Welcome to Episode 123!
STIMY Episode 123 features Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, who has had a unique career. She is the current Head of Production at Phygicode and former Metaverse Producer at Decentraland Foundation and Head of Metaverse Fashion Week.
She has more than a decade of experience in digital design and the XR industry and also serves as a mentor at MIT during their Hacking Arts 2016-2018, and as a Senior Professor at SENAC University Centre, a renowned public federal University in Brazil.
For Giovanna, she believes that life is a short experience.
She wants to have a portfolio of experiences that really enriches her soul and mind and would rather regret what she’s tried, then over what she’s given up on.
It’s ok to fail. Just don’t give up.
Bearing in mind this principle, this episode digs into Gigi has led her life and the career choices she’s made to date.
Maybe it’ll inspire you to take the unconventional step too? 😉
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Who Is Dr Giovanna?
Giovanna shares what it was like growing up wanting to be an actress, how she stumbled into the XR/web3 world and how she builds a unique portfolio career for herself.
- 2:02 Being an actress?
- 3:47 Japanese culture in Latin America
- 4:31 Bossing her dad at age 4
- 6:06 Doing a PhD in architecture and urbanism
- 7:23 Survivor option
- 10:38 Residencies & digital nomad life
- 17:26 A portfolio of experiences
- 25:00 Randi Zuckerberg
- 25:30 Web3
- 28:33 Working in a VR studio in Finland
- 32:35 Working at Decentraland Foundation
- 35:56 Effective work flow
- 37:53 Voting power favours the rich?
- 44:43 Hosting fashion week in the metaverse
- 48:17 Convincing major brands to come on board e.g. Dolce & Gabbana and Estee Lauder
- 55:25 What success looks like
If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:
- Justin Byam Shaw: Co-Owner of the Evening Standard & the Independent – on how to build the biggest media empire in the UK!
- Apolo Ohno: The Most Decorated US Olympian in History – on the power of psychotic obsession & how to win in 40 secs
- Lydia Fenet: Top Christie’s Ambassador who raised over $1 billion for non-profits alongside Elton John, Matt Damon, Uma Thurma etc.
- Eric Sim: From being the son of a prawn noodle hawker stall owner to the former Managing Director of UBS with 2.9 million LinkedIn followers
- Adrian Tan: President of Singapore’s Law Society & the King of Singapore
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Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:
- Dr Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: LinkedIn, Twitter, Website
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STIMY 123: Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro - Regret What You Tried, Not What You Gave Up On
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I wanna work with people that know their thing and they do it well, so we can co-create. But I knew I wanted to be in a place of leadership somehow in the creative industry, and open the space for artists to be seen. And for the creators to have a fair chance. Because as Matteo clearly said, I was running away from the failure of being an artist in an atelier.
It took me a long time to understand that actually, maybe that's my fight to take and to use the new options we have in the corporate world to give a chance for those to be seen.
Ling Yah: Hey STIMIES!
Welcome to episode 123 of the So This Is My Why podcast.
I'm your host and producer Ling Yah, and today's guest is Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro. Now, firstly, I have a confession to make. This interview was conducted over half a year ago, so some of what we talked about is now outdated. Unsurprising, given that this is the Web three world, but I do believe that much of it remains applicable as well.
As for our guest today, she is a person with an incredibly unique background, which is what drew me to enter the first place. She has, firstly, a PhD in architecture and urbanism. Then she got into the world of XR tech before jumping into the digital nomad life and essentially doing a whole host of residences that aligned with the interest before working with the central and community and events.
If you're interested in how people are building really unique careers, then this might be the episode for you.
Now, before we jump into this episode, if you haven't done so already, please do leave a rating and review for STIMY if you've enjoyed past episodes. And review really helps this podcast to be found.
So if you can do so, please take a minute to just head over to Apple Podcasts. Scroll to the bottom of the page until you see the word review and just leave your rating and review now.
Are you ready?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: When I was a child I used to like to do a lot of role play.
That's a funny thing.
Ling Yah: like an actress.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yes, like an actress. I really used to enjoy a lot about getting some fabrics and creating characters. My mom used to give me a lot of those costumes, you know, so most of my time I would be choosing a different role every day to play. And My dad used to always record me with vhs.
He was definitely VHS obsessed on early nineties. So I can see an interesting personality when I was a kid. A bit demanding, I would say. I used to be very like don't tell me what to do. Okay. I think there is a meme right now with a girl saying that, and I really see myself, but at the same time, very creative kid.
I owe a lot to my parents in that sense. I think they always allowed, to be very playful. To really work with my imagination. I never played video games. Funny thing, never. I am very bad at video games, but I'm very good at being a video game character in real life if needed.
Ling Yah: That sounds a lot more fun in a way.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah. So as a child, I really enjoyed outside activities. My dad is very much a geek in geography and history, so I always enjoyed that area. Even when I was a kid, mythology was one of my favorite topics when I was around five six, like all the Greek mythology, Egyptian mythology.
So I think that was always fascinating to me. And then when I grew a little older, like on my teenage phase, then definitely I merged into a lot of Asian especially Japanese culture. I used to do a lot of cosplay, literally. Cosplay in Otaku events and Anemae communities.
Ling Yah: Weren't you growing up in Latin America?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah.
Ling Yah: And there was a culture like that? There's a Japanese culture in Latin America?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Gigantic. Especially in Sa Paulo because there was a lot of immigrants from Japan. And we have a lot of Nisey and sinseh living there. So a sense of Japanese and grand sense of Japanese and then at school I had lots of colleagues that were from Japanese, Chinese and also Korean descendants.
And then the culture of animae and, and cosplay is super strong. We have like gigantic conferences with performances and competition of coplay. So I was very engaged into that, probably to my 16 years old. I think it was till very late. Quite late.
