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Unprecedented with Alexandra Slack

Published 21st May 2021

At Unprecedented, we had the opportunity to speak to Alexandra Slack, Founder and Director of The House of Lifestyle Management, who told us about her leadership heroes, how she has adapted to the pandemic and much more. 

A background into you and your business? 

I am the Founder and MD of The Circle Club, a private members business club, and Founder and CEO of The House of Lifestyle Management, a luxury lifestyle business (which is now in its third year). I coach and guest speak on networking, time management and lifestyle maximisation and manifestation. I have an extensive career background in events management, charity management and fundraising and networking creation. 

I am focused on the power of connection and reciprocity in bringing abundance to our personal and business lives. I do love a challenge and I am a super-connector, so I help people meet and collaborate with others to achieve their full potential.

I believe firmly in giving forward as well as giving back and I am currently a Trustee Board Member of Alex’s Wish Charity. I give career talks at universities and schools, in addition to hosting charity events, and have been involved in big fundraising campaigns over the last 20 years.

I have two young children, and a very supportive husband and a crazy miniature golden doodle that gets me outside.

Define leadership and what being a leader means to you.

Being a leader, to me, means leading by example and having the vision and passion to get where you want to be. It’s about taking you, your company and the whole team with you to achieve your goals and the company goals.

I also believe that in order to be a good leader, you must invest in developing your staff to the best of your ability, even if that means they move on from you and your organisation. We all hope that this doesn’t happen, but sometimes it’s inevitable. That’s when you have to decide how much you want that future leader in your businesses and what you are prepared to do to make them stay.

Who are your Leadership role models/inspirations

This is a tough one! I have many different people that I think are role models to me, but my biggest leader role model was my first boss, John Probyn, from Live Nation. He was a fantastic leader, and I would work all hours of the day just to get a job done because of the way he led the team. 

The biggest life lesson that I learnt from him, and have taken with me to my organisation, is his motto; “I don’t care how many hours you work, whether that’s three hours or 10 hours, as long as the job gets done, you manage your workload and you communicate your struggles”. I always thought that was quite revolutionary for a 20-year-old, 16 years ago.

More recently, and more locally, one of my biggest leadership role models would have to be Eileen Richards MBE - from ER recruitment. I remember seeing her at events when I was working for the LOROS Hospice and thinking “when I have my own business I would love to have her professionalism”. I’m inspired by the way she made people feel, the way she brought people together for the greater good, her work for charities, and how she gives back to the community.

What impact has Covid-19 had on you?

At first, when COVID-19 hit and we were housebound, I thought this was a great opportunity to reset as a person, a mother, a wife, and a daughter. Throughout my whole life, I’ve been running at 1000 mph, travelling, never stopping and not paying attention to the most important people around me. So to be forced to stop and stay in was actually a breath of fresh air.  

It also made me evaluate what it was that I was actually chasing in the working world, and made me evaluate what makes me happy and what I want to achieve in life. We also ended up supporting my then 6-year-old son (Charlie Slack) who decided to run a mile a day from Day 1 of lockdown for 3 charities and finished on Xmas Eve. He ran for 276 consecutive days, over which he ran 325+ miles and raised over £7k for Alex’s Wish, Meningitis Now and Young Minds.

I also have to be completely honest here, after about two months of this lifestyle, being a mother, a teacher, a cleaner, a chef, a wife, and an ironer (actually… I never iron and hate it), I did start to want to get back to some normality and start running my business again, well what little left of it was. That’s when I decided to pivot and change direction and set up The Circle Club.

What impact has covid had on your business?

COVID had a massive impact on my businesses. Being in the event management/ lifestyle management sector meant that everything stopped. All my events got cancelled or postponed and all my housekeepers and chefs were pulled out of houses because nobody needed chefs or concierge services.

We even had to cancel the exciting plans we had for the Macildowie staff incentive trip that was planned for 2020. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any grant funding and, being a director of a company unable to furlough myself because I still needed to run some elements of it, I felt stuck but thought there were always other options if you are creative.

Are there any people within your support network who made a big positive impact on you as a Business Leader during those early weeks/months?

Cherie Concannon Massively! She was my business coach and helped me through some dark places. I also loved our MD/CEO Macildowie Friday’s forums too as we could discuss the best forms of practice for our company and staff.

The word pivot was used unprecedently in May/June. What have you done to innovate or differentiate you or your business?

Pivot… A very overused word in 2020! However, I did pivot as I had to do something to stop my business from going bankrupt. Therefore, I had time to revisit a previous business plan to set up a private members club called The Circle Club. I had the opportunity to take over an existing club, Concannon Connection, and was able to completely add my own stamp to it.

However, the main ethos that Cherie Concannon had within her club was reciprocity and that still remains at the core of The Circle Club. It launched on the 1st of July 2020 and we now have over 30 business owners and decision-makers. I’ve also just recently launched into Derbyshire and am about to launch into Nottinghamshire.

What were the 3 biggest (or best) decisions you made in 2020?

  1. Stopping, resetting and working out what I actually wanted out of life

  2. Launching The Circle Club

  3. Making steps to start a charity foundation that gives back to the local community

What remain your 3 biggest challenges?

  • The uncertainty of when big real-life events can start up again and getting the trust of clients back.

  • International travel.

  • Making sure my team are supported from home and have everything they need, both physically and mentally.

How have you/your business evolved from a digital/tech perspective?

Yes, we’ve had to in order to stay ahead of the times. We’ve launched Circle Club events with Light Up Creative over lockdown, which allows a different type of business networking/ training/ award/ product launching. It’s interactive, different and allows people to have a choice on who they talk to, rather than being put into a Zoom or Teams breakout room.

I also believe that this will be the future of the industry as we bring live and virtual events together to create a hybrid effect. I’m working with the Chamber of Commerce on their Enterprising Women Awards and I’ve even showcased the new software to the Macildowie MD/CEO Forum last week.

Looking back to March 2020. If you could change one decision that you made what would it be? 

I don’t think there is. Life is a journey and it was so unprecedented (JT’s FAVOURITE word) that we had to go with what our gut was telling us and the statistics we had in front of us. Everything was a learning curve

Looking ahead to 2021 what are your predictions for the economy? For your sector?

I think events will come back with a boom as people have money to spend and have been ‘ locked up for over a year now. It will be like a 1920’s boom for our sector. I am already seeing festivals sell out. Some people are ready to get back to normality and others will need time to adapt again and we need to be there to support them.

Has "succession planning" risen up your people agenda?

Yes, I’m just looking at an earn to share scheme in one of my businesses and will probably follow suit in another shortly, in order to give staff the ability to feel like they are involved and fully invested.

What are you doing to retain your superstar / Leaders of the future?

We give them an incentive, as well as coaching and developing them, and show them that we care. We also give them some ownership of the company, make them feel like they belong here and that their voice is being heard. 

What advice would you give to those entering the workforce today?

  • Be keen to learn and adapt, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  • Knowledge is king - always work on your self-development, even if you are reading 15 minutes a day to help your mind.

  • Do what you say you are going to do.

  • Have integrity, trust and be kind.

The Pandemic has caused many of us to reassess what is important in our lives. In what ways have you recalibrated your own priorities and goals?

  • Make family time a priority

  • Look after your health – body and mind

  • Give back …. My favourite word is reciprocity

If you have enjoyed this blog, and want to learn more about Alexandra, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Alternatively, to learn more about her businesses, why not visit The House of Lifestyle Management and The Circle Club’s websites.

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