AT – “I was also always trying to help my students to follow their dreams.” I happened to read this in your “How Quiting My Dream Saved My Life” essay, great story by the way, and I knew right then that I had to have this “creative talk” with you. More than a teacher I consider you as a friend, and if life was slightly different maybe I could have been your co-worker if I hadn’t gone to work in Oporto right after finishing my degree. Do you still remember your invitation? I always admired you for your “pursuit of happiness” where you had your own company, teaching job, and with all that still had time to hang out… At least that was what it seemed like to me. Now I see the history was slightly different, but still inspirational. I see myself a lot in what you describe as your past experience, struggling to make my dream come true. I’m a big believer that to make a dent in history you have to be an extremist. Recently a wave of believers developed supporting the virtue of having a balanced life and still being the best of their areas. I can’t picture Phelps ending his practice right on time because he needed to go study or paint, the same way I can’t picture Eric Clapton ending a rehearsal or a studio recording on the schedule because he definitely had to go to the gym or to dinner with some friends. Where I’m trying to get is that everyone that seeks greatness should manage their life as a doctor performing a surgery instead of a mechanic fixing a car. You just can’t stop a human being surgery because life awaits you in the outside. But a mechanic can just shut down the garage and start the next day. Dreams should always be chased to make a dent in history even if in slightly different ways. When you decided to shut down your dreams to follow others, did you actually “kill your patient” or did you decide to make a change in the surgical strategy? What I’m trying to say is if you have plans to come back as a entrepreneur.
SL – André, first of all let me thank you for this invitation. It’s a pleasure to have this talk with you. Of course I remember the day I made you the invitation. You were one of my brightest students, always passionate about the work, and always with that amazing skill I love, Doing things for pleasure. We never know the future so probably that wasn’t our last chance to work together. But now answering the other question. Shutting down a dream has to be well done. You need to prepare everything, it’s not about quitting from one day to the next. You need to focus on what matters and get ready to make a change using the surgical strategy. I truly believe on this. Some days you need to push it even harder, work more hours, do the necessary effort to make your dream come true. But I also believe you cannot do it everyday. Even Michael Jordan rested, even Usain Bolt isn’t running all the time. You can balance, and you should do it, but this is not a easy decision, because most of the times you need to make a great effort, waking up early and sleeping less hours is going to be normal, for some time. It just can’t be all the time. So I think you need to work hard, play hard, but also work smarter and focus on your main goal. Will I ever be an entrepreneur again? Of course. I’m sure that wasn’t my first and only company. Right now I’m focused on being an intrapeneur, and have great success with that, but I’m sure that I will come back as an entrepreneur, stronger and with more crazy ideas.
AT – What makes our dreams worth it? I see the world divided in three types of dreamers. The ones that always follow happiness and don’t make the effort of making history. The ones that are obsessed with making history even if they are miserable. And the ones that are happy doing something that will definitely put them in the “history books”. And there must be many other types but … Analyzed under the bright light of “is this really worth it?” what should we ask ourselves and compare it with? Happiness? Notoriety? Money? … I am aware that all of the above are always welcome. But what should our main motivator be? And what kind of dreamer do you think you are?
SL – These is a great question. First thing I believe is each one of us has different levels of happiness. Some people are happy just having a great salary, even they have a terrible job, some people are just happy because they have a job. People that dream on being big normally are never happy. They are always looking for better, for doing something more and to get all their dreams come true. I believe happiness is my main thing, being happy most of the times will bring notoriety, money, better job, dreams come true. This doesn’t mean I’m happy everyday. I want to be, so I fight for it everyday. Not easy to accomplish this. Loving what you do, doing what you love is a quote I follow on my life, not just in work. Teamwork is also a part of the secret to be happy everyday, I always been lucky to work with impressive people that motivate me, teach me and help me to accomplish my dreams. Each one of us will get a different motivator, and it takes time to understand which one is ours. I took a few years to get it, and I will always look to get better and better. Always dream big, thinking you are just one more will just make you be one more, thinking you will have a place in history will lead you to have a place in history books. Motivation comes from the inside, from your heart, your passion, your happiness. That’s why I love to be happy. It motivates me to do more and more, and get better and better.
AT – These days we hear a lot about entrepreneurial success histories and how they brought great happiness to those who thrived. Doesn’t this make people strive for something that is harder than it seems? I think everyone now is ready to jump on a ship to start their own company without seriously thinking ahead. It almost feels like that to have success in your life you need to have an established company, although I honestly think you need to firstly have success to establish it. I say this because I’m in a time in life where I am working to get that success in order to make sure it’s what I and the market wants. How did it all started in Negro Esquisso, based in your current experience? And what would you do differently if it was starting today? I sometimes struggle to have a personal life just as you described in your essay but I think I’ve been managing quite well so far more thanks to the people surrounding me than actually thanks to my effort. If I was living alone I think I would be working 24/7. So I kind of get the past Sergio, and would love to hear what the present one would have done differently.
SL – There are a lot of successful entrepreneurs, but also there are a lot that fail, and actually you learn more with failure than with success. While I had my own company I had the chance to know amazing entrepreneurs. Inspiring people that gave me so much, and made me understand if I was going the right way. There is no magic formula for each business, but there is a common one with all. Commitment. Commitment leads you to hard work and success. If you’re committed to create a great company you will do everything you can to do it. If you’re just committed on having a company that’s also what you’ll do. If I was going to open a new company tomorrow I will do many things differently. Bet on a different business plan, do things faster (experience leads you to that), embrace the project with committed and focused people. I agree with you when you say you need to firstly have success to establish a company. When I decided to open my own company, I had just a few job experiences before, I understand now I should have more experience before opening the company. A few months is a foreign company would have help me understand much better how to run a company, what to do, how to grow fast and what to expect. Being your own boss is a really big responsibility, and sometimes you need to first learn how to crawl before you walk. I think the last year and a half helped me understand very well this. My experience and market value changed because of that, I now know better what’s my true value and how I can help people and companies. My advice to people who want to start their own business, is to ask questions to yourself? You think you are ready? When will you start? what are you waiting for? Are you committed to your idea and business? This doesn’t mean you need to quit your job, a lot of people in Silicon Valley have their day job and are CEO’s in the night. Commitment may just turn out to be working for yourself four hours a week.
AT- As a teacher what I most admired in you was the fact that you were on the “battle field” at the same time you were in the class room. I think as a student that is the most one can ask from a great teacher. Great teaching qualities and empathy with real know-how based on today’s market. But as a teacher, how was your experience? Did you feel lesser than the full time teachers? You started working without finishing your degree, was that a positive or a negative thing in your experience? I believe that if you haven’t been formatted with rigid rules that will make you unique at whatever area you are working on. Can too much know-how kill it? Or does it just depend on how we look at it?
AT- I’m really happy to know how your life changed for better, and I hope it keeps going that way. Thank you so much for your insights and I hope our paths cross in the future, since It would be exquisite to share some professional experiences with you. To finish this I would just like to make a final quick question. Are you living your dream? Or do you dream even bigger?
SL – I’m living one of my dreams… But I have a problem. I dream too much. And I dream really big. Farfetch is one of the best places to work. It can turn out to be the place I work for all my life, or it can turn out to be the place before I follow another direction. Here you can dream, but I never forget it depends always on yourself to be happy. And while I’m happy and Farfetch is happy we will work together, if someday that changes we will go different paths but keep up being friends. I’m living the today and I’m happy, tomorrow I’m sure I will be even happier. André I wish you the best. Be happy and keep doing and growing. I’m sure you will have your place in history.