Ling Yah: So since you were already bossing your dad around when you were four or five years old, did you have a clear idea what you were gonna do when you grew up?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I knew I wanted to be on the stage. See that's one thing, I never changed. Exactly. I think I always knew I wanted to be heard and I had things to say and I could say what I had in mind, you know? So I think that was a strong belief and a confidence I always had because since I was a kid, I never feared speaking in public, speaking my mind, doing dance presentations definitely was one of the people in the stage doing class play or speaking out loud without any fear.
So I think public speaking and communication was something that was very strong to me since I was a kid. And my mom is very good at it. Also, my dad too. So I think it was in me. Now I knew also that I would work in a creative sector for sure, because my parents are both dentists, but I think..
Ling Yah: Couldn't be more different!
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: But they always said, Don't be a dentist. No, go do something else. And, my grandpa was a historian, like art historian. He was an architect, so he influenced me a lot. But I cannot stop saying that even my parents, they are very crafted people on their free time. It's all about doing furniture design.
They do that themselves. They do lots of handcrafted pieces, ceramic pieces. So it was there for me, and I think I knew that it would be my future creative industry somehow.
Ling Yah: Just hearing you talk about how you love being in front, on stage speaking, I'm surprised you spent so long in academia.
You didn't just do a bachelor's or masters, you did a PhD. So what's the story behind that?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I think it was still related to be heard in a sense because it also was a survivor option to be very honest. So when I decided to do visual arts or fine arts or boza, right, when I went to to college, I decided that's what I wanted to do.
And it was a field that is still till today very competitive. It's very difficult to survive as an artist. And also I think I felt that I could not just be introspective in the Athelia. I'm very social. I am not the person to be introspective, just reflecting upon my work.
I think some people are great at it. It's just not me. So I felt in the academia, like aiming to be a professor would solve a few problems I had when I was in college . I thought, okay, I can talk a lot and I can talk a lot with a lot of people and they're willing to listen to my ideas. , they have no choice.
Exactly , but also I can write about those ideas and those critical thoughts I have. And at the same time, it is a very decent living in Latin America. I think professors, they have an opportunity to discuss about the arts, to make their art seen, but also as a more structured profession. You know, you have a clear career path.
It was somehow a really survivor option. It was a way to really survive as an artist without just depending on selling my art in, I think a society that not always values that as much, at least in 2009, 2010.
Ling Yah: We've only spoken for a couple minutes, but when you said it gave this clear path in life, it just sounds like it is totally not the right fit for you. That is not something that you would thrive in.
And it just shocks me to hear that and I wonder, were you already thinking, let's look for other options even though I have this nice, solid path in front of me.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Actually today, I think I would definitely have done something creative. I think I should have studied like international relations or diplomacy or something that is really, maybe, but life is still here. I can always become a diplomat in the metaverse. I can do something like that.
But, I think that when I was doing the academia, I took a while, if not almost 10 years, to realize that, you know what, I should get out of this. But I was quite sure for a long time that no, I, yeah, that's what I do best, because I was able to go to conferences to go to the stage to write my ideas, to participate in leading projects and deal with students.
Eventually I became a professor. But two things happened in my life. One was really becoming a professor in a private university that really destroyed all the preconceptions I had about how incredible that would be, how free I would be to research whatever I want. That was really a moment where I felt that this is really a nest of people of serpents.
That's the feeling I got. It's terrible, but it is. I felt that. I'm surrounded by people that are competing with each other rather than cooperating with each other to create knowledge. And it's all about ego. So what is the point? And the second thing that happened is that my partner today, he is slightly older, 20 years older than me, he comes from a very corporative world. And when he met me, he said, What are you doing in academia?
You should be dealing with teams, You should be leading teams, you should be doing things. And he kept repeating that, which I think was his clear coaching mindset and his experience in looking at professionals and the potential of people.
I think eventually that resonated. So in 2016, I said, I'm leaving this institution. I'm leaving this organization. I'm gonna finish the PhD. At that point I was even questioning, but then I felt, you know what? Let's do it now. I got here, let's just do it and I'm gonna start doing something different.
And that's when I started going through art residencies around the world. And those were really great experiences for me to lead solo projects. But eventually they took me to lead collective projects for companies, which I was already doing somehow, but now freely, you know, with not having to teach anything to anyone.
It was just me and my ideas and my thoughts.
Ling Yah: Before we dive into the residencies, you said I did something different. It was a huge difference. You went from residency to total digital nomad and you've never looked back since. And I just wonder that transition to be a digital nomad, was it hard? What was that process like?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: It is hard always. I always say them. I luggage my nightmare. It's always difficult to be somebody that love fashion and love to role play only one dress. It's very difficult, but you learn. In the beginning it was very hard to really keep things concise. Today I can travel with a carry-on and a decent check in bag.
That time I would travel like two check bags and crazy things. I think that was the most difficult thing to understand. How you can optimize your things.
But aside from that, I think I was made to be what I am in terms of travel. I was always since I was a kid, very spirited away.
Like really wanted to explore the world. I was very independent. Also, I I don't like to be alone as much, but when I'm alone, that's fine. I talk to myself the whole time. I can just handle it. It's very like Tom Hanks in that movie that he stays stuck in an island, what's his name, cast it away?
The transition was difficult in the sense that you have to understand that you're like a turtle and you're gonna carry everything with. So you have to learn to be that optimal. But aside from that, after you learn to connect with the people you love when you are far from them. You have to feed relationships digitally.
Like sending love to people that you care, calling them, leaving a little bit here and there. So when you figure that out, I think doesn't matter where you are. You're create a routine that's important.
The third one, create a routine of work and exercise and eating that makes you feel good because you have to understand that whatever I am, I'm gonna try to do things similarly. Otherwise you cannot work.
