FullContact to sync LinkedIn connections into Google Contacts

Meeting and talking with people is part of my job, and I’m generally good in remembering faces, but when it comes to names and some facts to help me reconnect and discuss, my memory is a huge, black and empty hole. And it’s embarrassing. I solved the problem using a mix of Google Contacts and LinkedIn, glued together by FullContact, with offline support and smallest effort my side to keep everything running.

First, I identified my core needs: a way, well-integrated with my Android phone as the only device I can quickly check in similar situations, to see faces, names and notes of people for a given category, working offline and with the possibility to change information on the go, so I can update them just after a chat.

At the beginning, it seemed the perfect scenario for a CRM. After some investigation, I changed my mind because all the software I checked, even the ones with a personal CRM attitude, were overkill, not always well-integrated with the rest of the Android system, and often required connectivity to do even the simples query or edit.

So, I tried to leverage tools I were already using, and Google Contacts, after all, met all my requisites. But how boring is to create a contact and fill details for every person I want to remember? Considering I used LinkedIn to map all my work-related relationships, I thought the native integration between the two could have been the solution, but I was wrong: I discovered then contacts sync between LinkedIn service and Google did not add new LinkedIn connections into Google Contacts. On the other side, the connections sync feature offered by the LinkedIn Android app creates a read-only address book in Android, where I cannot add more details to these contacts and categorise them. Finally, I didn’t want to see all my LinkedIn connection in my address book.

Luckily, LinkedIn allows to export all of your connections (plus other info) on a CSV file. And then a touch of magic happened: I discovered FullContact, a service to manage and enrich contact information, said in a very reductive way. Among the many, many features, it is able to sync with Google Contacts and import LinkedIn connections. All the pieces were finally in place. Here what I’ve done.

First, I created a FullContact account and synced it with my Google account from “Sync Settings – Add New Email Account”: once done, the two services shared the same contact lists, and changes made in one were reflected into the other. Just after, the FullContact magic started: the existing contacts were enriched with tons of useful information, starting from the profile picture (one of mine main needs), company data, social profiles and much more. It’s also possible to add Twitter info once connected an account. In addition, I consider FullContact contact editor slightly better than Google Contacts one. Special mention the many integrations with other services and Enrich API they have.

Then, from LinkedIn, I exported my connections, downloaded the resulting CSV file and imported into FullContact, from “Sync Settings – Add LinkedIn Connections”, and selected the “Update Existing Contacts” option to import all the LinkedIn connections in the special LinkedIn FullContact address book, without adding them to Google Contacts yet.

Add to Synced Contacts option in FullContactAfter that, the very unique boring part: I had a very long list (900+ items) of contacts in my brand new LinkedIn FullContact address book, and I wanted to sync only some of them also in Google Contacts. So, I went thru this list selecting “LinkedIn” in the FullContact “Tags” menu and, for each one, selected the “Add to Synced Contacts” option if I wanted to have that contact always at my fingertips during events. Contextually, I added it also under the desired category, in my case “Community Managers and DevRel”.
FullContact enriched also these new contacts with additional information, and synced everything back to Google Contacts. Magic, as I said! To be 100% sure everything was aligned, I also opened the Google Contacts app and checked in the “Duplicates” section if there were duplicates FullContact wasn’t able to spot.

Now, when I’m at a “Community Manager and DevRel” conference, where I meet people I see once every year if I’m lucky, a quick glance to that label under my Google Contacts app on the phone and I have names, faces and other info back to memory. Plus the edit field ready to register some interesting information.

Every month or so, I import again LinkedIn connections into FullContact, select the “LinkedIn” tag in the Tags list and select “Sorted by Date Created”: a quick look only at the new ones on top of the list is enough, if I want to add some of my new connections into my Google Contacts.

During the journey, I discovered also Hubspot, that seems to be a very good CRM, and Pipl API, a service to enrich a contact using via an API.

Earn Alitalia Millemiglia miles – Bennet card

Bennet Alitalia Millemiglia(This post is part of the Alitalia Millemiglia travel hacking series)

Among the partners that allow to convert their loyalty points to Alitalia Millemiglia miles, there is Bennet, an Italian hypermarket chain with more that 6o points across northern Italy. It is possible to convert 1 Bennet point to 1 mile, till end of January 2017 (at least).

Taken alone, it already seems an interesting possibility to me, considering  Carta Bennet Club is activated for free and immediately upon requests, and gives 1 Bennet point for each 0.50 euros spent, after the fist 5 euros. Plus, there are several product that grant additional Bennet points.

