Alumni Newsletter: November 2014 
ABC: Al's Book Club
..Change is difficult. While widely cited and certainly open to criticism as being anecdotal, change efforts are reported to fail in some 75 percent of cases. Most of us can relate to that assertion through a simple reflection upon the number of personal change efforts we have attempted in our lifetimes. Perhaps given that we are rapidly approaching the "New Year's Resolution" season makes such a reflection a little more real than most of us would prefer. In this ABC, I would like to look at "Change is difficult" expressly, and particularly at the "difficult" part of the equation. 

Luigi Becherini 

CIMBA MBA Part-Time Class of 2000


Luigi, what years did you attend part-time classes at CIMBA? Would you mind sharing your current and past job experience with us? 

I attended part-time classes from 1998 to 2000 and graduated from Clemson University. After a few years as a manager in an Italian company, I moved to London where I established my own entity as a luxury property developer. This practice naturally evolved into fund management. Since then, I have expanded my fund management activities into other luxury product areas, such as fashion and jewelry.


In reminiscing about your CIMBA experience, what are a few things that changed your way of thinking?

The time spent in Clemson prior to graduation was transformative for me. Immersion in a another culture also changed my approach to life for the better. It was probably the reason I decided to move to London four years later to start a new chapter in my life.


What was your favorite moment during your time at CIMBA? Favorite class?

My favorite time over the two years was the entire session we spent at Clemson. I enjoyed finance class the most.


What was the impact of the MBA program on your career?

It showed me it was possible to leave Italy to start a career abroad. This has proven to be quite a journey!


Looking back on your professional career so far, is there anything you regret?

No, I only look forward!


What advice would you give to current or prospective students?

I have learned three important lessons in my business career: One is that knowledge is a tool but you build your business upon dreams, passion, and full commitment. The second is that only by reaching the bottom and jumping back up, can you really reach the top. The third is that you can not rationally understand stupidity so refrain from dealing with idiots.


Would you mind sharing a dream or a future goal of yours?

I believe I will find a new dream when I will achieve the present one.


What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

My favorite movie is Dune. My favorite book is Outliers.


What inspires you?

Thinking about the journey to each of my achievements inspires me the most.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to get in touch with financial advisors or brokers within the CIMBA alumni network. I am hoping to expand the distribution network of my collective investment scheme in North and South America. Feel free to visit our website for more information and contacts:


On November 10th, David Frasier, Associate Dean for the School of Management from the Tippie School of Business, visited with the full time MBA students in an open forum. Dean Frasier spoke with the full time students about the value and leverage of an MBA in the current job market. He also discussed the evolution of the meaning of an MBA and how students can articulate their experience upon graduation to accelerate their career.


It was conveyed to students that the foundational attributes of leadership and awareness integrated at CIMBA will allow them to obtain careers aligned with their personal and professional goals. Through a series of questions, he demonstrated to students that the University of Iowa has a job placement rate of three months. Students expressed an interest in career development and he encouraged them to reach out to the resources offered at the university through career services and alumni development. The full time MBA students left the forum feeling encouraged and excited to complete their degree in Iowa City, Iowa in the summer of 2015! 

Alumni Updates

This cute little girl is Siah Madeline Forth, born on November 2nd. She is the daughter of Chuck and Tess Montano, CLC and 2009 MBA alumna. Congratulations, Mom and Dad, and welcome to the world, Siah! 


Omar Graham, MBA Class of 2010, and his wife Sanya, are the proud parents of this sweet pearl, Hanna Monica Marguerhita, born on October 23rd.  


Bryan Schutte, UG Spring 2006, and his wife Jamie welcomed Isaac Alan on September 30th. Congratulations on your new addition to the Schutte family!    


What curious eyes this little baby boy has! Congratulations Lisa De Pass, MBA Class of 2009! Your Kai Paschal is simply adorable. Kai was born on October 17th. 


Newlyweds Robert Tudisco, CLC and MBA Class of 2007 and Tara Rouhani, UG Class of 2007, married on November 8th. Congratulations, Robert and Tara, on your new life together - you look wonderful!

New job? Moving somewhere? Getting married? Other life changes? Want to volunteer your profile for the Meet the Alumni section?   

Keep your fellow alums in the loop! Send your news items to and they will appear here the following month!
Calendar of Events:

December 6,7,10,11
MBA Supply Chain
Professor Tim Lowe, University of Iowa

December 13,14,20,21
MBA Management in Organization
Professor Amy Kristov, University of Iowa

December 12 and 13
ECIMS - Strategy Module
Professor Jon Gray, University of Iowa 

Dear ,  


We trust that you are relishing the delights accompanying the crisp weather and holiday season upon us! Here at CIMBA, we are in the midst of wrapping up the fall semester.