Some people can get lost on that,
Ling Yah: When you talk about creating a routine, I'm thinking of all these LinkedIn posts. You always see people saying, I wake up at four 30, I go to gym for two hours. I do meditation, I do three hours of solid work. And I go, this is not reality. So I wonder, you must have gone through several iterations of this routine.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I can't wake up at four 30 and go to the gym. That's the first thing that doesn't work for me. Congratulations. I know people that do that. As we say in Portuguese, Spaa, Maines, that means congratulations, Spaa, Maines for them. I can do that. What I try to do is I establish the work hours that I can work, that that always stayed the same.
And depending where I am, I try to create my free time in the morning or the free time at night or afternoon night, depending where I am. But I try to always block that work time in a way that it fits. Any time zone that I generally travel and that becomes the standard. So then pretty much we're dealing with two big blocks.
One is work block, the other one is leisure and sports block, and that can move. Then within those blocks I am flexible. So let's say I have a dinner and I have to exercise. Maybe I'll have to do that in the morning exception, and that's fine. I would do it. Otherwise I would do it at night. So I try to play with that.
Another thing I do, because I practice pole dance for eight years. So I always search studios where I go, and then I try studios in different places and I try to practice sports that sometimes don't demand a lot of equipment. So, you know, try to be flexible if you have a place to exercise good. Otherwise go for a 5K run, do rollers, do yoga.
So I think learning to be plural in those practices and doing activities that you can do remote or alone, sometimes not dependent on a lot of infrastructure, helps to make a routine sustainable.
Ling Yah: That sounds like a far sustainable routine For sure than 4:30.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah. No, forget about 4:30.
Just if you wake up at 4:30, watch cartoons. That's a kid's dream. Watch cartoons on TV and stay in the bed. Yeah.
Ling Yah: And I wonder when you're talking about residencies, you did I think six of them. How did those come about? How did you decide which to go for and what was it like?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: There was a time I was obsessively applying for residencies.
So the ones I was approved, I just said yes.
I had two that were really nice. One in Austria that was really cool. But my favorite definitely was the one in South Korea. And that was really fun because I really like the Korean culture. The Korean food and it is like completely different than what I saw before because then you get out of your comfort zone of the the Western society and you merged into new values, new aesthetics, new beauty standards, new food standards, and it's everything new. And I really enjoyed that.
I selected the ones I felt they would make more sense, but also because I applied to so many, when I got the yeses, I just tried to organize them in a calendar that would make sense and just go.
Ling Yah: So looking back, why would someone do residency? How would you do the research to decide whether one fits you or not?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Well, there are some cool websites in which you can actually find residencies all around the world and they keep updating it. I think residencies are beautiful experiences for, first of all, you meet people that don't come from the same cultural background you do. They may have different religions, they may have different life experiences and they will teach you a lot.
You also learn to live with other people, right? Because you shared the kitchen, you shared the projects. You have to learn to live in community. But at the same time, you're not compromising your whole life. Say, Okay, now this is forever, you know, it's gonna be for six months, maybe three months, whatever the time of the residency.
And I do feel that because generally, residency pay for your travel, your living expenses and they give you a small stipend, but you can like survive with that. It's a great way to travel around the world. And be more educated in that sense without putting a lot of money from your pocket. You know, being sponsored to learn more about different cultures and go into those places.
So I feel it's definitely an experience that young artists, creatives, designers, they should give themself a chance to maybe take a year at least, to apply for a few of those and go in this journey. And the pressure is not as big as the corporation world because they respect the artistic process.
You know, like you have a process, you have a result, and sometimes the process will be the result in the art world. So I think it's really a place for expansion, self expansion and learning.
Ling Yah: I noticed that during this whole period, during your residency, you and your LinkedIn profile is so unique.
You were also doing so many different types of work.
How did these things gel into your life? Or did they come about.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah, that's a good question. Some people would say that, Oh, Giovanna she does so many things. She doesn't know what she's doing. I know what I'm doing. The thing is that life is a short experience, right? And even if there are other lives, I will not remember this life as much.
So I want to make sure that I have a portfolio for experiences that really enrich my soul, my mind, and I have left at least this multidisciplinary legacy about what I tried. You know, I'm a person that regret what you tried, not what you gave up on. Right? Don't give up, try and if you fail, that's fine. At least you tried.
So I think all those different works, I did a lot of work on the residencies regarding argumented reality technology for the Heritage, which was a topic very much connected with my PhDs. So that was already like AR mixed reality XR solutions. They were my core research interest since 2010. So I was already in that market doing projects with that sort of technology.
So I think those projects, they allowed me to get out a little bit of the discourse of tech and incorporate a little bit more of culture, heritage. What is digital memory for different cultures? How you can really work on that topic using technology. And also, I think it really thought me how I can be more flexible with my own creations and incorporate other techniques that I learn with my colleagues.
And eventually I learn a lot about, I don't know, maybe event prediction, which is something I do a lot today. I learn a lot about performances like performing arts about big festivals of art and museum administration. So I think all of those things I incorporated and they helped me for what I do today.
Ling Yah: What were some of the more interesting projects that you were involved?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I do have a soft corner for one project that I did in Boston that is called Look Again. It was an an MVP of an augmented reality application that would do a time travel experience in one of the oldest houses in Massachusetts.
That house called Old Corner Bookstore was the birth of the revolution of the Civil War. So lots of very intelligent writers and people from the literature. They would meet there and they would incite the fire, right? Mind wise, . But that house, it's in the middle of Boston, really, in downtown, and that house has been conserved.
In 2017 it was accomplish in like 300 years, which is one of the oldest houses is still up. And then I was invited to do this sort of MVP app in which you could tell visually the story of this house without really saying anything with words. And then we created this time travel in the facade of the house.
