Marketing Legend Antonio Lucio Shares 40 Years of Wisdom on the Eve of His Retirement

The Facebook CMO gave a 30-minute Brandweek Masterclass on leading with humanity

antonio lucio
Antonio Lucio's career has spanned four decades, including global CMO positions at Facebook, Visa and HP. Adweek
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

On the last day of his storied, four-decade career, marketing legend Antonio Lucio sat down with Brandweek attendees to share an impassioned lecture on leading with heart, vulnerability and dedication to craft.

Lucio announced last month that he was stepping down his role as global chief marketing officer for Facebook, a position he’s held since 2018, to focus fully on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the industry. Today is his last day at the social network.

Before Facebook, Lucio served as global CMO for both HP and Visa, and held senior marketing roles with Kraft and PepsiCo, where he worked for more than a decade.

But for 30 minutes this morning, Lucio synthesized that wealth of experience into a powerful call to arms for marketers—one that urged industry leaders to work from a place of empathy, self-awareness and understanding, citing powerful examples from his own life of what can go wrong when leaders neglect their emotional well-being and families.

“The business of business is the business of people. You exist to solve problems, and people’s problems are heavy on the heart,” said Lucio, issuing a warning to leaders. “Not dealing with the pressures of leadership can destroy your family, your career and even your life.”

Lucio impressed upon Brandweek attendees the importance of building diverse, equitable and inclusive teams—something that has been a constant through line over the course of his career, and will dominate his activities during retirement.

“There has never been a better time to build creative ecosystems, whether internally, externally or both,” Lucio said. “Diverse talent is everywhere. We just need to work harder to find it.”

Watch Lucio’s entire Masterclass here:

Here’s the full transcript of his talk so you can choose which bits to copy down into your notebook, post next your desk or tattoo onto your arm for the next time you need a reminder to re-center.

Thank you, Nadine.  And in what felt like a blink of an eye, today is my last day as a CMO. For 40 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity of being a global marketer in some great companies and across several industries in consumer goods, fin tech, tech and social media. I have spent this time building businesses, brands and marketing teams around the world. Because that is what marketers do. We build businesses, brands and teams that stand the test of time.  There is nothing more important and noble than that, especially during these uncertain times.

Synthesizing 40 years of life to fit 30 minutes has been a bit of a challenge. I want to share some thoughts on leadership based on what was helpful to me. 

I am dividing this presentation in two: observations on the technical aspects of leadership that will help you navigate your role and observations on the deeply personal leadership journey, that hopefully will help you thrive with meaning. 

Let me start by saying that leadership is hard. There is no other way to say it. Things that matter are hard. And leadership matters more than ever: in the world and in our industry. For me, leadership has always had two dimensions: Vision and Action and both are needed in equal parts. First, as leaders we are supposed to have compelling, realistic and inspirational view of the future. This is hard because anything that has to do with the future implies change, risks and a bit of venturing into the unknown; all things that as humans we are not very good at. But having a vision is not enough. As leaders we must also have the ability and determination to bring that vision to life, not by ourselves, but through people.

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@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.