Born in Portugal, but partially raised in Surrey and London. Antonio Ferreira is a self-proclaimed automotive, trend and football enthusiast. He is a globally recognized automotive industry expert with almost two decades of experience, regularly sought out for his fresh perspective and brutally-honest style of automotive consulting. His recent focus has been automotive trends and their impact on new automotive landscapes.
Antonio completed a four-year automotive apprenticeship to develop a broad understanding of automotive technologies. During this apprenticeship he earned a national diploma and engineering degree with Distinction in Automotive Engineering from Kingston University.
Now founder and director of CARNORAMA since 2010, he currently provides original consultancy services worldwide. CARNORAMA is an independent and innovative automotive focused consultancy, scanning the industry for the most promising views, trends, insights and ideas. Their original research and consultancy services help everyone interested in the future of the automotive industry to imagine new strategies, services and experiences.
Antonio has appeared and is regularly quoted in several media publications. With a knowledgeable, innovative, and straight-to-the-point attitude, he has provided consultancy services to most major automotive players around the world.
Outside of the automotive industry, Antonio Ferreira is also a serial entrepreneur who has invested in several global startup projects. Antonio has been able to constantly form teams of original thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and inspiring leaders who care about creating lasting global value. As social entrepreneurs, corporate intrapreneurs, and solution-minded activists, his startup teams are always in the cutting-edge of society investment. They celebrate individual contribution, and more importantly, recognize that collective impact transcends the accumulation of knowledge and expertise to embody a lifestyle commitment emblematic of Antonio’s psyche.
Where did the idea for CARNORAMA come from?
The original idea came to light in early 2000, but it was only in 2010 that circumstances allowed the creation of CARNORAMA as a business. CARNORAMA was my brainchild and it was slowly brewed while observing traditional consultancies attempt to ineffectively service a niche industry with only generic knowledge. I guess the majority of ideas for new industry standards derived from the Web 2.0 revolution that was happening at the same time, mixed with connoisseur automotive intelligence.
CARNORAMA was developed to address a gap that exists in expert automotive consulting. Often automotive intelligence is costly, inaccessible and ineffective to elite professionals that need timely solutions. CARNORAMA changed the automotive world by making original high-quality expert forecasts, reports, and consultancy services easily accessible to the community.
CARNORAMA is an innovative automotive consultancy service for the next generation of elite executives around the world. It enables automotive executives to remember the past, cherish the present, and imagine the future.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I feel privileged to share Lisbon and London as business headquarters and residence locations. Those two cities and countries offer the best of both worlds and are perfect contrasts – my yin and yang. Because of this I try to be disciplined by having a similar working structure, schedule, and tools in both countries to help productivity. Plus, there’s a lot of traveling involved with my profession, so having a standard system that works globally is essential for success.
There is no official ‘modus operandi’ to my working days, but I suppose a slight hint of madness. I am not a morning person. My wife says I suffer from a very serious case of EMS – Early Morning Syndrome. I joke with her, that as a patient with EMS, it’s actually my right to be as late as possible. And that in fact, her constantly insisting on morning punctuality is essentially discrimination and will reduce diversity at work.
Jokes aside; my business is global, and GMT being the central time zone, I have to accommodate regions like Japan and North America within my daily schedule. Therefore, working until 1 a.m. is common practice to accommodate requests, partners, clients, and projects globally. I also tend to be more creative and productive towards the end of the day, between nine o’clock and midnight, when the rest of the world around me starts to slowly wind down.
So usually my working day starts at 7 a.m., when I lazily check emails and consider what to have for breakfast. A large coffee is always a crucial part of the breakfast puzzle, which my wife has mastered down to an art form. After saying goodbye to my two boys going to school, my first official task of the day is taking care of my two Springer Spaniels.
