In this interview, the basketball champion and her mental coach talk about the journey of sporting and personal growth they have made together, which they discuss in the book "I Am: Giorgia Sottana's Journey," published by Startmehub.
This interview is about two incredible figures on the Italian sports scene.
You may be thinking: what does this have to do with the web marketing?
Well, it's simple: as you know, here I tell you, among other things, success stories and examples of winning mindsets that have enabled people to achieve their goals. Not only that: there is something that particularly connects me to this wonderful couple - and you are about to find out.
Anyway, who am I talking to you about?
She is a super award-winning basketball champion; a super strong player, a tiger of the parquet who tours Europe and has obviously been selected for the national team as well.
He is the mental coach of great sports champions as well as entrepreneurs and professionals who want to get the most out of their business and in their lives.
Well, you should know that together they wrote a fantastic book together, entitled "I am: the journey of Giorgia Sottana".
I had the honor and pleasure of publishing it as an editor: this is a project that I was very impressed with and enjoyed very much, because these two seemingly very different characters actually blend very well together.
By the way, the proceeds were given to charity to NutriAid, both the part of the writers and authors and the part of the publisher-not a single euro was really retained.
In the interview you will read in a very short while you will discover that their personalities are, in my opinion, different from what one would expect. Giorgia, who is super strong in the field and super aggressive, seemed to me shy, at times a little awkward in relating during the interview, and incredibly sweet. Gabriele, who is someone I had the pleasure of meeting here in the studio, is very quiet, very placid, but he has very shrewd and sometimes very precise, biting outbursts toward the world of coaching or at any rate what the world of professionalism is in general.
Both of them reveal themselves in a surprisingly interesting way, telling us about what they do, what they got out of working together, and how their book came about. I definitely recommend that you purchase it on Amazon in Kindle or printed version (a reminder that all proceeds go to NutriAid charity).
I leave you with the interview with Giorgia Sottana and Gabriele Bani. Enjoy.
The champion and the mental coach: that's who they are
Valerio: Good morning and welcome back, I am Valerio Fioretti of Valerio.it and today I have the pleasure to have as super special guests champion Giorgia Sottana and mental coach Gabriele Bani, authors of this fantastic book "I am: the journey of Giorgia Sottani". Good morning Gabriel, good morning Giorgia.
Gabriel: Good morning.
Giorgia: Good morning.
Valerio: Good morning. For those who don't know you I would, first of all, give the floor to the fairer sex. Giorgia, give us a very quick introduction of who you are and what you do.
Giorgia: I'm Giorgia Sottana, I play on the Italian national basketball team, so I'm a basketball player. This is what I do in life, then what I am would take a little more time to explain. Basically this is what I do, and nothing, here I am.
Valerio: Okay. Gabriel?
Gabriele: Good morning, I am Gabriele Bani, I am a mental coach. I collaborate with Giorgia, with other professional athletes and also other entrepreneurs who want to bring out their excellence. To make a .
Gabriele: ...small introduction, yes, Giorgia says what she does, but in the book we are talking about you will find out who she is and especially how important it is for an athlete, but also for any person, to discover their own being. If I can say something as far as I am concerned, I am a mental coach and she is a mental coach, so she tries to be an example, by her own actions, for what she tries to convey for life.
Valerio: So let's clarify one thing right away. Who is and what does the mental coach do? If you can explain like that, in 20 seconds, just so we don't get confused with other more or less professional figures. Okay?
Gabriel: Okay. Perfect. The mental coach is a person who has studied how the brain works, so what are the mental strategies that can enable a person to be really effective. The mental coach works with healthy people, so people who are well, who want to improve their results and who want to have a more excellent life, bring out the 100% of themselves.
Valerio: Perfect. Giorgia, when did you start playing basketball? I assume at a very young age.
Giorgia: I started playing basketball that I was really really small, we're talking about ... Madonna, I'm old now, we're talking about 25 years ago. As soon as I could take my first steps with a ball in my hand I started.
Valerio: You went to the field. How tall are you?
Giorgia: 1.77 - 1.78, depends on whether with shoes or without shoes.
Valerio: Okay. Listen Giorgia, since you are a professional athlete, do you have a number of coaches, various people who follow you? I think there are people who follow you for nutrition, fitness, strategies, playing techniques. I think there are an avalanche of professionals that surround you, that take care of you and your career anyway. Is mental coaching something that everyone has or was it your choice? Are you one of the few or is it customary for sports professionals to have a mental coach by their side?
