Inspirational thinking that’s not at all Farfetched!
One of our most innovative (and certainly most fashion aware) clients is Farfetch.
They describe themselves as the #1 destination for high-end fashion, offering the world’s greatest selection of luxury.
Now a public company, their inspirational founder and CEO, José Neves has raised over $1.7Bn with Farfetch from some of the biggest names including Alibaba, Richemont, JD.com to name a few.
Working across the globe we frequently enjoy seeing members of Farfetch teams we are engaging with calling in from NYC, Portugal, Hong Kong, London, Germany etc – and all these conversations have a natural cross cultural vibrant feel to them.
José is the epitome of entrepreneurialism starting off in the mid 90’s with his footwear business SWEAR leading to where he is now, heading up a truly pioneering company combining his twin passions of technology and fashion – a winning formula it seems.
Entrepreneurialism / Start Ups / Learning From Mistakes
In describing the genesis of Farfetch José describes;
Later on in the conversation José expounds in more detail on the spirit of an entrepreneur in the context of risk taking; what sets them apart and how integral these qualities continue to be for him in driving Farfetch forward to achieve ever more audacious goals.
Scanning back into his past with his initial start up SWEAR José references ‘a useful arrogance’ coupled with naivety standing him in good stead when describing some of the ups and eventual downfall of the enterprise.
His honesty and willingness to describe his failings as well as his triumphs is refreshing. Key to José though are the learnings from mistakes;
José clearly distinguishes the individuality of the entrepreneur profile;
It’s a great reminder of what’s at stake for the entrepreneur listening to his observations;
Role of CEO and Founder
Here’s someone who absolutely gets what it is only he can do and leaves the rest to others he trusts to get the job done – one of our Maier mantras.
Although José is the sole founder of Farfetch he does have an astounding 27 year business relationship with Cipriano Sousa CTO which he describes with such eloquence and feeling;
So refreshing to hear a businessman using such open and warm language.
Making Decisions / Risk Taking
In describing the components of difficult decision-making José refers to relying on;
But, José as a keen martial arts practitioner and student adds;
José talks compellingly of adopting a ‘risk appetite’ instead of ‘risk aversion’ – describing entrepreneurs as ‘risk curious’ and linking this to an essential aspect of the Farfetch culture in wanting his senior leaders to ‘be revolutionary’ in their thinking and ultimately in their decision making.
It would be exciting to hear more top leaders having the confidence to encourage their Execs to be revolutionary wouldn’t it?
Life Long Philosophies
As a Zen Buddhist by philosophy not religion José draws on its teachings constantly and they pepper the whole conversation.
As he added, one can’t always handle challenges with serenity, sometimes ‘you will freak out and lose it’ but it’s exciting to then learn from that.
As you can probably tell from some of these extracts Neuroscience (the scientific study of the nervous system and the brain) is another passion for José and massively influences his thinking and approach to life.
Finally, it’s good to hear his thoughts on self-doubt which he describes as being ‘perfectly healthy just don’t let it cripple you’.
At Maier we often refer to cultivating your ‘inner voice’ as a guide and touchstone, José talks of the ‘mental movies’ we construct inside our heads and that ultimately we have choice as to whether they are a negative or a positive force.
That seems a very positive note to end on!