What has been going on in Paderno throughout November? This month has been filled with a plethora of opportunities across the study abroad spectrum! In between their regular classes and local 'Add a Seat to the Table' events with local Italian families, undergraduate students have been enjoying social activities with their professors and gobbling up a delicious Thanksgiving dinner prepared by the Filippin Institute cafeteria staff. 


On the MBA side, the full-time students finished up the production and operations management course with Professor Karwan, met with Iowa Associate Dean David Frasier, and joined the undergraduate students for Thanksgiving dinner. All MBA students attended managerial accounting classes with the legendary Professor Chope and are looking forward to management classes with Professor Kristov next month.


As the semester comes to an end soon, students are certainly making the most of their time left in Italy. Be sure to catch the YouTube video featuring some beautiful pictures from some students' day trip to Verona, the City of Love.


In this issue, we also catch up with Class of 2000 MBA alumnus, Luigi Beccherini, who has built up a successful luxury investment firm in London since graduation.


Lastly, don't miss the recent wedding and birth announcements from your fellow alumni and a list of scheduled events this upcoming month. Please share your updates and accomplishments with us - we sincerely enjoy hearing from you!


Happy Thanksgiving!

CIMBA Undergraduate
Thanksgiving Dinner 2014!
Cristina Turchet explains the meaning behind the celebration of Thanksgiving.
The end of November brought the annual CIMBA Thanksgiving dinner in the Filippin Institute cafeteria! As usual, we celebrated Thanksgiving two days early in order to accommodate the travel plans of students. Undergraduate students, full-time MBA students, faculty, staff, and family members all came together to partake in this feast of thanks. This year brought the special addition of some Italian students and staff from the Filippin Institute. The Thanksgiving meal served as a great opportunity to engage in international exchange! Associate Director Cristina Turchet did an excellent job of explaining the background and traditions of American Thanksgiving to the Italian group. 

Prior to dinner being served, CLC Chris Knudsen read out a poem of gratitude along with a heartfelt message that reminded everyone how much they had to be thankful for. While CIMBA students decorated a poster with post-it notes explaining what they were thankful for, Italian students paid close attention to the special Thanksgiving menu items and recorded what each course consisted of. Students and staff alike were wow-ed by the cafeteria staff's cooking prowess and left with full stomachs and happy hearts. Here at CIMBA we are thankful for the entire CIMBA family!

CLC Chris Knudsen shares a poem and message of gratitude at the start of the meal.

Pastry Making at Pasticerria Gambasin!

Alessandro of Gambasin gives a VIP demonstration of the pastry making process to students. 

Undergraduate students spent an "Event with a Professor" watching one of the best pastry makers in the Veneto region make his famous white chocolate treats and his delicious "Mille Foglie" cake, which in English means "a thousand layers." You can imagine how delicious it must be! "Event with a Professor" is an event that happens various times throughout the undergraduate semester at CIMBA. It is meant to give a group of students the chance to explore the surrounding area in a cultural manner along with a professor, whether it is by visiting restaurants and enjoying the local cuisine, making their own authentic Italian pizza and pasta, or in this case, witnessing how local high quality pastries and chocolate are made. This time, the students went with Professor Joe Pirozzi from North Carolina State University. Professor Pirozzi currently teaches two courses here at CIMBA, International Marketing and Personal Sales Strategy.

The evening was spent in "Pasticceria Gambasin," a local pastry shop that is located on the north side of Paderno del Grappa. Pasticceria Gambasin is highly popular around the area, its ambience makes you feel like you are in a contemporary Parisian cafe. Each pastry at this shop is made and constructed to perfection to the most minimal detail; it truly is an art form. The owner and main pastry maker, Alessandro, took the students to his "lab" where he kindly showed them how chocolate pastries were prepared from scratch and how chocolate could be molded into various shapes and forms. One piece of chocolate looked exactly like a rose! Alessandro also gave exquisite samples to his audience, as well as explained the various processes he has to go through to make each pastry. Overall, it was a great experience for the students and Professor Pirozzi! The evening was a lot of fun and it was great to witness firsthand such a big part of the local culture, which is of course to indulge in these delectable pastries!


CLC Manuel Velilla-Ferrer interprets  at Gambasin for CIMBA undergraduate students.

