Marie Salmon is the founder & CEO at Alanna, a company on a mission is to give people all over the world the smoothest transition to death.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I was born in Lille (France). I have always worked for high street retailers or digital pure players such as: laredoute.com / made.com / Bloomandwild.com / jules.com. I am a marketer specialist and sales development was always at the heart of my roles.
But one year ago, I carried out a big change in my career. I decided to make a U-turn and to dedicate myself to a better cause: mankind. I have now launched my own start-up called: Alanna.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Starting a new business is everything except routines. Everyday is different and multi-tasking: you have to juggle between strategy and hands-on tasks all the time, and on short-term and long-term decisions.
In my case, I’m living in London, but I founded my start-up in France (in Lille – north of France) so I am commuting every two weeks. Meaning that I have added a layer of complexity but also, this is really exciting and it offers me busy teamwork hours in France and quiet time for reflection in London, which I believe is a good balance.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes! absolutely, and I think this is key now for a company to be 100% adaptable and flexible. At Alanna, what we are trying to achieve is to provide a great place to work, where our employees are happy to meet, but we also offer an individual based scheme of work. Everyone can pick days that suit them. In my case, working from 2 countries, I do one week remote work and one week in our office.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
This is a very good question, and it has changed by the time. Uk and France have 2 different cultures and it was really valuable for me to experience both of them.
In the UK, lunch break is shorter (or nearly non-existent, laugh), to prioritise having the end of the day free to socialize at a pub, or meet friends, work-out or do whatever activity and enjoy family time.
In France, we adore food, and lunch break is often the occasion to discuss business or build a network. This is why it takes longer and so, working hours are extended. Now, I really care about having a good work-life balance and I manage my time to be able to dedicate time with my friends and family, do sport and clear my head.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I think I can answer yes to that question. Especially because I resigned from my job to start my new business. I would say I have more control of my time now, knowing what I want and don’t want, and being fortunate enough to dedicate my time to a very positive and meaningful cause.
Alanna is the 1st social platform dedicated to the deceased, and we help families to go through the loss of a loved one. We receive a lot of messages from people expressing their gratitude and acknowledgements that give wings. And one more thing, I now bike everytime I can, and so for eg. to go to my office. This is a good way to combine: sport, freedom, fresh air, music, and so on, to start and finish a day in a very positive way.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Not sure to be the best advisor on that part. I am actually reading a book from Axel Kahn, a french author and scientist that passed away last year and wrote books about his thoughts on life. At this time of my life, I like reading life stories and philosophic thoughts behind.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I’m commuting a lot, so Eurostar and citymapper are definitely the ones I couldn’t live without. And obviously, my phone is never far away from me. But except that, I have nothing I could live without except my Family. And as a true french, I like cooking good meals so I can’t stay away from my kitchen for long. (laugh)
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Work-life balance is a question of mindset. Sometimes you feel harassed by things or pressured and you are no longer able to see the way-out. Keeping it clear and safe is not easy and only possible if you keep some free space to escape.
I would love to read an interview about Laurent Morel, who is part of the six founders of Time for the Planet, a nonprofit company creating and financing companies tackling climate change on a global scale.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I would say that fortunately, every decade is different. I am 48 and I don’t have the same mindset and eye on things that I had before. I now care more about people, my family and the meaning of work than when I was in my thirties.
This is also a question of self-confidence. To be free of constraints and the hustle and bustle of your daily life you need to feel free, unencumbered and confident.
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