There’s something in the routine. I’m the one New Yorker who will never complain about public transportation, ever.
Ennio Ranaboldo was born and raised in Italy, and has used his international background as a foundation to build and grow US businesses for multinational companies. He currently is the President of Martin Bauer Inc, a company that creates premium quality teas, phytopharmaceutical ingredients, nutritional supplements, and infusions. Before teas, his heart was in coffee as the CEO and Executive VP of Lavazza North America where he was a specialist in building company reputation, repositioning, expansion, and organic growth. Where do you move to day to day? I’ve never had a car in my life. I hate driving. I leave home and I take two subway lines, the L from Williamsburg Bedford Avenue to Eighth Avenue, jump on either the A, B or C trains at the Port Authority, and then the bus to Secaucus. It’s actually a very enjoyable commute. I love going through Port Authority. There’s something in the routine. The real treat is the 320 bus run. I read and write. I’m the one New Yorker who will never complain about public transportation, ever. How much do you travel? I moved to New York in 2000, and being an expatriate I travel a lot. I travel six to seven times to Europe a year, domestic travelling, the occasional trip to China, and Denver used to be a day trip. I don’t believe in life work balance. None of that. I’m not a holiday person, I’m not a hobby person, I liked school more than I liked vacation, my daughter teases me. I like the flow of life to be one in the same. I’m not the kind of person who needs to split life between work and finally relaxing. The idea of travelling for pleasure is always limited to a time that’s limited by definition, it’s not really my time, it’s a slot that feels separated from my real life, and my real life is home, is work, is what I do. I like travel when it’s part of my life’s texture. It could be a house that I have, meaning a house is a place that’s real. Not like a hotel. I’m grateful that my wife thinks along completely different lines. She has her own ideas of travelling. She was a great backpacker. I never was, I always hated camping. So when I’m given the opportunity to flow seamlessly into that real life environment created by somebody else, that’s when I like traveling. A place that takes me out to a supposedly better place? I just don’t believe that a better place exists than my own life. So I basically don’t need a vacation, ever. Travel Horror Story? I never missed a flight in my life, ever. I get to the airport ridiculously early. I love the space and the crowd. I even used to love the lines. It’s a quiet place for me. Wallet? I change it every 20 years Something people would be surprised to learn about you? I traveled a lot in the Far East when I was a much younger man. Like six or seven times a year. When I was much younger I was claustrophobic and flying really raised my level of anxiety. Fifteen or twenty years ago that fear just disappeared. I started enjoying the flying experience. I am like a kid always in the window seat. I stop whatever I’m doing during takeoff and landing because I love the thrust. I love looking out, looking down, and I just love the whole takeoff experience. I just love it. I enjoy it so much that I love turbulence and rough air. I love landing in a storm at LaGuardia. What makes you feel grounded when travelling? When I’m flying I feel grounded, which is a paradox. On the flight I don’t want to land with 200 emails so I rather go through them and then do other things like sleeping, eating or reading. Ultimately, my routine is what makes me feel grounded. What makes you feel grounded in your day to day? Leaving and going for a walk. It’s not so much about breaking the routine. I don’t think I need that particularly. It’s more about getting fresh air into the system. I brush my teeth occasionally too. What makes you feel put together on the go? It’s that feeling that comes from being in the zone about having done things that you were supposed to be doing. So regardless if my cab is stuck in traffic on the BQE, even if it’s raining and bumper to bumper, if I talked to Elisabetta, the kids are happy, people at work are okay, I have my phone, the phone is charged, that last email that was kind of urgent I responded to already. There’s nothing else that I can do. Everything is in control. The idea that very simple elementary things keep the world in order, which is obviously the illusion, but it serves the purpose of creating a bubble of comfort around me. I don’t even know what relaxation means. I don’t need a spa. It’s just not me. It’s more the idea that as far as I can control the world is an orderly place. Do you ever feel not put together? I used to be very irritable, especially in terms of interacting with rental car companies. Most of that is gone now probably related to other changes in my lifestyle. I stopped drinking cold turkey; I