Community//

“Education and self-knowledge are the most powerful things ” With Jason Hartman & Patrícia Osorio

I believe education and self-knowledge are the most powerful things in the world. So I would probably create a movement around making sure education and therapy were accessible to everyone since their early days. I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrícia Osorio. Pat is the co-founder and CMO of Birdie.ai, a consumer insights company that understands […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I believe education and self-knowledge are the most powerful things in the world. So I would probably create a movement around making sure education and therapy were accessible to everyone since their early days.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrícia Osorio. Pat is the co-founder and CMO of Birdie.ai, a consumer insights company that understands millions of consumer opinions about a brand, their products, and competitors to help them make better marketing & sales decisions. She is also the co-founder and board member of GVAngels, a leading Angel Investment Group in Brazil, partner of a leading Martech company in Latin America, and an investor in several e-commerce and technology startups, besides being an LGBTQI+ advocate.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Iwas born in a small town in Brazil, the daughter of two doctors who are very entrepreneurial, with several side businesses, and they always encouraged me to think as an entrepreneur and to pursue something beyond a good job at a good company. I remember, for example, that when I was about 8 years old I started selling bracelets and necklaces that I made with beads. One year later, I expanded to selling Saint Seiya’s drawings that my brother would draw. A few years later, when I was 11, my parents would make my brother and I work for them during school holidays, helping them with different needs in their clinic, from paying bills to delivering pamphlets on the street, and I even got a job at a pet shop to find out if I wanted to work with animals or not — something I used to wonder when I was younger. I now see how important that was to make me not only learn about the importance of work, but also to realize that I could be anything I wanted as long as I worked hard for it.

With their support I moved from my hometown to the city of São Paulo when I was 15, to study at one of the best schools in the city, and later graduated both from the #1 Ranked Business School and the #1 Ranked Law School in Latin America (FGV-EAESP and USP — University of São Paulo). At that time, most of the students dreamed about entering a trainee program at a company like Coca-Cola, Unilever or Citibank, but I already knew that I didn’t want to follow that path., Through an extra-curricular program where Endeavor entrepreneurs came to share their stories with students, I was lucky enough to meet Alexandre, an entrepreneur whose story of transforming a traditional printing shop into a one-stop-shop for marketing services caught my attention. His passion, vision and energy reminded me of my parents, and I decided I wanted to work with him. And that’s when I joined Arizona, back in 2007, when it had only 35 employees. Since then, I became really close to Alex (the founder of the company and now my co-founder at Birdie), who taught me a lot about how to build a company’s culture, and how to perceive problems as opportunities to innovate, build a business and much more. After 10 years working there as if it was my own company, leading all of its marketing, business development and international expansion efforts, I became a partner and felt the complete experience of being an entrepreneur. And I loved it so much that I didn’t stop: after that, I co-founded an Angel Investment group, where I’m now a board member, and my current startup, Birdie.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I had a few interesting stories, but I think one of the most interesting is more related to when I started to expose myself more as a company leader. I am very shy and always felt like I wasn’t good at leading people or speaking in public — I always felt more comfortable working as a facilitator in the backstage, which made me feel that I wasn’t somebody that people would remember. With Birdie I had to expose myself more for several reasons related to the company, and every time I did it, I felt I got stronger and more confident to do it again next time. It was also fun to see that a lot of people who interacted with me in the past did remember me and they came to me to support me or congratulate me. I think the reason why I’m telling this story is to tell people that sometimes they make up a wrong image of themselves in their minds and that self-doubt should never prevent you from pursuing your mission and doing what you love.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I did what a lot of entrepreneurs do: I fell in love with our product and stopped to really listen to our customers’ feedback. If somebody told me that our product was amazing but they never bought it I’d still believe them, instead of realizing they were just afraid to tell us what was wrong and hurt our feelings. It made me learn how to validate and revalidate anything we heard and to value actions much more than words.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am really lucky I had a lot of help from several people, each one in their own special way. I’m 100% sure that I would never be where I am if it weren’t for them, be it friends who have been with me for several years or mentors who I spoke to only once but helped me make the right decision at that time. That said, my parents and my brother were the ones who were always supporting me from day one in any way they could, even when I made decisions that they didn’t agree with. My wife has also been very important: she’s the one who is always there at the end of the day either to cheer me up, to celebrate with me or to help me with a hard decision.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I’m a morning person and I love to exercise frequently, especially outdoors. Exercising helps me tire my body and relax my mind, so I always start my day going out for a run or working out at the gym. It helps me get the energy and concentration needed to start the day. Another thing I do is to give myself some time before an important meeting, because I know that I need to be 100% present and these extra minutes are important to settle down. Every time I had to run to an important meeting without the time to prepare for it, I noticed my performance wasn’t the same. One thing I always try to do is to take small breaks where I breathe deeply, walk a bit, and look outside. Looking outside allows me to put things in perspective, remembering how small we are compared to the vast greatness of nature and then to look back at the thing that was stressing me or worrying me and notice it’s not as big a deal as it looked when I was immersed in it.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

