In Memoriam

Gino Bonissone
(1922 - 2006)

Albert Einstein claimed, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” One of the beautiful mysteries in my life has been my relationship with Gino Bonissone. We came from different generations (he was 33 years my senior), different backgrounds, different cultures, different countries (he was Italian and I am American), and grew up in different times speaking different languages. Yet, when Gino passed away this past May 13, I lost one the closest colleagues, mentors and friends of my life.

Like all great souls, however, Gino will live on in his achievements and the positive influence he had on so many lives.

On a professional level, Gino and I collaborated on a number of projects on the organizational applications of NLP. These included an extensive study of leadership skills at Fiat, the implementation of NLP-based methods for organizational learning and trainer’s training at the Italian State Railways, and a joint project with Fiat and IBM, exploring the practical application of systemic thinking to problem solving, coaching and team building. Gino entered these projects with vision and vigor, often claiming that we were out to “conquer the world.”

He was a key figure for a number of years at NLP University in Santa Cruz, California and was a major contributor to the book, Skills for the Future (1993), which describes the applications of NLP to the management of creativity and innovation. Gino’s contributions to NLP drew from his 35 years of experience working in large industrial companies in the functional areas of marketing, organizational development, strategic planning and general management.

On a personal level, Gino was a major part of my life. I met Gino in 1987, just before the birth of my son. Over the years, he became like a father to me and a grandfather to my two children. I dedicated my book on Albert Einstein (Strategies of Genius Volume II) to Gino with the comment that he had the mind of Einstein and the heart of an Italian. This was a statement about his unique combination of intellectual brilliance and emotional warmth. One of Gino’s greatest gifts was his capacity to sponsor people by making them feel competent, intelligent and special. He was able to draw out of people more than they thought they were able to give. This was certainly true of his relationship with me. He awakened vision, instilled confidence and promoted the desire to follow through with the effort necessary to bring the vision to life.

Albert Einstein claimed, "Is there not a certain satisfaction in the fact that natural limits are set to the life of the individual, so that at its conclusion it may appear as a work of art?" To me, Gino’s life is indeed a work of art; a masterpiece.

Goodbye Gino, my colleague, my father, my brother, my son, my mentor, my student, my friend. I love you and will miss you.

Robert Dilts
Santa Cruz, California
May, 2006

All things by immortal power
Near or far,
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower,
Without troubling of a star.

— Francis Thompson

GINO BONISSONE touched and blessed the lives of many people with the warmth of his presence, the brilliance of his thinking, the wisdom of his words.

He was a sought-after source of inspiration within the NLP community, especially for us in Italy and for those who, in the early nineties, met him at the NLP University in Santa Cruz, California.

I vividly remember when Robert introduced me to Gino: a tall, broad-shouldered man with a gentle smile, a soft voice and sparkling eyes. That was the beginning of an intense and a long-lasting apprenticeship and close friendship with him and his loving, charming wife Ivana. We later became partners in promoting the business applications of NLP.

At the time we met, Gino was passionately involved with NLP, contributing to the development of new models and distinctions. He co-authored the widely-translated book Skills For the Future with Robert, and introduced him and his innovative NLP work to Italian companies, such as Fiat and the State Railways.

Gino’s background was in Philosophy and Economics. He was an expert of strategic management and organizational development, and a consultant to top-level executives in Italy. Always a learner, he was at ease with complexity, and was able to capture it into amazing, insightful and aesthetically balanced maps. He drew them with no hesitancy, in flowing strokes, page after page, like a Japanese master calligrapher. He wrote poetry and could enchant you in conversation, touching on literature or art, history or psychology. He was also the epitome of a true gentleman. Gino’s life journey was a rich one, marked by some real challenges, all of which he faced with strong commitment and resilient serenity.

Perhaps I am indulging in speaking of a man who always chose sobriety and understatement over spotlight and glamour. I can only hope Gino will forgive me when I say that these recollections are just tiny sparks, like trying to capture in a flickering candle flame all the mighty power, brilliance and warmth of a glowing star.

In his own words, Gino saw himself as both a patient gardener and a wild horse. How true!

Dear Gino, my mentor and friend, I celebrate you and your passionate life with deep love and gratitude. And I just wonder in how many mysterious and loving ways you will continue to bless us and our lives...

Marco Fida
Roma, 15 maggio 2006