David Alexander: Managing Director, Calacus Public Relations

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David Alexander is Managing Director of Calacus, a specialist public relations consultancy based in London. He started his career as a sports journalist, initially covering non-league football (semi-professional soccer) before working for regional and national newspapers including The Times and The Sunday Telegraph. After spells at the BBC and then Reuters in Italy, he moved into public relations. David has played a key role in a wide range of major sports event bids and campaigns, working with international governing bodies as well as other major sports, charities, brands and individuals including global sports superstars and members of royalty. A Founding CIPR Chartered Practitioner, David’s work has taken him all over the world providing communications consultancy, crisis and reputation management and good old media relations.

What do I do best?

I tell stories, which is a benefit in work and play – and while I always work hard to maintain my craft, it’s come naturally to me from an early age.

Professionally, that helps me to turn the banal and the drab into something interesting and engaging for clients so that they can reach their key audiences.

For friends, that means being able to regale them with some of the experiences I have had over the course of a fascinating, demanding and continually thrilling career (only when they ask!)

For family, that means being able to entertain my young children and hopefully inspire in them the same thrill for creativity that forms a part of my daily life.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I am an only child and so became very inquisitive, tenacious and independent.

That has helped me in life and in business to delve beyond the superficial, to never give up, and to understand that individually and as part of a team, you have to give your best every day. That approach has served me well.

When I moved into public relations, there were few journalists who had made the jump and I was valued for my understanding of what made a good story and the ability to talk the same language as journalists, many of whom I had worked alongside during my previous career.

Our world has become very fragmented now but the same principles apply – we have to be able to talk to specific audiences in specific ways without losing sight of the values of the organizations or individuals that we represent.

What are my aspirations?

I have never lost my love of travel and that comes in two forms. On the one hand, there are places I would like to see that are unlikely to figure on client calendars such as Machu Picchu in Peru or the Orient Express to Venice. On the other, I’d love to buy a house by the sea in Italy where I can enjoy more of la dolce vita.

Professionally, that means continuing to work with great clients, to use the power of sport to change lives and inspire generations.

My Biggest Success?

Every day, my children inspire me. I could not be prouder of them and I’m excited about guiding and watching the journeys they all will make. As a parent, nothing else comes close to the joy I get from spending time with them.

My Most Challenging Moment?

I was older than my contemporaries at school and university and my parents were older than most – having struggled to have me in the days before IVF – but losing them was devastating.

My father had battled heart disease and diabetes when cancer finally defeated him. He was only 61 and I was in my early 20s and I had lost a great friend, confidante and ally. He sacrificed so much for me and I had ended up in hospital myself the day before he died, meaning that I never got the chance to speak to him at the end.

My mother was 44 when she had me and as she got older, her memory understandably failed her at times.

But it became clear that her failing memory was down to dementia rather than age and watching her deteriorate in her final days was equally heartbreaking.

My Motto?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” By Lao Tzu

We live in a world where patience and progression have given way to short attention spans and a sense of self-importance. We never stop learning and we should never believe that we have ‘made it’.

Life is about facing or seeking big challenges and making a success of them through diligence, wit and hard work.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Martin Luther King was a role model for me. His unwavering desire to address inequality and injustice and his passionate oratory has stood the test of time. When I am writing speeches for some of the leaders that I work with, I try to inspire through my words in the same way that MLK inspired millions.

As a child, I remember watching a young Dutch footballer in the early days of satellite TV. I lamented the fact that my team, Arsenal, would never sign someone of his caliber and, predictably, he went to Italy to one of the giants of the game at the time.

That player was Dennis Bergkamp, and a few years later, he signed for Arsenal, a historic, game-changing signing that transformed the club and its fortunes. I’ve read his autobiography, where he talks about his attention to detail, his dedication and his focus despite an obvious natural gift.

To this day, some of the goals he scored remind me of the power of sport to inspire and to excite.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I lived in Italy for a year after I left school with a plan to learn the language. I was based in Florence and I return there regularly and to the peninsula at least once a year. I am more Italian in some ways than I am English despite having no native DNA.

Florence feels more like home than anywhere else on earth for me but there is still so much more of Italy I have yet to discover – and I cannot wait to do so.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I have a teddy bear which was given to me on the day I was born. It’s remained with me ever since and reminds me of my precious parents and all they did to support me.

I love my Android phone because I can do so much on it. I can and have personalized it so that no one else has the same look and feel of phone as I do – unlike other smartphones I could mention!

Every day, I study some Italian, listen to a TED lecture, do some meditation and track my steps and exercise routine as well as the work I need to monitor away from my desk.

My Current Passions?

Along with my family and Calacus, Italy and Arsenal will always be in my blood, but I’m trying to find more time now for spirituality.

There has been a long-held belief that humans only use a fraction of their brain capacity and I’m taking my first steps into the unknown by practicing meditation and Qi Gong.