Giorgia: I would first like to make a premise: yes we are professionals and yes, sometimes we are provided with figures like the nutritionist or the athletic trainer, or personalized coaches, etc., however, it's not really that obvious. I think when you are a professional you have to know how to take care of your body, and know when you need these figures or not. This is exactly what happened to me with Gabry, when I decided to work with a mental coach.
It is a figure that is still not very well known here in Italy, it is a figure that I also discovered and towards which I was a bit skeptical at first (Gabry can confirm). It's definitely not something that's made available to you, and I think on the one hand it's fair because it's fair that everyone realizes what they need. It is right for everyone to do what they can to achieve their goals, so also to invest some time (in this case even money), or at any rate some desire to improve themselves.
Valerio: Sure. Whereas you, Gabriel, tell us how you met Georgia, how you approached each other, how you met.
Gabriele: It was thanks to our mutual friend, Piero Zanella, who is then the one who wrote the preface part of the book, that I basically ... As a mental coach, one thing I like to do is interview successful people, people who achieve great things. Giorgia was a girl who had won everything in Italy, and basically her resume spoke for her. So I said to Piero, "Look, I would need to interview successful people, so that I can get a good understanding of what their strategies are that allow them to get these results." From there, I remember I was quietly in Ancona, one phone call and that's how our adventure started.
Valerio: So it started there. How long have you been working together, how long?
Gabriel: It's been three years now.
The idea of the book and its purpose
Valerio: 3 years, okay. From what idea, insight, need or desire to express was the book born? Let's ask Giorgia first.
Giorgia: I have to say that Gabry and I immediately agreed on a value we have in common, which is to want to do good. This thing united us from the very beginning, actually it all started a little bit as a joke. At the beginning of our journey one day, we said, "but come on, maybe one day we will write a book." Actually for me writing has always been a passion, for Gabry...
Giorgia: ...raising my hands.
Valerio: No no no no.
Giorgia: So that's where the idea of writing this book about my journey came from, which can be useful both for those who read it and for the charitable part so we decided to donate all the proceeds to NutriAid. We try to do good in two different ways.
Valerio: And parallel.
Giorgia: And parallel, yeah.
Valerio: They go together, they go together. You, Gabriele, what do you think? How can this book help the reader?
Gabriele: The reader, reading this book, can absolutely immerse himself in the feelings of a person like the one who is Giorgia, a person who however she is has important goals and also has important challenges. He can therefore understand what steps to take, but also what are the challenges, the difficulties, that we all constantly experience every day. Here he also finds strategies that enable him to understand how to deal well with these steps, these critical issues, because life is beautiful also because it is complicated.
Having the right tools at the right time also allows you to have that extra strength, that extra stimulus. The reader can emotionally bond with Giorgia and, on the other hand, with what my advice and strategies are, find what he or she needs to then feel equipped to cope with life to the fullest.
Valerio: Did you write this book by four hands? Did you do it piece by piece, chapter by chapter, or did one draft a chapter first and the other revised it? I'm interested in the technique you used to knock it down, if you can reveal something to us.
Gabriel: Shall I go?
Giorgia: Go, go.
Valerio: Go, Gabriel.
Gabriel: Let's say, as far as the main idea is concerned, we really liked that the exact same topic was treated both from an emotional and a technical point of view.
Gabriele: So... There used to be this duality: I would wait for a moment for Giorgia to touch on certain points and then, logically, I would follow her a little bit, because rightly it's her path. Then, afterwards, she would do a total re-reading just because she is the one who is good at writing and I am the one who is not good at writing, still.
Valerio: Look Giorgia, when one writes a book usually a catharsis happens, a transformation, one finds oneself thinking about things one had never come to think about before. Did that happen to you as well? Did writing move you to do something, to get certain things out and put them down and see them in black and white?
Giorgia: Actually I have to say that the book was written as it went along the way. So it was not written at the end or at the beginning, it was written as we went along. In these 3 years we went through the path, and as we were writing this book. What was surprising, however, was to reread then, at the end, everything that was written at the beginning, realizing just the actual change that I experienced.
Every once in a while, when we would reread with Gabry, at the end precisely we would say, "Gosh, look how much we have changed, how much we have improved, how certain things we perceived in a certain way and instead, now that two and a half years have passed, in a whole other way." It really has been an amazing journey for that very reason.