So you could see the facade changing from 1850 to 18 60, 18, 19, 19 60, up to the future. How would that house be in the future if you would envision that? That was really an interesting project. It was not commercial. It was really to try out how it could create layers of time. If we could do time travel, if we could create those layers of time simultaneously at the same place, how that would be.
So, because the concept is really strong and it really resonates with my understanding of multiverses, layers of time space in the same place. And I really like that conversation. That was a personal achievement that I really enjoyed doing. So it was really special to me.
But then more I merged into the fashion industry, which was something I was always connected somehow since my visual artist time. I definitely felt super connected with the metaverse Fashion Week, which is very recent, but is gonna definitely be a landmark in my life because it allowed me to converge all my knowledge into something I'm extremely passionate about, which is fashion and role play .
Ling Yah: Just before going into that whole Web Three World, as you were just doing all these different things, all these interesting personal projects as well, did you ever find yourself wondering what on earth you were doing with your life? Because, I mean, you were definitely trying things, but I think a lot of people were also think, Well, where will I be in five years or 10 years?
Is it just gonna be a nomad forever? What does it look like?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah, maybe I will be nomad for a long time, but regardless of that, I definitely always felt that I have to climb this mountain, whatever this mountain is, and this mountain may have different paths I will have to choose.
That may take me faster or slower to the top, right? The top of whatever the top is. The top. Doesn't mean I'm gonna be a CEO one day and I don't even know if I want to be a CEO one day. But definitely, I always felt that I'm going to a place where I can lead teams and people and ideas, and I can help facilitate projects.
I can help facilitate the execution of things. And when I say leading doesn't mean I wanna be like commanding people. I'm not that sort of a leader. I really just like to say, Well, you were good at, Okay, so you lead that. I delegate. I like to lead by delegation. I don't like to know everything. I don't know everything. I don't wanna know everything.
I wanna work with people that know their thing and they do it well, so we can co-create. But I knew I wanted to be in a place of leadership somehow in the creative industry, and open the space for artists to be seen. And for the creators to have a fair chance. Because as Matteo clearly said, I was running away from the failure of being an artist in an atelier.
It took me a long time to understand that actually, maybe that's my fight to take and to use the new options we have in the corporate world to give a chance for those to be seen. I think today I see clearly my mission is always to be a hub for those creators to facilitate opportunities together, teams that can make great projects and really lead that community in a way, if I can.
So I think unconsciously I was trying to do that. Eventually it's gonna happen hopefully.
Ling Yah: So essentially being a producer, being a director. Yeah, exactly. But I mean, since you were a child, you want to be the star, then you wanna be in front of the camera rather than directing the stars?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: No, the thing is, that's a funny thing, You want to be star in front of the cameras. I am not hypocrite to say no to that, and I always wanted to be in the cameras. But I think today I'm doing it like when I have the opportunity to be the spokesperson in conferences, I have been doing this so much, especially with my actual project, the central land and that community.
I love that. And I think more than ever today I'm being seen as a person that can speak about certain topics and I am invited to do so. So I'm also finding that place, you know, I don't need to be like doing a Broadway show to feel I am at this stage.
I think I can definitely be at this stage sharing those same inspiring thoughts that took me to the place of being a producer or that will, you know, sparkle the desire of doing something different in other creators in this sector that I work today and maybe even other sectors.
Ling Yah: Definitely time for you to connect with Randi Zuckerberg, since you're both in your Web Three space.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I participated in a radio show that she did. She has a radio show regularly. Yeah. And we met a few times. Randy is an example of somebody that leads a lot of initiatives.
She's a powerful female in this space and she's a star, but She wasn't Broadway. I know that. Right. She wasn't a Broadway show, but eventually she became an inspiring figure to all of us. So I think she's a great example that that can happen without the Broadway being the main . It can be.
Ling Yah: How did your Web three journey start?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Because I really see Web Three as a continuation of the idea of an immersive web two. So in that sense, I think the genesis was already when I was working with Mixed Reality in 2011. Also, I was in open source conferences since the beginning of my journey during that time.
But then thinking about really crypto, I think I was researching a lot about the crypto anarchy movement from 1980s, which is a movement not a lot of people know. It was more of an ideological movement in the beginning of the idea of the internet, that data should be owned by its users and we should have the power to negotiate our data usage.
So it's quite interesting. I started researching that on my PhD. So in 2017 was when I really clicked into that particular concept. And then I started making connections of that with open source community that I was part of, hacking arts community I was part of for a long time. And I think that kind of took me to the community I belong today, which is pretty much open source, crypto, decentralized, blockchain community.
Ling Yah: You're not a technical person. So when you heard of this thing called the blockchain or you know, at the time it was just Bitcoin, there was no such thing as blockchain. Were you thinking oh, the idea's great, but I'm not sure if this iteration is right. Were you thinking that or were you just thinking, let's just jump in and see where this takes me?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I am not a technical person and I think that's why I just said, Yeah, let's go again. I say, Yeah, looks great. Let's do it. And I think that that's it. Sometimes when you are a technical person, you will really be critical thinker. How is that gonna operate, is gonna be interoperable, where it's taking and so on.
Now I understand way more sometimes I even surprised myself, I'm explaining to people at his blockchain, I was the other day drawing to my dad, Imagine you have a blog. And then I said, Okay, I'm learning.
I am not a specialist on that. Every day I learned something new from the technical point of view.
But I always play this game that I think regardless if it is blockchain, the major shift is cultural. It's behavioral, it's about block chain. You know, it's about an internet that is truly for people. It's by people from people. It's to opening the processes. So if you learn those core values, you will understand that is not just we're transitioning from a tech, from the web two to a new tech on the web three.
Is also people changing their mindset and how they behave on those spaces, how they cooperate. So if you get the value you will be able to see the potential of that technology. And I think that's more important than the tech. And maybe that's your topic, but without Dreamers, we don't get anywhere.