Birdie’s mission is to amplify the voice of the consumer, making it get to brands without noise so they can use that data to improve their products and services — which goes back to the consumer. Internally, we have a similar purpose: we want to amplify the voice of all communities inside Birdie, making sure we are giving opportunities to the most diverse groups.

We strongly believe that in diversity lies strength, and that having a diverse team will make us better people and better professionals: less biased, more empathetic, more human. People from different contexts have different points of view, different strengths, different problems, and different solutions. And there’s nothing more powerful than the combination of these differences together, because that’s the only way you can remove blind spots and limited views. I can’t count the number of times when I was sure about something just to find out, a few minutes after talking to a person in a different context, that I totally missed a point that was crucial.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

I’d say that the first and most important step is admitting we don’t have an inclusive society today and that every time we don’t admit it and we don’t try to break it, somehow, we’re supporting it to stay as it is. The imposition of the white “macho” culture is so strong that we sometimes don’t even notice it and, when we don’t, we end up reinforcing it even with small attitudes. Robyn DiAngelo has written a book called White Fragility where she mentions exactly that: as white, we’re not taught to see that we’ve been raised in a racist society and that by not discussing that and saying things like “I’m colorblind” we’re just helping racism to prevail.

The second step is openly talking about it. Sometimes we want to avoid hard conversations and we end up not having a healthy discussion that could bring us one step closer to diversity. I can say I did that for a while: as a gay woman, I felt like I didn’t want to talk about being a female leader nor a gay leader for a while, because either I was afraid of suffering prejudice or I didn’t want people to look at me and think that I got there just because I was “filling a quota”. With that attitude I was actually making other gay people maybe think it wasn’t OK to be gay at our company, or I wasn’t letting other people know how their comments were inadequate at least to a group of people. Once we know we have a problem and talk about it, change will probably happen as a consequence, because it will be easier for people to acknowledge the existence of a problem and that their attitudes are either fighting for or against it — and hopefully they will fight against it.

For people like us, who are at a decision-making level, there’s even more to do, as we can change policies and create processes that ensure we have diverse teams at our companies, with people from different ages, colors, sexual orientations, beliefs, and backgrounds. We should do our best to give opportunities to people who might not have access to those opportunities in a normal situation and question ourselves all the time to understand if we’re doing enough.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

In a startup at our stage, being an executive means being available to play any role that is needed for the company at that time, from defining its strategy to fixing a chair or paying a bill. There are no limits between job roles and goals, and even though you have your own responsibilities, you know you’ll need to help with anything if needed because at the end it will all impact your overall results. You also need to know that you will be representing the company 100% of your time even if you don’t mean to, and anything you say or do will be related to the image of the company at some level and can have a huge impact into all of your employees’ lives. That said, it shouldn’t be that different from a leading role at any company, although it gets harder to keep this going as you grow.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

For a long time, I saw a CEO or a C-Level Executive as a superhero — someone who knew the answers to all the questions. For me, they were perfect people who didn’t feel fear nor had doubts about what to do and when to do it. And that’s not true at all. As anyone else, an executive is a person who has their dreams, their ups and downs, their self-doubts, and their anguish, and they also need help and guidance. Sometimes it’s even worse for them, because people look up to them and expect answers, which adds more pressure as they know that one wrong decision can impact the lives of several people. At the same time, they sometimes don’t feel that they can ask for help because people expect the answers to come from them, so it can be very lonely. That said, we need to look at these people as human beings.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Until today, women need to prove themselves much more than men. I remember being told I was too young for a C-Level position while a guy younger than me was being invited to join the company in an equivalent role and not being questioned about his age or maturity. I also remember several situations, especially in the advertising industry, where the networking events were clearly designed for men, with schedules stating things like “there will be a friendly soccer match for the executives while wives will do yoga and meditation classes”. Most of the executive networking agenda is still built for cis, straight men, and as a woman you won’t even be invited sometimes because you might be seen as a stranger in the room — and with the politics you will be left behind. Not to mention the perception that several men still have about women being too emotional, too weak, too fat, too beautiful…a lot of things nobody even notices when evaluating a man.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

