The Way PJ Pereira Sees It

PJ Pereira is CCO and co-founder of Pereira & O’Dell, which has offices in San Francisco, New York, São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. He has been winning Cyber Lions since their inception and his recent work for Intel and Toshiba won three Grands Prix at Cannes this year and was nominated for an Emmy. Here he talks to Joe Lancaster about fulfilment, martial arts, near-death muggings, walking out on McDonald’s and how a business grounding helps with clients.

I was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1973 and raised
in a crazy religious cult. My grandfather was a senator and my parents both worked for the Senate. I didn’t know the cult was strange until I got to college age and realised, ‘that doesn’t make any sense, I’m out of here’.

When I was nine years old I started learning
to program and when I was 13 years old, in 1986, I got a part-time job as a programmer for my uncle, who was a computer scientist. My version of the story is that I didn’t want to ask my parents for money to take my girlfriend to the movies, but my mum says I found the job so I had an excuse not to do any chores at home.

I became a good programmer and worked all day, then studied business at college at night. Having a business education helps me with clients because I can understand what they’re going through and that can help me think about a different solution [to their problems].

During college, when I was 19, I wrote a book
in my spare time called The Lean Company about how small businesses run and how big businesses can benefit from the same model. I was the number-one bestselling business author in Brazil that year.

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