Right? We would always stop to chase certain results if you just sabotage everything because things are difficult. So I am utopist in that sense. .
Ling Yah: So just before we talk about Decentraland, I learned that you are working at Zone, which is a VR studio in Finland as late producer, and that led you to Decentraland.
What was the story there?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: The story was that after that project Look Again, that I told you in Boston, a friend of mine that was working as the CPO contacted me, That was in 2017. And then he said, You know what? I know that you're doing a lot of projects. I have been following around and you were doing really great things.
We really need somebody that could bring that XR knowledge with cultural knowledge and arts to the company. So I started working as a manager right after I became a senior producer. And then right after I was leading the whole department of other producers and teams. And that was really good because that was a company that allowed me to really learn deeply about XR solutions and immersive worlds for corporations because we're working with big names like Finnair, which is the national airline. Far, which is a big energy supply.
Like they're working with electric solutions and much more. So I think working with those big names really gave me a sense of, okay, so how really to deal with clients, what's very important for me to learn damage control. I did so much damage control, like learning to get a client that is very sad and you know, I are gonna deal with it.
So all the diplomacy that I had already probably learned a little was the moment to explore that. So it really helped me to, I think, refine a little bit my style of work and to handle difficult clients and to handle difficult people, which is the default in the business world, right? And how to not lose control of yourself, how to really keep yourself there.
It's business, it's professional, it's not personal. So that was important. Also, I think it was a great place to be welcomed. The company was really family like to today, I have great friends from that company. I have great relationship with the founder of that company, Mika Rosendal. And when I left, right after I left, he founded his metaverse that is now a metaverse on the blockchain called Cornerstone.
And then I'm very happy for him, you know, because I think that even though I lefted to go to the central line and. I'm not working with his metaverse. But at the same time, I know that that was the result of many things that we discussed and many projects that I was able to participate beforehand.
So it was a very great place to improve professionally and to learn to be tough, I think.
Ling Yah: Hey, STIMIES!
Interrupting this just to say I've left law and this is essentially my year of yes, to meet, to explore, to see what's really out there beyond the world of law. While, of course, also doing the STIMY, which comes out every single Sunday. Now the thing is I've started to also help other people to build their personal brand.
I've spent the past three years essentially digging deep to the lives of Olympians, C-Suite executives, four Star Generals, and now YouTuber and Viral TikTok is as well. And what I've learned is that LinkedIn is an amazing platform to allow me to tell these stories, to allow other people to share their stories, what they're passionate about.
What they're trying to do to change the people, to change the community, the world around them. So if you are interested in also learning how to build a LinkedIn personal brand, do, reach out cuz that's what I'm helping people do right now.
Just drop me an email at, [email protected] and let's get started.
And if you're not sure what that looks like, just head over to my profile, look me up Ling Yah. And you'll see what I'm doing so far, snippets past guests and also what it takes to be a great storyteller. All right, now let's get back to this episode with Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro.
And what is it like working at Decentraland? Because it's not like any other company, there is a top down structure, It's totally different. So what is it like being part of the foundation?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Before I go to that, So what led me from Zone to Decentraland, which was our question.
My PhD was about open source crypto and heritage. And Zone gave me the professional expertise. Decentraland was a place of convergence. Web three is actually a place of convergence. What I studied for 10 years that made sense with my professional experience, and then I was able to put them in the same place.
And I think that was the beauty of that. So there were two lines coming together, and then they finally converged when I entered Decentraland. The Decentraland is not a usual place to be because first of all, misconception, misinformation, a lot of people think it's a corporation, it's not, right. So it is a DAO and that DAO created a foundation.
For me, the easiest way to compare is to do an analogy with a ministry of culture.
Governments, they represent people and they create different departments or ministries to represent certain verticals and work on those verticals. So the DAO needed somebody to take care of the software engineering, the development of the platform in a unified way, and also to build a consistent content that would lead into visibility and increasing business opportunities.
And they created the foundation as a nonprofit where we have a dedicated team to push the boundaries of the software, keep working on new features, new releases of the the decentral and platform, but also to lead by example in the events sector, right? In the user experience. So working for the foundation is a mix of working for a corporation and almost a government, because always keep in mind, I'm here working for the DAO, I'm not even working for the foundation.
The people I should be caring about is the community members. Those are the people eventually will be benefited by anything we do. So when a brand wants to come to metaverse, the first mission we have is to make sure that that brand is connected with a creator in our community so that creator can be the benefited one with that business opportunity, you know?
So I think having that mindset, it's quite different because in a corporation, we'd even call clients, clients, right? In the foundation, they are partners. They're presenting partners, they're brands that wants to be in the metaverse. So we cannot even use the term client because they are not.
We are a nonprofit foundation and we have all those opportunities and sometimes we have through our own events that we know we have the infrastructure to push and to pull that through and involve the community, so they're benefited.
In the end, things make sense. The diplomat in the matter sort of a thing, kind of is a little bit of what I do because I'm not working for a corporation. I'm not just working. It's not a government, but you have to be a diplomat when you talk about it. And you have to be a leader when you execute it, but also always going back into the people you're working for, which are thousands of users.
Ling Yah: How do you ensure that things like workflow is effective? The more people you have, the more opinions, the more it takes time to hear from everybody. How do you decide on things like that?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: The foundation is pretty much independent in decision making. So we don't need to consult the dow for the things we want to do. But I think it's important that we inform the community through our public channel.
So Twitter and our newsletter and of course I am in touch a lot with different community members, especially the ones concentrated in the fashion vertical and events like party verticals. So every time I can, I try to post and foundation does that also on their own plan. So we don't really need to be asking much because it was given us the freedom to have a budget and work with that to push the limits.
But some initiatives, I think it's always key that we consult the community. More like, So what do you wanna see next year? Should we involve you more?