CIMBA Fall 2014 students explore Verona during a weekend day trip!
CIMBA Fall 2014 students explore Verona during a weekend day trip!

CIMBA Executive 

It is strategy time!

On December 12th and 13th, the Executive Certificate participants will meet for the first "Knowledge" class of their program. After working on their team building skillsstrategy ECIM and Process skills (Problem Solving and Decision Making) they will learn and appreciate how companies develop their strategies to survive in their respective markets. Professor Jon Gray, a professional with a previous career at several multinational companies (including Rockwell Collins and Cargill), and now an adjunct lecturer at the University of Iowa, will lead them through a simulation that integrates all functional areas of business. The participants will be provided with the seed capital to start up their own business. They will build a factory, open up sales offices, hire workers, and design brands and advertising campaigns. They will deal with demand projections, production scheduling, and quality control issues. Business principles, terms, practices, and ways of thinking will be employed within the natural context of starting up and managing a business. Abstract ideas will become grounded in real-life decision-making. As James Ickes, from Rockwell International Corporation says: "The skills and abilities that this simulation calls for to be successful are the very skills needed to survive in business today and that makes the entire exercise highly relevant to what we all do 40+ hours per week!" If you are interested in joining this exciting class, please contact


Congrats, LIFE Class 1056!


LIFE Class


Congratulations to Class 1056! Over the past weekend a group of Italian executives graduated from the CIMBA Leadership Initiative for Excellence program. It was particularly pleasing to see so many LIFE alumni in the audience. Attending graduations always recharges past participants and helps to renew the promises each of us made during the training. Additionally, it enables reflection on the progress that we all made! We hope to see more of you for the next edition the weekend of March 6th through 8th.  

Quick Links 
AbcABC:Al's Book Club

Those of you who read this column on a regular basis know that its primary focus is in keeping alumni and friends of CIMBA informed about the progress of the CIMBA Leadership Development System. A common, often implicit, thread through all of those discussions has been: Change is difficult. While widely cited and certainly open to criticism as being anecdotal, change efforts are reported to fail in some 75 percent of cases. Most of us can relate to that assertion through a simple reflection upon the number of personal change efforts we have attempted in our lifetimes. Perhaps the fact that we are rapidly approaching the "New Year's Resolution" season makes such a reflection a little more real than most of us would prefer. In this ABC, I would like to look at "Change is difficult" expressly, and particularly at the "difficult" part of the equation. To assist us toward this end, I encourage you to consider a very interesting book on the subject of "difficult" by Dr. Todd Kashdan and Dr. Robert Bis-Diener entitled: The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Self - Not Just Your "Good" Self - Drives Success and Fulfillment.

  The upside of the dark side cover

The authors' basic premise is that every human emotion is useful, that all physiological states have some adaptive advantage. To quote the authors directly: "people who are able to use the whole range of their natural psychological gifts - those folks who are comfortable with being both positive and negative, and therefore draw from the full range of human emotions - are the healthiest and, often, the most successful." Interestingly, the authors' phrasing brings to mind an often cited quote by Albert E.N. Gray, given at a life insurance convention of all places, in a speech entitled "The Common Denominator of Success" in 1940: "The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do.  They don't like doing them either necessarily.  But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose." Remarkably, it has taken nearly 75 years for this basic notion to take a serious foothold in our thinking about personal development and growth. The authors attribute this to the introduction of sophisticated neuroscience, advanced statistics, mobile devices that allow for better sampling of daily experiences, and other methodological and technical breakthroughs, a rationale with which we are in full agreement. Such a person, according to the authors, exhibits emotional agility (the capacity to experience both positive and negative emotions about their lives), social agility (the ability to recognize how one situation differs from another, and to adjust behavior to match those changing demands, what we would call "mental complexity"), and mental agility (the ability to switch between mindlessness and mindfulness as circumstances demand, what we would define as having the ability to consciously move from System 1 to System 2 thinking).


In a particularly compelling illustration of their proposition, they make the argument that long distance running, like life itself, involves two experiences that are taking place at much the same time. They make note of the fact that many athletes distinguish between the beginning, middle, and end portions of the race, with the beginning characterized by intense focus (positive emotion), the middle by deep self reflection (positive emotion), and the end where athletes are likely to use anger, self castigation, and other negative states to drive performance. Their summary of this is particularly interesting: "If positivity and optimism account for 80 percent of success, then tapping the whole range of experience offers that remaining 20 percent edge." Upon this notion, the authors present a variety of evidence strongly suggesting that we as a society are working overtime to dampen down "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" and thereby making it increasingly difficult for individuals to become the person they really want to be. I could not agree more.


