Indeed my very first speaking event for my first book, Play the Rules!

It was a true honor to be invited as key speaker by PEGA to present my book: Play the Rules.
Always very inspiring to speak before a wonderful audience!
And because awesomeness multiplies when shared, here are some “raw” and very personal insights from my interview…
Time for some Q&A!

0. Book Presentation: Play the Rules – Opening Video

1. Monica, Can you please give us some insights into your bio?

In Play the Rules I introduce myself as:
“Writer at heart, challenger by nature and lawyer by profession and chance”. Basically: – “a lawyer, who got bored with playing by the book, so I decided to write one instead”

Being a corporate lawyer for a global IT firm has contributed to my frequent travels, both across Europe and internationally,
—> and provided me invaluable chances to collect first-hand inspiring anecdotes.

That, together with my exposure to very different cultures, and their underlying values, permeates many aspects of my life.
—> That is what lends my short stories different perspectives, with a non-conventional, counter-intuitive look into nowadays’ society.

Before that I already broke a stereotype or two:

  • Graduating from a High school, focusing on humanistic sciences and foreign languages
    —> Everybody assumed that obviously, I will proceed by studying to become a translator or interpreter —> Wrong! I proceeded to study law (also to be credited with being the only faculty without mathematics — I come from a family of engineers but did not inherit the gene!)
  • Just before graduating from Law University, I did the unthinkable!
    —> I broke with the Italian “national tradition” of lawyers to clench on their own national system – and I was the very first to enroll for a still-experimental “double law degree” (“double maitrise”) between Turin/Italy and Nice/France
    In fact, the other thing (next to mathematics!) that lawyers do _not_ usually look at is…
    —> Foreign languages!
  • That helped me secure a stage at the European Parliament’s legal department…
    —> And so (for good or for bad!) I never contributed to the Italian’s economy, as I proceeded to “roam” between different posts in Europe,
    – stopping in Paris at Microsoft and
    – eventually landing at the antipode of Italy = Germany!

2. What has inspired you to write Play the rules?

The many stories and funny anecdotes I collected while traveling across Europe as a customer-facing lawyer and lead negotiator for the region.

In fact, I always struck customers (and other people in general!) as “very different” from the lawyers they usually meet (which, given the “joyful” reputations lawyers generally enjoy, they intended as a weird compliment!), —> which led me to a self-introspection… Am I really such an unusual fish?

I started to take notes of my most peculiar thoughts and experiences while on the planes or waiting at airports, traveling back and forth…
—> So whatever provocative thoughts you shall stumble upon in my book, I shall blame it on the “high altitude” —> And whatever may positively impress you… that of course is all me.

3. Can you please give us a brief summary of your book? 

The first thing to remark upon is that the book is called “Play the Rules”
— Not “play BY the rules” — Nor, on the other side of the spectrum, “BREAK the rules”.

Even though it was nonetheless than Picasso to say:

Learn the rules like a pro, so that you can break them like an artist

  • Because for me the “key” to a fulfilled, empowered life is
    —> to awaken our inner-playful-adventurous-child 
  • Our LIFE = is our biggest game
    —> so we should _not_ just be a “bystander”,
    —> but play it as a “champion” = Each of us can be a game-changer by raising up to the challenge!
  • The book is centered around Rules (33 of them) = unquestioned assumptions = things that have become so commonplace that people have stopped noticing them.
  • Those Rules are organized around “Charms” (playing on its initial similarity with the word “Chapters”, but purposely called “charms”)  = because they are meant to “break the sleeping spell” cast upon us by our (way too orderly and output-oriented) society.
  • Each Charm has an opening famous quote = that sets the “theme
    —> to inspire us to question and challenge a trio of underlying “rules”.
  • This first book has 11 “Charms”, each spelling out a letter of the word EMPOWERMENT.

It is book Nr ONE because it focuses on You as an individual with infinite potential.
Because whatever you dream, whatever you want to achieve, only YOU can step up to it and do it.

– THOUGHTS can be powerful triggers.
– But in the end, it is ACTION that sets the course. And with each ACTION that you make a choice.

So this is how Play the Rules is different from many other so called self-help motivational books:
– It is not just about THINKING outside the box,
– it is about BEING outside the box!

By casting a no-nonsense, humorous look into our modern life, Play the Rules shall
—> unveil the “secret” counterintuitive ways to
– turn Challenges into chances. – Fear into excitement
so that we shall be ready to start our adventure.

Why should readers pick Play the Rules over the ones listed above?

  • Inspirational, but unfailingly pragmatic: Unlike many self-improvement books,no transcendent mumbo jumbo or “high pulpit” approach here!
  • Provocative and humorous: a book written by a lawyer who got tired to “play by the book” and decided to write one instead!)… Walking my talk indeed – And breaking the stereotypes by example!
  • Not what you would expect: the book’s mission is to challenge the “invisible” Rules that permeate our every-day life; the ones which are right in front of us, without us even noticing them…

4. You have also a blog. Can you please tell us a bit more about this forum?

Of course! In fact, as often the case, the most beautiful things in life (if we think about it) happen by chance…

  • When I started to write, it was just for myself, to capture the best memories from my travels and most inspiring encounters (because often it is the PEOPLE we meet more than the PLACES we see to leave a true mark)—> into small bits of wisdom for my future self… 
  • The blog came afterwards, about a year or so later, as I realised that there is much more VALUE in our best learnings when we also share them.
    And see what impacts they can bring in other people’s lives.