Like I'm trying to bring more community members to be producers in some of the events we do, because I think eventually they should take the lead of some of those events that Today Foundation makes.
So I think it's just being sensible and trying to involve them as much as possible up to a certain point in which we know if now we start really making votes for every single change of color in the logo, that will never happen. So have to be practical and you have to be political and consult people as much as you can within your roadmap.
So prediction should happen. As would happen in any corporation. You have a roadmap. You have timelines, you have milestones, All those terms that, you know, PMP people would see. Yeah, you have a sprint, all those things. And then when you have options to consult, you consult the community. So they are involved in some of those decisions, or they can be part of the prediction as a 3D creator, as a studio, as a manager, or something like that.
Ling Yah: One of the common criticisms for Decentraland DAO is that the voting power is commensurate with how much land, how much money you own. And so voting seems to favor the rich. How should people actually think about that criticism?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I think it's on point. . My opinion is that it's true.
I truly believe that we should look into the web three space as an opportunity to disrupt the pyramid we already know. We have so many hierarchies in the world in which the rich gets richer, the poor gets poor, so we should defeat that.
But I know that when the system was created, we have to also contextualize and when they created the central land, it was like 2017. Lots of hackers, people with ideas, they created a system and maybe they didn't even imagine that people would be investing so much.
I say, Yeah, yeah, you buy one, you vote, one. You buy thousand, you vote thousand. Makes sense.
Ling Yah: Spending like $10, right? $20.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Exactly. I think it was more of a technical decision in the sense that, yeah, it's simple one, one, let's go with it. You have it, you vote. Fine.
And today the platform has grown so much and it has so much impact on real life of people that I think we have to improve that voting power system.
I do feel that engagement, it's one of the core elements missing there because yeah, you may have 10,000 plots of one, good for you, but I go to the platform and I spend eight hours a day with my community making events, bringing content, and that should be a way for me to have more voting power.
I think this discussion is already happening internally for sure, because it has been coming from different sides in which, how can we create other engagement aspects for the voting power. Voting power should maybe be definitely about assets, but should also be about engagement, about retention, about loyalty, about community creation.
Like if you own a district and you manage a district. That land may not be yours, but you should have a lot of voting power, So we should improve that process, but the critique comes from our real place. This is not so meritocratic. I think it's a little bit of entitlement that we should remove from this equation.
If you wanna make a better future for DAOs in general.
Ling Yah: Speaking of engagement, Decentraland was in the headlines quite a lot because that radar was saying, Oh, you only have 600 active users. Look at it, it's dying right now. But then Sam Hamilton comes out and says, Oh, actually we have 8,000. I wonder, since you are deep in this space, how many active users do you have?
What is it like right now?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah, so the thing is we do have lots of active users. First of all, see I'm not a technical person. I know they extract the data and everybody was extract extracting different places. But see there is a lot of misinformation, a lot of conspiracy theories. A lot Ponzi scheme in the crypto space. I get it.
But I am the living proof that in the metaverse fashion week, we had like 108,000 users at the platform. Like really there, right? During that time, we had honestly like 62,000 circulating in that fashion district. So that's why we have to look back.
Just recently we did the art week and we had about 17,000 unique users coming to the event, which is quite a lot for an art week with any sponsors, very few little brands involved.
So my thought we can't just assume some calculations. That reader eventually corrected that they were looking the data in a different way than actually the accountability is done. So we do have several thousands. Like in the last month our monthly users are around a hundred to 120 k.
And those communities are really big. We have districts that contain like thousands of users every day. If you go to any party in the central land it's very unlikely they're gonna have less than 200 people. And some parties, they gather like 800,000 people in the same event on a weekly basis.
That's like every week they make parties and those are the users. So I think the best place to find those numbers are really with the marketing team. They're releasing those numbers now, and I think we're gonna be more transparent about those numbers.
But that was a complicated situation because misinformation spreads really quickly and sometimes that becomes a flag that is not true. But I think, I'm gonna make a joke that it's totally political. If fake news didn't have a power, Donald Trump would not have become the president. Right? So fake news are powerful and we need to be aware of that.
But then we have to try to defeat with knowledge and the platform is trying to show that that's not true. And we do have really like hundreds of thousands of users that are building incredible things. Some come to just consume. Some come to build their own communities, build architecture, and so on.
Ling Yah: Out of all those hundreds, thousands of users, you said before that you would love to draw more people into the space who are from underrepresented groups. I wonder how you have thought about doing that or actually done?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Well, events like pride event, the fashion event and even the music festival, we have a music festival coming out in November.
Those are places where I think there is a lot of opportunity for representation. The best way I like to help artists is really thinking about this new creative economy, which is pretty much if a brand comes to me in the foundation or to our team, the first thing we do is to introduce that brand to a creator from the community. And then they start getting a relationship.
They start being paid to work for that brand. We maybe are a middleman, but we don't get any money out of it. So the idea is really to remove the middleman and connect the brands or corporations with creators directly. I think this is the best practical way to help and to give visibility.
But then when those big events come, we should always try to create spaces for the community members and new creators. So the music festival is gonna have a stage only for the community that is gonna be curated for digital influencers born into the web three space, like a dj for example.
DJ TrackX is a very famous DJ in Decentraland, and he's gonna have a set, many others will be performing. The matter of our fashion week for next year is gonna be launching a track only for new designers and probably an incubator program because we really care about the new generation of fashion creators and how they will disrupt the fashion more and more.
So I think those are the ways for us to be representation. We really need to sponsor those ideas. We really need to give them visibility and introduce them to the old fashioned big players so they can create a relationship and those business opportunities will comfort them.
Ling Yah: Since you're such an expert in virtual events producing, and you obviously wears the hat of the manifest fashion week, what was it like behind the scenes?