As I mentioned before, I thought that by the time I got to an executive position I would know the answers to most of the questions and I actually discovered I have much more questions now than before. We are always learning and I think that’s the beauty of being in a position where you can choose who’s part of your team: you can hire people that are smarter than you, make sure you let them do their jobs and take the opportunity to learn a lot from them.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

Being a leader means having a whole company that is looking up to you and expecting that you give them different incentives at different times. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of your work will be to facilitate other people’s works and motivate them towards the same goal even when they have their own personal goals. To be successful in that, a person needs to be self-motivated, driven, flexible, a good negotiator and a selfless giver. One also needs to know that as a leader most of your time is spent in meetings, listening and serving other people. It takes a lot of energy and people who are extreme doers or individual players might feel drained by the feeling of having to deal with other people’s demands all the time and not executing their job but facilitating the job of others instead.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid of trying. Most of my regrets are for not doing that. We need to know that we are as capable as anyone else; it will be harder for us as we will be questioned more often and we will have more obstacles considering that changing a culture is not something easy, but if we never challenge the current situation we will never change it. Reach out to the women you admire, ask for their advice and tell them how they have inspired you — I’m sure that will motivate them as they probably had a lot of challenges in their road too. Building this sense of community is powerful.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I believe that everyone is capable of doing great things, and my desire is to help people discover and unleash their potential to do so. That’s why I spend a lot of my time trying to help people in any way I can, whether it is giving them career advice, listening to their feedback, or teaching them what I know. I also try to be an example to people through my daily acts and attitude.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

The first is that you don’t need to be like everyone else to be successful and that knowing who you are is key. Examples and references from others are great and they should inspire you to become the best version of yourself, not a version of someone else. I remember that before accepting who I was, I forced myself into becoming someone I was not for several times, and that drained my energy and took my focus from my strengths. Discovering that I didn’t need to be neither perfect nor like others expected took a lot of pressure from me and allowed me to find my space and develop my own way of leading.

The second is that you’ll never be ready so it’s never too early to start — the best way of learning, especially as an entrepreneur, is by doing. Third, you need to build your network of other entrepreneurs to encourage you — being an entrepreneur is really hard and lonely sometimes, and a lot of people won’t understand what you’re going through.

Fourth, the world is not going to end tomorrow: you always can (actually, you should) find time for your family, your friends, a hobby, and to take care of your mind and body. And, once you do, you’ll see that the work from yesterday will still be there waiting for you, and, when you come back, you’ll come back much more ready to tackle it with the best of you.

Finally, that it is an always-on work in progress: just like yourself, your company will change and evolve every day, whether it’s according to your customers’ needs or to an economic trend, and you need to be ready to review your value proposition several times without being personally attached to the previous one.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I believe education and self-knowledge are the most powerful things in the world. So I would probably create a movement around making sure education and therapy were accessible to everyone since their early days.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Although there are many inspiring quotes that had an importance in my life as they helped to motivate me, cheer me up, or teach me a lesson in a given moment, I’m not very good at choosing one. I’d say you should write the quotes that inspire you in a notebook and come back to reading them every time you need inspiration (that’s what I do by the way).

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

There are so many inspiring people in the world! But I’d say I’m a fan of Reid Hoffman, Malala, Sallie Krawcheck, and Ellen DeGeneres, for different reasons. Having the chance of meeting any of them would be amazing!

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Patrícia Osorio: “A failure is not always a mistake”

    by Candice Georgiadis
    Community//

    Junea Rocha of Brazi Bites: “Never stop learning; The more you know, the more you know you don’t know much”

    by Alexandra Spirer
    Community//

    Ross Lipson: Stay In Your Lane And Do What You Do Best

    by Jilea Hemmings

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.