    For this the blog offers a interactive platform to share ideas and experiences with others, without the censorship of an editor or a publisher…

    It is the instant “magic” connection that I feel towards amazing people that moves me to write in the first place
    —> So the circle does a full round when we can inspire other people, which will also inspire us back!
    “A true leader does not just create followers. It creates more leaders”
  • The book then happened by chance,
    as after pitching different publishers, I finally found the best match…

5. Now we would like to hear more about Play the Rules. What key tips/tricks you have for us to be in charge/empowered/or own superhero/ine? 

Yes, I present this book as one sharing  the:
“tips and tricks” from a lawyer (myself – indeed defying the stereotype by example!) who got bored of playing by the book- And decided to write one instead.”

But the beautiful things about the BEST tipps is that they are often
= not the ultra-sophisticated, exotic ones…
= they are the EASIEST, the one you immediately connect with because they speaks to our own “truth”.

I was thrilled when Helga offered me the opportunity to be with you today and
I loved finding out what PEGA stands for —> providing solutions for “crushing business complexity”
Because Play the Rules share the same value —> Simplicity is the key.

Any fool can make something more complex. It takes genius to make it simpler.


So this book is not a pretentious attempt to “reinvent the wheel”,
but rather a powerful reminder of our own truth, and the infinite potential already within us.

Do you know what FEAR stand for?
– Forget Everything And Run, or
Face Everything And Rise

It is not just about acting despite our FEAR. But also because of it.
At the end, —> MAGIC happens when your FAITH is bigger than your FEAR.

It is not just about breaking out of our comfort zone and running amok…
We need our comfort zone to rest and recharge us well…
It is about expanding our comfort zone, so that we can grow feeling “comfortable” in more situations.
—> Each time we FACE our fear, we redefine the LIMITS of our comfort zone

Question: What are you afraid of?
– Write it down… right now.
– And then commit to do it.
– In fact get your “meanest” friend to set a DEADLINE for you (remember: if you do not have a deadline, it is not a true commitment) 

6. Can you please share some examples where you think/live outside the box or where you helped others to do so? 

I have to laugh here because while I was preparing for this I was asking my husband what he thinks the best example would be me doing something “outside the box…”
To which he answered without even blinking: everything!

Well, referring back to my bio indeed has some “box crushing” examples…

Story: You are on a boat out at sea… spotting an island with 1) old man 2) best friend 3) man/woman of your dream… There is only ONE place on the boat. WHO do you rescue?

  • Well, I said there is only ONE place on the boat.
    But Who says that we can only do ONE journey?
  • We assume when given a choice, for example between being pursuing a successful career and being a good mother, that there is only ONE option.
    But WHY it cannot be BOTH?
  • In fact, the last book of my planned trilogy will be centered about this…
    Book Nr 3: Because between any 2 given options, we should always consider the (untold) 3rd one… !

7. Was there a most challenging moment on this journey you would like to share with us?

Definitely getting this book PUBLISHED!

  • It is something to WRITE for yourself… In fact, everybody should do it!
    It is fun and self-therapeutical in a very empowering way! 
  • That is not the hard part! That comes when you start pitching publishers
    Not just because of all the rejections you necessarily have to face…
    For me, it was like “landing on the moon”, and meeting all sort of “alien creatures” like agents, publishers, and do not get me started with the meanest of all:
    —> editors!
    Those who will “butcher” your precious baby book, so that it will sell! 
  • Because really writing a book is like = getting your own baby!
    Publishing is like = letting your baby out there in the wild world – and hoping it comes back in one piece!
  • But at the end of the day, we get our greatest REWARDS when we take the RISK

And (talking about facing FEARS and writing BOOKS!), as nonetheless then Stephen King says:

If you intend to write as truthfully as you can,
your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway

Stephen King

8. It looks like as there is more to come after your 1st book. Can you please share with us your plans?

  • This book is the 1st part of trilogy.
  • Within the trilogy, each part is dedicated to a different “stage” of our journey. I call them “enchantments”, as each shall break the “spell” cast upon us by our society: 

P = Play Your Own Rules. Be Empowered.

T = Take A Breath. Be Whole.

R = Reassess Your Choices. Be Free.

  • Part 1) Empowerment highlights our constant polarisation between faith and fear, and how this plays out in our daily life;
  • Part 2) Connection shows that none of us exists in isolation, and the effect of finding the invisible magic bond which we are all interlinked to;
  • Part 3) Freedom focuses on the liberating power of embracing our originality, and shows us that between any two given options… We shall pick our own (often unspoken!) third one. The one nobody ever “suggests” to us!

Leaving message

My special thanks go to a remarkable woman, who moderated the event, and to the whole PEGA for their enthusiasm.

Have you read Play the Rules? What do you think?
Here are some of the impressions shared by professional reviewers and book bloggers…