What does it mean to be a successful leader? Well, if you listen to local CEO and visionary Christian Vassallo, it’s probably not what you think.
Vassallo is a seasoned Director of Vassallo Group, a family-run business empire involved in countless ventures, from catering to construction, hospitality, property and energy to mention a few. But despite the impressive resume, Vassallo sticks to humble lessons: learn from your failures, focus on your own journey and treat your team like a family.
Here are six insightful things we learnt about Chris Vassallo from Lovin Malta’s new video series Meet The Boss.
1. The rugby player thinks every 16-year-old should spend some time out of Malta.
It’s true that in order to appreciate something, you first need to let it go and see it from a birds-eye view. Vassallo’s advice to 16-year-olds is to spend some time outside of Malta, three years or so, to “break that bubble”, gain fresh experiences and really see what’s beyond our little archipelago.
“Once you’re away from the island and you get away from that bubble, you really see different perspectives and ideas. You realise that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he said.
And beyond doing it for personal improvement, it’ll help you do business better too.
“Even in business, whatever you think you need to do – someone out there has already done it out there. Once you come back, you’ll get to love the island more.”
2. He also thinks the key to being a good boss…is by not being one.
“I try not to be a boss,” he explained, on his experience leading Vassallo Group.
“I have a background in rugby. I believe in being part of a team. I’m part of a big family too, and I have five kids – I just try to push everyone as much as I can. I give free advice to everyone in my life to help them reach their potential.”
Their family-centred ethos is clearly a key to their success.
“You can’t run a business like a remote control, you have to always be there,” he added.
3. He doesn’t believe business achievements are everything.
Sure, success is something universally craved and strived for, but it isn’t the be-all-end-all. According to Vassallo, achieving balance is the real indication of fulfilment.
“Personally, I think you become happy if you manage to find a balance between success in your personal and business life.”
4. He’s also battling to give autistic children a better chance at life
“I’ve been blessed to witness the world of autism,” he said, talking about his young son who was diagnosed with the condition.
This exposure led him to open a special school for autistic children in Rabat called Hand In Hand, which helps children on the spectrum achieve their potential.
“In society, there is a real obvious social inequality. I realised people with money can get help while people who don’t have fewer options,” he said on why he founded the school. It now boasts 24 employees and helps dozens of families in Malta.
5. He believes the best advice is to focus on your own journey.
“The worst advice I’ve ever received was to try to be a very good number two,” he said.
Instead, he thinks that everyone needs to focus on being number one in their own life journeys by turning personal failures into successes.
“Since I was younger I’ve made a lot of mistakes – I’ve been involved with a few businesses and lost money. But I learnt never to waste a bad situation.”
This is the first episode of Meet The Boss, a new Lovin Malta series in which we sit down with local CEOs to share their vision and business tips and discuss some crucial topics. More interviews will be uploaded in the coming weeks.
What did you make of Chris Vassallo’s advice? Let us know in the comment section