Carlos Fernando da Costa Almeida de Paiva Nascimento has almost thirty years of experience in corporate law. This career path came as a bit of a surprise, based initially on the advice of the director of his law program in college. He encouraged Carlos to increase his skills through corporate law instead of jumping headfirst into general practice. Upon following this advice early in his career, Carlos reasoned that once he gained enough experience, he would move on.
However, what he found was that he had a genuine interest, as well as a true talent for corporate law. As a trilingual attorney, he quickly became a sought-after resource in the field. Over the last few decades, he has become an expert in international taxes and insurance. Carlos Fernando da Costa Almeida de Paiva Nascimento has helped every company he has worked for with international and foreign legal issues, including compliance training and implementing crime prevention strategies.
Currently, Carlos sits on several boards of directors and assists with all levels of legal matters as the in-house counsel for a major multinational company. When he has free time, he enjoys building memories with his wife and son.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
When I got my master’s degree from the University of Miami, all the teachers and the director of the program told me that, in the US, the best way for me to get access to the market would be to first work for a company and then consider a law firm. So, I thought I would work for a company for a while to enhance my English, enhance my business knowledge, enhance my communication skills, and then maybe work at a law firm. Unexpectedly, I fell in love with financial services, life insurance, and general insurance as business models and markets. I decided not to attempt to work for a law firm. The experience of working side by side with internal clients in a company has been more rewarding to me than being a legal consultant. I prefer my clients to look at me as a partner rather than being a cost. I think I was very lucky in choosing the right field to practice law as an in-house counsel.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I occupy a very strategic position within a multinational company where I am a board member for multiple organizations. I fill my typical day with making decisions. I work with amazing peers; professionals from sales, actuaries, auditors, and other financial professionals. We gather in board meetings and committee meetings to analyze a lot of data before we make any decisions. Listening to each other, learning each other’s perspectives, and designing business plans for the future execution of these organizations enables the company’s continued success and fosters teamwork. I feel fortunate to occupy a strategic position and use the knowledge that I have accumulated over almost three decades of study and practice. It is a blessing to lead our company and its subsidiary organizations through fast-paced and precise decision-making grounded in data.
How do you bring ideas to life?
With the help of my team. I have an extraordinary team of colleagues and friends who work with me and side with me in the process of creating and executing all our business plans. It’s amazing to see how people perform in the financial services industry these days. In Latin America specifically, during the pandemic, I think many people were afraid of the consequences of under-performing. They were afraid of losing their jobs. But that fear somehow served as fuel for their performance. I have seen people over-performing and achieving things that sounded impossible before COVID. As a company, we surprised ourselves with our results. The reality is that teamwork is everything. You can’t execute without your team, properly motivating them, or leading them by example.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think online contracting is something that excites me a lot. It’s been with us for a while, but it’s getting easier and easier for people to contract services or to buy assets online—all kinds of services, all kinds of assets. The challenges that this new cyber legal environment brings to the lives of professionals and the day-to-day operations of companies keeps me motivated to study even more and develop my skills to better assist people doing business online.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I organize my paperwork to make sure that my calendar is always updated. I also make sure that I know my peers’ calendars so that I can better understand when people will be available to me and when I have to make myself available to others. If you organize yourself properly, that’s almost all you need to get by in business. I also still take notes just like when I was a student. I take notes on everything. I’d rather have too much information than not enough.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be anxious. Everything is going to happen when it’s supposed to happen. Just keep on putting in the effort and everything will be alright. It’s a lesson I think we all learn over time. We don’t have to have everything figured out right at the starting line.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is violence and racism in our society up to this day. I don’t think most people would be courageous enough to voice that. Others may just be blissfully ignorant of it because they have not been subjected to it or witnessed it, but it is still there.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I use YouTube as a learning tool. I find it amazing that you can access training on any topic on YouTube for free. Any subject matter you can think of, you can most likely find something on YouTube about it. It is an excellent resource for anyone in any field. It’s accessible for everybody. There’s a ton of knowledge available.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think it’s very important for you to find a mentor within the organization that you work for. Someone more experienced, providing you good advice as a mentor, and if possible, as a friend. That person can be a positive force, and sometimes even a life-changer. In the past, I’ve had three mentors that have helped me in different positions that I held. These three people changed me as a professional and I’ll always be grateful for everything they did. I still keep in contact with them. They work like a catapult for me, helping to launch me in the right direction.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Sometimes a company goes through a reorganization. That may mean that you separate from the company. It is not a reflection on your work and should not be seen as a failure. As long as you always pursue excellence in your profession and you lead your life with dignity and observe ethics, you will overcome these changes. I have been given many opportunities in my life, and sometimes situations that seem extremely hard to overcome are actually just gateways to new and better opportunities; new and better situations. I don’t believe in luck, but I do always seem to land on my feet. I think that’s because I always put in all the effort I possibly can. I always study and keep myself educated and perform my best, and I believe that has paid dividends for me professionally.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think people should be building an online platform where the public could go to download standard contract templates. If the everyday person had a simple, more affordable way to rent properties or reach an agreement on a dispute, I think it would be very helpful to society. So, I think it would be a great idea for an entrepreneur to create an online website that people could rely on, not for complex, but for the simplest day-to-day legal activities. Something that attorneys can help with to ensure the legality of minor things. Many people make agreements without any kind of contractual documentation and they lose a lot of money and a lot of protection doing so. If there was a trustworthy source, I think people would be willing to pay for that extra sense of security.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I went to Barnes and Noble to buy children’s books for my son. It’s extremely exciting to go to a bookstore with him, seeing his eyes light up, and how fascinated he is at all the titles. I think these days, people are mostly using iPads and iPhones to read with their kids, but when I took my son around a year ago, he was fascinated with books. We ended up buying three books. I never expected to be able to motivate my son to read books in this manner. It was a surprise and something that I didn’t plan, but it’s working nonetheless. He loves books. He loves reading with me before he goes to bed. He loves stories. It helps him learn language—especially because we are bilingual. Actually, in our case, we are trilingual because we also speak Spanish and Portuguese, as well as English. Anyhow, we have fun reading together and he’s learning without even realizing it. It’s an amazing experience. Sometimes we will read for hours. And the books stay with him for life! We’re building memories.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Because I work in three different languages—Portuguese, English, and Spanish—Google Translator has become a very important tool. It’s amazingly helpful. It expedites my work immensely. You would be surprised at the amount of translations that I have to do.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There’s a book called Why We Work by Barry Schwartz. It basically tells you that if you don’t realize what your purpose in life is and what your purpose in your career is, you’re probably drifting and going nowhere. Defining your ‘why’ is key and this book guides you on that path. If you are lost and you need to find your true North, the author provides you with the thought process and milestones to take you out of this situation and help you find your purpose.
What is your favorite quote?
“Imagine all the people leaving life in peace.” — John Lennon
- A combination of teamwork, study, and effort is the only way to achieve lasting success.
- It is far better to have too much information than too little.
- YouTube is an amazing and free resource for learning new things.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.