Interview: Francesco Argirò, Bliss Corporation

A firm dedication to the development of his staff, his companies, and his own capabilities has driven Francesco Argirò in the creation of one of Italy’s leading relocation businesses. Dominic Weaver spoke to the founder of the Bliss Corporation Group about personal growth, quality principles, and why, for him, the day begins at 5am

With a mother born in Libya and his US-raised father already working
in the moving sector, you could say it was inevitable that Francesco Argirò would find success in an international industry. However, for the president and CEO of Bliss Moving & Logistics – the company he founded in 2008, and around which he has built a portfolio of related businesses – self-determination has played a hugely significant part in his career, too.

In 2000, he joined the firm set up by his father – DTM Italy – to oversee logistics and freight forwarding. Here, Argirò learned the fundamentals of the business, and took supplementary classes and courses to get the qualifications he needed to take on the role of quality manager for the company in 2007.

‘This was an important milestone in my career, because it gave me the knowledge about quality systems to build companies based on quality principles,’ he says. ‘I really got into that and it meant I felt I was ready to bring my own idea of business.’

Argirò founded Bliss Pet Services in 2011

After DTM closed in 2008, Argirò formed Rome-based Bliss Moving & Logistics, to which he added Bliss Pet Services (2011) and Bliss Relocation (2015), and, in 2016, a Bliss Corp office in Milan. Bliss gained FIDI-FAIM Plus certification in 2019 and joined Harmony Relocation Group this year. The business also won ‘Best Internationalisation Process’ award from Milan-based entrepreneur mentoring organisation Smart Business Lab, an organisation for which Argirò was mentoring other businesses (2015-17).

Argirò says three parts of his personality have underpinned his push to develop his businesses and himself, and determination is the most important. ‘If you have a clear idea of where you are going, with strong motivation, there is never a problem because you are so focused,’ he says.

Next comes creativity and lateral thinking, essentials for tackling the many challenges that occur on a day-to-day basis in moving. ‘I love this,’ says Argirò, ‘I try to encourage all my staff members to think laterally, to see things from a different perspective and to be creative to solve problems. We have to be creative to deliver something unique.’

Third, he says, his natural enthusiasm helps him lead his businesses and to engage with people at every level. ‘Enthusiasm is contagious,’ he says. ‘When you talk to people with enthusiasm, you can reach a level where the interaction is amazing; it just flows.’

These characteristics are as important in Argirò’s personal life and in the multiple interests he pursues. This includes indulging his passion for classic cars and socialising with friends and family, exercising every day, and his voracious appetite for books; he reads three every month – typically one novel, one on business and ‘something lighter. He also plays the drums.

With all this going on alongside running three businesses, the obvious question is: ‘Where do you find the time?’

The answer, says Argirò, is easy. While some people prefer to settle down to an evening in front of Netflix after work, he gets an early night as often as possible. Then he rises at 5am for a morning routine that includes silence, affirmations, visualisation, meditation, reading, exercise, and journaling. This, he says, is the secret of his positive outlook.

‘Two years ago, I started to study the habits of top performers, and to read books by people like Richard Branson, who wake up very early in the morning. This is the only time of the day when you are with yourself. Nobody distracts you,’ he says. During this valuable, uninterrupted time, Argirò concentrates on his goals and what he wants to achieve during the day ahead. ‘It allows me to focus, activate my synapses, be positive and focus on the important things to achieve during the day ahead.’

Argirò’s steadfast commitment to ongoing personal and professional development has seen him take courses in public speaking, sales, and digital marketing. He has also gained a Master’s qualification in neurolinguistic programming (NLP), the discipline that aims to understand individuals’ preferred mode – such as visual (I see), auditory (I hear) or kinesthetic (I feel).

The Bliss team

This has brought huge benefits to the Bliss business, he says. ‘It has really facilitated communication and the relationship I have with people. It boosted my skills with internal staff and external people, including partners and clients. It really helped me a lot,’ he says.   

Participating in a personal-development course at least twice a year, Argirò wants his staff to continue learning, too. This year already, he has booked five of the Bliss sales team on a week-long training course that will include a session by Jordan Belfort, the subject of the Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street. The aim is for the team to improve their understanding of sales techniques (specifically the ‘straight line’ method) and to implement their new knowledge within the business.  