Paying the bill using a Carta Alitalia Oro adds up more additional miles. For example, let’s consider a total expense cost of 50 euros: Bennet will credit 90 points (50 euros – 5 initial euros) * 2 points each euro, and the Carta Oro will entitle for additional 62 miles, 50 * 1,25 miles multiplier. A grand total of 152 miles, with 50 euros of shopping. Not so bad.

In addition, Bennet customer care told me that in the past they were special days when 1 Bennet points gave 2 or event 3 miles. Fingers crossed for a next occasion, but in the meantime I keep earning points.

Earn Alitalia Millemiglia miles – choose a credit card

(This post is part of the Alitalia Millemiglia travel hacking series)

It’s not a secret one of the first tools in the travel hacker toolbox is a credit card to earn loyalty points for each purchase made with it. Alitalia has a partnership with American Express to exchange Alitalia miles using AMEX Membership Reward Points. But if you’re not an AMEX customer yet, there are three interesting special cards to consider: Carta Alitalia Verde, Carta Alitalia Oro, Carta Alitalia Platino.

The main, common, advantages are earning bonus miles for card activation, plus miles for each purchase made with the card. Amount of the bonus miles and miles multiplier for purchases change with the level of the card. In additions, they offer access to exclusive Alitalia clubs (Ulisse and Freccia Alata), travel assurances, free class upgrades, bonus tickets and more. Conditions and offers change over time, so it’s important to check the current ones.

But I’ve discovered an interesting difference when requiring the card online, compared to requiring it offline at the dedicated American Express booths at airports: offline activation enables a way bigger welcome bonus. In fact, requiring a Carta Alitalia Oro at the airport entitles to 25000 miles bonus, instead of the 3000 miles for online activation: 3000 contextual to card activation (as for online), plus additional 22000 miles if at least 500 euros are spent during the first 3 months after card activation.

There are two drawbacks, compared to the current online offer (valid till Dec 18th 2016): 60 euros for the card first year fee, while online activation has 0 euros fee for the first year, and no 100 euros Amazon gift card, offered with online activation.

All considered, I’ve decided to activate a Carta Alitalia Oro at the airport (Milano Linate, in my case), spending 60 euros to receive those 25000 miles, rather than activating the card online spending 0 euros and receiving a 100 euros Amazon gift card. It seems a loss, but earning these additional 22000 miles would have been more difficult, and expensive, than that. And with 25000 miles is already possible to request a return ticket for a lot of European destinations.

To summarize, thanks the card I’ve now: 3000 welcome bonus miles, potential additional 22000 miles if I spent 500 euros during the next 3 months (easy, with my current expenses), free travel assurance, a companion ticket if I spend 15000 euros within the year (but this is too much for me), 3x qualifying miles for Exclusive Clubs access, direct access to Alitalia Club Ulisse, that enables 25% extra miles earning on flights booking, priority boarding, extra baggage free of charge, 2 Economic to Business class updates for European and Mediterranean, paid access to SkyTeam lounges and more, extended to all Skyteam partners. Card is connected to my bank account, no need to open a new one.

TripIt, Worldmate, Tripcase, Kayak Trips: my review of travel planner apps

I travel quite a lot, so having a service to track all my reservations, flights, hotels etc is very important for me. Luckly, there are several “travel companion” apps, so I’ve taken a look to some of them. I don’t consider myself a uber-user (yet), so this post tries to review them thru the lens of the features I consider useful for me now:

  • Must-have: the mobile app works offline
  • Must-have: import travel plans painlessly, just forwarding the confirmation email I receive
  • Must-have: generate a calendar feed that could be integrated in my Google Calendar
  • Must-have: edit, delete and add trip segments, even offline
  • Important: a great UX for the basic and most recurrent tasks, a pleasant UI in general
  • Nice-to-have: receive no my mobile device updates on flights gates, delays, luggage exitsm, etc
  • Nice-to-have: sharing travel plans with others not subscribed to the service

TL;DR: After a while with TripIt, I’m now using Kayak Trips, and I’m happy with it.


TripIt is an historical player in this field, I’ve used it for a couple of years, but I left the service after several failed imports of travel plans (Trenitalia, Easyjet) and wrong timezones for the imported ones. Recently the mobile app has been revamped, but the issues with importing data persists and the majority of the webapp has the same very old UI. On the other side, thanks to the Pro account, I’ve received punctual notification on flight schedules changes, gates etc even before the displays at the airport showed them, and I’m part of a team with all of my colleagues, so we’re alerted each other if we’re nearby and I can check their travel calendar. Full list of features can be found here.


