When Darth Vader missed the Red Circle


A few weeks ago….

“G., my sweety, could you please borrow me your Darth Vader minifigure with the fantastic red lightsaber? I know you already borrowed me Master Yoda, but I would like to show both of them in a very important conference. Before replying, I have to tell you that I need it until the 14th of November, so you could not touch it and the whole LEGO model for any reason before that date”

After some long seconds of doubtful thought, in a very serious voice my kid said “Yes, dad, you can take it out from the Start Destroyer”

“My dear: it is important that you understand that Darth must stay untouched in my model. Is it really ok for you?”


“Thank you so much, dear!!”


Since a few months I knew that I had to be in Rome on the 14th of November, at the latest.

I decided to get there on the 12th: I booked my flight reasonably in advance, Billund to Rome, through Paris.

2 days to the departure day: I did one rehearse with the model. Every single brick and minifigure was there, precisely representing their metaphor in the future scenarios I built up using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology.


One of the most hectic days of this year.

Car maintenance, technician at home to change the heating system, work at home with live meeting presentation, wrapping up of the baggage and….of course…..my flight to Rome!

From the very early morning it was clear that it would not have been an easy day….

After having walked the kids at school, I went to my LEGO model to dismantle it and put all the pieces in the bag: I picked up the minifigures, one by one and….. HE was not there anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yoda was pointing his lightsaber to the air…no black dressed enemy in front of him.

S. and I started to look for him everywhere: but finding a so small thing in the whole house was a mission impossible. He could be anywhere. Even in one of the boxes still there after the move.

And we didn’t find him.

Luckily, we found another black imperial enemy that could be used as a replacement: different, much different, but the time was running fast and I needed to proceed with a lot of other stuff.

I got to the airport almost just in time: it was only 2:15 PM, but I was tired as it were 11 PM.

From that moment on I had to think only about getting to the airplane and following the itinerary to Rome: anything else.


I thought.

As drinking a glass of beer……oh…by the way…why not getting one then? There was also the Christmas beer!

“A glass of Christmas beer, thanks”

“Small or big?”

“Small thanks”

“The big one costs only 5Kr more than the small one”

It seemed a good deal!

“The big one, then”

I just had to get on the airplane and relax: what a better way to let the fatigue of the day slide away than a big beer with the home made sandwiches?


Boarding time.

I sat on my seat.

Finally relaxed.

With the noise canceling headphones filtering the low frequency sound typical of the airplane engines and pushing into my ears the relaxing Ed Sheeran songs, I fell asleep.

After some time I woke up: no vibration, no clouds out of the windows….yes we were still in the airport.

The end of my speech was still not as I wanted it to be, so I took my Surface and I started drawing on a whiteboard all the thoughts that were on my minds. It worked and after a quite long time I got it: you know when it is the right one, you can feel it.

I was happy and satisfied: I had “only” to write down the right words, but the flow of the story was the one I wanted. The stop in Paris would have been 2 hours: the right time slot for the task.

Through the headphone I started hearing the pilot announcing something: I quickly took off my headphones just in time to hear the words a traveler would never want to


“#@!£ç£!!#!”, I thought (and maybe I said…).

I went then to the ticket office of Billund Airport, where all the people in the flight were in line now to try to get a new flight.

While in line, a guy came out from the office, announcing that AirFrance was working on transferring each passenger to another flight: “of course,” he said, “tomorrow is already fully booked, so most likely you will have a flight on Saturday” …the 14th !!!!!

Panic arising.

Saturday morning in Rome: technical check.

Breathe deeply.

Saturday afternoon in Rome: the 3rd speaker.

More deeply.

Friday evening: dinner with all the organizers and speakers.

Panic trying to take over.

Breathe more deeply.

More…Luca you can do better, come on….

Close your eyes, empty your mind and breathe.


I am focused again: clearly present in the now. Let’s open the tablet and look for alternative flights. From Billund, no way. Copenhagen? Yes! Tomorrow morning. That’s good, not perfect, but a good workaround. It is early in the morning, so I should go to Copenhagen….now. The best way is the train. But the train leaves from Vejle. I need to go to Vejle then. Where will I sleep in Copenhagen? I need a hotel as well, possibly at the airport.

The guy comes out again: “Airfrance is working on redirecting all the passengers to Paris to a flight tomorrow morning: everybody will get an email from airfrance. Here, we will only arrange the hotel for tonight.”

Ok, it’s a mess, a huge mess but let’s try to apply the principle of the step by step: one step at the time.

Step #1: my number in the line is the next one to be served, so I wait here.

It’s my turn: I try to convince the guy that he has to book a hotel room in Copenhagen. But it is impossible. I ask info about my redirection to the flight tomorrow morning: AirFrance is still working on it. When will it be defined? Later, no one knows when exactly.

I don’t trust this system.

I decide to go to Copenaghen.