Giving employees the independence to grow and take responsibility for their own performance is vital to developing capability within the company, he says. He reminds employees who come to him with problems not to ‘put the monkey on my shoulders’ (an Italian phrase for not taking responsibility, for which there is a monkey puppet next to his desk as a visual aid), encouraging them to follow SWOT principles to come up with three solutions of their own, before narrowing it down to the best choice.

He has formalised this process with the company’s ‘Bliss Lab’, a bottom-up forum based on the Japanese idea of quality circles, where colleagues collaborate to solve problems and then inform management what needs to be done. 

‘In my opinion, you never have the correct decision, because you don’t know until you try. Take the best decision you think you can take – and time will tell,’ says Argirò.

Certainly, time has proved his judgement has been prudent in developing the Bliss group of companies across different mobility sectors and a diverse customer base – from corporate, RMC, private, international agents and diplomatic clients, such as the UN and embassies. 

‘For me, the main goal was to diversify services within the global mobility sector as much as possible. That was a specific strategy to cross-sell to different clients. Having just one customer group is going to be problematic,’ says Argirò.

The approach has given Bliss a robust base from which to survive the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic, share resources, and put lateral thinking into practice to keep ongoing jobs moving. ‘Pets could not move at all, for example. So, this company suffered quite a lot,’ he says. ‘In other cases, while the corporate side of the business slowed down, we saw a small increase in private moves over the year. Of course, we predicted different numbers [before the pandemic began], but we are not complaining at all.’

For all that has gone right for Argirò at Bliss, he says he has made ‘many mistakes’ along the way – setting up time-consuming companies in the import/export and consulting services sectors among them. However, he says this is an essential part of the journey of continual improvement and strengthening.

He illustrates this with a favourite quote that some attribute to Winston Churchill – one which really could be a motto for our times. ‘Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.’  

Lessons learned

Argirò says he has learned four important lessons from his time in the moving business. In no particular order, they are:

1. Be reliable. If you commit to something, do it, no matter how big it is or how much it costs. It will pay you back in the long run.

2. Be honest. If you absolutely can’t deliver something, just say so. If you see an opportunity, study and prepare for it rather than improvising.

3. Be open-minded. Listen to others, be receptive, study, ask for opinions – and then make your own decisions.

4. Choose the best team. If you choose the best, most skilled and capable team, it will lead you to success. I would be zero without my team. It is all about them, not me.

A few of the books that Francesco Argirò says have inspired his journey
with Bliss Moving:

The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod: This is more of a manual, which releases the secret of transforming your life by waking up early in the morning and following a series of rituals. Incredibly powerful!

How I raised myself from failure to success in selling, by Frank Bettger: I can’t remember how many times I have read this book. There is a lot of storytelling, it is easy to read and very inspirational.

Lateral Thinking, by Edward de Bono: This revolutionary book explains how to use lateral thinking to solve problems, using an indirect and creative approach, and reasoning that is not immediately obvious.

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, by Robert M Pirsig:
I am very fond of this book. It is the text that opened the doors for me to understand quality management systems.

If you’re not first, you’re last, by Grant Cardone: This is energetic, aggressive and thunderous. If you want to understand how to advance and conquer the market – rather than hesitating or, even worse, retreating – you have to read this book. Purple Cow, by Seth Godin: In this book, Godin explains the power of differentiating your message, service or product in the market – instead of releasing the same message as everyone else.

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse: A classic novel that is very relevant to the current times. I believe everyone should keep a copy on their bedside table. Every time you read it, it teaches you something new, with a different perspective.

Francesco ArgirÒ: key career milestones

  • 2000: First job in moving business
  • 2007: Appointed Quality Manager for DTM Italy: ‘The position that introduced me to all the quality principles that became my philosophy of work.’
  • 2008: Founded Bliss Moving &
    Logistics Srl
  • 2011: Founded Bliss Pet Services
  • 2015: Nominated President Elect for the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA)
  • 2015: Founded Bliss Relocation
  • 2016: Opened Bliss Corp in Milan
  • 2016: Award for Best
    Internationalisation Process from
    Smart Business Lab
  • 2016: Master Certification in NLP
  • 2017: Reached the maximum
    possible number of 30 companies
    as a mentor for Smart Business Lab
  • 2019: Bliss received its FAIMPLUS Certification
  • 2021: Joined Harmony Relocation Network
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