Podcast #39 : The team at Italy Made Easy
Do you want to get to know the team at Italy Made Easy? Well that is exactly what we are going to talk about today! Hi everyone and welcome back to Italy Made Easy Podcast, I’m Manu Venditti and today I’m going to talk to you all about my team: about the people who, together with me, create - have created - the channel and the universe of Italy Made Easy with all of our courses, all of our videos, all of our content that helps you, as an English speaking student of Italian, to improve your Italian… to learn it, to improve it, to practice it and all those other wonderful things. We do it all together passionately!
So… in episode 33 we spoke about the origins of Italy Made Easy, namely how I alone came up with the idea, how I created Italy Made Easy and how, gradually, it grew and became this baby that is now 4-5 years old, I don’t quite remember.
But I’m not alone! I started alone but now I am definitely not alone, luckily! We are a great team, a small close-knit team of people with many different roles. We all have many jobs but each of us has a main role.
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The first person who I would like to talk about is Alessia. Alessia, dear Alessia, my saviour… my angel! Alessia started with me many years ago, 3 or 4 years ago. Her first job with Italy Made Easy was really small: it was transcribing my Youtube videos that I made in Italian. And she transcribed the text at home. That was all she did! Over time I saw that she was really on the ball and that she was a dependable and trustworthy person, so - gradually - she became my assistant. She began to organize my work for me, publishing things on Youtube, coordinating a few things here and there… to the point where after just a short amount of time she became my Project Manager and she is still, to this day, my Project Manager: she deals with managing our various projects - and we have many, many, many of them… - as well as managing our staff… Alessia manages all the people in the team at Italy Made Easy who make all this possible. The big milestone for Alessia was in conjunction with a significant milestone for Italy Made Easy: The launch of “From Zero to Italian”. During that time, as you can imagine, launching our Academy and our program that goes “da zero all’italiano”, was a big deal… and a huge undertaking… and Alessia saved my life because… I dunno, I don’t know what to say… she did everything! She basically did everything, she really helped me to get everything done! Without her, the Academy would have been much more difficult. In the beginning, she helped me with all the different aspects of the Academy for which we now have dedicated team members. For example, she helped out with the Forum, she helped with the chats in Italian with the students. But now she mainly deals with Project Management, with coordinating all the team… she’s my assistant and she also handles our social media. Alessia is a really sweet girl, she’s very calm… and even a bit reserved, she’s a bit quiet, she’s shy… she doesn’t speak much, but she’s also very “zen”. When Alessia speaks I feel calm; when there’s a problem, like we might be late with a product, a launch or something, I talk to Alessia and she usually says “It’s all good Manu, we’ll find a solution!”. That wasn’t me imitating her, I can’t do imitations! Another quality of Alessia is that she is very succinct… so in the team there’s those of us who talk, talk, talk, blah blah blah blah, we talk a lot… then comes Alessia… “OK, so basically…” and in two words, she’s said it all! Thank you, Alessia!
The next person that I want to talk about is Cristiana. Cristiana joined the team a couple of years ago and she took care of a few different things, but her main role was helping me with the Italian language. What do you mean, Manu? No, I know my language, but Cristiana is a school teacher… or she was a school teacher. Now she is all ours, she’s all Italy Made Easy’s… and so one of her tasks was teaching Italian to students in Italy. She knows the grammar very well, even though she is a historian, not a linguist. Cristiana joined the team to help with marking the assignments of the students of “From Zero to Italian”. The students submit their voice recordings or they write something and we give them feedback. Cristiana is part of this system and she helps with the feedback for the students… or she did help! She still does that but now she has other jobs. But that was her first job! Then she started to help in the Forum where the students of Italy Made Easy Academy ask questions about grammar but also about socio-cultural matters and Cristiana is there as well. Then she started to do the video chats, speaking with the students in Italian so they can practice. She doesn’t really do much of these jobs anymore but now she mainly helps me with producing the courses of “From Zero to Italian” because they are big courses. So how do we do it? Cristiana… Well first we discuss what to teach, Cristiana does some research, she then presents me with pages of research about grammar with various notes, various observations… and then together we decide what to get rid of… as it isn’t important, it isn’t necessary to know everything… - this is the secret of the success of Italy Made Easy and of the students of Italy Made Easy - we get rid of the things that confuse you, and we add things that can help you, we push back some things and then magically we produce our wonderful and highly effective courses. You could say that Cristiana is our “Grammar Boss'' and the two of us have an interesting dynamic because Cristiana, as an Italian who has studied Italian grammar, usually proposes a more traditional structure to learning the grammar… but then I come in and say “no no no no no… Absolutely not, let’s teach that later… We’ll teach it later”, and together we come to the best conclusion. Cristiana’s personality is different to Alessia’s. Namely: Cristiana is very easy-going, she’s a real chatter-box… she talks and talks… she’s friendly and very bubbly… and something negative - I want to say something positive and negative - is that she gets easily agitated. So on one hand I have Alessia who calms me down, because she is all “zen”, and on the other hand I have Cristiana who gets me all worked up because she starts panicking straight away if there’s a problem. Together the three of us are perfect! It’s a balance that… well, I just couldn’t ask for more… we are really great together!
