Look for success in the little things. Similar to the ideology that expressing gratitude each day builds happier humans, finding small forms of achievement each day creates an incredibly successful business. Whether it’s working your way through a to-do list, finishing a project you’ve put off, addressing an uncomfortable situation, all of these things are wins. End your day with a mental list of little wins and celebrate yourself in that moment.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda (Amy) Kasper, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Alpha Kilo.

An experienced creative strategist and public relations professional, Amanda Kasper is the co-founder of the award-winning cultural communications agency, Alpha Kilo. After amassing over 20 years of experience in events and PR, Amy founded her own firm with the conviction that communications can and should be approached in a way that is holistic, strategy-led, and results driven.

Currently a resident of London, Amanda has lived and worked in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Germany, and has an unparalleled global network in the arts, design, and luxury industries. Over the years, she has developed creative strategies and global PR campaigns for Airbnb, Harry’s, Poltrona Frau, Maarten Baas, WGSN, Dubai Design District, and David Collins Studio. Current clients include DIAGEO, The Eames Institute, Savile Row, Huntsman, Triennale Milano, and Cassina to name just a few. Known for being an idea factory and with her communications expertise, she has been an active advisor to numerous C-Suite executives, including Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia and Huntsman owner and financier, Pierre Lagrange. Born in Honolulu and a graduate of Denison University, Amanda enjoys the thrill of travel and immersing herself in culture, splitting her time mainly between London, New York, Los Angeles, and more recently, Nantucket.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

I studied Studio Art at Denison University and as graduation was approaching I decided I would continue my studies and earn an MFA, ultimately thinking of becoming an arts professor. The University of Arizona had an incredible program at the time, I believe funded in part by the Georgia O’Keefe Foundation. I submitted my portfolio — which was accepted — but tanked my GREs and therefore wasn’t ultimately accepted into the University. This left me stunned and a bit lost. So I diverted course and ultimately ended up in Germany doing an internship for the advertising and marketing division of a massive conglomerate. One thing led to another — one city became another and another and another. One job in marketing became one in events — became one in PR. Never one to have a concrete idea of what was ahead, but always open to opportunity, I found success and ultimately happiness in skipping stones — taking a leap from one opportunity to the next. Allowing myself to let go of a set expectation or specific goal made me into a global citizen, with a unique viewpoint on creativity and culture, one better than I could’ve ever even imagined or set forth for myself.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

I used to believe that in order to achieve success or scale a thriving company, the founder needed to be a polymath of sorts and have all of the answers. In the early days when I was on the precipice of starting the business, one thing I personally struggled with was that I never considered myself to be a numbers person and the financial side of the business seemed overwhelming. Alpha Kilo’s founding client was Airbnb, where we reported directly to co-founder Joe Gebbia, overseeing his executive communications strategy alongside the internal design communications strategy. What I learned from them in that time was that it’s not about a single person running the ball, but a scrum of talented humans working together to move the ball toward the goal. Founders are only as successful as the support team that holds them up — and the more you invest in that team and that circle of trust, the more successful you will be. Now Alpha Kilo’s finances are brilliantly supported by a talented team who educates and informs me while also allowing me to focus on my strengths.

How has your definition of success changed?

I used to believe that success of the company was primarily based on cash. How much we were pulling into our bank account each month was the key indicator to the success of the business — and subsequently myself as its co-founder and MD. Over the years I’ve learned that success isn’t just about the contracts, it’s about bringing a vision to life, moving the needle for clients, creating a happy team and a healthy company culture. I now count my success on the atmosphere we created at Alpha Kilo that attracts incredible humans to choose to not only work for us, but invest their energy into the agency as well. Success is the joy that comes from seeing campaigns go from idea to successful execution. Success is moving the needle for our clients and crushing KPIs. Success is achieving a collective goal and riding out the bumps along the way together. Success is a shared laugh with clients and colleagues around a table after a long work day.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

One of the silver linings of the pandemic was how it reshaped corporate culture, allowing for greater flexibility and a deeper understanding of mental health. As we move into a post-pandemic world, I believe as a society we need to keep this level of mental health reflection in the C-Suite. What strains are your employees facing as they move back into the workplace, into traveling, into larger events? What societal strains are they under and how can we address those needs to create a safe and productive space that allows for them to thrive? At Alpha Kilo, we share a daily update on all meetings across the agency. In the past, I would have blocked out the hour with my therapist as private, without mention. Now I make a point to say that on this day, at this time, I have my Brain Trainer (this is what I call my therapist as I believe that in the same way we utilise a personal trainer for our bodies, so too should we engage a brain trainer for our minds). I want my team to know that I fully support treatment and believe it to be fundamental to my own success. Furthermore, we introduced Exercise Hour. Understanding that exercise is key to mental and physical health, but also that to get to and from the gym plus showering and your routine often takes more than an hour, if not two. As a team, we let each other know when we’re taking our exercise hour and any additional time it takes up can be made up at the end of the day or later in the week.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

When we started Alpha Kilo, we had what we thought was quite an original idea for the time — to create a flexible workplace that attracts the brilliant talents who have had to pull out of the rigid structures of typical corporate culture. At the time, many of my hugely talented friends were choosing to start a family and this choice significantly depleted their options for work. My co-founder and I wanted to tap that immense resource. We sought out the best in the business — writers, publicists, creatives — and then built a work structure that allowed for us to harness their talent for the agency no matter their time constraints or where they were based around the globe. This proved to be exceptionally beneficial when the pandemic hit as we didn’t skip a beat on the workforce front.

