#16: Leah Howe, Senior Director of Experiences at Equinox


Introducing Leah Howe, Senior Director of Retreats & Member Experiences at Equinox. Fourteen years living in Rome, Italy while traversing the globe for luxury travel provider Butterfield & Robinson, Leah honed her travel planning skills and provided ample opportunity to build a rich professional network.
Since 2011 Leah has continued her exploration of this big world from the Big Apple, initially collaborating with crème de la crème event planner Van Wyck & Van Wyck and growing her large scale events knowledge one high fashion, destination wedding, and exclusive private event at a time. 
Today Leah is proud to be Senior Director of Retreats & Member Experiences at Equinox, the lifestyle fitness leader. 
Leah’s adventures never cease. She has dirt biked in Cambodia, tangoed in Buenos Aires, river boated in Laos, fly-fished in Scotland, ground spices in Jordan, sung songs in Dublin, pounded on drums in Brazil, sunbathed in Croatia, haggled in Egypt, walked on water in Bolivia, and just generally enjoyed her time on this marvelous planet. Leah speaks Italian with natural fluency, Spanish with enthusiasm, French in the present tense, and enough Serbo-Croat, Vietnamese and Russian to see what time the ferry leaves.

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?

Empathy. I think we would all be better off if we put ourselves in other people’s shoes a bit more. This goes for both our personal life as well as our professional life. The next time you are in the heat of negotiation, take a moment and step back. Try and understand the other person’s perspective. The deeper understanding you can gain from this practice can be very positive, both for the business relationship as well as the deal.
Boldness. If you have a question, ask it. If you want something, speak up. Believe that your opinion is valid. Be tenacious, but polite too. 
Enthusiasm. If you are passionate about what you do, the challenges you will inevitably encounter become so much more manageable. So don’t settle for less. If you love what you do and the people you do it with, the long days and challenges will be worth it.

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?

Failure is tough. It’s a potential consequence of pushing limits so it’s bound to happen but that doesn’t make it feel any better when it does. Own it, learn from it, and move on. And don’t be so hard on yourself! 
A few months ago I tentatively moved ahead with a partner I knew in my heart was not quite aligned with our mission. They looked so good on paper but I knew something did not feel right. And in the end, they weren’t right. It was a waste of time and I beat myself up about that. But better a little time wasted and a lesson learned than a lot of time wasted with the wrong partner.

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future?

I am hard at work right now building an active travel company for Equinox. High-performance trips curated for the modern traveler with a strong community focus, top instructors, and best-in-class programming. It’s beyond exciting! We can’t wait to bring something fresh and exhilarating into the space. Our website will launch later this spring, so keep your eyes out!