Simone Landes is the Founder and Director of The Lifestyle Suite - a business dedicated to working with Australia’s most influential experts in health, sport and lifestyle.
Representing Australia’s most prominent thought leaders, trusted voices and expert facilitators; Simone’s stable of talent have real influence because of what they do on a daily basis, working with clients and patients, and spreading an authentic message wherever they go. All with the simple mission to inspire people to live their best possible lives.
After working in corporate HR for 15 years, Simone decided she wanted something more and had her light bulb moment when watching Jerry Maguire one night with her husband. At that moment, she knew talent was what she wanted to do and discovered a gap in the market for health experts - so went on to realise her goal in establishing The Lifestyle Suite (TLS).
Formerly a Director at Macquarie Bank and a senior member of their talent acquisition and management teams, Simone has been at the helm of The Lifestyle Suite business (formerly SL Talent Management) since its inception in 2013.
In that time, she has taken it from an inspired idea to Australia’s foremost experts agency; to expanding the agency services with two additional arms to the business including TLS Creative - a content creation service working with TLS’ own expert talent to draw upon their knowledge, insights and communication skills to develop compelling, message driven content for brands and the media; and The Academy by TLS – a training program designed to educate the experst of tomorrow find their voice and grow their profile and presence across the Australia media. lifestyle content to employees.
Establishing herself within the industry as the experts agency in health and lifestyle, Simone has spoken at numerous events including for Mumbrella, PRIA and most recently became a member of the AIMCO (Australian Influencer Marketing Guilding Council).
Working directly with doctors, health practitioners, elite athletes, lifestyle educators and experts, The Lifestyle Suite represents some of this country’s best-known and most-trusted experts, including: Dietitian & Nutritional Scientist Dr Joanna McMillan; Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp; Psychologist, Author and Speaker Dr Tim Sharp; GP Dr Ginni Mansberg; Paralympian Ellie Cole; and Interior Designers and Renovator duo Michael and Carlene Duffy (see Talent Book provided in supporting documents)
Here’s our chat with Simone.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I had my very own Jerry Maguire moment – literally – it was 2011 and I was still working at Macquarie Bank – I’d had my two children – still a baby and toddler respectively at that time and realised that whilst I was building a solid leadership career at Macquarie, it wasn’t fulfilling. I was a slave to my blackberry and working a 7 day week crammed into 4 for someone else. I knew what I was good at – building careers, supporting people to flourish and be their best, negotiating, and coming up with new ideas; I just didn’t know that there was a career waiting for me that would allow me to do all of that together. After watching Jerry Maguire with my husband one night, I realized that the role of agent/manager would allow me to bring all of my skills together into one career into which I truly believed I could flourish.
I hadn’t intended to start my own business straight away - after all, I knew no one in and nothing about the industry and I was seriously considering becoming the world’s oldest intern at one of the big agencies in town just to learn but after having a coffee catch up with a friend of a friend, they encouraged me to take the leap and start my own gig and that’s exactly what I did.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve grown up in a family of small business owners – my Mum, Dad and both my sisters have all had successful (and at times not so successful) businesses. I grew up believing that if you work hard enough you can truly aim for the stars. I now know that it’s not quite as easy as that. There are plenty of people who work hard and give it everything and still don’t achieve success particularly in times like these where the world throws us a curve ball and we have to find a way to catch it anyway.
Yet, even with a career built in corporate I knew that I’d end up an entrepreneur – I’m constantly coming up with ideas – I’m the girl that goes for a walk, listens to a podcast and then comes home to whiteboard my new concept or invention – some of them work, and some of them don’t but together with my team - both my home family and my work family – we’ve found ways to get the good ones to stick.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
I can’t take credit for this one but I recall this piece of advice from one of the very first client meetings I went to. It was simply to enjoy the first part of the ride – to stop and take it all in – to listen and learn – effectively to be a sponge – because as she said – once that train leaves the station and you’re on your way – you no longer have that benefit of the stillness and the time to listen. To this day, I remember that conversation and try to find ways to find that stillness again.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Bravery, grit and realising that the best way to stunt your growth is to try to do everything yourself.
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
As twee as this may sound, I take my greatest lessons from those around me – those who I know and trust and it’s the same with business.
My older sister – she started her first company as a bolshy 19yr old and sold it 10 yrs later to a publicly listed company – how she knew what she was doing and had the confidence to do it in the first place, I’ll never understand.
My husband – I’m an all or nothing kind of girl but his approach of creating balance in his life has seen him achieve wonderful success all whilst ensuring it doesn’t become all consuming. As a result, it’s meant he’s been around to be a wonderful father to our girls and the most incredible support to me in the tough times and there to celebrate with me in the good times. He’s also managed to get his handicap down to a very respectable level by ensuring he plays golf twice a week.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
Be brave and be willing to accept what comes with it. Incredible things aren't achieved without great courage!
What do you think your key to success has been?
Honestly I think it’s just treating people like people. Everyone wants to be liked, everyone wants to be asked how they are. I spend so much of my time talking to people and what I’ve learned is that listening is far more valuable than speaking. Given I came to the talent agency business with no industry experience to speak of, listening was the way I was able to gain knowledge and when you listen and always set out to do the right thing, people trust you. Trust in my business is a huge thing, that and honesty and authenticity.
I’d also have to say that building a skilled team around me has been the key trigger for our more recent success. Even in the early days, I looked to surround myself with people (advisers, coaches, clients) who could teach me what I needed to learn in order to evolve and develop as a leader and a business owner.
How have you personally measured your success?
For me the greatest measure of success is in how we’re seen as a business – what the market thinks of us – why our clients want to work with us and of course, why our talent continue to put their trust in us to truly manage their lives. I’m constantly awed by their ability to do that. On the financials side, for me it’s about small incremental wins – sure I set forecasts but if I spend too much time navel gazing, I spend too little time chasing the opportunities that will allow us to grow.
How do you generate new ideas?
This one is easy – I pop the airpods in, go for a walk – listen to a podcast or music – it’s not uncommon for me to be singing to myself down the street – and the ideas just flow – then I come home and get them down on paper so that my mind doesn’t move on to the next big idea before I’ve had a chance to capture it.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
Ah, the crystal ball question – I find this one really hard – if you had told me 7 years ago, that the talent agency I started would be the business it is today I would not have believed you. But here goes, I believe that the greatest opportunity in our business is the incredible health content we can create – the hands we can get it into and the difference it can make to their lives – think university students, employees, aged care residents, health insurance members – imagine if all of those people had access to evidence based expert led health information that led them to make better health and lifestyle decisions from people who were qualified to give that advice. The power of that – of people everywhere having the health literacy skills to make good decisions blows my mind. I also see us growing our Academy side of the business – I truly believe that every qualified expert has the power to change lives – they just need the platform to do it – if we can help them get there then that is a role I want to play.
Who are the women around you that allow you to thrive?
I come from a family of strong women – I’m the youngest of three girls so my Mum and my sisters are my rocks. Mum (and Dad for that matter), always taught us that we could do or be anything we wanted and that has always stayed with me. I’m also lucky enough to surround myself with a couple of incredible female friends – all superstars in their own right who counsel me, tell me when I’m getting ahead of myself and most importantly, get me laughing in my down time.