If one were forced to sum up Alexei Orlov in a word, the obvious (if incomplete) choice would be businessman.

Alexei Orlov

After all, his resume very nearly broadcasts the term by itself. Orlov has spent over three decades developing his business leadership skills and marketing savvy; to date, his direction has positively impacted brands across 40 countries. He currently serves as the founder and CEO for mtm choice worldwide, a specialist network of top-tier marketing professionals that extends brand activation and media optimization services to a robust portfolio of business clients across the world. Today, mtm choice maintains thriving outposts in New York, Los Angeles, Milan, London, and Shanghai. 

But when Alexei Orlov talks or writes about himself, he rarely focuses on his professional successes — or even mentions mtm choice by name. Instead, Orlov prefers to pull life lessons out of his business experiences and muse on what it means to be a good person, rather than what it means to be a successful entrepreneur. In his regular column for Psychology Today, the marketing guru often shares meaningful moments from his life, pointing to instants that sparked personal growth or reflection. 

In one such post, titled “The Power of Pause”, Alexei Orlov took a few moments to look back on one such experience as he explained the necessity of avoiding assumptions in leadership. He opened the anecdote by explaining that he had suddenly lost contact with a business consultant while working on a complex project. Upon the man’s return to work two weeks later, Orlov launched into a tirade, lambasting the man for his lack of communication.

“The instant he walked through the door, I was in his face, demanding to know why he had abandoned his work and castigating him for his lack of professionalism,” Orlov wrote. “I was certain, I remonstrated, that despite my earlier impressions of him, he was not up to the task.” 

But then, a moment of silence took hold of the room, and Orlov felt his furor fade. 

“I realized too late that something was seriously amiss, well beyond the dislocated assignment,” he recalled. 

As it turns out, the consultant’s young son had drowned in a tragic accident two weeks before. Grief, not incompetence, has caused the lapse in communication. 

For Alexei Orlov, the shame and horror he felt after realizing his harshness sparked a moment of reflection and growth. “Looking back, I can’t help but wonder how much more sensitively that encounter might have gone if I had taken a single moment to think and to gauge the situation,” he reflected in the post. 

The moment shaped him and changed his approach to leadership forever. That single moment left him with a lesson that he would ultimately share with his readers: that sometimes, you need to put empathy before business. 

Alexei Orlov has pulled countless such moments — most less tragic, thankfully — from his life and written them into stories. He maintains two blogs titled the Business of Life and the Life of Business, which center on his experiences beyond and within the workplace, respectively. The articles he writes are thoughtful, emotional, and complex. All told, they provide an unusual perspective on business: one that is concerned with and in touch with the psychological aspects of living life. 

Business is not divorced from personal experience; instead, Alexei Orlov weaves one into the other until the two are inextricable. His is a perspective that feels nuanced and thoughtful in a way that the catchall description of businessman could never fully convey.

As readers, we are all the better for the complexity.