Marco Mattiacci was 29 and working for a consulting firm in London when a recruiter for Ferrari called, asking if he would join the storied automaker. For an Italian man, working at Ferrari represented one of two dream careers, he said. The other: the Italian national soccer team.
So he quickly accepted and was sent to South America for “an incredible opportunity” to bring the sexy two-seaters to Brazilians and Argentinians. “I had a decent knowledge of English and a decent knowledge of Spanish,” Mattiacci said. From that sales job, his career has raced forward. At 40, he has served as CEO of Ferrari North America for almost two years. Recently, I was fortunate to interview him for a Fortune magazine piece on personal branding and careers; some outtakes and extras are offered here.
“There is definitely not a Coca-Cola formula to succeeding in life,” he told me. Still, he has his own secret sauce: “I think curiosity is what makes the difference, and listening.”
His ideas for career success do not mandate driving a Ferrari, and as the father of three – a 2-year-old and newborn twins born Oct. 27 – he doesn’t tool around in one every day either. But Mattiacci does expect hard work and dedication. Here then are five approaches to make your career shine as brightly as a new red Ferrari, from Marco Mattiacci:
- Cultivate curiosity. ” Your mind is always open. and your ears are open to listen,” he told me. Listen to a wide variety of people – including many in fields very different from yours, such as the orchestra leaders and software industries. That creates cross fertilization. “The more you know, the more you understand: You don’t know that much,” he said. So read books and newspapers every day – including the New York Times and Foreign Affairs Review. ”I like to be challenged,” he said.
- Be open to opportunities. “The best things in life arrive to you,” he said, comparing it to a surfer who watches and waits for just the right wave to ride. When it does, you must know you’re prepared and also prepare for a learning curve, Mattiacci said.
3. Grab international experience. It’s stimulating and helps you understand people unlike you. “We are an interconnected world. Have experience abroad,” he recommends.
4. Develop an entrepreneurial mindset. “Be an entrepreneur in the way to manage your job,” he said. “Execution is fundamental” and so are the relationships with staff and customers.
5. Mix passion and humility. Despite his success for Ferrari in China and Asian, he wakes up with the idea: “There is someone better than me that can aspire to take my job. ” He also sees the global market for cars and talent as “so competitive.” This forces him to work very hard, and to see ways to adapt and learn. The passion piece is important because it creates momentum. “When you do things with passion, you do things 120 percent,” said Mattiacci.
Like Ferrari, he appreciates and embraces the idea that being highly selective, authentic and true to core values works for individual as well as automotive success
Marco Mattiacci prefers books on business, history – especially ancient Rome and Greece – as well as biographies and personal improvement books. Here are a few he recommends:
· The Rational Optimist By Matt Ridley
· The Last Place on Earth By Roland Huntford
· Caesar’s Legion By Stephen Dando-Collins
· The Ascent of Money By Niall Ferguson (link goes to PBS two-hour program based on the book)
· Memoiries D’Hadrien By Marguerite Yourcenar (French tile of a book about a Roman emperor)
· The Culture Code By Clotaire Rapaille