I am not a gym type of person – never was. Exercise for me has to be outdoors, or include a ball. One morning I decided to go early for a swim at the local gym. Did 100 lengths in the pool – not bad I thought – until I realized it was the Jacuzzi. So instead I regularly cycle in the morning. Whenever the weather allows it I cycle around the countryside for about one hour, and then back for a quick shower. My typical working day at the office starts around 9 am to 10 am and finishes just after midnight.
The majority of my free time is spent around the world of football, one of my other passions, almost equaling cars. Before it was just a self-centered obsession, but now the passion for football from my two boys is probably surpassing mine. They literally eat football, sleep football, and drink football. So my spare time is frequently spent playing, managing, and watching football with the family.
Having the opportunity to manage several football teams over the years has been one of the best degrees I could have to be a successful entrepreneur and manage startups. I learned a lot from working as a football manager, in fact it is a universal language. Football managers need to manage high achievers as a team, but also encourage them to take individual responsibility. Similarly, in my startup businesses I have highly competitive individuals but they have to work as a team. There are plenty of parallels between the football and entrepreneurial world.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Personally, nothing beats intuitive insight to bring new ideas to light. Gut instinct works wonders even when dealing with startups that at the time might be brain-dead, technologically dated, uninspired, and lagging behind the competition.
It’s hard to describe that vague feeling of knowing something without knowing exactly how or why, using words like “professional judgment,” “intuition,” “gut instinct,” “inner voice,” and “hunch,” but most people cannot describe the process much beyond that.
I research a lot. I read a lot. I question others a lot. I learn a lot from others. I reckon for every new startup idea I consider viable, I have to research 999 ideas that I simply give up on while digging deeper. Then for every 10 ideas I consider viable, only one idea is chosen by a team of subject-matter experts.
Before the days of GTD I created a simple 5-step system that I apply to almost everything in life, but just like GTD – it gets things done. This process allows me to focus on gut feeling, make tough business decisions, bring new ideas to life, etc.
I define the system as COPRA and I’ve been using it since around 2000. COPRA:
So for example for every decision I have to make, or every new idea I get, or every new startup I need to invest in – I always use COPRA to process, filter, categorize and weigh each piece of intelligence required to make a decision. It’s also a great tool for research and study purposes.
I am also a very visual person. From a business perspective my brain doesn’t react well to just words and constantly needs visual stimulants to imagine new products and services. So whenever I find myself struggling, I usually draw a concept of the service or product. It works wonders!
The concept “The Business Model Canvas” is also impressive to evaluate new business ideas:
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Researching trends is my profession, hence having to choose just one is challenging. So instead of choosing a trend I will choose two simple methods of analyzing trends. A lot people confuse trends with fads. This can be huge mistake when considering investing in a new trend. Though the term trend may be used interchangeably with fad, a fad is generally considered a fleeting behavior whereas a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change.
So for example when considering a trend for a new startup consider using these two simple tools – Hype Cycle and Life-Cycle Assessment. Hype Cycle is a straightforward graphical tool. Life-Cycle Assessment is a technique to assess impacts associated with all the stages of a product, or a service. You can apply this analysis technique to assess the promise of any new trend, and potential investors absolutely love this.
For trend recognition the “Consumer Trend Canvas” from TrendWatching is also a great tool:
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I count my blessings all the time.
I don’t take anything for granted, especially “small” blessings like family, friends, and health. Count your blessings today, not your problems tomorrow! Once you do that, you may find you have more to be grateful for than you originally thought. I believe this was the first and most important step, which allowed me to finally become a successful and productive entrepreneur.
From a day-to-day perspective most of the Google tools are magic for business productivity. I also take lots of notes throughout the day – either using my smartphone, or good old pen and paper. Normally my brain is always stuck on a state of creative overdrive. Although this is cool to constantly create new ideas for startups, it sucks for normal business activities, and once in a while I am forced to shift gears and change my brain to more productive states. Writing, or drawing, things down allows me to stop day-dreaming and continue business as usual.
