Adversity as fuel for growth

Alexandra Carvalho, CEO and Founder of House of Social speaks to Campaign’s Sarah Qaddumi in a podcast interview about entrepreneurship, personal branding and her challenges in the advertising world.

Tell us about Rebel Club? What gave you the push to start your own business?

The word rebel is very much true to me and the spirit of my house. I have the rebel Academy which has more than 30 free courses. We now have almost 9,000 students learning free online courses globally. It is inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk when I was with him on Tea with Gary V.

Then two years ago, I decided to start the Rebel Club. All of these things are additional things to the core services of what I do. I’m a consultant, I’m an educator, I work with small businesses and big companies. I do a lot of consulting work and I’m an educator, so I do a lot of training courses.

Can you tell us why you left the agency world?

I always knew I would have my business one day but I really thought it was when I’ll be much older. I still had an old school mindset that you need a lot of money to start your business.

My experience in the advertising industry was what I call my marketing degree. It was like my university. I don’t have any degree in marketing. Everything I know is self-taught. Especially in the social media arena. I would do one year in one agency and then I would move on to another and another.

I’ll tell you 10 years ago, that was not normal. People would say you shouldn’t do that. I knew that’s exactly what was going to be great for me because I didn’t know anything about branding.

I spent one year in the branding agency. I learned everything about branding. I worked my way up from being the social media girl to being the girl that opens the social media department to working at TBWA, my last agency. I set up the whole department, looked after big accounts, won big accounts, built teams, and I loved it.

I had an amazing team, I thrived, I had a great salary and everything on paper looked amazing. But at the time, the politics and toxic environment started to create a lot of glitches. There was a lot of arguments and there was a lot of bad behaviour. A lot of backstabbing and people walking all over you.

I could tell that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

I was told that you will never make it anywhere Alex. Nobody will ever want to work with you and won’t take you seriously.

Those were the words that started everything for me to go. I got to quit. I don’t know what’s on the other side, but it’s gonna be better than where I am. Today I’m so thankful for those words.

So if you hear these words, if you are having adversity, take that as the fuel that you need to get that kick in the butt to go. I feel that’s something every single person needs to hear.

Just do it. Just take it and go.

Do you have any exciting projects? What do you predict for the year ahead?

I’m not good with predictions either but I can tell you what I see happening this year.

There’s a big thing on creators. Creators are going to continue to take a huge centre stage. But creators are having so much more freedom and individuality on how they’re doing things. We are going to continue to see a huge trend across creators being much more relaxed with the way they’re doing their content.

We’re not seeing that type of storytelling like we use to where there’s a beginning, middle and end. It looks very spontaneous. 

We’re also seeing creators taking editing and diversifying content to other levels. It’s going to get more competitive. We have to double down on being very individual to ourselves.

When it comes to businesses and what’s ahead this year for businesses and brands, we’re going to have to be more thoughtful about the platforms we want to be in.

My vote is Instagram and Tik Tok. Those are the only two ones that I see kicking off. It has to be very contextual.

I work with a lot of clients where their top platform is going to be LinkedIn and Facebook.

If you are in B2B, you want to reach specific people and specific companies. LinkedIn ads are so powerful. If you are on LinkedIn, you have to be posting 2-3 times a day. LinkedIn is like Facebook now.

LinkedIn is more human. I spend more time on LinkedIn now than I do on Instagram. It also depends on the context. Tik Tok is when you want to reach a young demographic. TikTok ads are also super powerful too.

We’ve also got YouTube, especially YouTube Shorts. Two nights ago I posted two videos on my YouTube Shorts and they are almost at 1 million views.