Five Tips For How To Practice Compassionate Leadership From A NYC Music Executive

In an industry where it can be all too easy to feel overworked and riddled with stress, Alix Kram manages to incorporate mindfulness for herself and her team. As a VP at Warner Music Group heading up Global Retail & Licensing efforts for Warner Music Artist Services and outside of work, staying busy with her own marketing and creative collective, Alix has balancing act advice to share.

At some point, we all feel a little off-kilter. But Alix recognizes the immense value in practicing self-care both for herself and for her colleagues. This is a sign of true, compassionate leadership. Her transition from a self-proclaimed workaholic to a career that’s exhilarating yet (for the most part) balanced is a journey that we can all be inspired by. 

I couldn’t help but notice that her office looks more like an upscale boutique than an office, filled with cool clothing and products for licensing opportunities for artists her team supports. She and her team are constantly on the lookout for unique and interesting brands that could match the many clients they work with. She certainly knows how to find the joy within the hustle and is adamant about making her work “fun,” a word many may not often associated work. I believe fun making should be an element of all healthy business cultures and it a philosophy Alix and I share.

office at wmg
Alix Kram’s officeWARNER MUSIC ARTIST SERVIES

When I asked her for specific examples, she told me about her team worked on the launch of a successful game called Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm, where her team developed the timeline to match National Weed Smoking Day: April 20th. She noted how exciting it was to work in an increasingly “budding” industry and even developed a commercial shoot at a weed farm in Las Vegas for the release. It’s since become one of the most successful celebrity apps, impressively combining art, music, and the gaming industry. 

Another example of fun for her and her team was watching the ever-evolving evergreen band/brand that is the Grateful Dead capture a new generation of fans in music and fashion alike through the multiple runway releases they had last year in NYC and Paris. She watched months of hard work and nurturing of partnerships come to life through the physical products and the faces of her team when they saw the manifestation of their efforts. This was a very rewarding moment for Alix as a culmination of fun and hard work!

Alix raved about her colleagues and culture at Warner, noting that her team is genuinely passionate about what they do and this keeps her happy to come into the office every day; a tone set by the senior leadership of her division. She brings a relaxed sense of ease and mutual respect into the workplace, giving her team the freedom to do their work through their own processes.  

So how does she bring mindful and compassionate leadership into a place like Warner Music? Here are some of her top tips: 

  1. Meditate during the workday. She’s all for letting her team to take a few minutes to meditate or walk outside to clear their heads. 
  2. Make work fun. She’s a big promoter of getting out of the office, taking her employees out for team building experiences and creative thinking a few times a year that often include shopping excursions.
  3. Adapt and Trust. She understands that not everyone operates on the 9 to 5 grind, including her. Alix recognizes she simply isn’t a morning person, and rather than fight it, she chooses to start her day later for maximum productivity. She doesn’t impose any strict schedule on her team and gives them the freedom to do their work in their own time.
  4. Lead by example. Self-care plays a pivotal role in Alix’s work-life balance and she encourages others to do the same.
  5. Listen rather than react. We’re all human. We all make mistakes so it’s important to practice compassionate listening skills in tangent with compassionate leadership. Our mindset has the power to control how we work, our perceptions, and our reactions to life’s challenges.

Thankfully Alix has been practicing mindfulness since childhood, which is one reason she enjoys her success despite the challenges. We discussed the times her mom would have her and her siblings sit down to meditate as children, turning a mindfulness practice into a game of ninja. If only more of us were lucky enough to start so young. And while she may not necessarily be playing ninja meditation at the office, tuning inward continues to play a major role in her success, the success of her employees, and ability to handle her expansive workload. 

Her philosophy and approach to business are profound and noteworthy.  Alix’s authentic approach allows her and her employees to find the joy within the hustle. After all, the leaders of today shape the leaders of tomorrow.