I also keep a business journal, where I record all the major events of each working day. So I time stamp each entry and include details like phone numbers, emails, people contacted, meeting notes, promises made, etc, etc. If it’s really important I then transfer them to their relevant section. Time and time again I find myself reviewing the journal searching for nuggets of information. I use a really old PIM system that’s searchable. To the best of my knowledge the company behind this wonderful tool has unfortunately stopped development. I tried hundreds of PIM systems over the years, including modern apps. But none comes even close to the power of Harmony. The system has many sections I don’t use, and is very rough around the edges, but for my professional purposes nothing beats it.
Using the COPRA system throughout the day with Harmony also makes my day a lot more productive.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I loved all my jobs. Probably because while I am working I am constantly absorbing knowledge from every direction. I am quiet by nature. But while I am quietly observing, reflecting; I cease to be aware of myself; and exist only in that moment, absorbing knowledge most people totally ignore.
When I was young I had two main passions; cars and football. Professionally I decided to chase cars. My first job was as an apprentice mechanic at a local garage. It was a dirty and cold job, however I loved it! I was allowed to road-test cars after working on them, and as a young teenager nothing could beat that rush of driving new cars every day. That’s when I decided that the automotive industry was my world.
Consequently I got my automotive engineering degree with distinction. Although I enjoyed the engineering and mechanical side of the profession I knew that it wasn’t an automotive path I wanted to pursue for too long. By chance I saw a job ad in a local newspaper for an automotive analyst, which I naively applied and surprisingly got. I knew nothing about the company, CSM Worldwide was a small company with only 8 employees globally, and knew very little about the job. But once again gut feeling was telling that I was heading in the right direction. I worked for over 12 years at CSM and was responsible for the Supply Chain and Technology Forecasting group as Senior Manager. I enjoyed every single day I worked at CSM. It was my dream job, which I transformed into my dream career. CSM Worldwide was a market leading company in the field of automotive forecasting and consultancy, with over 150 employees worldwide, it got acquired by IHS Automotive in 2010. The rest is history!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Probably nothing! Or very little…
I probably would have started working on my own business a lot earlier, probably back in 2003 would have been perfect timing. The rush of starting your own business and startups, the work-life balance, life as an entrepreneur, are totally addictive factors. That addiction has a positive butterfly effect that’s contagious in every sense of the word.
Plus, I am usually a self-taught person. Once I put my mind into something I can usually educate myself in most subjects. But there are two topics I wish I had received professional training a lot earlier in my career. One was public speaking and the other was direct selling. I am still no expert in any of these art forms, but at least I no longer have a phobia about presenting in front of big crowds, or selling face-to-face.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I have a very simple quote in Portuguese, which I wrote to myself a few years ago to keep reminding myself to pursue my dreams: “…sou escravo dos meus sonhos, mas livre nos meus passos…”
This roughly translates to: “…I am a slave of my dreams, but free in my footsteps…”
I always share this quote with friends, family and enemies.
I also have a simple “3-mistakes rule” for business that was passed down to me by a very important mentor many years ago. It’s basically like baseball. Commit the same mistake 3 times and you are out. It works wonders with new employees. Just make sure you support them as much as possible when the first mistakes happen.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Partner up with passionate people. If you are not yourself passionate, or an expert, about a particular subject you want to invest in, partner up with someone that is. Someone that is passionate about the topic, and also a subject-matter expert.
For example at CARNORAMA I have the perfect business partner. He’s responsible for CARNORAMA Japan, and although considering we are on opposite sides of the world our partnership has been business textbook perfect for 4 years. He is passionate and a subject-matter expert within the Japanese automotive industry.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As an entrepreneur I failed miserably at delegating important projects. I was fine delegating administration, but found it hard trusting others to deal directly with clients. So it’s one strategy I am still getting used to.
Read the book “4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss. It’s not perfect, so as with every book take it with a pinch of salt, but it contains some valuable insights into delegating and outsourcing.
