Massimo Rubini - Changing Direction

Massimo Rubini is VP of Sales and Marketing at Schoolwide, Inc., a leading education management company in Huntington Station, New York.  Massimo taught for seven years, including five years as a professor at Westchester Community College.  Before joining Schoolwide, Massimo held senior sales leadership positions at Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Massimo’s new role at Schoolwide is an exciting new step in his own professional journey. Technology and education have reached an inflection point, and the global pandemic has accelerated trends that were already reshaping how, where and when students learn, and Schoolwide is poised to be a leader of this transformation.

I recently had the chance to talk to Massimo Rubini about work and life, and how the people we meet along the way can transform our lives, setting us on a new and uncharted path and help us find the meaning we are looking for.

In Massimo’ words…

“Growing up in Europe, in a well-to-do family, life as a child was filled with play, friends and a place whose beauty was only surpassed by the epicurean spirit of those who crowded their streets.  As a teen, the challenges of rigorous schooling, and the joys of Saturday night dinners at restaurants along the Gulf of Naples, followed by frequent patronage of the local clubs was all I needed to fuel my happiness.”

“The years that followed, from 18 to 23 were different.  The five years that followed high school were fast and furious lessons in my journey to becoming an adult, with responsibilities and experiences that shaped these formative years.  I served in the armed forces, and this experience shaped my life and hardened me beyond my age.” 

“I had turned cynical, almost beyond repair.”

“Following my last ‘trip’ with the service, I decided on another.  I planned to move to the United States for a brief time, to clear my mind and try and perfect my English.  I packed my bag and set off on a new adventure.  I landed in New York, and ended up renting a room at a local YMCA.”  

“Milan Kundera once wrote ‘Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country where he has his family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood.’  That’s how I felt.”

“I didn’t know anyone, and my English was spotty, at best.  Shortly thereafter, I met someone who would end up changing my life forever.  I started to learn to ‘make decisions’ about people, in a way that had been foreign to me, who was the foreigner.  I started to appreciate that someone’s behavior didn’t always need an all-or-nothing response.  I started to (re)learn to distinguish the good qualities in a person versus the not-so-good qualities, and cherished the good ones. I learned to challenge my assumptions, to question my cynicism, and got into the habit of making mature and thoughtful distinctions.  A peach is not its fuzz, and a toad is not its warts.  I learned to occasionally scrub my windows into the world that I was encountering, for what seemed like the first time.”

“I was lucky to find someone whom I could trust just enough to let in close.  Someone who could accept me for who I was, and see things in me I didn’t t even know were there.  Someone who reinstalled in me the meaning of compassion, and empathy. My perspective started to change, and a new outlook at life was rapidly starting to form. What was only meant to be a pause from the life I had grown accustomed to live, eventually started to challenge my longitudinal views.  I started to question the status quo of my objectives and aspirations, reevaluate my priorities, and give serious consideration to what would eventually become the most drastically impactful decision of my life.  I thought, when you find people like that in life, you hold on to them, tight, and I did.  I married her, and never looked back.”

Some people cross our path and change our whole direction.   I think we can all remember someone who appeared at the right place at the right time in our lives.  Perhaps when we were lost, or when we needed finding, or both.  We are extraordinary fortunate for these moments of grace, for they are a reminder that we are not alone, and that our purpose and meaning lies outside ourselves and in the relationships we make on our own journey.