How did that conversation start?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: No, I just wanted to, behind the scenes is that meme. I don't know if I ever saw the meme that this dog drinking coffee with the room on fire. That's the backstage. That's the backstage of any event, even when I worked in physical events before.
Ling Yah: It's true.
I've done that before and no matter how you plan it, things will always go wrong. You always need tons of people by your side to help you.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Exactly. The last few days you discover you don't have plugs. I don't have plugs or the plugs. You know, like the plugs are, voltage is different. So like that's it. So , it's the same. It's inspired. Problems are everywhere.
But the important is to really have a team is supportive. And I think the foundation has an incredible internal team of creators. We have a content team. That's the team I work with. Incredible art direction, incredible creative direction, incredible 3D creators.
People that are humble. They have mercy of each other so they understand. They will never say, Come on, I'm not doing it because I was already assigned for something else. No, if somebody needs help, we help. And I think that's the most important thing. But also community members. We can always rely on 3D studios that belong to our community to do work, and they are really diligent.
So I think that's really good. It's pretty much one hand. You can wash a hand alone, right? You need the other one to wash your hands. So one hand wash the other hand, and we help each other and try to bring more processes. I'm really working on to bring more processes, without disrupting the way those creatives work.
We need processes, we need management, but we don't need to always go through traditional project management tools every single time. I never want tools to be above people. People should be above the tools and they will figure it out. We always start with partnership level in which we try to find the brands interested in coming.
Sometimes we want to make invitations to certain brands, or we start talking to the studios that already are working with brands and they wanna bring their clients to the event. And then when we have a clear scope, as soon as those cases are figured out, We kick off production. Introducing brands to studios, and then they start really doing the job.
And the hardest part in my opinion, is when it comes to the moment of uploading those things, which is called the deployment phase, that is the chaotic part I feel, because when the three Ds are ready, we have to start sending it to the developers and they start deploying everything. And that's when you test it.
And that's when you find, okay, this is not working. This has way too many polygons. This is glitching. So that's the Easter egg moment for us in which we discover lots of problems that are, don't have plugs, you know that voltage is wrong.
Then that's when you really have to rush. But it always works in the end because we try to delegate to the right people those functions.
And then we do of course, all that process with the brands aware of what is being created and doing round review so they have a chance to change or to correct things that they don't like. And depending on the time we have left, we do more round reviews. But if we have very short time, I say you have to be very wise with those two round reviews we have in your hands brand, because there will be your only two chances to make it work.
Ling Yah: you say that one of the challenges was getting brands to go all of their comfort zone and not just to your regular catwalk. So what were those conversations like? How do you convince them to do something different?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Fun. Those were fun conversations, because you tried to show to the brands that, eh, you can be flying, you know, you can do a water dress. You can be a dress made of water.
And I think that some of the brands really took it to the next level. I think they tried to do models that were cats. They tried to incorporate those metaverse styles into what they created. But there were some that went in a more traditional way, which is fine too, I think. As long as you are in this ecosystem, you were trying to be in this ecosystem and you were succeeding in trying.
I think that's good. It's already a success that you came, you created your shop. But we tried to go beyond the reality that we know in the physical. So beyond the physical world, because we wanted the brands to try to incorporate impossible elements for the physical world in their virtual experiences.
And next year is gonna be even more. I think next year we are gonna try to do hybrid events in the real world and try to really bridge. So eventually we can unframe the fashion, you know, and the materverse outside the screens. But overall, those discussions were about educating the brands of what they could do and how they could do those unexpected elements in their storytelling.
Ling Yah: Since all the companies did something so different, like Dolce Gabbana did the parade, Estee Lauder gave the 10,000 free glowing rubber balls. Did you notice certain things that really took off that you would, The companies tried this.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah, I think definitely the runaway shows were very nice for the community and for any user, because it's an opportunity of being in a V I P role and see the collection as a vip, right?
Everybody was a VIP in that sense because you could just go and watch it. So I do feel that the runaway shows are very successful. I would invite brands to do that more, but in a very playful way, like Dolce Gabbana did. I think replacing the models for cats was quite smart. It was a good joke of cat walking and really incorporating this new identity of the metaverse and how you can create your identity without maybe being human or questioning your humanity in the space. I really like that.
And definitely I think after parties and more immersive shops really worked too. I think what Estee Lauder did was really smart to do the giveaways of a wearable in a very immersive shop, in a very immersive bottle of product, and really bring, bringing a very abstract product to the matter averse, because nobody ages in the metaverse.
So you don't need aging products, right, Or cosmetics. But they really played very smart and I would love to see more cosmetic brands coming in and trying out those things.
So that is successful. I think that if you really do interesting immersive stores, if you do not obvious runaway shows and parties are always something I say brands should do because they're low hanging food in a way because we have so many preexisting venues, but also because it's a very traditional thing in the central Ladn. And I think in the metaverse people hanging out together and partying in the metaverse.
Ling Yah: What do you think are the upcoming trends that we can expect to see?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: First of all, I think you're gonna have a lot of cross metaverse events.
I have been really talking about cross metaverse. Let's do cross metaverse and Espacio is very close to our community now, so we did a few activations with them during the art week. Definitely are coming back for the fashion week stronger with us. So I think we will see those communities merging more and more in between metaverses we learning about each other, we going and coming back and and so on. That's a trend that I hope we start.
The second trend is more about content. Even though digital fashion is definitely gonna be a strong point for next year. I do feel some sectors are slowly entering the space. More so with sports, probably in the next months because of the World Cup will be very visible in the matter versus that exist.
I think food and beauty also because they're more abstract. But I think there is a big potential of food to enter the metaverse with an interesting story. And beauty I think after what Estee Lauder pioneered and did. We can see more initiatives. I think we're gonna have some interesting news in the central land about beauty. In the weeks to come you'll know more.