Step #2: I need to go to Vejle. Let’s check through the DSB website the timetable: there is one bus in 6 mins. I can do that. But I don’t have the ticket: do I get it on the bus or I have to buy it in advance? I knew the answer, but in the mess of the moment I cannot recall it. I ask to the girl at the bar: she is facing the coffee machine and she is preparing a coffee for a customer; it requires an amount of time during which you could get 10 coffees in Italy……. Finally, I get my answer: directly on the bus.

I take my backpack and my trolley and I run to the bus.

Got up.

“A ticket please”


….as usual I have not money with me….here you can pay everything with credit card or mobile phone.

“Do you accept credit card?”

“No, sorry”


“No, sorry”

“#@!£ç£!!#!”, I think…again.

It comes to my mind that I have some euros.


“Mmmm….yes….we can do it, but I have no change for that”

“Ok, no problem”

I give the nice driver 10€ and I also get back 10Kr change.

In the hectic moment, I am not able to calculate whether it is right or not, but I trust him.

Step #3: train.

From the bus, using the smartphone as hotspot I connect the tablet and I find a train: ticket bought.

I arrive at Vejle station: now it’s time for the….

step #4: with a more stable wireless connection I look for all the possible flights to Rome, for tomorrow morning.

RyanAir seems to be the best one, from the timetable perspective. Why everybody can find flights at 9€ and now I am paying as much as the AirFrance ticket?

It is not the right time to make financial calculation: I need it, I must buy it. It is my only hope to be the 3rd speaker on Saturday.

Flight bought.

Step 5#: I am very tired, so tired that I don’t remember the time I was that tired. The image of myself sleeping in the airport, like the backpacker I was some (…ok…….quite many) years ago, made me feel even more tired.

It seems that the only hotel IN the airport is the Hilton: I try anyway to call other hotels close to it, but or the prices are high anyway or their location is not so close to the airport. How could you call a hotel “aaaaa airport hotel” and be some KMs away from it?!?!?!!?!

I decide it is time to get some food, to be able to focus again.

Mmm…it is not just food: it is the worst hotdog ever eaten!

A blueberry muffin can change the bad moment.

It succeeds.

It’s time to get the train.

My search for the hotel doesn’t succeed, until S. decided to do it herself and books the only hotel in the airport…

During the trip, I write down the ending of the speech, following what I did on the airplane a few hours ago: it seems to be something I did many days ago….

Collaboration through WhatsApp works great and S. and I are able to finalize it: that’s what I really wanted!

Now it is ok.

I get to the hotel at midnight.


The only thing I want to do is to sleep.

The bed is comfortable and I fall asleep immediately. Money well spent.


I get to Rome perfectly in time.

After the Odyssey I ran through yesterday, nothing can interfere with my program anymore. Not even the heating system not working in the house, hot water included. Nothing.

The dinner is great: being all there, speakers and organizers, sharing experiences and ideas (worth spreading) creates a really huge community atmosphere.


I convince young speakers to address me with the “Tu” word and not the “LEI” one.

One of the sponsor becomes one of my best friend “You actually seems Danish or at least Nordic: you also have…with this dimmed light I cannot tell exactly…. But I am pretty sure you have also a kind of blond hair” “You are my best friend tonight!!!!!”

I listen to amazing stories, from superheroes to architecture to film and commercial making.

I impact the talk of one of the speaker, who decides to switch from Italian to English (you did a great job, my friend!)


The morning run is more than necessary to finally get into the right relaxed mindset.


I take my LEGO model and decide to transport it in the trolley: is should preserve it during the commute to the Auditorium.

I couldn’t be more wrong:


But the trend is positive now and I don’t give up.


Tests and sound check go straightforward: the team and the organization are perfect!

It’s time: people is getting here.

The big room is full.

The presenters announce the beginning of the TEDxYouth.

I am the third speaker and, after two years, I am here again: after two years I am two speakers away from jumping into the famous red circle.

Two speakers away is a particular moment in a conference like this: when the speaker on the stage will finish, he will come to the backstage and you will get his microphone.

When the technician sets the microphone on you, you know that you are 18 mins away from your speech, at the latest.

In the last few minutes my mind has gone many times through all the single words of the beginning of the speech and now it is time to stop thinking. Just concentrate.

Two years ago it was a little bit different…

No more time to think.

M., one of the organizer, calls me.

Now I am behind the curtain that separates the stage from the backstage.

The technician tells me: “One minute”


The applause.

A last deep breath.

I go.

The other speaker gives me the presentation clicker while we cross on the stage.

As agreed with the director, as soon as I reach the red circle, my presentation starts: black screen and the heart beating sound get louder and faster. A white flash. Then the voices from the Moon landing mission fill the room.

The voices end. The big screen shows the date. Silence fills the room.


It’s my turn.

Nothing can’t stop me now. Not even a small technical issue with the monitor: technology is the topic of my talk and I know that demo effects can happen.

I am on the red circle and I don’t care of it.

My voice now fills the room: I feel at home.

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