Michael Sylvester and his late wife, Anne, have been an integral part of the Antenna community for over 10 years. Initially brought in by a client, it didn’t take long before they started to call Antenna their home away from home.
Michael has enjoyed a long and fruitful career, from starting out as a 16-year-old lad working at a warehouse with zero qualifications to successfully managing and directing several companies. Anne was a civil servant trained in criminal investigation, which she taught at the service. She was Chair of Trustees for Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Centre and ran courses at Antenna on unconscious bias.
At Antenna, we are firm believers that it’s the people that make the place, and there’s never been two people more Antenna than Michael and Anne.
We caught up with Michael to find out what kept them coming back to Antenna all these years…
Hi Michael, thanks for coming to see us today. Just to start off, could you let us know a bit more about your background?
Of course, in 1986 I started my own business called Sylvester Associates; we support large businesses to grow and develop. I started the business thinking that it might lead me to find a proper job. 36 years later I’m still looking and, in that time, we’ve supported over 450 companies to effect change – including the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence.
In 2006, I decided I wanted to give back to the local business community and so I became a business mentor in the East Midlands. My role is to encourage people to open up and look for new avenues, helping them to build credibility, acquire funding and develop new skills, like interviewing technique and public speaking. Before starting my business, there was a period in the 80s when I was unemployed and found myself at the bottom of the heap and worked hard to pull myself back up. This experience shaped my whole approach to business, and now, later on in life I use what I’ve learnt to motivate others to achieve, and this includes some fellow Antenna members I’ve supported along the way.
I love my work and I’ve received some fantastic accolades in my career, not only have my mentees gone onto considerable success in their own endeavors, I was myself awarded a fellowship in marketing at the age of 60. In October 2021, the President of the Chartered Institute of Marketing invited Anne and I to dinner in the House of Lords. What an honour! Sadly, Anne passed away in January 2022.
Could you tell us some more about Anne, what was she like?
Anne was an incredibly dynamic person, she was self-assured, empathic, and had this great inner strength that rubbed off on people. She was a social butterfly that was always well turned out, one of the best-dressed women you’d ever meet. Anne was really respectful and understanding, she had a keen interest in equality and diversity and her specialty was unconscious bias, she’d often lead on those issues with our clients.
When did you and Anne become members at Antenna? And why did you choose it as your base?
My wife and I first became members in 2011. It was a client of mine that first introduced us to the space. I remember thinking just how suitable a place it was to meet people who require support with their business. Meeting in a café or bar just isn’t the same. Antenna’s bread and butter is co-working, it’s for learning and creating opportunities. At Antenna, you’re around members with a similar mindset and there’s a sense of comradery, fairness and equality. The staff here are great, so friendly and so helpful. Particularly in recent times since Anne passed. They’re kind and nice to me and that’s important.
What has kept you coming back all these years?
I would say the key thing is consistency. I’m able to sit at the same table that I’ve made my own ever since 2013, it’s always reserved for me. This helps my clients as they always know where I’m sat and it feels familiar to them.
The food is great here too, I’d say better than your competitors. In fact, not many other co-working spaces locally have a kitchen and offer their own food menu. The rapport with the staff has also always been a constant for me, it feels warm and they are very friendly – which has become even more important since we sadly lost Anne. Now that I’m on my own, Antenna has become an even more special place for me.
How has Antenna helped you and your business?
The experience of working from Antenna has transformed the way I do business and meet clients. Instead of continually visiting client premises, I am now sat in one place located centrally in the city. My clients enjoy coming to see me at Antenna and it works well logistically for them. My work is also more effective when I can get the client out of their office, it helps with getting them out of their mode of thinking.
How does Antenna fit into your life?
Antenna for me now is about familiarity and regularity. Since we lost Anne in January 2022, it’s a go-to place. Without Antenna I wouldn’t have anywhere to go other than when I’m spending time with family and bonding with my grandchildren. Antenna helps to keep my mind active and occupied, it’s much better than sitting at home whittling and worrying. I feel like I’m part of something here, like I’m part of the team.
You aren’t just part of the team Michael, you’re part of the Antenna family.
Thank you to Michael for sharing his and Anne’s story with us. We offer our sincere condolences to him and his family on the loss of a truly special person. She will always be part of Antenna.
Anyone wanting to get in touch with Michael, whether to say hello, to start a conversation, or perhaps to seek support with their own business – please contact [email protected]