Eduardo Africano is from Texas, married for 25 years and a father of four, with two children in college, one in high school, and one in middle school.
After working for over 20 years in corporate America, Eduardo Africano decided to launch his own company, Axios Consultants. Eduardo draws on his years of experience, including contract management, mergers and acquisitions, commercial negotiations, and strategic international business relations to provide advice to businesses in the U.S., Europe, and Asia looking to go to market in Latin America and the Caribbean. Axios Consultants focuses on four main segments, including commercial analytics, business consulting, advisory services, and project solutions.
Through Axios, Eduardo Africano provides legal assessments about the various jurisdictions overseas and handles contracting and all its various pitfalls, whether it be directly with customers or through their representatives or agents. Eduardo also manages the affairs of clients that want to come from Latin America to do business in the United States.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The name Axios means “worthy” in Greek. The idea for the business came to me after working for so many years for businesses with a focus on Latin America. I was part of an organization called the International Association of Commercial Contract Management and I did a presentation at one of their annual summits some years back. After I gave the presentation all the people in attendance had so many questions. Through the years, I have noticed that people in corporate America working exclusively in Latin America and the Caribbean were very few and far between. They had a hodgepodge type of coverage in the regions, so I realized that a lot of companies didn’t have the knowledge to operate locally. They could hire a local council to provide them answers and general statements on certain things, but each business operates a little bit differently. There were many things on the commercial side that I realized were lacking, so that’s how the idea came about.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start on Sundays, dedicating about an hour to make a full assessment of what I expect to do over the following week. I come up with a list of the five most important things on my agenda and try to accomplish them one each day. I start early on Monday reprioritizing things, maintaining the top goal that day as number one, and I follow that model through the end of the entire week. I would say I spend about half of the day on projects and then I spend about another 30% of that talking to clients and seeking out new business opportunities, doing a little canvassing. About 10% of the time spent is reorganizing. I’m already pretty organized. I maintain a structure throughout the whole day so by the time the day is done, I do a full assessment of what needed to be completed, what was completed and what didn’t get done, and I pass that on to the next day. So, either the week gets pretty heavy as it goes on, or it gets a little lighter. If I’m already done with things on Monday, I get a start on Tuesday. I try to divide it into segments so that I can have planning, execution, business development and organization.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Axios is focused on four different segments: commercial analytics, business consulting, advisory services, and project solutions. To bring new ideas and new contracting models to our customers, we rely on a simple model. It’s basically: we will listen, we will think, we will solve. That’s our approach to everything. For any kind of innovation or business transformation or leadership they seek from us, we will address each issue no matter how complex with the mindset of listening attentively to the customer. A lot of the times the customer already has pretty good ideas for how to resolve the matter, they just don’t have the wherewithal or the motivation on the way to solve it and we help them fine tune that. By listening, we are able to ascertain and give them what they really want and set their expectations appropriately. So listening is the number one thing we have to do.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The Latin America and Caribbean market has always been in an area of the world that is often defined by political turmoil. There’s a lot of dynamism to the market. You’ll have a country like Venezuela who used to be a beacon of growth and oil production and now it’s almost nonexistent, where the GDP is so low because of changes in government and policy. Argentina and Brazil and Mexico have had a lot of political instability for some time. But, even in spite of all that, the region still grows, and I find that exciting. For example, the GDP for the region, with all countries combined, is $6.47 trillion. That’s huge. The region has reached critical mass level. Things have obviously gone down in 2020 because of the pandemic, but the growth is still there. Things are starting to settle in.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Nothing is ever perfect and you can always improve on something, so you have to have the mindset of continuous improvement. That means being resilient. You can’t keep throwing good money down the drain when something isn’t working, but you do have to be resilient and keep your eyes open for ways to see a project through. Sometimes it’s in those difficult moments that success is right around the corner. You have to be able to fight through the difficulties.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be a little bit more discerning in the way you evaluate other people.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Raise the bar and then raise it again. I tell people you have to be willing to shoot for the stars and go for it. That’s great advice, but there’s more to it than that, because once goals are achieved and you attain that success, there is tendency for many people to become complacent. They aren’t willing to challenge themselves to keep pushing towards that high bar. This is something that I get pushback from others on, because they have found some success and don’t want to go any higher.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I’m very disciplined. I’m always up early — even on a Saturday or Sunday morning — and I try to stick to the plan.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being inclusive in leveraging the expertise of partners in the organization, because no matter how many years of experience I have and how many different difficult scenarios or problems I’ve handled, you only have as much experience as you have. Others around you have their own individualized expertise. It is when we put it all together that we have exponential expertise.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Overpromising on a particular project. It is easy to come in and promise the moon and the stars to customers to get the deal done. But after making that mistake once in a big way, I now set appropriate expectations right from the start. If you want clients to stay your clients, I have always said you have to meet expectations all the time and exceed them only 1% of the time. What I mean by that is that all clients expect of you is to deliver on what you promise. That makes them happy. Exceeding those expectations is nice but it’s not at the root of customer satisfaction and you shouldn’t promise ahead of time to do that.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Creating a doggie dating app that matches puppies for owners that want to breed their puppies. That’s completely out of my world but it would be funny to see something like that!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Recently I spent money on getting a wireless headset. I always said they were a waste of money because you not only have to charge your phone, but now you have to charge the headset, too. It is two things to charge just to talk on the phone. But after using one for some time, I will say it’s probably the best thing I’ve spent money on in a long while because I don’t have wires all over me!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
LexisNexis. They provide you with an enormous amount of legal insight about any topic. It’s a huge asset for our understanding of international legal codes.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Selling with Noble Purpose by Lisa Earl McLeod. If you have a noble purpose as to why you want to achieve something, this book will give you that edge. Most of the successful people in this world don’t have a dollar amount in mind when they set out for success. They have another higher purpose and it’s that purpose which drives them.
What is your favorite quote?
“Time can’t be saved, it can only be spent.”
• Make a priority of listening
• Stay humble and helpful and have empathy for others
• Don’t be afraid to fail
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.