In an effort to bring the book and the CIMBA Leadership Development System together, I would like to begin with the thinking of Dr. Albert Ellis who the American Psychological Association named as the second most prominent psychologist in the 20th century and who is recognized as the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. As the authors rightly point out, Dr. Ellis argued that three major dysfunctional beliefs directly ramp up distress and destructive behavior:


1. "I must do well and win the approval of others to be accepted."

2. "Other people must do "the right thing" or else they are no good."

3. "Life must be easy, without discomfort or inconvenience."


Those familiar with our System will have little difficulty recognizing points (1) and (2). The concepts of deceptive brain messages, System 1 versus System 2 thinking, self-awareness, social awareness, among others as well as the use of our 6-Columns Personal Development Assistance Tool in addressing issues associated with those concepts easily come to mind as you read through and reflect upon those first two points. Increasingly, our coaches and facilitators are beginning to sense the importance of point (3), and particularly as it embraces our notion of self-regulation as an ability and the motivation required to activate or arouse that important ability. From a motivational perspective, there is little question that point (3) is highly interrelated with the other two points; an individual's basic need for comfort and pleasantness (which is very likely an automatic and unconscious System 1 habit) will make it difficult - there is that word again - to consciously achieve a goal to overcome a real or perceived fear of rejection.


For those of you who are familiar with our LIFE experience, you may recall the "Stress" video to which we referred you. That video, which can be found here on Youtube, stands for the proposition that the solution to stress is to take on more stress. This is a basic tenet of our coaching system and our 6-Columns Personal Development Assistance Tool. It is also a basic tenet of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and, not surprisingly, also of this month's book suggestion. The authors are quite articulate in making the argument that our basic need to avoid unpleasantness is causing us far more harm than good. The notion that by somehow avoiding failure and other forms of "painful" personal growth and development is somehow beneficial to self-esteem and personal achievement is repeatedly demonstrated to have the opposite effect as the authors take you through study after study.


The basic premise here is one that we observe in all of our participant groups -- undergraduates, MBAs, and executives. Becoming a more effective leader/manager is a very attractive goal. Rarely do we have a participant who enters our program without the expectation of achieving that goal. While the goal motivates them to join the program, a number of them discover very quickly that: Change is difficult. Understanding the essence of existing habits, testing the assumptions upon which those habits are based, and then practicing through those old habits to create new ones ("The solution to stress is to take on more stress") is, well, unpleasant. More succinctly, our efforts to overcome our habits in points (1) and (2) are overridden by a point (3) sense of unpleasantness or inconvenience. Again: Change is difficult.


So from where do we find the motivation to overcome the unpleasantness so directly associated with change? One would think that a traumatic health event might be sufficient motivation, but studies have shown that only one out of nine people will adopt more healthy dietary, exercise, and sleep habits after open-heart surgery necessitated by unhealthy habits in those same areas (and costing more than $200,000). Job loss is another often traumatic event, but one for which society has dampened the unpleasantness through a variety of entitlement safety net programs. Loss of an important relationship is another often traumatic event. Most of us have either experienced the divorce of a friend or had the unpleasantness of experiencing it first hand. Unfortunately, if current statistics on the rate of marriage and family formation are to be believed, the motivation in confronting such loss has been directed more toward the "Why get married in the first place?" and away from the more difficult "Why not work harder to make the marriage succeed?" Again: Change is difficult


Most researchers embrace the notion that change involves learning. Learning involves the acquisition of knowledge with the intent to use that knowledge; personally, as an educator, I would like to believe that the intent is to use that knowledge in productive, constructive, creative, and healthy ways but we can all readily point to situations where that has not been the case. Still, within this sense of knowledge acquisition we have found it convenient to look at knowledge as being accessed through either (1) biologically primary or (2) biologically secondary learning environments. In looking to achieve an adaptive solution to a personal competency shortcoming, biologically primary learning environments which by definition provide a combination of emotion and cognition bring about the desired result. To the brain, such situations often take on a "survival" connotation. For example, learning your first language, basic problem solving skills, facial recognition, and basic interactive skills would all qualify as being biologically primary. Importantly, and in contrast to biologically secondary learning environments, the presence of a teacher or professor or trainer is not necessary for learning to take place. In fact, a cognition-based course purporting to deliver such adaptive learning - we would say, providing a "technical" solution with the intent to "fix" an "adaptive" competency shortcoming - is very likely going to fail (particularly, as we have discussed before, in those environments where vocal, low self-regulatory, individuals are present who will stomp their feet at the very notion of change). Knowledge that is biologically secondary in nature (consider, for example, a course in finance or accounting -- no offense to my finance and accounting friends) necessitates the presence of a teacher or professor or trainer who provides the motivation for student accomplishment. Not being needed for "survival," the brain needs instructor motivation (and peer pressure) to overcome the unpleasantness of learning. One only needs to look at the stratospheric dropout rates for online courses to see evidence of this phenomena; taking an online course "by yourself" is so sufficiently unpleasant for most people that dropping out becomes a relatively easy course of action (In such situations, one should be asked: "Where else is this respond to developmental "pain" showing up in your life?"). By contrast, the programmatic structure of an "in-person" course, the presence of the professor or teacher or trainer, and, importantly, the presence of others provide additional motivation, at least sufficient motivation to remain in the class. The unpleasantness of the course is exceeded by the unpleasantness brought about by the others witnessing your unwillingness to continue. Again: Change is difficult.


