The importance of being sustainable. Our success must not happen in a vacuum. As I mentioned before, sustainability is quickly becoming an integral part of our vision for growth, and it will continue to spread in all areas of our organization and be a significant element of our success.
Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Alessio Lorusso.
Alessio Lorusso (Forbes 30 Under 30), is the CEO and founder of Roboze (roboze.com), the most accurate 3D printing technology in the world for high performance super polymers and composites.
At age 17, applying the know-how acquired from his mechatronics family trade, he built his first 3D printer without belts, marrying the latest 3D printing technology with traditional mechatronics engineering.
Thanks to that first invention, Alessio was able to start Roboze, which now employs over 100 people and has subsidiaries in Germany and the United States (Houston, TX).
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
As a teenager, my family was pressuring me to become a CPA or work in Finance, but I could not bear the idea of looking at spreadsheets for a living. Instead, I had a passion for science and technology. At 17, I “met” a 3D printer for the first time, and I fell in love. This piece of technology combined mechanics, electronics, chemistry, and physics all in one; it was fantastic! However, I felt there was plenty of room for improvement especially in terms of the output. So, for months after school I was going to the shop floor of my family’s business to work on my own 3D printing solution. I called it Roboze One, the first-of-its-kind 3D printer with a beltless system. This innovation eliminated the issues linked to the rubber belts regularly used in desktop 3D printers: distortion, wear, inaccurate repeatability, and the need for frequent calibrations. So, you could say that having the courage and conviction to follow my passion rather than go with the safer family counsel is what shaped who I am today.
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
Initially, I thought that success could exist in a vacuum, and that I could be successful by relying mostly on myself. As my first innovation took off, I realized that without a growing group of people who trusted my vision and felt empowered enough to share their own ideas and expertise, my success would be limited and short-lived.
Another misconception I had initially was that my competitors could steal my idea if I shared it, and that would end my dream very quickly. Eventually, I realized that to build a successful company I needed to develop a reputable brand and utilize the feedback from potential customers, partners, or investors. This would help me create the best product. So, overcoming my fears, I patented my invention and I hired Ilaria, our CMO and my first employee to help me convey my vision to the world. To this day she continues to help us brand ROBOZE globally.
How has your definition of success changed?
At the beginning, my definition of success was to be able to improve the existing 3D printers to make a superior product that would facilitate the lives of numerous businesses and individuals using this technology. Now, my definition of success has shifted toward a new paradigm where we acknowledge that what we do does not exist in isolation. Therefore, we want our new products not only to be the best metal replacement technologies in the world but also to reduce the environmental impact of our materials and optimize energy consumption. For instance, in January 2022 we are launching a new circular economy program that will enable our customers to recycle their waste material and used 3D printed parts through us. In turn, we will produce new materials from the recycled waste which will be sold at a much lower price than the original, all the while helping safeguard the environment.
The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?
During the lockdowns we were all forced to slow down, work remotely, and look at the world around us. For the first time, I saw birds show up on my balcony, the sky was clearer, and everywhere was quieter.
As the pandemic faded away and we went back to our regular lives, I wondered how our society could respond to climate change, pollution, and environmental degradation without the economic and social impacts of lockdowns.
Therefore, I decided that my company should be part of the solution to climate change and help reduce emissions
As a result, we launched ROBOZE 3D Parts (2021) a subscription-based program that brings manufacturing of 3D finished parts close to the point of use reducing related transportation emissions by at least 30%.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
It is during challenging times, like the one we just lived, that we are reminded of the kindness and generosity of people surrounding us because we realize that we are all in it together.
For instance, when the pandemic started, we were alerted by a business associate in Los Angeles that the UCLA Orthopaedic Institute for Children’s faculty and staff was committed to continue providing care to kids in need, but access to personal protective equipment had become a real challenge. I did not think it twice and contacted Dr. Mauricio Silva, OIC’s Medical Director, offering to donate hundreds of 3D printed face shields to protect healthcare workers from possible COVID-19 infection. In fact, as we were starting to flatten the curve in Italy, I remembered how challenging it was for Italian healthcare workers at the beginning of this pandemic to be properly equipped while tending to patients’ needs. So, I was eager to do something impactful for healthcare workers in the frontline in the U.S. which I consider our “second home”.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Caring more openly for the safety and wellbeing of our employees. During the pandemic one thing has become obvious: how valuable each one of our employees is to the success of our organization. As we implemented remote work, some employees were happy to work from home while others missed the office. As the lockdowns ended, we decided to continue with a hybrid system to accommodate as many people as possible and, in that way, show them we care about their input by letting them work in the environment that best suits them. I must say, thanks to this strategy, we have seen productivity gains.
- Traveling salespeople went virtual. Our company operates globally and our salespeople, before COVID-19, used to travel across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas to visit customers and participate in trade shows and conferences. At the time, there was almost a stigma attached to salespeople who did not travel most of the year. During the pandemic everyone went virtual, and their presence in-person was no longer expected by our clients and prospects. As we return to a semi-normal reality, our salespeople effectiveness is no longer measured in terms of sales + “miles,” we have redefined success in terms of being able to build a good mix of in-person visits and events with virtual meetings.
- The importance of being sustainable. Our success must not happen in a vacuum. As I mentioned before, sustainability is quickly becoming an integral part of our vision for growth, and it will continue to spread in all areas of our organization and be a significant element of our success.
- Learn to manage hybrid teams. Success of any company in the future will depend a lot on its ability to manage hybrid teams. In my case, even before COVID we had a global team, so we were sort of used to dealing with virtual teams. What changed today is that even some key administrative people who used to be at the office every day, have opted to work from home full or part-time for various reasons. When we started, the people who used to be at the office and went virtual were emailing me to ask for approval for a diverse range of tasks. That was an inefficient way to operate. To solve this problem, I had to start delegating more and set up periodic meetings to keep everyone engaged.
- Be ready for the next crisis. Success nowadays also means to be flexible and ready to face crises that can disrupt all your plans in the blink of an eye. As an entrepreneur, I managed to keep my company afloat and on a growing path during COVID by thinking outside the box and reinventing certain aspects of our way of doing business. I found it very helpful to have a global team and global customers who gave me inputs based on experiences from different parts of the world. I believe this strategy will be effective if and when the next crisis will hit: get feedback from our global staff and other business partners and adjust this feedback to our reality.
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
If, as part of our success we added an index linked to caring for the wellbeing of our people and our planet — such the ESG used by investors in public companies — I think we would ultimately be happier and healthier.
What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?
Many people do not like change even if it promises improvements in their quality of life. They may be afraid of unknown consequences that may end up negatively affecting them personally. The best way to overcoming these obstacles is to rely on leaders who choose to be transparent about the challenges and benefits of the changes. It is important to start planting the seeds of change and don’t expect to attain immediate results rather get people to get comfortable with it step by step.
Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?
I usually read business/trade magazines, articles from newsletters and Medium.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.
I admire Elon Musk. He’s a visionary and an example for any entrepreneur that likes to push boundaries.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.