Meet Antonio Paraiso, a luminary in the realms of luxury, marketing, innovation, and international business. With a distinguished career spanning over three decades, Antonio has not only excelled as a marketing consultant, conference speaker, and international sales director but has also redefined industry standards.
This interview is an exclusive journey into the mind of a trailblazer, offering invaluable insights for those who aspire not just to understand, but to thrive in the dynamic landscapes of luxury and marketing.
- In the tapestry of your diverse career, you've worn many professional hats. Could you share a moment or a particular role that resonated with you on a deeply personal level, where you found the most joy or fulfillment in what you were doing?
Thank you for inviting me to this conversation. I do indeed wear different professional hats. I consult brand executives on luxury marketing, I train marketing and sales teams and I am a professional speaker at brand events and business conferences. On average, I deliver three talks every month. I love going on stage, telling stories, and inspiring the audience on how to achieve better results in their businesses. I feel that my mission is to inspire and empower the teams I work with.
Many executives told me in the past that, whenever they listen to me, they feel motivated and inspired to think differently and perform better. However, I remember a particular moment that resonated with me on a deeply personal level. It made me feel happy but I also felt anxiety and the burden of responsibility. After my TEDx talk, a young lady came out of the audience to greet me and tell me that while listening to my talk, she had decided to quit her 9 to 5 job in a corporate office and follow her passion by starting her own business in videography. We connected on social media and I see that ten years later she is still working successfully as a self-employed videographer.
- Can you share a specific moment or decision in your career that you consider a turning point, shaping the trajectory of your professional life?
The decision that I took 15 years ago to study Luxury Brand Management in a respected FT-ranked business school in Europe, in order to differentiate from other marketing consultants was a big turning point in my career. I have managed to create my own ‘blue ocean’ niche market, by blending my experience in international sales and innovation with my technical knowledge in luxury marketing and it shaped my professional life from then on.
- Could you elaborate on your strategy for continuous learning and staying at the forefront of your field?
The world has been changing faster in the last 3 decades. Regular economic and social changes, coupled with technological innovation, have a significant impact on businesses. One cannot manage well a business or brand with outdated knowledge. As a marketing consultant, business advisor, and speaker I feel the responsibility to invest and constantly update my technical knowledge to bring new ideas and tools to my clients.
Apart from reading marketing books and magazines, I attend every year 2 to 3 world business conferences and marketing summits and from time to time I take part in high-level executive programs in leading business schools. Last month, I was in Switzerland participating in a luxury strategy and customer experience course at IMD Business School, along with senior executives of leading European luxury brands.
- In the context of your speech about Luxtech - new technologies in luxury brands, what, according to you, are some of the emerging technologies that will transform the luxury industry in the coming years?
I believe that the metaverse along with virtual and augmented realities will enhance gamification and bring new ways for luxury brands to interact and offer customized experiences to younger affluent clients under 40 years of age in the future. Blockchain is already proving to be king in fighting counterfeits, by enabling to trace the full supply chain of products and issuing certificates of authenticity. Interactive, intelligent mirrors in phygital stores will revolutionize the way we try and shop for fashion. And surely, in the next ten years, new technologies - which do not exist today - will emerge and play a significant role in the luxury experiences of the future.
- With your rich collection of profound quotes, if you had to choose a favorite from someone else, what would that quote be?
My favorite quote is that of Miss Coco Chanel on what luxury is about.
She once said: “Some people think that luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. Luxury is the opposite of vulgarity.”
I believe it encapsulates everything. Luxury is about elegant behavior, culture, education, manners, sobriety, beauty, and exquisite taste, more than anything else.
- Everyone has an intellectual idol. At this point, when you reflect on your journey, whose personality or intellect has had an impact on your learning style?
I had a British innovation professor many years ago who taught me about the importance of differentiation, standing out, thinking, and doing differently from the crowd. Later, two books that I read were eye-opening: “First, Break All The Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, as well as “Blue Ocean Strategy” by Professors Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. Both books had a big impact on the way I started doing things. Ever since, I began experimenting with new ways of doing things, being different from competitors, standing out, and finding my own path.
So, my professor Steven Sonsino, as well as best-selling authors Marcus Buckingham, Cut Coffman, Chan Kim, and Renée Mauborgne have clearly influenced my mind and shaped my future behavior in business.
- Among the numerous conferences and events, you've spoken at, is there one particular speaking engagement that stands out as the most memorable or challenging, and what lessons did you take away from that experience?
My first speaking engagement outside Europe, which is my home market, was - back then - unexpected, challenging, and memorable. A few years back I received an e-mail from the Cosmetic Division of the American multinational corporation Procter & Gamble asking me to speak at their convention in Singapore, about How to Engage and Seduce the Affluent Asian Consumer.
I had to research the Asian market, collect a lot of information about luxury consumption in Asia, and prepare an impactful and innovative presentation with opera music, with many practical ideas to implement in the following week. I remember several P&G delegates telling me later that they had taken notes of the ideas shared and would discuss them with their teams and implement them.
The main takeaways from that experience were to continue investing in differentiated videos on my YouTube channel - where P&G had found me – and in a lot of preparation and rehearsal in order to be impactful and flawless on stage.
And to believe in myself. I have gained a lot of self-confidence after that experience.
- Reflecting on your career, what challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them? Do you have any advice for professionals navigating similar challenges?
The main challenges that I have faced were related to deciding to do differently, to take different paths from the crowd, and sometimes I have failed but do not regret having tried those new paths. My motto is “I prefer to try and fail rather than not trying and not knowing whether I would have succeeded, had I tried.”
I would give two pieces of advice to professionals. The first is: “Never stop learning”. Read a lot, take courses, and learn new topics, new ideas, and new tools. The second is: that whenever you are afraid of trying a new path, try the idea in small baby steps, in a small portion of the market, with just one client, and see whether it is worth going forward a little further or giving up on that new idea. This works fine with me.
- As someone with a rich career, what legacy or impact do you aspire to leave in the fields of luxury, marketing, and international business, and how do you envision contributing to the future of these industries?
Thank you for this question. I have written and published many articles, over the past years. I have shared my hands-on ideas in my talks and inspired countless audiences and I am right now in the process of writing a book. These are some of the ways I have found to contribute to the future of luxury, marketing, and international business.
- Is there a question you wish someone would ask you in interviews, but no one has asked yet? If so, what is that question, and what would be your answer?
Many experts and reports suggest that Artificial Intelligence could replace millions of jobs in the next years. What would you do if technology would kill your job and business?
Well, technology might kill my job but certainly not my creativity. I would stop, analyze, collect information, think, and create a specialized version of my job, with many details and emotional connections, a special service for a niche market segment, where technology cannot perform in the same way as humans do. I would certainly find a way.
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” said British scientist extraordinaire Stephen Hawking.