Issue #18

Gianfrancesco Mottola

Il Poliedrico

Born and raised in Rome, Gianfrancesco (also known as Sanfo) moved to New York in 2005 joining the Dilenschneider group, a global leader in Corporate Public Relations, Strategic Communications and Consulting. He worked under the supervision of legendary PR guru, Robert L. Dilenschneider, whose bestselling book  “Power & Influence: The Rules Have Changed” featured Gianfrancesco. He developed unmatched skills in Public Relations and Consulting, Marketing and Brand Development, Media Relations, and Event Management. During this time, he actively worked with key strategic corporate clients developing strategic marketing and branding plans, maintaining relationships with media and press, enhancing clients’ visibility, and monitoring and analyzing media coverage. Since 2008, Gianfrancesco has been a regular attendee at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with responsibility of clients’ portfolios. A seasoned multi-tasker, in December 2011 Gianfrancesco launched Open Gate Communications while continuing his collaboration with The Dilenschneider Group as Senior Consultant. Passion for art and culture is a long-life family tradition as Gianfrancesco was also instrumental for the restoration and promotion of XVI-century Palazzo de Liguoro in Naples, belonging to Prince de Liguoro, his maternal grandfather. Palazzo de Liguoro is today a well-known cultural center holding concerts, lectures, art and theatrical exhibitions, visual-arts shows, and conferences. Gianfrancesco holds a Bachelor’s degree and Master of Arts in Law from L.U.M.S.A. University in Rome.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

I always try to enjoy life, combining business and pleasure. Indeed, I do what I like and I like what I do! I work in strategic communications, marketing and consulting in New York and beyond, helping corporations in expanding their networks and developing new strategies to enhance their visibility and business portfolios. I attend for them and with them the world’s most relevant forums and workshops, connecting people and ideas. My motto is “It Can Be Done!”
I like politics but I dislike politicians. I travel a lot, feeling at home everywhere I go and I always look for the next route. Sports are part of my life. Mention one… I’ve done it. I am a frequent participant of the best music conferences around the globe: good vibe inspires me!

What made you leave Italy and chose NYC?

After graduating from law school in Rome, I started my professional activity in the field of real estate development among the cities of Rome, Milan and London. Although things were heading for the better, I felt the desire to follow what I considered more personal, Public Relations, and to gain work experience abroad from the “Old Continent”. All roads were leading to New York, a city that I already knew well and always loved as my mother used to work there. Subsequently, when I had the chance to come to New York for job interviews to some of the world’s most prestigious public relations firms, I couldn’t miss the opportunity. And, here we are!

Please share your best memory in the City.

During almost 10 years in the city, I have collected tons of great memories… It’s really hard for me to arrange a ranking of them.But what I can easily share with you, it’s probably the same feeling that anyone experiences once they move to New York: the feeling of freedom and opportunity that this city offers; the everlasting amazement at the dynamism of the city ‘that never sleeps’; the reddish sunrises over the New York skyline; the early feeling to be ‘on top of the world’ and, the second after, ‘a dot in the universe’ . And, I could keep going with philosophical and spiritual thoughts but, just to be pragmatic, I remind you of one: When in July 2006, Italy won the FIFA World Cup in the final against France, I invaded, with a bunch of friends, a small French bistro in the heart of Little Italy and after buying 3 bottles of their most expensive champagne… (to be continued)

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

Honestly, I cannot take full credit either for the location or for the outfit. Alexo was a good mentor on both aspects. Regarding the outfit, weeks before the shoot I was wearing my tuxedo at a birthday party of a mutual friend with Alexo and so, weeks later for the shoot he suggested to wear the top half of my tuxedo and just jeans and no shoes. I reacted positively to the idea as it reflects my state of mind: “Polyhedral! Always comfortable in any circumstance, from Le Grand Bal in Wien to a Brazilian favela”. As far as the location is concerned, at the time of the shooting (in April), I just moved into this new apartment with a rooftop swimming pool overlooking New York. So I thought that was a perfect set for Alexo’s photo shoot. But when I politely asked the building management to kindly open the pool (still closed until Memorial Day) and they said no, I decided to do it anyway. To bypass the security cameras and not be seen, we hopped the pool gate and hung over the fence out of the building at the 35th floor. After 20 minutes of shooting in the pool, with building tenants – pleasantly surprised and amused – looking at us from beyond the gate and asking me if I was an actor or a model and what the shooting was that for, Alexo and I realized that there were other security cameras pointing right at us during the entire time. Good job!

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

When Alexo called me to present the project, I immediately offered my congratulations for the stunning idea: to portray with pictures the stories of 40 successful Italians in New York, the so-called ‘Brain Drain”, to organize a photo exhibition of it and to put together photos, bios and interviews for a book. Frankly, as I work in public relations, at the beginning I thought he needed my professional support in developing the project and organizing and promoting the event, not that he wanted me to be part of the project.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the italian style/culture abroad?

My job brings me to travel a lot around the world, representing clients of any country, and being an Italian, other than a professional, has always helped me a lot. Italians are looked more positively than any others from a foreign prospective. If supported by personal charm, politeness and appeal, we always have sympathy, respect and admiration by our international interlocutors at first sight.

  • Manhattan, NY


  • Time

    120 mins

  • Shots


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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US