Valerio: In your opinion, Giorgia, what is the transformation that the reader can have by reading this book, or at least, what is the part that you like the most and what is the part that you think has the greatest impact in the lives of those who, this book, can read it?
Giorgia: I think that-I decided to call him. Giorgia Sottana's journey, we decided together to call it that, because it was actually a journey of discovery of the person I was. I think a reader can absolutely realize that, from beginning to end, it was a path of awareness. I think it's important for every person to realize who they are, which is why the title is I am. I came from the beginning that I was a little bit in the dark to being, now, in absolute truth and light, which is what then, precisely, I am. I think every person should for a moment realize who they are, first and foremost.
Valerio: Okay. One question: does having a mental coach, Giorgia, help you more to overcome difficult times or does it help you more to elevate your excellencies?
Giorgia: To me, personally, it definitely helps with both.
Valerio: Which one played the most in your particular case?
Giorgia: For me it definitely played... In these two and a half years there have been really difficult moments. The mental coach didn't directly help me through them, but rather helped me understand the tools that I already had in me personally, so that I could deal with these moments as best I could. It was personally helpful for me to be able to deal with them the best I could, because we all know that difficult moments are there, but you can deal with them in one way or another. I think Gabry helped me to understand how everything can be approached as a growth path, and not as a defeat or a failure.
Method and mental coaching
Valerio: Clear. Instead, for you, Gabriele, I have this question here. I assume that you have a method, a protocol, a way of working, of operating, with your coachees. In the case of Giorgia, who is often away, at a distance (she has been abroad for a long time), what did you do, how much did you talk to each other, what did you use? Did you use Skype? Did you see each other in person, on the phone, whenever she needed or did you have fixed appointments? Can you tell us something about the methodologies and routines?
Gabriele: So, take into account that with professional athletes I have an almost daily relationship, because it helps especially in the beginning. Now, with Giorgia, we feel much less, there is really no need. In fact.
Gabriele: ...lately the less we talk ... because to prepare it well for the Europeans, or for a whole series of things, after a certain point it is normal that it becomes a more time-dilated relationship. Especially in the beginning, with professional athletes and with entrepreneurs, to accelerate that mechanism of change I need to have "the thermometer of the constant situation." I need it more because the person feels really accompanied, so they know that they are doing things assisted, and that there is someone who says, "okay, you are taking the right steps."
On the other hand, it also helps me because if I see a person like Giorgia (who was able to run right away because she had so many resources), I make her run right away. There is no need to work step by step. What I personally say, and what then helps me, is to ask, at the beginning, the person to answer a set of questions that helps me understand what the ideal path for the person can be.
Gabriele: Sometimes I use the double metaphor, either of the goldsmith who has to take the diamond in the rough and "clean" it (so work a little bit fine), or the one where you go to a person who has to make you a tailored suit. As far as "taking measurements," each path is its own. I could tell you that either way, the basis is the daily relationship. You have to create a lot of trust especially in the beginning, because a person in the beginning trusts, if not I always stay in my...
Valerio: Of course, the relationship of trust between coach and coachee, there has to be complete surrender, complete trust, otherwise you can't go....
Gabriel: In the beginning yes, then later, the person... I love freedom, it is among my basic values. Giorgia knows that when she has a resource, she cannot come and ask me for the exact same resource, because I will tell her, "Look it is already inside you, we have trained it, you have developed it, so you already have it." This is what then really allowed the great freedom that is Giorgia to express herself. It's all the change, because she felt the need to change for her, not because I ...
Gabriel: With her...
Gabriel: ... absolutely, and that is a great advantage.
The professional relationship: the journey of Giorgia and the work of Gabriel
Valerio: Giorgia, was yours a positive, empathetic, immediate feeling with Gabriele? Did you feel a feeling right away or did it build over time? My question is a bit of a bastard, was there first a bit of an opportunism to avail yourself of a professional, regardless of what were the emotional feelings of liking you might have felt toward him, or did the liking toward him prevail first and did you then trust in that sense?
Giorgia: No, actually Gabry knows that in the beginning he didn't make a very good impression on me, because I had expectations that I had created, in my head, which then were not the reality as far as I had imagined it. So I struggled a little bit in the beginning, however, I really wanted to improve myself, so I immediately opened up in a very honest way with Gabry. I explained to him what my misgivings were and what my point of view was, and he was super in guiding me through that.
