I’d like you readers to vote for me in the Rising Star category of the LinkedIn European Business Awards 2010. You do that by going to this page and clicking on the red “Vote for me!” button.
But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Paola Bonomo, and I run an Internet business within a larger media company. It’s a heck of a tough job: with no clear end in sight to the maelstrom in the media industry, my team and I are fixing the basics, slaughtering some sacred cows, riding some tigers, and gearing up to leapfrog to reinvent the newspaper business. And I enjoy every minute of it. Slaughters included.
I come from a middle-class family, and I’ve seized all the opportunities I could. I’ve attended Kindergarten in Germany, spent some undergraduate time as an exchange student in New York, and earned an MBA in California. I’ve worked in Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. I’ve worked hard, and I’ve had some good mentors both in consulting and in the Internet world. I’m grateful to them.
If I were a politician, my agenda would be: rule of law, merit, and growth. I am passionate about meritocracy (see book and blog), promoting talent, and women’s empowerment in the business world. I’ve been in business for almost twenty years, and I haven’t seen as much improvement as I had hoped I would see along these dimensions: we’ve got a long way to go. I believe in entrepreneurship and I enjoy supporting it through angel investing.
Of course, the LinkedIn European Business Awards 2010 are just a game. A game, because the winners win no money, do not get elected to political office, and do not gain anything tangible, other than an appropriately virtual prize: “a free years’ subscription to WebEx along with an hour WebEx mentor session with one of the judges”. The one Grand Prix winner will also get to meet one of the judges face to face. Although the one-hour session with one of the judges might be considered priceless, a year’s subscription to WebEx Meeting Center will set you back £24/month. So that’s the prize.
Yet, I like winning. Even if the prize isn’t much, and even if discussions have cropped up questioning the fairness of the rules or the decisions made by the judges. I don’t question any of these things: the rules are clear, and the judges are entitled to apply their discretion as they see fit. Actually, I feel like responding to the complainers with Sayre’s law: just like an academic dispute, this one is so bitter precisely because the stakes are so low.
Finally, I stand by the spirit of LinkedIn. Just like in-person networking, LinkedIn is not a game: all my LinkedIn contacts are people I’ve personally met and can tell you something about. (With one exception, Loic LeMeur, which to this day I cannot explain. I must have a weakness for French entrepreneurs.) That’s why, if you send me a connection request and I cannot recall ever meeting you, I will turn it down – or rather, archive it in the hope of meeting you in the future. But that’s also the reason why, if you send me a request for an introduction to someone else, I will forward it. I’m a connector. And I try to keep LinkedIn a good, clean place. By not linking with strangers, I am aware I’m at a disadvantage in the Awards, which rely so much on votes from first-degree connections. Yet, it’s not enough of a reason to stretch my interpretation of the LinkedIn rules.
If you like what I stand for – innovation, meritocracy, real-life connecting – please consider voting for me. If you’ve already done so, please tell your friends. Thanks!