The next person in the team, who’s also very important, is Cristian. Cristian is the only non-Italian. Cristian is Australian, you may know him from the series Italian Accelerator. He’s an Australian who has learned Italian well… really well. Cristian takes care of various things. Firstly, he is in charge of student success. So he follows the students, he makes sure they are understanding and studying and progressing. At the moment he also replies to emails… Thank you Cristian, you’ve freed me from two hours of work each day, now that it’s mainly you who looks at them, thank you! The most important job for Cristian, as an English speaker who has learned Italian, is a linguistic job. Cristian is able to give us the point of view of an English speaker who is studying Italian, and it’s Cristian who points out problems and finds solutions when we Italians decide to teach something or give some examples… or whatever it may be. Cristian is generally the person who usually says “no no, this isn’t useful… I don’t need you to explain this to me because it’s obvious… as someone who’s studied Italian, I had problems with this other thing…”, and that’s why you: student, follower, and fan of Italy Made Easy… it’s for this reason you find that our videos are different from other videos on Youtube and in the world. It’s because we have this perspective of an English speaker who studies Italian so our content is specific, it is targeted to solve your problems and not someone else’s… Your problems! Recently Cristian took part in producing our secret upcoming program which is an Audio Program… It's a fantastic audio novel! It’s a course that helps you to learn and improve your Italian through a story, a novel… It was Cristian of Italy Made Easy who selected certain Italian expressions used in this audio novel and said “this expression is complicated for me as an English speaker - me as in him - and so it should have an explanation”, and we created I don’t know how many pages of expression lists from this novel and they are great expressions… They are casual expressions that we use everyday in Italy and that an English speaker may have difficulty understanding. Either you can’t find it in a dictionary or you can’t find an explanation… or, even if you can translate it, you don’t understand it because the context is very Italian and our expressions lists were made by Cristian, so thank you for that as well. Cristian’s personality is a bit of a mix… Cristian is pretty shy because, poor guy… as you can imagine… Cristian is the only non-Italian in the team and, when we have our meetings, there are four or five of us Italians who all talk at full speed, using slang and dialect… blah blah blah blah… and he’s there having to take part in it all.
So, usually, in a group situation he’s the shyest person - shyer than Alessia - because he doesn’t want to speak too much! But he actually isn’t shy… he’s friendly and easy-going too!
But the team at Italy Made Easy doesn’t finish there! We have two more Italians - Italian girls - who have extremely important roles. There’s Giada, who’s Sicilian, who deals with the Forum and above all she takes part in the video chat with our students. We have Cristiana, Giada and Michela who together are available to chat - to video chat - in Italian with our students from Italy Made Easy Academy. And it’s for this reason that our students are able to speak in Italian, and it’s thanks to people such as Giada who, with their beautiful personalities and their openness and their calmness and patience, help our students to practice their spoken Italian and in turn understand spoken Italian and express themselves in Italian.
Giada has been with us for more or less a year and has a very sweet personality… she is a very sweet person and she’s also very formal. And if you ask me, that would be a cultural difference between a Sicilian and a Roman… or someone from Trieste. Ah I forgot to mention! Cristiana is from Trieste and Giada is from Catania. The other person who takes part in the video chats with the students is Michela who I believe lives in Bologna. Oh gosh, sorry Michela, I don’t remember! Anyway, Michela is really sweet too and she’s also very patient - obviously to do the chats you need to be a calm person - and the interesting thing about Michela is that she’s of Argentinian background. She grew up in Italy, she is Italian, obviously, but her mom is from Argentina. If you guys talk in the video chat with Michela you can also use a bit of Spanish.
But the team at Italy Made Easy doesn’t finish there, we have other people, I’ll mention them briefly as this episode is really long… We have Alex, who is our Programmer in Russia. Then we have a Sound Technician who helps us with producing the Podcast - Hi Mirko! - in Italy… We have a Video Editor who edits our Youtube videos… Then we have people who come and go as we need them. At the moment we have a Youtube expert who is helping us to optimize our videos, we have people who help us with Facebook… Basically we are a decent team, there are lots of us. And it’s thanks to this team that we are able to be here, consistently, to help you. Both here on the Podcast, and on Youtube, and also on Italy Made Easy Academy. We are here for you, we listen to you and we want you to be successful! And it’s thanks to you that we have reached 100,000 subscribers on Youtube, we have 15,000 students enrolled in our Academy - who are doing our courses - and you all support us as much as you’re able to. If you follow us on Youtube that’s great, if you listen to our Podcast thank you so much, if you’re able to purchase one of our courses thank you for that as well… You all help us in whatever way you can and it’s a mutual exchange, right? We love you guys and you guys love us! That’s all then… I’ve lost my voice because I’ve talked about our team and I adore my team… there isn’t… They are all wonderful people. I’m a very lucky person for having created this safe environment for my team and also for my students I hope. Ok that’s enough Manu, I’m starting to get emotional! Enough! Bye and I’ll see you next time!