It was a moment of minimal doubt, because then I said, "Okay, if I choose to do this thing and I want to do it to better myself, I might as well do it at 100% giving myself precisely in my utmost honesty." I think that was the real step that allowed us to create such a trusting and honest relationship, because right away we were really very direct with each other.
Valerio: Great. Back here is a quote from you and one from Gabriel, in yours you say: "I am not what I do, but in everything I do I put all that I am.". There is really a feeling of strong dedication in each of your activities, in each of your goals that you want to pursue.
Giorgia: Now, to this day, definitely yes, before -- that's not just any phrase, but it's a phrase that really, right now, identifies me. I used to think I was Giorgia the player, instead now playing is what I do, it's not exactly what I am. However, when I go on the court, when I train, when I relate to my colleagues, I put in the person I am, I no longer put in the Giorgia solely the player, but I put in the Giorgia as a whole.
Valerio: Gabriel on the other hand says, "To be a champion you have to be a champion".
Gabriel: Yes, because we went from having sportsmen, people, who were to people who now do. There has been a lowering; I think before, in history, we were inspired by people in authority. It was their being that manifested everything they had, and their actions echoed because they were that way. Instead, now, unfortunately, society is shifting a little bit to what are, as I call them, the "phenomena," pheno - minuses. They are not positive, because then afterwards they show that they don't take care of their work, they don't respect others, so a whole series of things. Maybe they are exalted about something they do that is not good, for me. I mean.
Valerio: Which is not good. Listen, you, Gabriele, do you only work with sportsmen or do you specialize in the sports world? Do you also work with other types of professionals or...
Gabriele: Yes, I have been fortunate in the past two years to work with many entrepreneurs, both...
Gabriele: ...freelancers than people who had companies. So after that I also went to do some training inside the companies, where precisely we bring these kinds of values: the fact of working by objectives, having a good climate (which allows for higher productivity), working on communication and how important this is in a team.
Gabriele: So we try to grow companies precisely based on the inner resources of the company itself. Fortunately, even there, as in the sports field, it is bringing beautiful results. I am very proud of the people who rely on me.
The promotion of the book
Valerio: Great. Let's talk quickly about this book, from a point of view just of promotion. You guys will be doing tours around Italy, going a little bit here and a little bit there. I had the good fortune, the honor, the pleasure of being your publisher, we don't hide that. Everything goes to charity to NutriAid, I don't get a euro, same to you. I loved the project so much, so I supported it incredibly, also because my publishing house is used for my and my team's writings, we have never opened to anybody.
You guys are the first, I don't know if you knew that. As soon as we went to Amazon it was already a big bang: I got e-mails from L'Espresso, you guys ended up in the Gazzetta dello Sport. So much has moved in 10 days. What are you guys going to do now for this book? How will you promote it, what commitments have you made? Who wants to respond?
Giorgia: Gabry, you go you who are an expert in programming.
Gabriel: Very good. So first we are going to take care of Giorgia's preparation for the Europeans, because the important thing is that we know we have this big goal with the whole national team. At the end of April, so after Easter, and throughout the month of May, we will have dates where we will touch various cities in Italy and do the promotion of this book. We will be accompanied by Marco, the guy who is our liaison for NutriAid, where precisely we will do the presentation. We will gather some wonderful information, or rather, we will tell what the book is and we will also see a little bit the response of the public. Fortunately, we can say that we will be coming to Macerata....
Gabriel: I'll anticipate this but I'm sure afterwards....
Valerio: Go, go, go, go... no, then I will say it at length, May 18...
Gabriele: That's right, on May 18 we will come to Macerata to have a celebration of women's basketball.
Gabriel: We will come and we will be with Pink Basket, because Giorgia had promised...
Gabriel: ... to do a training with these girls. You see how life, when you make a promise ...
Valerio: So let's tell this anecdote because it's an amazing thing. When one says the cosmic coincidences ...
Valerio: It's crazy, I don't believe it. Can I tell the story? Then.
Giorgia: Go, go.
So what happened? I have a 7-year-old girl who will be 8 in May; two years ago an association in Macerata (my city) won a European call for proposals where funds were given to create a girls' basketball team for little ones. Three cities in Italy were chosen and Macerata was one of them. The project starts and my daughter enrolls in basketball. Giorgia, my daughter who you will see in a few weeks, is a total disaster at basketball, however, she puts a lot of passion into it because she has fun, she runs after the ball but she still hasn't figured out which way she should go.