wasn’t drinking that much but even a glass or two was affecting my sleep, which was disrupting my routine. If I don’t get sleep and I’m not put together I’m cranky, I’m terrible. Those things are very very key to my well-being as a person, as a traveller, as a manager. I became a vegetarian almost as a natural consequence of that. I work for a tea company now so I asked myself why am I drinking coffee? You realize that stepping out of your molds and changing habits is the easiest thing in life. You just have to do it. What do you carry everyday? Phone and wallet in my pockets. Book is in my briefcase. I read as I move around. I know it’s silly and also dangerous, but I do it a lot. I always read in lines. I do carry a second pair of glasses. I don’t bring any food. No water bottle either. What would people be surprised to learn about you? My biography. I wasn’t born a business person. I was a primary school teacher, and then I lived in New Zealand as a cook with my friend. When we came back from New Zealand we had missed all the key steps of people our age. We asked ourselves, so what’s next? What do we know? We learned in New Zealand how to cook and serve tables so I said to my friend, why don’t we open a restaurant? So that’s what we did. It didn’t last much, but one thing led to the other and I said why do we go into sales? Like it Italy, we are exporters of beautiful things. I found Lavazza and started at a very junior position, and that allowed me to finish my master’s thesis at the same time. I graduated very late with a massive thesis on J.D. Salinger and I taught at university for a while. So, what people would be surprised to know about me is less one thing and more that my way into my career, which has basically been running businesses for the past thirty years, didn’t follow the usual routine. I never went to business school–I was a grad in American literature. What helped you with your large life transitions? Some of the best choices I made were based on intuition. Based on a fundamental thrust coming from inside. In one pivotal moment, I had to stop across the street from a cemetery, believe it or not, and place one phone call where I changed jobs, against all odds. Did I plan that call? Did I plan to stop and meditate for five minutes across the street from a cemetery? No. But, I did, and I took a big risk. I could have found myself stranded in a very bad place, but I knew then that if I fought try to stay on course it would have been an even worse disaster. Just camouflaged, just sanitized. So the scent followed and the other end paid off. I think what also probably saved me is that I didn’t have a strong sense of legacy. I don’t come from a family where you have three generations of physicians or military members. Travelling light at all times allowed me to jump from one situation to the other a little recklessly. But not with fear of failing or disappointing myself or anybody else. Ignition moment? At times when you are facing a difficult decision you listen to people, old or young, doesn’t really matter. You see opinions forming you. It’s almost like structures, like lego blocks. Time is putting pressure on you. At times, you look at something thinking it seems very solid, very put together, and you start thinking that’s the way you go. But, something is still not right. Allow yourself the liberty to follow that thought, however disturbing delaying may be. That is not to say you necessarily will land in the right place, but you give yourself a second chance. At times, the time delay is what makes the difference because it’s where the most the creative spark is more likely to happen. Creative sparks can take you in very bad directions, but other times they take you to a place where you can find yourself. Stronger. That opens up a little bit of adrenaline. Adrenaline is a good thing because you look good. Your skin looks brighter and you talk more fluently, eloquently, and that difficult conversation turned out not to be that difficult and you found out that what you’ve been doing the past twenty years wasn’t complete crap. You start seeing a different reality. Best piece of advice? Humility. You need to learn how to cry, how to breakdown, how to let it go, how to let the people near you and love you back. Not because whoever you are, but because you are in pieces. That is what puts brick and mortar together again. You absolutely cannot do it by yourself. Ever. By yourself. More often than not it’s a trauma. Something bad happens to you on many levels so things can go two ways. It can make you a darker, more isolated person, or it can break you open. Breaking your ways allow in a lot of light. What’s your biggest piece of movement advice? Peaceful movement. The sheer pleasure of your correct posture walking in good brisk walk, not crazy gracefully, but animatedly. On a day like this. There’s nothing like that. — as shared with KYC Ennio Ranaboldo photographed by Anne Raftopoulos in his Brooklyn home