Furthermore, I think one of the biggest gifts I received during the pandemic was the time and space to truly reflect and reset. Prior to the pandemic, I was constantly traveling, barely touching down in one place before being off again. When the winds of the pandemic began to blow, I booked a ticket to our family home in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina. My first ticket was March 15, 2020 with a return flight on March 30. I ended up spending nearly six months there, waking early to be online with London, and then spending my afternoons hiking, on the lake or playing tennis. I golfed every Saturday and Sunday with my Dad. I got back to creating art; I learned how to play the guitar (ish) and connected with old friends. I learned to cherish those moments but also to understand their role in my success. Our company actually grew during that time and continues to do so at breakneck speed, all with a newly formed work-life balance and a creative fire lit by the gift of stillness during the pandemic.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”

  1. Flying and Free Falling are just as enjoyable. It used to be that the successful were those that had flown up the corporate ladder to the perch of the C-suite. Over the last few years it has become transparent that it can be just as rewarding to let yourself go, arms wide, and free fall into your life’s purpose. The most successful people are doing what they love every day — whether that be weaving in a shed completely off the grid, restocking shelves at a local market to pay the bills to ski all season, or overseeing the intricacies of a global business.
  2. Prioritize your personal life. Gone are the days that successful entrepreneurs only sleep for three hours a night and work 24/7 to achieve success. Who wants to do that? Find your balance. Lean into when you’re most productive, spend time with your loved ones, and seek out creative pursuits. You will find your mind firing on all cylinders and your output much greater than when work was the priority and you sacrificed personal time in pursuit of success.
  3. Look for success in the little things. Similar to the ideology that expressing gratitude each day builds happier humans, finding small forms of achievement each day creates an incredibly successful business. Whether it’s working your way through a to-do list, finishing a project you’ve put off, addressing an uncomfortable situation, all of these things are wins. End your day with a mental list of little wins and celebrate yourself in that moment.
  4. Let go of a specific definition of success. Having a vision of what success looks like to you or for your business doesn’t make it the final blueprint. The picture of success is one that is in constant change, a metamorphosis that evolves over time. Be open to that evolution and let go of rigid structures that can hold you back from greater outcomes.
  5. Friction is the ultimate creator. I used to be Queen of Non-Confrontation, but have learned as I’ve grown into my leadership role that friction is the ultimate creator. As in nature, we need friction to grow, to learn, to push ourselves, to be nimble. If you’ve had a conflict with a client, supplier or team-member, take a moment to look at how that experience can ignite change and professional improvement.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

The world is moved by leaders who are moving the goalposts. If we as leaders change our perspective on what defines success, then it paves the road for change across the corporate board. If we can find our success daily in small wins, it also gives us a mindset of accomplishment, a belief in our actions and vision. With that, we can do anything.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

What stands in our way is usually ourselves. People — even those that love us most — often are so worried about our disappointment and failure that they pull us back and inadvertently belittle our dreams. They plant seeds of doubt, perhaps present every reason why it won’t work or suggest you lower your expectations. It often comes from a place of love but in order to redefine your success, you need to park their worries and THINK BIGGER, press on, trust in your intuition. I truly believe in starting with Moon Shots and landing in the stars. Take your dreams or vision and explore how you can make it even bigger, more successful, more impactful. Then; aim for that goal, if you land where you started, you have still succeeded beyond measure.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

I find inspiration from other leaders like Brene Brown (the G.O.A.T.), friends like the brilliant curator Paola Antonelli, and lesser known gurus found in the most unlikely places like at a hotel afterparty following a client dinner, as well as the global creatives I have the pleasure to collaborate with including Tom Dixon and Chef Nikki, to name just a few. I am also a voracious reader as books ignite a fire within me. One such book I highly recommended reading is Jeff Tweedy’s How To Write One Song. I was so motivated by this tome that I actually wrote an entire book review on it for posterity’s sake. Tweedy’s book resonates in this moment of evolving leadership styles; he writes, “It’s important to get to a place where you’re confident enough to prevent your ego from overseeing every move and hiding your vulnerability.” As leaders, we need to show up authentically, embracing our own struggles, and present a path forward through the headwinds. Allowing ourselves a daily creative — and physical — escape, opens the channels for more empathetic and insightful discourse, a foundational pillar that inspires and empowers our teams through the most difficult of times.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx. I’m so inspired by how she navigated the male-dominated business world to build an empire while still remaining authentically feminine and in service to making people feel good (her original ambition).

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.