And then I think the fashion world, clearly when you watch the physical runaway shows from this just recent season that we had in Paris and even melanoma, I do feel it's already very metaverse, right? The clothes are telling a story with elements that are very unusual to us. Like for example, Bodega ve I was incredible with those gigantic flowers.
And so I do think that it's merging more and more. The game narrative, the impossible architectures, the impossible narratives are being incorporated and becoming possible in the physical world. I think physical products will be very common in the next years to come in which you have a physical item you buy and then you get a digital collection, or maybe it's attached to an nft and that NFT may be functional because we are, I think, all tired of PFPs.
Unfortunately, that's another grade like before, just like NFTs don't exist anymore. That's not true. I think it's because we underestimate NFTs and we think they're just collectibles that we look at when actually they should be functional pieces. Functional keys of access. And I think brands in the fashion are kind of starting to understand that.
And then my last comment is, I think we're gonna see more hybrid events too, because people wanna be together in the physical world and they want to see the metaverse coming out of it, right? Coming out of its own existence, isolated in our frames of computers and phones. So I think that is gonna be a trend for the overall creative industry, but also fashion.
Ling Yah: Is there anything that listeners can help you with?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I think they can help me like giving me ideas of how we can do things better. Like come to the events, be super critical, take your notes and send me on Twitter anywhere like this didn't work. I like criticize for growth. Don't criticize for, cancel culture you know.
I come with critiques that I can really use as improvements and I really love to listen to those. So. Open your eyes, your ears, come to those experiences, give me feedback. The listeners, if you're listening to me, we want you, right? Like Uncle Sam. We want to, if you are a great creator, try to enter those communities because there's so much space, There's so much space for you to really bring your business, grow your business as a, an artist, as a 3D creator, as a programmer, I think we need those visionary people more and more.
So I want to welcome them. So just come.
Ling Yah: What does success look like? If everything turn out the way it was supposed to be, what does that look like?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I think success may be, of course, things going exactly as you thought, but I think also success is you taking people out of their comfort zone and they rethinking what they already know.
So sometimes an event may not be super success from a sales point of view, right? Maybe you were not having millions of users in an event, but you create new mechanics that impress people and people are like, My God, how'd they did that? I never imagined that was possible. Right? And then you trigger this chain.
It's not blockchain, it's something other kind of chain that people start trying that because they got inspired. So for me, success could come from a super business marketing point of view. Yeah, it did work. We got impressions. It was great. We had great names, but also could be an event in which we didn't have any big name involved, but we were able to show to the community or to the users, or to the metaverse in general, that something that people thought was not possible is now possible.
And we leave it at that. We just plant the seed. And that is for everything in life, right?
Ling Yah: One of the things that Marja told me working at Decentraland she said that I wanna make myself redundant. Is that a sentiment that everyone feels who's working at the foundation?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Yeah, because I think we repeat the same thing many times and we need to. But See, I was a professor.
If a professors are redundant a hundred percent of the time, they teach the same subject for 35 years and they just change one small image in their slides. Right? . So the truth is the mission we carry when you are in the web three space, pioneering, doing something nobody did in a very complicated context, because open source blockchain decentralize like you use words that people are like, What? What? Huh? Can you repeat that?
So, We all want to be redundant and we all all want to repeat the right ideas. So we make it clear and we educate. Education needs to be done in the web three space. Otherwise we will have lots of lost people. People that will be falling into scams. And we want to educate people to be accountable for what they do in the Web three space and see the good and the bad side of that and be aware so they can make the right choices.
So that's why we need to be redundant. So we are all redundant and as long as we need to be .
Ling Yah: Gigi, it has been such a pleasure to have you here. I normally end all of my interviews with the same questions. So the first is this. Do you feel that you have found your why?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: I do. I think that being in touch with the creator community and being welcomed by them and be supported by them gives me the sense that I feel that I'm impacting lives now and I wanna keep doing this.
Ling Yah: What kind of legacy do you wanna leave behind?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Personally, I want to show people that you can really be a nomad and feel that you belong. I think that's a personal thing. The world is a place for all of us. You will still feel the sense of belonging when you learn to be everywhere and learn to expand your horizon.
So I want people to see that that's possible. Happiness is also there in a professional way. I really want to leave a legacy of connecting digital and physical world in one. I want to break that boundary. I want to be remembered as a person who really connected the digital community with the physical community, the innovation with the tradition, and made a difference to establish that we live in just one reality. A creative reality without boundaries, and we should stop creating those boundaries.
And I hope I can help on that.
Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Wow. It's gonna be cliche. but I think you need to be creative. You need to learn to reinvent yourself. I think that's number one.
Because you'll have many phases in your life and you should not get stuck with what you were. You have to be something different.
So learn to role play and to reinvent yourself when needed. You need to be persistent. And again, I think that the goal of trying. You should not fear the failure because for me, failure is absence of trying. If you try, you've succeeded. And that's part of persistent. And then don't feel afraid of saying what you think.
Like use your voice, use your body language, express your feelings and, and your emotions and your thoughts, and fight for those. It's never easy, but you have to kick the door. You know, I say don't knock , kick the door and do your job and take your place. And that's it. That's it. .
Ling Yah: And where can people go to connect with you, Find a more about you, what you're doing, support you.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Well, I am in all the social medias, the web two spaces that we used to like LinkedIn, Instagram, and also Twitter. I think that the best is if you want to support me being one of those social medias, I post different things in different places, more personal one on Instagram, more professional on LinkedIn, and definitely more community oriented on Twitter.
So depending where you're coming from, be there. Very hard for me to keep up with messages. So if you really want to connect with something really meaningful, write a message that is not just obvious. Catch my attention, i d know how on LinkedIn especially. And then I will reply.
Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 123. The share notes and transcript can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/123.
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