Anyway, it's very nice, these children are playing, having fun, training twice a week. If I am not mistaken, without wanting to wrong the other two, the project in the other two cities did not go on. Macerata remained the only city where this continued. Meanwhile, a video message came from Giorgia to the Pink Basket team to greet the girls, to encourage them. I still did not know Giorgia and I did not know Gabriele either.
One day, my associate Valentina Vandilli who does social media, brought Gabriele into the studio and said, "Look, I have to introduce you to a really strong guy, a mental coach. We are coordinating to do things together." Gabriele came in and okay, I met Gabriele and it turned out that he is Giorgia's mental coach. I still hadn't connected that Giorgia video message to that Giorgia, I hadn't really thought about it. Cosmic coincidences, I find myself editor of Giorgia and Gabriele who are people who entered at different times in my life, Giorgia even earlier with a video message to my daughter's basketball team.
We are all meeting here now, in a few weeks, in Macerata, at a mega party with all the women's teams in the area. There's also Civitanova, Ancona...now I don't know who's going to show up, but this is great, though.
Giorgia: It really is a coincidence of the kind to hold on to.
Valerio: My goodness, if these are not signs coming from somewhere....
Gabriel: Then it's true, we're under Easter, so the signals from above come... right?
The (immediate) future of Giorgia
Valerio: Signals from above are by default these days. Okay. Listen to Giorgia, what are your upcoming sports commitments now?
Giorgia: Right now (actually a little bit all season), I am really focused for what will be our end of June commitment, which is the Europeans, which will be in Serbia. They are really important, first because we are a good national team with a good heart, second because these Europeans qualify for the Olympics or the pre-Olympics. We have a pretty important goal to achieve, so right now I can't see beyond July 7, I get up to there and then it's a cosmic vacuum. I'm just...
Valerio: The focus is on that.
Giorgia: Exactly, exactly, so that's it.
Valerio: Are you in a moment of rest right now or are you training? I know there are cycles in athletes' lives, times of rest and times of intensive effort. What phase are you in now?
Giorgia: Look, now I have finished the season with Istanbul. I'm at home...
Giorgia: ...but actually I'm not stopping, I'm training every day. In fact, I have to go to training in a little while.
I am training alone with one of my coaches, so for me until July 7 there is no break....
Valerio: There is no break.
Giorgia: ...that's for sure.
Tips for dealing with challenges
Valerio: Very last question for both of you, to Gabriele first and to Giorgia later: for those who are listening to us, do you have any advice that comes from your experience, from your professionalism, from what you have seen and experienced? If you could give one suggestion, one piece of advice to improve the lives of those who are listening to us, whether it's a way of making choices, making decisions, or the way of dealing with challenges, a tool, an idea, anything that can be helpful to those who are listening to us, what would you say? Gabriel?
Gabriele: For me the main thing is to have the attention, to have the focus. When faced with a choice, it is good to ask yourself exactly what you want to happen and be clear about what you want, then exclude the rest. This helps us to have a direction, a strength and especially a self-motivation that allows us to move toward what we really want.
Valerio: Fantastic. Giorgia.
Giorgia: For me, on the other hand (I say this from the side of another age but also a person), it is important to try to understand and realize that when you want to achieve a goal you are not alone. You have to avail yourself of the people who are next to you, because of course, when ... Gabry always says, "When you run together you go faster": you have to have the strength to understand that we have people next to us who are pushing us and above all to also have the courage, every once in a while, to raise your hand and say, "Is there anyone who can give me a hand and can help me?" Often asking for help is seen as a source of weakness, but instead I find that asking for help is great courage.
Valerio: Great, great. Good, great, thank you. Thank you so much for being here with me and everyone who will see us and listen to us. This is the book "I am: the journey of Giorgia Sottana" by Gabriele Vani and Giorgia Sottana, you can find it on Amazon, in Kindle or print version. Everything goes to NutriAid charity. I thank you so much for being with me today, I salute you, hello Gabriele, hello Giorgia. You can find me, of course, with this interview, on YouTube, Facebook, "PODCAST," everywhere. If you would like to leave a comment below please subscribe to the Valerio.it mailing list, so you will also receive information about Giorgia and Gabriele's upcoming appointments for the presentation of their book. Greetings to all...
Giorgia: Thank you very much, thank you Valerio.
Valerio: Best wishes and happy Easter!
Gabriel: Hello, hello.
Giorgia: Thank you, you too. Hi!