Category Archives: Hospitality Education

3 Ways To Give Feedback That is Actually Helpful

If you're an effective leader, you know that waiting for the annual review to give your employee feedback is an utter waste of time. Ongoing, in-the-moment feedback is the best way to provide your employees with information that

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3 Reasons Being A Mentor Benefits You 

I don't care how old you are or where you are in your career arc. You have the ability to mentor someone. Here's why you'll be the better for it.

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3 Reasons To Love Leading Millennials 

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of millennial-bashing cliches. Do they have some annoying traits? Of course. Guess what Boomers and X-ers, we were no prize either.

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3 Novels That Will Improve Your Leadership Skills





If you're looking to develop your business skills, don't fall into the trap of thinking that all  knowledge falls within the realm of the bookstore's business aisle. Keep the blood flowing to both sides of your brain by delving deeper into the inner life of characters that may be facing the same obstacles and challenges that you do on a daily basis.

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2015: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

I'm stepping out of my normal boundaries today to share some thoughts on my roller coaster ride of 2015. As Charles Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

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Introducing LeaderSips


Hello friends...

As you may know I've been a bit under the weather since August. I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, have undergone a double mastectomy, and am now halfway through chemo. All of this has made my regular blogging a bit difficult to manage.

Recently a client concluded my agreement with them, which quite frankly left me in a tailspin. But - silver linings! - it has freed up enough bandwidth for me to introduce LeaderSips - three quick "sips" of insight... short and sweet to start your day.

See you next week for the launch of LeaderSips!


Who Are Your Oswalts?




I have what's known as "rolling" veins. Here in Honduras they're called "ballerinas" in that they like to dance around and avoid the needle that is trying to take blood or administer meds. If you have a technician who is not familiar with rolling veins, the simplest blood test can be agony.

There is a man named Oswalt Acosta who works at the local clinic and it is his job to take blood. He is very very good at his job. He can find the tiniest dancer and quickly get the blood extracted with no pain, no drama. When you're in the middle of a major medical event, that kind of efficiency brings untold peace of mind.

I would imagine most of his patients don't realize what a treasure they have in Oswalt; but I certainly hope his supervisors do.

Do you know who the Oswalts of your organization are? The behind-the-scenes unsung heroes who do their jobs well, and do them so well that people don't ever have to contemplate what would have happened if something had gone wrong.

In hospitality, it’s the housekeeper who gets the room right, every time, on time. It’s the engineer arrives quickly when requested and makes the fix the first time. It’s the line cook who is consistent and takes ownership, without compromise.

Think about all the time and energy that is spent on service recovery when something goes wrong. Are you recognizing the Oswalts who make sure recovery is never an issue?

Casual Cruelty

rude people

Last week, the story of a woman who comforted a stranger’s infant in a flight to Atlanta went viral. The infant’s mother, Rebekka Garvison, was traveling to visit her serviceman husband who is stationed in Alabama. When the baby wouldn’t stop crying, her seatmate, Nyfesha Miller offered to hold the baby. The child immediately calmed down and slept for the remainder of the flight. In gratitude, Mrs. Garvison wrote a lengthy account of the episode and posted it on Facebook along with two photos of the event.

The story immediately went viral. When I Googled the event to confirm details, I found three pages of articles about this random act of kindness from New York to London to Australia. Now, this is not the start of a debate of what to do about crying babies on a crowded flight.

It is, however, an observation that begs the question, “have we become such a society of jerks that a simple act of kindness qualifies as an international news piece?”

Over the weekend, NY Mets’ shortstop Ruben Tejada suffered a broken leg after a collision with LA Dodgers’ Chase Utley. Within moments strangers were gleefully typing their nasty, horrid remarks about Tejada's injury. We have gotten so used to rudeness that the worse people behave on reality TV, the higher the ratings. When people choose to be rude, it is astonishing that there is no subtlety to their poor behavior – it is almost as if there is a level of entitlement that exists. We want what we want when we want it and heaven help you if you are in the way. We have the right to say what we think no matter how mean, hurtful, or pointless the comment might be.

Last year as I was exiting the Convention Center metro stop there was a policewoman who was detouring the crowd away from the building as a security perimeter had been set up. The man in front of me immediately got in her face, clearly not happy about the detour. She was polite, respectful and asked him to move on. Astonishingly, it got worse, he would not let it go. Now, I’m no saint and I’m not good at confrontation. But I think the years of being on the other side of the counter and of teaching people how to stay calm when being berated by a customer caught up with me. I walked over to the guy and said, “Hey, give her a break. This isn’t her fault. She’s asked you politely. Leave her alone.” He had a few choice words for me, but ultimately I think being called out on his behavior embarrassed him and he walked away. The policewoman smiled, surprised and grateful, and thanked me. Life went on.