Over the years I’ve developed my own systems that prevent major failures before they happen. But in case of failure I usually deal with it in three easy steps: 1. Relax; it’s not the end of the World. 2. Write it down; don’t make the same mistakes twice. 3. Know that everybody fails; some people don’t admit it, but everyone has failed at something, it’s just life. So learn from others.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I feel strongly about sharing knowledge and healthy competition. Most of these ideas are chasing current consumer and business trends. So I have no problem giving away details of some of the startup projects I am currently working on in the background:
-B2C: Product: Bags for Men: Bags and briefcases designed to cope with modern lifestyle. Men carry too many gadgets around these days.
-B2C: Service: Personalized Travel Experiences: Local knowledge travel packages that group complimentary experiences personalized to individual customers.
-B2B: Service: Administration/Entrepreneurial Outsourcing: New generation entrepreneurs hate administrative and accountancy tasks. Majority of new startups love to outsource and delegate this sort of responsibilities.
-B2B: Service: Sports Business Consultancy: Consulting services for a specific sports vs business niche.
And a few other product ideas I designed but never left the drawing board, which I would love to invest in one day:
-Product: cold and magnetic sports injury healing stick
-Product: next generation cork-fiber material for sports equipment
-Product: various upcycled car parts
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I grew up as a Roman Catholic, but over the years I got disappointed with traditional religions. Don’t get me wrong I believe in God, but I don’t agree with religions attempting to copyright faith. I consider myself a Panendeist, I suppose making me also a modern Deist. A Panendeist’s belief varies slightly to that of a classic Deist. A classic Deist believes that a creator made the universe and then left it to follow its path. I believe that ‘Nature’s God’ is still here, eternally a part of the reality we live in, holding it together.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I am not a huge fan of online social services. I find them for the most part a waste of time. I’ve realized over the years that addicts of social sites find interacting with anything other than clicking a ‘like’ button traumatic. I have found that real-life conversations with addicts of social sites have the social effect of a neutron bomb. When they say something, buildings remain standing but everyone inside dies.
I use a PIM system by the name of Harmony. With my system I have a calendar, contacts list, journal, task list, documents, bookmarks, and annual planner. It’s searchable, password protected, and it allows me to easily back it up. With a lot of work I defined this system in 2007. After 7 years I am still using Harmony, it contains millions of individual pieces of intelligence, which would have otherwise got lost over time. Keep a PIM system with a tree structure that works for you.
I use most Google tools in a daily basis.
Skype is a life-saving tool for professionals that are always contacting people worldwide.
Linkedin is a very useful tool to stay professionally connected with your network of contacts.
You will find me constantly using one of Microsoft Office tools.
On my smartphone I am addicted to FlipBoard. It’s perfect for people that consume high doses of information in a daily basis.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Three books that made a real difference for me in the very early days:
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill:
A 1937 motivational personal development and self-help classic.
Ignore the title and enjoy the wisdom!
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho:
A novel first published in 1988. Classic story of a shepherd named Santiago in his journey to find a treasure. It’s basic reading for a couple of days.
Find your own treasure!
Weak at the Top by Guy Browning:
The Uncensored Diary of the Last Cave Manager.
Funny, intelligent, and sarcastic!
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I have a love-hate relationship with most modern gurus. For example self-proclaimed trend influencers trying to force their own self-help books, are usually people who fail the ethical exams required to become traffic wardens, so I am naturally a bit dubious of them. Not that I have anything against traffic wardens!
I never take anything for granted. I always try to go one level deeper to be able to make my own assumptions and intelligent decisions. Consequently very few gurus and influencers survive my extreme screening.
From those that survive most are classic and have stood the test of time. Here’s a non-extensive list:
-A. C. Grayling
-Leonardo da Vinci
As a ‘London Pride’ aficionado I would like wrap up this interview with this piece of advice:
“…Whatever you do, take Pride…”
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.