About Stefano

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The Official Short Bio

Serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, and impact investor in tech — Stefano was employee #8 at Wind, a telecom and internet company that made an exit for $12.1 billion.

He’s been featured in “20 Must-Read on the Future of Work”, together with Satya Nadella, Eric Ries, and Tim O’Reilly.

His TEDx speech is one of the most-watched videos on unbanked, financial inclusion, and FinTech in emerging economies.

His work has been covered and published by major media including the BBC and Wired.

Many years ago, he fell in love with the city of London, and that’s where he lives now when he’s not traveling.

Something More

When I was a young adult, I got quadruple surgery to my feet. Over twenty hours under the scalpel in four different operations.

They cut my tendons, sawed my bones, and fused them again. In fact, today I wear shoes one size smaller than before the event.

It’s not completely clear why my feet stopped working and had to be operated. The reason doesn’t seem particularly important today.

What’s more important to me is how this event changed my life.

I went from being a kid competing in half marathons and skiing, to a teenager passionate about backpacking and travel, to a post-surgery young adult walking with a cane.

When I left the hospital, one of the doctors was a bit worried about my state. I was excited about being released, and constantly talking about my next travel as soon as the cast was off.

He was a good doctor and a good person, and I guess he didn’t want me to be disappointed.

“Forget backpacking,” he said. “Do what you can. Join a tourist resort, enjoy a comfortable life. Understand that you have limits.”

So I nodded.

He looked at me not completely convinced. “Do what you can,” he repeated, “or you’ll be disappointed.”

I nodded again, “I swear!”

… So I backpacked China

 
On the Great Wall. I preferred to travel with a wand than a walking stick as an homage to my childhood passion for Gandalf of the Lord of the Rings.

About 6,000 kilometers (4,000 miles). One of the best trips of my life.

I had been fond of Chinese history and culture for years. I finally had a chance to be part of it.

The hospitality was amazing.

I was hosted by universities and students, experienced more sophisticated days (and nights) with business people, and enjoyed solitude and self-awareness when moving between cities.

The good doctor was not wrong. Backpacking was hard. Seizing the cities with young athletic students was sometimes painful. And yet, I was grateful for my choice.

That’s when I chose my personal mantra.

DO WHAT YOU CAN’T

“Do what you can’t” doesn’t mean “try something impossible without any training.” I didn’t try to run a marathon.

I am a programmer who went to law school. My education is way too rational to be bold for the sake of it.

But still, I don’t believe that we should just “do what we can”.

Passion, challenge, and innovation come from that extra step. The harder one. The step you are supposed to not be capable of taking.

Today, I still live by that mantra born among new friends in a distant land.

DO WHAT YOU CAN’T.

— Stefano

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