I am originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil; I received my bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Advertising from FAAP University in 1996. From 1991 to 2002, I worked in various Marketing and Advertising positions for several mid-sized corporations, including Group Saint Gobain and SAP Brazil. In 2002, I ventured off to San Francisco, California and initially the plan was to take a short break from work, learn English and maybe take some Marketing and Advertising classes at UC Berkeley (I must confess it was mainly to shake off an early-30’s life crises). But I fell in love so hard with the bay area, this country, the culture, that I decided to stay for a little while longer. Maybe I could live the American dream…?
The truth is, I didn't want to go back. I wanted to create a new life for me with new opportunities, new adventures...and the Bay Area seemed like the perfect place to start. Like every immigrant’s story you’ve probably heard before, my first 2 years in San Francisco were…harsh, to say the least. After 3 months of English classes and a Marketing Intensive at UC Berkeley, I had about $300 dollars left in my “adventure funds,” no place to live (I leased a bedroom in a student dorm for 3 months), no work, no close friends, just a blind determination to stay and make it happen. “If I can make it in Sao Paulo, I can make it anywhere”, I sang optimistically in my head as I strolled down the streets of San Francisco.
I was born in a middle-class, blue-collar, hard-working Brazilian family. So, I was never a stranger to the idea of “hustling”. During college (which I paid for by working full-time during the day and attending classes at night), I knew I would have to work hard to make it on my own but doing that in a foreign country was a whole new ballgame for me. And not an easy one. “If I could only speak the language properly, begging would be a lot easier!!”, I joked around saying that a few times. In all seriousness though, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, so I did what I saw my father do: “stay positive, work hard, take one step at the time, focus on what you want, and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”
After going up and down the streets of San Francisco in full can-you-give-me-a-job-any-job mode for two weeks, I got a j-o-b at a neighborhood coffee shop. I also managed to find a great place to live nearby with an even better roommate. Things started to turn up for me…
The job at the coffee shop didn’t pay much. It was a humbling experience. I went from a well-paid corporate job in Sao Paulo to working 7 days a week and eating leftover pastries for lunch to save money and be able to make rent in San Francisco. I had to learn how to live on a very, very small budget again, which wasn’t fun or motivating at all! But working so much and making so little actually paid off. Here’s how…
I am a very attentive person. I learn more by observing and listening than reading or interacting with someone (I’m kind of an introvert, honestly). And at the time, my English was not fluent enough for a job interview for something more challenging than serving coffee. So, I took advantage of my situation and became the best, better yet, I mastered the art of people watching! For 2 years, 7 days a week, I observed and listened to hundreds, if not thousands of customers engaging in business or regular everyday conversations, I improved my English, I learned how to network, and the ins and outs of running a small business! Fast-forward those 2 years at the coffeeshop…and there I was, landing a dream job with one of my favorite advertising agencies, Young & Rubicam. It was surely not by “luck” …but it did take a whole lot of persistence and networking to get it.
I worked at Y&R San Francisco from 2004 to 2008 and learned so much during that time span. I also met some of my ultimate heroes there! So much skill and talent under the same roof; what an enriching experience that was! I got married to my lovely wife in 2006, we had our first child in 2007, and in 2008 I decided to spend a little more quality time with my family. We decided to move to Arizona (my wife’s birth state) and I started freelancing as a video editor. Yup, I started over yet again on a brand-new career path.
I’ve always been in love with Marketing and Advertising. It’s something I’m really passionate about and simply just gravitate towards. But when I decided to move to Arizona with my family, I didn’t really want to explore anything else related to marketing or advertising. I think I was burned out by corporate jobs, so instead, I got into video editing for a fresh and new adventure.
When you work as a self-employed video editor in a small town like Prescott, Arizona, population 45,000; you kind of have to wear many hats to make a decent living. Consequently, I was editing, producing, eventually shooting some web videos, and sometimes helping my clients; mostly local small business owners, come up with cool ideas to advertise their businesses. I had the “technical” knowledge and the “corporate” experience to offer to anyone in need of these skills. So, a light bulb went off: “see a need, fill a need”, and Craf2m was born in August 2011. I also became a U.S. Citizen earlier in November 2010. What a special time in my life that was!
Marketing and Advertising had made its way back into my life, but this time even stronger. I really wanted Craf2m to grow into a real full-service marketing agency. Three years after I founded Craf2m Advertising, I had landed only a handful number of jobs. No large campaigns, no full-page ads in the newspaper, TV or radio, no media plans, only small graphic design gigs and one website design.
The video production side of the business was still doing great! Thank goodness for video production, that was my bread and butter this whole time. But with all I had to offer, why wasn’t I getting more work in marketing and advertising? Most job proposals got turned down. “We’ve got no budget for something like that!” or “What works for us are referrals and word-of-mouth”. But their businesses were still bleeding; why weren’t they open to my grand marketing plans?
I realized I wasn’t really listening to them. And I’m all about listening! I was off of the real “need” by about a mile. What my clients needed was NOT for me to plan some oversized, overpriced marketing campaign to grow their businesses overnight, or offer some expensive graphic design and web development to improve their branding. The real need my clients had was for me to coach them to think as marketers and become better marketers. To empower them to see the opportunities to affordably market their products and services, to create real value for their customers and strengthen their brands without having to spend all their budgets on traditional marketing and advertising campaigns that would only yield a low return on their investment. So, I expanded Craf2m’s advertising services to include marketing coaching to “business owners”, to awaken and inspire a marketing attitude and intuition that every entrepreneur should have inside of them.
Ultimately, when small business owners become better marketers, they are better prepared to partner up with marketing and advertising agencies, and together work more wisely to take their businesses to even greater levels of success. It’s not just Business. It’s Personal, too!
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and I hope to meet you in person someday soon.
© Craf2m LLC - Prescott, Arizona