Imagine if instead of shrugging our collective shoulders and sighing that this is the way of the world, we decided that casual cruelty will not be the legacy of the early 21st century?

Leadership and Management: Finding the Balance


A question that is often asked is, what is the difference between a manager and a leader? Both are important, complementary roles in any organization that wishes to be successful and forward-thinking. While there are as many answers as there are questioners, here are some common denominators that most experts agree on.
Leaders keep the organization moving in the forward-thinking phase. They develop new approaches aimed at continuously improving a product or a service and focus on the “why.”

Much like the conductor of an orchestra, a leader sets the tempo and tone for the rest of the group and allows the virtuosos to flourish. A successful leader will cast a vision and inspire others to follow because of the trust they have placed in the leader. Leaders understand the high value of trust and never betray this.

Leadership behaviors include:

  • challenging the status quo; being comfortable taking risks
  • foster collaboration, and strengthen others
  • set examples, act consistently
  • focus on possibilities and not obstacles
  • have a clear-eyed conscience
  • be willing to fail and learn from it

Managers handle the important day-to-day business, coordinating and balancing opposing views and working through obstacles. They maintain what has been established and keep control of processes and the bottom line.
Managers develop virtuosos for the conductor to lead. In order to provide developmental opportunities, managers must take the time to understand their colleagues - what motivates them, and what is important to them.

Management behaviors include:

  • goal setting
  • planning work
  • defining roles
  • measuring progress
  • developing supportive relationships
  • listening, encouraging, praising, coaching
  • directing and facilitating progress

Finding the Balance
It’s not unusual for a strong leader to be a weak manager. Typically strong leaders are charismatic, creative, and innovative. They also tend to operate on the brink of chaos and have a hard time accomplishing anything.

Conversely, strong managers who are weak leaders have an impressive record of success, but have a very difficult time adapting to change or embracing innovation.

No organization can fully function without both skill sets. This is the secret to the success of organizations like Pixar, who have grand visions about the film they are creating, and sweat every detail along the way. Whether you are a manager or a leader, your goals are ultimately the same; it's the method of getting there that differs. When all is said and done, it's about creating a team that has the right balance between the two so the necessary tasks are completed beyond expectations in an environment that embraces dynamic, forward-thinking.


3 Steps to Great Service


Last month at the Global Leadership Summit, Horst Schulze, the founding president of the famed Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group and current Chairman and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group reminisced about his first job at a restaurant in a five-star hotel.

"My mother never forgave herself for letting me leave home at age 14 to go to work as a bus boy. In those days, working at a hotel was something servants did. Important people were engineers and businessmen, not hotel managers. But as  I watched the maitre d' walk around the dining room, speaking German to one table as he explained the food, speaking French to another table as he explained the wine, making sure he was doing everything he could to make his guests feel comfortable and welcome, something occurred to me. He was the most important person in the room- in the minds of the guests and to the employees."

The maitre d' didn't come to work to work. He came to work to be excellent in his profession. He came to work to be excellent in service delivery. He came to work to be excellent in caring for the people around him. And these three things demonstrate what service means.

I am proud to be a member of the service industry, and by that I am referring to the hospitality and tourism industry. But really, are we not all in the service industry? Shouldn't a philosophy of service permeate every industry? You might say, well, my industry is business to business... but aren't people working in those businesses?

So, what components of service was the matire d' of Schulze's youth demonstrating? Before we go there, let's look for a moment at customers.

Customers break down into three groups: dissatisfied, satisfied, and loyal. The dissatisfied customers are the ones that seem as if they are never going to be happy. They complain about your product, they are rude to your employees. The satisfied customers are the ones who are there to conduct a transaction. You give them what they ask for, but they are neutral; they are not "your" customers. Finally there are the loyal customers. The wild raving fans. The ones who not only return, but tell others about you. They are YOUR customers.

Your loyal customers (your patients, your clients, your guests, your students) trust you. You develop trust because each and every time you have deliver three important things:

  • a quality, defect-free product,
  • timely service through efficient processes,
  • delivered with kindness.

That's called service.

The maitre d' came to work to be excellent in his profession. He delivered a quality, defect-free product. He came to work to be excellent in service delivery. He provided timely service through efficient processes. He came to work to to be excellent in caring about the people around him. He delivered his service with kindness.

Think it's different in your business? Nope.

If you buy a car what do you expect? The car is defect free, it's delivered in a timely manner, and the salesperson treats you like a human being.

It's the same when you place an order for parts for your business. Or you are admitted into a hospital. Or you take a class. Or you visit your lawyer.

Want to be known for excellence in service? Know your stuff. Provide it efficiently. Deliver it with kindness.