≡ Menu

José Neves Quotes

Manuel Ferreira Neves

José Neves quotes: the Portuguese billionaire’s best quotes.

“Passion: if you don’t love what you do, you’ll probably fail. When I started programming, my first customers were fashion businesses. I thought, ‘This is a very cool, creative, interesting, international industry.’ I fell in love.”

“I’m not a fan of giving advice because it’s such a personal and specific thing. Having said that, the one piece of advice I will give is to anyone thinking of starting a business: starting a business is tough, you need resilience and a strong desire to succeed. Only start a business if you wouldn’t forgive yourself if you don’t try.”

“If you’re going to start a business or a brand, the acid test to me is if you will not forgive yourself if you don’t try. And that’s my only advice because then it’s a win-win. You always win because even if you fail you can say, ‘I failed.’ But it would be even worse if I hadn’t tried. That will give you the resilience and the drive because you’ll have many bumps along the road. That’s the only truth that’s out there. It will never be an easy ride. And on those days, if you do it for the love of your industry, and if it’s something you will never forgive yourself if you weren’t doing, then it’s worth it. And that gets you through the noise and hopefully to something that’s successful.”

“I think times change. So what was maybe not working then is working now and maybe what failed ten times, it will work at the eleventh.”

“Courage: sometimes you have to go all-in. I launched Farfetch in 2008, and two weeks later Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. There was no funding out there. I had to underwrite development myself with money borrowed from my shoe business. If it hadn’t worked, I would have lost all my companies. But in the end it was a good thing; it created a discipline in the company, and the stores that would otherwise have snubbed us needed the help to boost sales, so people in fashion were very open to new solutions. The economy had collapsed, so why not?”

“You have to be resilient.”

“Counterintuitively I believe is not in learning from past mistakes, but instead deliberately unlearning from them. As a businessman and entrepreneur today, you need to abandon what people call ‘pattern recognition,’ which used to be a friend but now is an enemy.”

“Pattern recognition is ‘I tried to penetrate that market five years ago and it was a disaster, so forget it.’ That will be an enemy because maybe that market wasn’t ready for you, and because you had that trauma, that scar tissue, it’s going to prevent you from taking that risk. That refusal to be scarred by past mistakes, of which I admit I’ve made many, has meant an extraordinary growth rate.”

“Get your hands dirty—literally. Do things that aren’t technical. I run in the park because you need contact with nature to keep perspective.”

“Everything you know about the world is at best an approximation. I learned that we’re all trying to model reality, but all we build are constructs. In reality, everything is in constant transformation, and that’s fine.”

“Disruption isn’t everything. The first wave of the internet—Amazon in retail and search engines with the media—threatened to kill creativity in the name of price. The second wave is trying to save our industries.”

“Thirty years ago, you could inject pattern recognition by hiring someone who had been there and done it. But today, things change too fast. Hire external talent, but take their input with a pinch of salt.”

“I’m not the best in the world at fashion, and I’m not the best in the world at technology—but, realistically, it’s very rare to find people who understand both of those worlds.”

“Build a team. Everything changes when you’ve hired around 150 people. Then your job is no longer finding customers, creating a product or designing solutions; your job is to hire and keep great teams. Surround yourself with skillful people.”

“Diversity isn’t a moral choice, it’s essential for survival. You need different points of view and different cultures, left brain and right brain, passion and technology. If everyone is looking in one direction, you’ll never see what’s coming up behind.”

“It is very difficult to change the DNA of a company. But you need to try. A company is shaped by its founder, but changes as it grows. Learn how to let evolution happen. Adapt.”

“At a particularly challenging moment, what would it take for a company to press the panic button? Never, never hit the panic button. There is never a crisis moment. Life deals you cards and you play with the ones you have, good or bad. The question we need to ask is what is our endgame. In poker it’s clear, but in life it’s not always so.”

“I was always clear about my own endgame: namely to marry my twin passions for technology and fashion to help the industry transition to the internet era.”

“I started coding at the age of eight when the ZX Spectrum I got for Christmas didn’t come with any games.”

“At the age of 22, you think you can do anything and you will be successful at everything. I was absolutely convinced that I could program computers and design shoes too.”

“When I started programming I followed Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and it caught my imagination. I wondered what it would be like to run a company that was going to change the world as their companies have.”

“I dreamt of Farfetch for the love of fashion. I was absolutely determined to create something in the intersection of both fashion and tech—my two passions.  I was thinking about what I could develop to help the fashion industry leverage technology.”

“Most people don’t think programming computers is a creative endeavor, but software development is inherently creative. You sit in front of a computer and there’s a blank canvas and you are solving problems. And fashion is not just creative. It has elements of functionality and industrial design: clothes are meant to be worn. Our team is a big melting pot of people coming together from the luxury and fashion worlds and the tech world. We learn from each other.”

“Farfetch is an enabler for the entire industry. We see fashion as an ecosystem where every creature needs the other. The big brands need the small ones, because that’s where they go to hire the amazing creative minds—to be their creative directors. The fashion industry should never forget that people can buy other things, like apartments and experiences. By keeping this ecosystem alive and creating an industry that is full of creativity, new voices, and new talent, everyone wins.”

“What we found out is that if you love fashion, you didn’t stop loving fashion just because of Covid.”

“Fashion is part of culture. It has been part of human culture for millennia. And people are going to continue to engage in culture, and whether it’s fashion or music or art or literature. It’s essential for us as human beings. The worst thing that can happen in any economy is a freezing up consumption. Consumption is not evil. Consumption is essential for the economy. Excessive consumption has its problems, like anything excessive in life.”

“Fashion exists because of two very human needs. One is the need to belong, and the other is to be unique. We want to be accepted by the community we live in, but then we also want to have those cool sneakers or handbag that will make us stand out. Fashion, therefore, is a part of human culture itself.”

“As we become a global business there is a natural tension between investing an extra dollar in optimizing the core business, or investing that extra dollar in an idea that may or may not work. That tension is the innovator’s dilemma. Google is a huge source of inspiration. They’ve optimized the core business.”

“I will stay focused on one thing: ‘How will people shop for luxury in five, ten years time?’ That’s the only question that matters.”

“We believe the future of luxury fashion retail will be defined by the reinvention of the consumer experience through online and offline integrations, and we are investing in innovation to achieve this vision.”

“More than the valuation is the ability to accelerate growth and fulfill our mission.”

“I remain as revolutionary as I was in the beginning, but with much more wisdom, more serenity, more focus. Cool, calm, and eagle-eyed, I may be grounded in the present, but my sights are firmly set on changing the future.”

“I start every day with exercise and focus.”

“I studied martial arts, laying the foundation for my love of yoga and meditation.”

“Exercise. Take your trainers with you everywhere. Work out every day, whether it’s running, yoga, the gym, meditation, it doesn’t really matter. You just need something to start every day focused.”

“In crisis, that’s really useful because you train your mind to be aware that the external situations around you, they’re all going to pass. Your role is to allow them to be there and find out what is the right action for you.”

“Let your company evolve. Work out every day. Hire (and keep) a great team.”

“I wish you all health and love, and I know that we will get through this together.”

Cory Johnson: your momma’s neighbor’s side chick’s last Uber Eats delivery guy’s third-favorite blogger. Here’s how he makes millions of dollars blogging without being bothered.