IFTV Founder Marco Messina Discusses Following Your Passion
One of the many interesting changes brought on by the pandemic has been a reevaluation of priorities. Without in-office culture, the remote workforce has had to confront a number of new questions: Do I need to live where I live? Does this job make me happy? What are my goals and priorities?
The answers to these questions have led a number of people to change their careers, relocate, and reprioritize their relationship to work, putting family at the forefront. In this broader reevaluation lies a central question: What is my passion?
In the latest installment of Outcomes & Omelettes, North Sixth Group’s thought leadership series, Chairman Matt Rizzetta sat down for an in-depth conversation with IFTV Founder Marco Messina to discuss what it means to follow one’s passion. With North Sixth Group’s recent investment in SS Campobasso, an Italian football (or soccer, or calcio in Italian) club, Rizzetta and Messina’s discussion covered the roots of IFTV, or Italian Football TV, and the impending launch of Underdogs, a digital series following SS Campobasso.
More than simply exploring Messina’s founding of IFTV, the conversation also explored his experience growing up in Brooklyn, soccer as a vehicle to connect with family roots—a subject both Rizzetta and Messina share—and building a community out of a common interest.
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Finding Your Passion
During the conversation, Messina went through his unique career path that eventually landed him at the founding of IFTV. Being resistant to soccer in his rebellious youth, he eventually gave into his father’s—an accomplished soccer player in his own right—wishes and took up the sport as a player. Once he began playing, he recognized a passion for the sport, but “had to be realistic” about his limitations as a player. In short, Messina knew he’d never go pro, so he would have to remain a fan; but the passion for Italian soccer never left him.
Fast-forward a few years, and Messina was working in real estate. Despite his success in the field, one day he came to the realization that real estate wasn’t what brought him joy.
“I remember I came home, and I had a good amount of money—for a younger kid in college I had a good amount of money working in real estate all weekend—I didn’t check my phone, I didn’t do anything,” Messina said. “I remember looking at this money and I was so sad. I was so mad, because I don’t know what my team did this weekend, I didn’t watch a single game, I didn’t interact with anybody about the thing that I love. It was the moment where, for me, I realized that money is not everything, and it was the moment where I said ‘I’m quitting, I’m going to go all in on what I want to do because my happiness is way more important than this money right here.’”
After flipping through Twitter in its early days and realizing that there wasn’t an active platform to discuss Italian football, the thing he loved the most, online, IFTV was born as a way to engage in conversation with other fans of the league. By building an online community around a thing about which he was deeply passionate, Messina was able to build a successful business.
Some of the other prevailing themes of the conversation were work ethic and positivity, both traits that are central to Messina’s success. Part of being grateful, Messina says, comes from knowledge and experiences he learned from his grandfather, whose escape from Italy during World War II serves as an inspiration to Messina to this day.
“He put that in me that, even just being alive, you’re lucky,” he says.
But simply keeping a positive mental attitude isn’t enough to determine success; it also takes a strong work ethic. One of Messina’s tips for driving forward and keeping up a strong work ethic is focusing on future goals and working towards them.
“Don’t look to today; don’t look to what’s happening right now,” Messina says. “Try to think three, four, five years down the line and see where you can get. Because those hard moments—if you’re just looking at it in that moment—it’s easy to give up, it’s easy to really quit because you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Putting Passion Into Practice
Messina is a perfect fit for the O&O series, particularly on following one’s passion, because a similar passion and connection to family roots led to North Sixth Group’s investment in SS Campobasso. The times we’re living in have pushed a lot of people to reflect on what their passions are, and more than anything, this discussion is a reminder that it’s never too late to follow your passion.
IFTV’s series Underdogs following SS Campobasso premieres Wednesday, May 26th.
Each Outcomes & Omelettes session is an educational and interactive discussion on each guest’s background and career journey to engage and inspire the team. Check back soon for our next guest! You don’t know who will show up from the worlds of business, media, philanthropy, and beyond.
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