We had the good fortune of connecting with Alisa Walsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alisa, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
This question is something that has been asked of me many times and something that I have put some serious thought into. Given that I am in an industry that requires quite a bit of travel and in a role that comes with entertaining clients in non-traditional business hours, one would think that I am set up to fail in this balancing act. Honestly, they might be right, but they aren’t correct. I choose not to think of work/life as a binary on/off switch. Rather, I like to think of it as work/life integration.
In this new age of connection, very few people are able to maintain the off at 5:00, with the family at 5:30 schedule. I have embraced this reality and choose to work within its ill-defined perimeters. Sure, I may have a client dinner at 7:00pm on a Tuesday; so I go on a morning run with my partner, enjoy a nice breakfast and head into the office a bit later. My being flexible allows for reciprocal flexibility. There are always workarounds and tricks to make sure I get me-time. For example, when work calls for travel, I add an extra day so that I can actually take in the local culture. Better still; when it touches a weekend, I bring my partner along and we have a little vacation.
I hate to say I go with the flow because that sounds so passive and integration is anything but. It takes some forethought and schedule juggling to make sure that my personal and professional needs are being met, but it is doable. It helps that I have chosen a career that I am so passionate about in an industry that I love. It may sound cheesy, but it doesn’t always feel like work.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am in my early 30s and, by sheer force of will, earned my spot in a C-suite. I recognize that there are a lot of capable people out there but something that uniquely positions me to not only become a CEO but to truly lead, is my eagerness to seek out and take advantage of opportunities even despite perceived risks. I certainly never leap blindly, but I also don’t live in fear. I am also, at heart, always striving to make real human connection. I often find myself having conversations that are, perhaps, not organic in other’s lives. These two factors, when married, are the driving force behind my career development. I think this was well illustrated over the last year while I — like the rest of us—navigated the pandemic.
January 2020 found me as the newly named President of an Events Agency with over 30 years in business and, mere months later, that agency was in dire financial trouble due to the nature of our in-person business and the restraints Covid-19 put on the industry at-large. For me, shuttering our doors was not an option. I sought out solutions that would insure that the creative team I so believed in, would remain intact. As it happens, I had struck up a conversation with Jeff Haynes, founder and CEO of Haute Companies, by happenstance in passing. We started a dialogue about what the future of EventWorks would look like and soon discovered that we could fill a perfect little hole that Haute had.
That brought forth the acquisition of EventWorks and the merger of two amazing teams. Now, in my new role as CEO of Haute Rock Creative and EventWorks, I can use the power of connection and my courage to navigate the unknown to lead this new bigger and better team to take our clients to the next level. I think it boils down to this: for me “what if” sounds like a positive, not a negative.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of my very favorite things about L.A. is that there are so many micro-cultures. You can jump in your car and be transported to seemingly, a whole different world. I am not going to lie, I am a beach-girl at heart, so quite a bit of that time would be spent showcasing the sand and surf. I would start with Rosenthal in Malibu drinking wine and taking in food truck fare, and then head to the beach. Of course, day two would have to be surf and sun again because I would have to take them to Playa del Ray beach; my personal spot of choice. There are literally dozens of restaurants and bars I would want to take them to— one of the perks of my job is wining and dining clients, so I have been fortunate to taste the best of L.A. We would have to head over to the arts district to take in all of the visual candy and then pop in to a brewery or two. Last by not least, I would take them to a Lakers game because… sports.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been positively impacted by so many of my relationships; all of which helped to form me in someway. That said, I can’t help but feel in awe of the encouragement, support and love my partner, Orion gives so freely. My career has gone through a significant evolution over the last year. I was promoted to President of EventWorks, an event company, weeks before the pandemic decimated the industry. From there, I was able to position the agency to be acquired by Haute companies where I am now the CEO and architect of what I think is the zenith of creative agencies. Through all of this, there have been more unknowns and changes than you can imagine and Orion has helped me navigate through all of them. More important, he pushed pause on his career so that I could develop mine. His level of his love and support astounds me each and every day.