In this sense, we might be tempted to use the phrase "motivational environment" to differentiate the two learning propositions. The challenge confronting teachers, professors, and trainers in overcoming the unpleasantness and inconvenience of change is to create sufficient motivational environments. At the organizational level, as we have observed over the years in our full-time MBA groups, the more impactful the motivational environment, the more likely are we to see significant, sustainable personal development and growth. Those MBA classes who worked hardest at creating their motivational environment by openly setting goals and then in providing continuous support for each other are hands down more successful after the program than MBA classes who fail to implement and nurture the needed motivational environment. In other words, those classes that create the equivalent of the "online" motivational environment are the quickest to back away from change when it becomes unpleasant or inconvenient. Conversely, those MBA classes that openly embrace cooperation instead of competition on all fronts are both more successful professionally but also score more highly on relevant measures of life satisfaction. Change is difficult -- but very rewarding.


In our ongoing efforts to provide the components that drive motivational environments, while encouraging goals and support as being fundamental in the larger sense, we are finding that individuals often find motivation in data. By data, I want to emphasize that I mean something in meaningful addition to self-report data. If you ask a group of individuals to raise their hands if they believe they are below average in their ability to drive a car or manage stress, it is rare to see even a single hand being raised. While such a belief in oneself perhaps benefits the psychological immune system, it provides a major contribution toward the rationalization too many of us use when confronted with a personal development challenge that is unpleasant or inconvenient. Data, in combination with a coach who can assist you in making sense of the data, is an important ingredient in creating a personal motivational environment.


As we have discussed in prior ABCs, we long ago rejected the "ego depletion" notion for failings in self-regulation and adopted the more robust "self-regulation as an ability activated by motivation" point of view. From this perspective, an individual is less likely to back away from a personal development challenge solely on the basis of its unpleasantness or inconvenience. More specifically, by enhancing our awareness of those situations and particularly the people in those situations, by elevating our self-regulatory ability so that in such situations we are able to slow the brain down and make better decisions, we significantly enhance our ability to bring about long-term, sustainable change in our behavior. As to tools for assisting in raising an individual's self-regulatory ability, we are strong believers in the practice of mindfulness and in focused brain exercises that serve those purposes. It is important to note that on the issue of mindfulness, I do not fully agree with the authors who draw an awkward line between mindfulness and mindlessness and our ability to switch between them. I am not sure the authors fully understand the construct of mindfulness but it does not subtract from the strength of their important message.


One final point of particular relevance is our experience in using our 6-Column Personal Development Assistance Tool. As participants begin to understand that it is their brain's System 1 self protection goal to avoid their fears, concerns, worries, anxieties, and other unpleasantries, they are then provided with the means to test the assumptions upon which those unpleasantries have been based. In an overwhelming number of cases, participants find their assumptions to be false. In fact, while the pathway to achieving their goal may still involve unpleasantness and inconvenience, the test - driven by data - shows them that the goal will deliver far more pleasantness than their current alternative. Without question, change is difficult. The process of change involves unpleasantness and inconvenience. Fostering the motivation to push beyond the unpleasantness and inconvenience allows us to take personal risks, to confront personal challenges, to become the person we were really meant to be.


I strongly suggest that you take advantage of this holiday season to be thankful for those around you are willing to assist in creating your motivational environment. Encourage one of them, perhaps that most important person in your life, to gift you a copy of The Upside of Your Dark Side as you celebrate the Christmas holidays. And then, with those key ingredients in place, put them to work by reinvigorating your New Year's resolutions.


Happy Thanksgiving!