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The adventure of an enterprise

An essay-novel about the life of Francesco Cirio helps us better understand what being an entrepreneur means

 

Enterprises as adventures – without too much hazard, of course, but with a good deal of daring for sure. Applying some prudence, perhaps, but with a will to succeed at all costs. Stories that no management manual could capture. Stories that recur over the years, all different yet all united by a common thread. Stories that, when you read them, teach you a lot, even when they sound a little fictionalised (which, at times, they are).

This is the case of Che il mondo ti somigli (May the world be like you), a recently published book inspired by the life of Francesco Cirio, founder of the eponymous company. A man of humble birth, hailing from the Piedmont region, his is a story about a young man who set out to make his fortune, for both himself and his family, in a mid-19th-century Italy ruled by social divisions.

Written in collaboration four years ago by Allegra Groppelli and Beba Slijepcevic, this book unravels through a continuous interplay between scenes from the end of Cirio’s life and milestones of his entrepreneurial career: living the countryside, coming to the city (Turin), the first jobs, the discovery of a new way to preserve food, the growth of a company that would soon become renowned all over the world of that time. An uphill climb leading to a successful life, though not without any sorrows and troubles. “He liked the scent a job well done would leave on him”, write the two authors about Cirio somewhere in the book – which really reads like a novel (and claims to be one from the start), while also realistically describing the Cirio company’s key traits up to this day.

Groppelli and Slijepcevic are skilled screenwriters and, indeed, this is an extremely enjoyable book, which in parts seems wholly fictional (as acknowledged by the authors themselves). Nonetheless, it makes for a useful read that allows us to gain a better and deeper understanding of one of the companies that (for better or worse) have made Italian industrial history.

“You dream, you act, and then something comes true. If you don’t hold back, this something can also exceed your expectations. Yet, nothing is yours forever. In the end, you need to know how to let go” says the protagonist towards the end, where a fine, concise description of Francesco Cirio can also be found: “A great man, industrialist, innovator, trader, dreamer, who had increased the wealth of the country.” An innovator and a dreamer, just like any entrepreneur should be.

Che il mondo ti somigli. La saga di Francesco Cirio (May the world be like you. The saga of Francesco Cirio)

Allegra Groppelli, Beba Slijepcevic

Sperling & Kupfer, 2022

An essay-novel about the life of Francesco Cirio helps us better understand what being an entrepreneur means

 

Enterprises as adventures – without too much hazard, of course, but with a good deal of daring for sure. Applying some prudence, perhaps, but with a will to succeed at all costs. Stories that no management manual could capture. Stories that recur over the years, all different yet all united by a common thread. Stories that, when you read them, teach you a lot, even when they sound a little fictionalised (which, at times, they are).

This is the case of Che il mondo ti somigli (May the world be like you), a recently published book inspired by the life of Francesco Cirio, founder of the eponymous company. A man of humble birth, hailing from the Piedmont region, his is a story about a young man who set out to make his fortune, for both himself and his family, in a mid-19th-century Italy ruled by social divisions.

Written in collaboration four years ago by Allegra Groppelli and Beba Slijepcevic, this book unravels through a continuous interplay between scenes from the end of Cirio’s life and milestones of his entrepreneurial career: living the countryside, coming to the city (Turin), the first jobs, the discovery of a new way to preserve food, the growth of a company that would soon become renowned all over the world of that time. An uphill climb leading to a successful life, though not without any sorrows and troubles. “He liked the scent a job well done would leave on him”, write the two authors about Cirio somewhere in the book – which really reads like a novel (and claims to be one from the start), while also realistically describing the Cirio company’s key traits up to this day.

Groppelli and Slijepcevic are skilled screenwriters and, indeed, this is an extremely enjoyable book, which in parts seems wholly fictional (as acknowledged by the authors themselves). Nonetheless, it makes for a useful read that allows us to gain a better and deeper understanding of one of the companies that (for better or worse) have made Italian industrial history.

“You dream, you act, and then something comes true. If you don’t hold back, this something can also exceed your expectations. Yet, nothing is yours forever. In the end, you need to know how to let go” says the protagonist towards the end, where a fine, concise description of Francesco Cirio can also be found: “A great man, industrialist, innovator, trader, dreamer, who had increased the wealth of the country.” An innovator and a dreamer, just like any entrepreneur should be.

Che il mondo ti somigli. La saga di Francesco Cirio (May the world be like you. The saga of Francesco Cirio)

Allegra Groppelli, Beba Slijepcevic

Sperling & Kupfer, 2022