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Marco Franca is a Brazilian-born career corporate executive turned restaurateur. We sat down with him shortly before his restaurant, Posto 9, opened last month to talk about his work style and leisure activities.
Title: Executive director and owner
Define what you do in 25 words or less: Committed to giving those on our team an opportunity to grow and to be a steward of arts and education in the community.
That doesn’t mention anything about providing dining experiences or…: That really defines me. But when you talk about the restaurant, it reflects what our beliefs are … accepting diversity, that you have an atmosphere where everyone, customers and employees, are treated with total respect.
What kind of workplace is it? A Brazilian gastropub where our objective is to provide a culinary experience to all individuals — an environment that is trendy and a place where everyone feels comfortable.
Where will you spend most of your worktime? We will be in the restaurant all the time. Grace (Franca, Marco’s wife) and I are the shareholders. We have built an exceptional management team with more than 100 years of experience between all the managers. But we will be there. It is our baby.
What in your workplace shows off your passions? The people we hire. When we were with the team the first day and they listed all the things they believe in, I was the happiest person in the world. They had been with us only three hours and I saw that we had the dream team.
What project are you excited about? Life as a whole. We cannot take things for granted. We have to make our lives and we can’t depend on others. I want to provide people with a better place to do this and a better environment.
What’s your most important work tool? The smartphone. When the smartphones became tools of productivity and not a phone, it really changed how I worked. Now rather than being stuck at a desk, I’m all over the place. It allowed me to become far more productive than I ever had before.
Mac or PC? I am running a PC. My objective is to convert to a Mac, but I haven’t had time to do it. Since I use IOS for the phone, I need more integration. I have too many bandaids to make it work.
Apple or Android? Apple.
Favorite productivity tools: Outlook. It has my calendars, my contacts, my to-dos. It’s my project-management tool; (it lets me) know everything that has to happen. There are thousands of details to getting the restaurant ready and this keeps it organized.
Tip for keeping organized: You need to think strategically all the time and act tactically. You need to understand your objective. To implement, you may need to tack to the left and the right, but you need to keep an eye on that final destination. We (all) get distracted, but you have to stay focused.
Favorite diversions on your mobile: I’m a political economist so I pay a lot of attention to what’s going on on the global economic situation. I stay away from domestic politics because I don’t understand it very well. But I like to see what’s going on in Europe and Africa and Latin America and Asia. So I use my phone like the newspaper. Yes, I may get the New York Times at home and the Wall Street Journal, but not being I’m not able to sit down and read all the time.
Favorite information site: The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal at the macro level. Locally, I use The Ledger; I use lkldnow. For the region, there’s Tampa Bay Business Observer, Orlando Business Journal.
Is there anything on your phone you do for fun? No. If I have two games on it, it would blow my son’s mind. I don’t have any. To me, I’m not being productive. You may think, “Gee, this guy works all the time.” No. You also have to have quality time with your family — with my wife. I have two children. Both are distant — live far away from here. But when they’re here — my son’s 14 — I have to give them my undivided attention.
What do you usually wear to work? Jeans or khaki pants and an Oxford shirt. That’s what I’ve worn for years. In the old days we used to wear suits — I called them uniforms — but then we moved away from uniforms to something more casual. They’re comfortable and fit everywhere. Our team will be casual trendy. Some will be sophisticated, like the hostesses.
How did you prepare for what you do? I’ve done 10 startups, most of them within corporations. It’s different when it’s on your own. So when you do one that’s a dialysis group and you’re buying 11 companies in less than two years and building a company of 2,000 employees to join a telecom startup for a billion dollars and your first-year revenue is $600 million, you get a feel of how to do things right. But the key thing is the basics are the same: You need to have good people by your side to get these things done. … Most of our team is millennials, and I stress that you will learn a lot at Posto 9. And if there’s one thing I can teach you is that as you get older, the biggest asset you gain is the wisdom you gain over time. And the wisdom is the collection of things that are good and that are bad that happen to you. And you’ll look back and say, “You know, I did this back then that’s happening again. How do I handle it now differently?”
What book, TV show, movie or music has captured your imagination lately? I’m watching “Madame Secretary.” It reflects the likes I’ve had with socio-economics and international things. The last movie I saw that impressed me was “The Finest Hours” about the Coast Guard guys that went to save a ship that had broken in half. It was about perseverance. You have an objective and you have to go after it and it doesn’t matter the sacrifices it takes, On the book, it’s “Cleopatra” by Stacy Schiff. Yes, she was really tough, but she was able to get her whole area to back her and support her.
What’s your favorite leisure activity? Traveling. What I enjoy the most is traveling with Grace and my two kids. We’ve done some fantastic trips. The last one was to Greece and Germany last year. My family is all over the place. My son is in Brazil. My daughter is in Baltimore going for her Ph.D, so it’s a great way to be together. We spent 25 days traveling together.
Is there something you’re working on that makes Lakeland a more livable community? (Laughs) Of course, Posto 9 is one. But beyond this is our push for the arts. We want the world to see the quality we have here. To do that, you need a magnet. So we commissioned our friend Romero Britto to paint a swan. The reason we really pushed it so to have a piece of art in Lakeland with a name like that will attract people and then allows them to see what else we have all over the city. We need to understand that art is business and if we support it, it will be a major draw for new revenue in the city for individuals, for businesses and for the quality of life that we’re looking for.
What about Lakeland makes you excited? One word: Community. I’ve lived in three continents. I’ve lived in maybe six different countries. Here? There’s nothing like it anywhere else. This is a community. The way that people support and respect each other, it’s unfreakingbelievable. And the whole community to accept Grace and me like they have for the past three years, this is home to us.
What about Lakeland has you worried? The ugly duckling complex. There’s a feeling we get a lot of negative news and that has instilled in a number of individuals that this is not a nice place — that we don’t have good schools, that we have people who are not hirable. And in a short period of time, I can prove them all wrong. We have good schools. As we’ve built our team, everybody but two is from here and they’re exceptional. You can’t tell me it’s not possible; it is possible. And that’s why I say: Stop thinking negatively. Stop thinking like an ugly duckling, and start thinking like the symbol of the city. We are a royal swan.
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