You say your story is “really digital.” What role has the Internet played in it?
I don’t need to wait for a TV show to talk about the things I learned at a TED conference; I can start a hangout or a video conference every two weeks and people help me shape that program. So it’s really participative. If it wasn’t for the Internet, my book wouldn’t have been what it was. So when you give something that has a lot of quality content for free, the word of mouth is really strong. That’s why I’m a big believer in free. And then you monetize.
Why are Brazilians so connected to the Internet?
Brazil is a very connected country. Not just with me. I think we see on the Internet a map of how people are in their everyday lives. People need people here. They love talking and they love discussing things. All of this is real offline.
Education is a hot subject in Brazil. Why?
It’s a very interesting moment because there are so many problems, but these problems become huge opportunities. There is a lot we can do. There’s a lot we can do to offer just like basic things for people to learn how to read and write. Sometimes people know how to read and write but they don’t really understand what they’re reading there. There’s a lot of people who say, "Great, so I went to college, but I didn’t learn anything that is a true skill for putting my dreams to be true."
What needs to change?
If someone is 18 today they will have five careers in their life — not jobs, careers. But the most important part is that three out of these five don’t exist yet. Whoever works in social media today, 10 years ago it didn’t exist, or whoever builds mobile apps, 15 years ago it didn’t exist. So we need to change. There’s no way at 17 or 18 people are going to make a final decision. People need to learn how to learn.
You talk about the Louis CK skit in which the comedian satirizes a world spoiled by too much easy technology. What can we learn from it?
The biggest differentiator is how you behave, the more and more technology and information becomes democratized, and the more and more you can get things in a faster way, a cheaper way, and a more approachable way.
You talk a lot about the importance of long-term plans. What’s yours for FazINOVA?
We want to learn how people achieve and how people don’t achieve dreams, through whom, with what content, with which tools, and when someone else comes in with the same dream, we have some first steps they can take to try and get going in their dream. On all steps, from learning how to cook to traveling the world, from adopting a child to finishing a degree at MIT.
Interview by Dom Phillips. This interview has been edited and condensed