Worldmate was one of the first alternatives I tested. It has rarely failed to import my emails and it was the only service able to parse coach and seat number of train reservations. It met all my requirements in the free version, except the calendar option, available only for premium accounts. It also offers a connection feature with LinkedIn, alerting when crossing paths with your contacts. I was not impressed by the web and mobile UI and it’s impossible to split / merge trips. Another cool feature offered is an API for parsing travel itinerary information from confirmation emails. They were acquired by Carlson Wagonlit family in 2012 and full features list is here.


Tripcase uses Worldmate API to parse travel itinerary, but from tests I’ve done sending the same confirmation emails to both services, Tripcase adds less detail to the final trip itineraries: for example, train coach and seat are missing. I don’t know if the API returns less info or Tripcase discards some of them. From a UX / UI point of view, it is much better that Worldmate. The only issues I’ve found so far is the creation of separate trips for confirmation emails that refers to same dates and destinations, for example a flight and an hotel, even if a specific option should prevent that. They could be merged later on web app, but it’s annoying. Calendar appointments are created, but only for the trip elements, while I generally prefer to also have an all-day event for the whole length of the trip. One cool feature app offers is reminders for missing hotel reservations in the itinerary, while full list is here.

Kayak TripsKayak Trips

Kayak Trips: Kayak has always succeeded to import confirmation emails for hotel, flights or train I’ve booked in Europe and USA, and it mets all my requirements with satisfaction. Another unique factor to consider is the Kayak business model: Kayak is a travel search company and the app is a commodity to drive more bookings, so there is no premium version and the app could be maintained even if it’s not profitable by itself. Flip side is the total lack of integration with the additional travel services the other reviews apps offer, like LoungeBuddy, Mozio and many more.

Google TripsGoogle Trips

Google Trips: latest comer to the party, the UX/UI of the app is great, everything is create automagically from inbox emails and there is a strong support for offline features, well integrated with other Google properties. Unfortunately, a Gmail account is required and there is no way to manually add/modify a segment of a trip, or choose a different splitting for them.


Disclaimer: there are lot of more features these apps have (booking hotels / flights / cars, integration with third party services, tracking of loyalty program points and much more), and the presence or lack of some of them could greatly influence personal choices.

Millenials, Digital Native and Mobile Native

Photo credit: Optician Training

I often hear about these terms, mostly in demographic discussion around marketing segments. So I’m writing down some notes gathered around to clarity the (fragmented) boundaries of each group.

Millennials: born from 1980-1995, nowadays 21 to 36 years old. They prefer access (Zipcar, Airbnb) over ownership, have childhood experiences with technology and they saw a rapid increase in personal Internet usage.

Digital Natives/Generation Z: born from 1996-2008, nowadays 8 to 20 years old. They raised in a digital, media-saturated world, have attention spans of 8 seconds, spend 10+ hours of time online daily, majority on their smartphones. They prefer multi-tasking and like being on 5+ screens at once.

Mobile Natives: born from 2009-Present, nowadays up to 9 years old. 7% of babies under the age of one have used a smartphone. Nearly ⅓ of babies under the age of 2 can navigate mobile phone without help. By age 4 over 35% of toddlers use a smartphone for an hour a day.

Nice to know that, even if one age-generation separates me and my son, it seems there is a 4 consumer-generations gap between each other. Oh yes, I’m a Generation Y, not even a Millenials ;)

The Marshmallow Challenge: icebreaker and lessons teacher

The Marshmallow ChallengeI’ve found an interesting game that can be used both as icebreaker and for teaching a fundamental lesson about the importance of prototyping before fully committing a project (sounds lean? Oh yes, it is!). It’s called the Marshmallow Challenge and can be run by groups of 4, there is no age constrain and requires less than 20 minutes.

Each group has 20 spaghetti, 1 meter of tape, 1 piece of string and 1 Marshmallow. The challenge is to build with them, within 18 minutes range, a self-sustaining structure with the Marshmallow on top of it. The winner is the group that achieve the maximum height between the Marshmallow and the table.

Seems fun, and I think it is, and there are some important lessons that emerge from the game: more info in this TED 2006 talk and in a more recent one. But for me, both bring to the same conclusion: prototyping and a good team move ideas to success ;)

I’ll start adopting this icebreaker in my community meetings, and see what will happen. Sounds cool ;)

Alcuni video sulle “persone sincronizzate”

Mi ero stupito guardando la precisione di tutte le persone che avevano preso parte alla cerimonia di apertura delle olimpiadi di Pechino del 2008, ma evidentemente non conoscevo che gli orientali non sono nuovi a questo genere di sport: “le persone sincronizzate”



Tanto bello quanto inquietante!