Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
— Maya Angelou —
When asked “how did you become a Chief Poetic Officer?”, Vincent Avanzi has a precise explanation, because it is a process that started as soon as he left school when he was able to go on his first trip around the world at the age of 25.
Chief Poetic Officer
That was the first time he embarked on new, uncharted paths and unleashed his long-time love for poetry to put in words his explorations and aspirations. Though he sailed off without any intentions, in meeting people and cultures from around the world, he ended up experiencing in this journey an “overview effect”, a shift in awareness, which is what astronauts feel when they look at our beautiful planet Earth from outer space.
In other words, he experienced a sense of harmony that he has continued to nurture since 2005 and which has since become his life’s mission: a quest for harmony with himself, others, organisations, nature, and religions, all of which he expresses through the magic and power of poetry.
“After 10 years of working for major corporations (Microsoft, Dior, EY) and having founded two start-ups, I was gradually able to combine my business skills with my passion of poetry and my self-development work, which led me to offer poetic conferences for companies and business leaders. This is what Steve Job calls ‘connecting the dots’, to find a path that fully represents you and your inspirations, and in this case, mixing art, business and wisdom to create a new approach, which I believe is a beneficial combination to humanize capitalism and cowrite a more sustainable future.”
He has written a book called “Finding your G-enius Spot” (“Trouver son point Génial” Marabout/Hachette) about precisely how you can find your own path by converging all parts of you, your skills, your dreams mixed with the needs of the world, also known as the ‘Ikigai’ in Japan.
Corporate poetry: Mixing art and business to enlighten the world
Was immer du tun kannst oder träumst,
es zu können, fang damit an!
Mut hat Genie, Kraft und Zauber in sich.
— Goëthe —
“Management has a lot to learn from the art world in general by using the skills and ways of seeing the world of artists.” Vincent argues that it is possible for a company to be a work of art or to lead a career with an aesthetic approach and to create his or her own masterpiece.
“Spiritually, we all have a destiny and a responsibility for our humanity. I want to make poetry accessible to everyone, making it mainstream and reconciling it with the world of business. Poetry -and poetics- is a soulful way to re-enchant the world and the world of work, by freeing your speech, being fully yourself and looking at the world with more human eyes”.
Compassion, intuition and our capacity to be in awe at the wonders of the world offer potential that can be very beneficial for companies. This is how poetry can have an influence on management that will enable leadership to “enlighten the world”.
He likes to talk about “enlightening leaders”, these servant leaders that aim to drive positive impact in the world and focus on empowering others to find their own light.
Over time, after having pioneered this original and unprecedented approach in 2015 with his company “The Ink Of The Future”, his services as a Chief Poetic Officer have become more readily accepted and requested by companies around the world.
Helping managerial structures bridge the gap between poetry and strategy, purpose and operational results, has become valuable to an increasing number of CEOs, brands and organisations, through various activities such as speech writing, leadership coaching, conferences on the power of words, consulting on brand communication and storytelling, team building, creativity and artistic workshops, public speaking training, etc.
Moreover, Vincent doesn’t use a traditional sales approach to find clients. Instead, he takes on numerous stages across the world in major events to perform poetic speeches and invites them to see the advantages of poetry, of the art of speech and poetic workshops, for themselves. So that the decision-makers can understand the true power and possible impact of these tools.
The German parliament, for example, has just created a Parliament’s Poet position. “One of my dreams is that this Chief Poetic Officer position will be introduced in companies led by visionary decision-makers as an internal position to foresee the transformational changes needed to drive corporations into the 21st century of sustainability and become a true force for growth and good.”
He likes to talk about the 5Ps of Prosperity: People, Planet, Profit, Purpose and Poetry, as a matrix to drive change for tomorrow.
Leaders and influencers: Presenting your key messages like a poet
Avant donc que d’écrire apprenez à penser.
Selon que notre idée est plus ou moins obscure,
L’expression la suit, ou moins nette, ou plus pure.
Ce que l’on conçoit bien s’énonce clairement,
Et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément.
— Nicolas Boileau —
“In terms of narration, poetry offers the enormous advantage of being more convincing than formatted speeches,” Vincent explains. It is the “language of the soul” said Voltaire, a message from one heart to another, which can be seen as a form of timeless Esperanto, in the art of punchlines and in the way to mix words together that create an emotion, an image, a reaction, an unerasable memory.
No need for classic poetry verses, but more free poetry that fits the time. Vincent invites us also to replace the ubiquitous PowerPoint presentations with what he calls ‘Purpose Points’. “Instead of maximizing our earnings, let’s start harmonizing the living. Words form a world of wonder that helps leaders unite around a common horizon and objective, a dream. They always precede reality”.
The way Vincent sees it, leaders must empower people to use their voices and write to harness a group’s energy. But words must be chosen carefully.
“I rarely use the words ‘excellence’ or ‘performance’ in my messages. I believe they are somewhat too rigid and I prefer expressions related to progression and exception instead of perfection, for instance, to address the development of the human individual and collective potential.”
Within the concept of the “Corporate Poets Society” that Vincent founded (inspired by the movie “Dead Poets Society” with Robin Williams), he helps people, whether they are managers or collaborators, or even entrepreneurs, to find their flow, align and elevate themselves, free their speech and gives them the space to test new ways to convey their purpose and messages.
“The best advice I can give to someone who wants to write an inspiring speech is to write first with their heart and then rewrite with their head.” The idea is for every participant to write a leadership speech and share it with the audience. The result is a wonderful array of creativity and humanity.
In the art of speeches, as he says, “words account for 50% of the impact of your communication and the alignment between the individual and his or her action make up for the remaining percentage”.
Vincent also uses his own specific matrix for leadership, which he calls the “3H” method for Humanity, Horizon, Harmony, to elaborate impactful and heartfelt speeches that engage their audience in the future.
“Business with a soul”: Poetry as a means to elevate business-as-usual
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
— Antonio Machado —
Vincent writes and speaks regularly on leadership and sustainability, addressing the topics of regeneration, sobriety, and how we can move from traditional KPIs known as “Key Performance Indicators” to change indicators with “Key Positive Impact”. As he reminds us of the important role of poetry on sustainability, “until now, the ecological approach has been solely scientific when a poetic angle should be used to imagine our possible common horizon in a more beautiful natural and sustainable world”.
This is a more positive and hopeful way to get people motivated and involve them in the future of our planet, not only by numbers of climate degrees but by their dreams of possible good outcomes if we change our trajectory.
At last, his slogan and the title of his last book is “Poetry will save the world and we’re all poets”. He applies great passion and determination to inviting all of us to try to see the world through poetic eyes and to taste the experience of writing freely our dreams and communicating them with the world.
Poetry is a universal language and although poetry varies depending on countries’ cultures, it always is a “love letter addressed to the world” to quote Charlie Chaplin.
Everyone can relate to a poetised speech or a poetic way of being and seeing the world, regardless of their country or background. Try it in your company – and in your life – and join in!
And if there was one lesson from the Covid-19 crisis, it was that more than ever, we need to return to the essentials and reenchant the world with our human potential to embark on our common future journey together.
If you wish to discover one of his poetic journeys, discover H.O.M.E. released on Earth Day 2021 for a corporate convention, standing for “Humanity On Mission Earth”. Ready to get your poetic side out to uplift the world and thrive in the best version of you?
Considerate la vostra semenza
Fatti non foste a viver come bruti
Ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza
— Dante —