to let me know that he actually had the backpack and that he was going to return it, a day and a half was lost of pure anxiety and stress. But the bag was returned, yes! Imagine losing all of that in the middle of a trip. Anyone would go crazy. Finally, with the package secured, I went to my alma mater, Furman University, in Greenville, and to the Benjamin Franklin Academy, to present my book and talk about new literary and professional adventures.

Revisiting these places that I hadn't been to in a long time was something very interesting and nostalgic. I couldn't stop thinking about both BFA and Furman, who have done and still do sensational Branding projects to engage their alumni and former students. This ranges from the events that these institutions plan, to the network of contacts that is created when a student becomes an alumni–I am part of that network, at both institutions! And certainly talking about my book was an incredible experience, what an honor to be able to serve as an example for future authors, writers, artists and thinkers.

But (there was always a 'but' to this trip), traveling from place to place was really exhausting. I traveled by bus, and on the way back to Atlanta in one of these arrivals and departures, the transport simply did not arrive at the station. As a result, I had to take an Uber from Greenville to Atlanta, a journey of approximately 3 hours. 3 hours in an Uber, but believe it or not: as the discussion flowed between me and the driver, she happened to also be a poet! We talked the entire drive, and I ended up giving her a signed copy of my book, which was an honor for me. Who would’ve thought this could happen! And how important it is to know and study about people….I was thinking about this topic while discussing with the driver. As Branding professionals, it is our duty to understand people, how each one interacts with the world, regardless of their profession and social class. It's always about staying curious to dig out the insights that matter when we're building powerful, influential brands. And that's what I did with the driver. Little did I know I was talking to another poet and writer. Divine interaction? You tell me.

In the second week, our Head of Strategy and Research, Jacqueline de Bessa, and I went to Pittsburgh to be trained in the ZMET technique by the Olson Zaltman team and especially by Vanessa Herman, the company's head of training. It was an amazing, challenging, and enriching week, Jackie and I can say that with confidence and passion.

We got to know new places, made new friends, and got to know a little more about the culture of Pittsburgh, an effervescent city that is at the same time artistic and historic. One of the highlights of our visit was visiting the Andy Warhol museum, the artist and filmmaker who grew up in Pittsburgh and who became a symbol of the 'pop art' movement in the United States during the 60's. After the visit, I even did my own version of one of his most famous poses!

The training also made us think about how important the ZMET technique is for our daily lives and for the lives of our clients and their consumers. How much we were able to delve into different topics to really understand what's behind consumers' heads, what they most want and yearn for. And how we managed to go beyond the surface with ZMET, a necessary movement in our line of work.

And perhaps (because there is always a perhaps, an above all else), the most important thing I learned from Olson Zaltman was the fact that they and we at TroianoBranding are very similar, even though we are in different parts of the world. We speak different languages, have different cultures, but something unique unites us and brings us closer: the incessant curiosity for people. The 'deep metaphors' used by Olson Zaltman are a great example of our collective truths, studied in depth by Jung himself.

Between hassles, glories, and learnings, there is always a silver lining, to quote from the classic American saying. The hassles, like wrinkles on the face of an elderly person, will always be there and make for great stories, they are a good “sit down and I’ll tell you about that trip I took to the United States in April of the year 2023.” Beyond that, Jackie and I recount the glories of the past, and we like to relive all the learnings from that trip, which in this case will certainly be valid long after our arrival on American soil, whether I am visiting my university as an alumni or whether we are studying together about Branding, metaphors and people.


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