Roberto Fantauzzi: Finding A Way Back To A Childhood Dream

May 16, 2014

What if you can rediscover and find your way back to your childhood dream?

You may consider Roberto Fantauzzi a veteran in the music industry.
For 17 years he worked in the industry in various capacities, with increasing levels of responsibility.

At one point, he was part of the management team of Pharell Williams. Yep, you know… the Happy guy (tell me you’re not humming the song now).

All’s well and good.

But in Roberto’s words… “I got real good at something I really didn’t want to be doing.”

The music industry has been changing dramatically over the last few years. So many other folks in the industry started to branch out and do something else. Buoyed by this, Roberto tapped into his innate love of art and design.

He went back to school. And in 2010, graduated with a Design degree from Parsons The New School for Design.

Fast forward 4 years, and he’s now the CEO of (and designer in) his own company, Happy-Funny, a company that designs and develops a line of gifts, toys and home accessories.

He also teaches Design part-time at Parsons, and accepts freelance work in his spare time. Oh, and he recently concluded an art show/exhibit in Germany.

What a transformation.

I chatted a couple of times with Roberto – one recorded in the video below – about his journey of his second act.

Lou: You were already established in the music industry when you made this career change. What was your biggest fear or challenge in making the leap? How did you address it?

Roberto: The usual financial risks. That’s one reason I took on the teaching opportunity at Parsons. I was initially worried that teaching would take me away from doing what I really wanted to do – actually designing and creating.

But teaching, as it turns out, helps keep me grounded and gives me the opportunity to stay in touch with the younger generation.

Which leads me to the other challenge I faced. I am blessed with good genes – I actually look younger than my age. But I am older than the others who are going into this field.

The younger generation – they may not have the work experience. But they have the perspective of their generation.

Every generation has a different take on design. And teaching at Parsons allows me to stay in touch with the younger generation.

Lou: Was your experience in the music industry helpful in your new world as business owner and designer?

Roberto:  Definitely. The dedication to your job, a solid work ethic… all that came from my prior life. I also had a stint selling beers for Budweiser, so that gave me some sales experience.

I did feel lost in the beginning. Designing and creating something is one thing. But as a business owner, I needed to learn the kind of art that is marketable. What would people be willing to buy? I had to figure that out.

• • •

Roberto also talked about his transformation from “music guy” to “design guy”, and how this was initially received by his family and friends.How he helped them see him differently was a key lesson for me.

That bit of the conversation is what’s covered in this video. Plus, Roberto’s advice to all who may be thinking of going after a major career transformation.

• • •

You can reach Roberto and find out more about his designs on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
I hope his story inspired you to reconnect with your long-held dreams.


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A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

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