Dean Salakas is the Chief Party Dude at The Party People. He has been named Retail Leader Of The Year and Top 50 Small Business Leaders. The Party People has been named Independent Retailer Of The Year, Online Retailer Of The Year, and Party Supplier Of The Year.
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Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Dean Salakas: My name is Dean Salakas and I’m the Chief Party Dude at The Party People. I have been named Retail Leader Of The Year and Top 50 Small Business Leaders. The Party People has been named Independent Retailer Of The Year, Online Retailer Of The Year, and Party Supplier Of The Year. The Party People is a party supplies retailer. It has the largest range of party products in Australia and is the leader online for party supplies. We have everything from Balloons, Themed decorations, eco-partyware, seasonal merchandise, sports supporter gear, costumes, confectionery, and more!
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Dean Salakas: Growing up and working the business, I didn’t have the desire to take it over, I wanted to forge my own life. So I did a bachelor of marketing and operations management and then get a job as a business analyst at Woolworths. It was at Woolworths that I learned some valuable lessons and grew as a person and when it came time for my mum and grandfather to retire, I jumped at the idea of taking over the business and taking on a more difficult challenge of growing the family business into what I thought it could be.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Dean Salakas: I love fishing and I go fishing often. It’s strange because I love the fast-paced world of running a business but I also love just chilling and waiting for a fish.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Dean Salakas: Many people have business ideas but don’t act on them. For me, an entrepreneur is someone who acts on their business ideas.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Dean Salakas: Extremely. If your team is not managed well, it creates issues that ripple through your organization.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Dean Salakas: Covid was no different from any other time when it came to disruption. We continually need to challenge convention. Post covid may offer different opportunities as lifestyles change were working from home/remotely is more accepted, people have picked up new hobbies they can do solo, etc.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Dean Salakas: I have a 5-year-old. I told them I was the boss at The Party People. They don’t want my job because mummy is an accountant and she brings home a donut when she goes to work so they want to be an accountant because you get donuts.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Dean Salakas: COVID lockdowns were a particularly difficult time. At one point retail was not forced to close but some retailers had closed. We had a choice to either make a decision or ask our staff what they wanted to do. We chose to let our staff decide and they decided to stay open as they wanted to work. They gave us feedback on safety measures they wanted and the result was a highly motivated team helping each other get through. When things got tougher as the pandemic wore on, the relationship between the team and management was exceptional. We heard of other workplaces struggling to get their team on board with decisions during the pandemic and I think our early choice to empower our team built trust so when things got tough, we all knew we had each other backs.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Dean Salakas: For some reason at Woolworths I took a passion to learn about Excel and Access. I learned them well and always asked people how they did something that I didn’t know. I ended up being a subject matter expert on excel and access and that skill was extremely valuable in my business. I was able to solve problems and create efficiencies by essentially building anything I wanted using access and excel. Our inventory management, staff management, etc. All built-in excel and access. We could be agile as online retail evolved by me building what I wanted when I wanted it.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Dean Salakas: “How The Party Started”
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Dean Salakas for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Dean Salakas or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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