With a family background in mining, Alex has been driven to succeed and has time for people who take risks due to strength of conviction, citing Mo Farah as an influencer, and Shepherd’s Pie as a self-indulgence.
Alex describes himself as a normal guy from a Services family with a mining background, who made it to Grammar School and built enough confidence while learning at a great British University, to have a go at being the boss from day one of his working life.
As founder of Serious Brands, he sells, primarily, reading lights. He established the business 25 years ago and the lights have been used on lifeboats and even in space.
Alex is also publisher of Abode2, the number 1 Google ranking luxury property magazine focusing exclusively on the finest residential homes and premium developments across the globe.
Alex is also the Chairman of the Institute of Directors, South Region which promotes great leadership and has 35,000 members.
Alex, Welcome to the Leadership Interview
How do you start your day?
When my feet hit the floor I make a point of saying, ‘It’s going to be a fabulous day today’ often out loud. This sets my mind in a positive light.
A good day starts with falling into my walking shoes and taking 20-30 minutes to focus on what is important today, what I am most grateful for, and what possibilities lie ahead.
What was your first job and what is the worst job you’ve ever done?
My first job was through the Job Centre, clearing the site of a bankrupt company and my worst job was some mind-numbing stock taking which eroded a number of weeks of my life, when I was too young and desperate to simply have a job.
What advice would you give to others about furthering their careers?
Work harder than the next guy.
Read more than he does.
Take more risks and learn from every mistake.
Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by those who go all-in and risk humiliation because of the strength of their conviction and passion.
This ranges from people who front up on the X factor to sports giants like Mo Farah. I’m a huge fan of Anthony Robbins.
I loved George Michael – talent, hard work, modest and brave.
Do you think a talent to lead is nature or nurture?
Everyone has the capacity and wherewithal to lead when the moment arises but, like all talents, it is the mixing of raw leadership talent with hard work which creates leaders the equivalent of concert pianists.
In the end a modest talent and application will always triumph over the best lazy talent.
Mindset is all.
How can a leader fail? Do you have a personal example?
By getting too far ahead of their crew or by losing their respect.
I was extolling the virtues of a ‘crowds of one’ personalisation approach years before ‘Big Data’ made it a mainstream thought, but my team just didn’t get it so we failed to take advantage of this edge.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I’m good at getting quickly to reasonable decisions which is fundamental in a competitive field.
I’m terrible at doing all I say I will do; crossing ‘T’s etc so sit with me for directions and inspiration but don’t rely on me for solid management.
What do you find most challenging about being a leader?
The people around you can burn out and crash if your pace is relentless so it’s harder than you might think to keep the same team at your side.
People are the biggest challenge in business and leadership more generally.
What are you most proud of?
I have never knowingly been unkind and I’m proud of the times I have inspired others to take on a major challenge that would otherwise have passed them by.
What’s your biggest self- indulgence?
Shepherd’s pie…..I love all meals made from mince and I eat too much of them when I’m exhausted.
If it is of interest, Mind Over Matter Consultancy deliver a range of interactive, highly-pressurised programmes for high performers in companies across the world, underpinned by applied leadership and management theory.
We are able to support the following areas:
- Talent Identification
- Decision Making
- Problem Solving
Try our bespoke #BlowYouAwayDays programmes where you and your team will be pushed to the limit in anything from RNLI training or kidnap scenarios to dance development, a rollercoaster crash or a grand prix circuit.