used the fact that I stood out as an opportunity. It’s like
being seven feet tall; you know people will notice you,
and that can be negative or positive.
BE ABLE TO HAVE CLEAR, QUANTIFIABLE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES AND
BE ABLE TO LOOK AT YOUR OWN
METRICS TO DETERMINE HOW YOU
PERFORM AGAINST THEM.
I went from the travel industry to the car business.
The goal was to move from operations to marketing.
When I joined Avis Rent A Car, they had a position in
leisure marketing. I was able to bring my experience
to a company primarily focused on business travel.
Through my three and a half years there, I befriended
a lot of my customers in the airline industry and tour-operators industry. I put Avis in a leisure-car-rental
market that they weren’t very focused on. When
looking for a new job, I networked with a lot of my
former customers and found an opportunity that one
of my former customers recommended me for. The
gentleman who hired me eventually brought me to
Sheraton with him.
I asked early on how I get to the next level, and he
said, “Exceed my expectations at the current level.”
When I got to Sheraton, the environment was new.
My job was to provide direction and support the hotel
operators. I had never worked in a hotel before, though.
I’ve never worked in a hostile environment. There were
times when downsizing occurred or restructurings or
management changes. But my motto was that those
in fear of losing their job probably had a right to fear.
It was always important for me to understand the
value I brought and be able to articulate it [through]
accomplishments. Be able to have clear, quantifiable
goals and objectives and be able to look at your own
metrics to determine how you perform against them.
In general, I’ve always worked in environments or
companies that celebrated people who took intelligent
risks. I’ve always tried to anticipate things and to
be innovative in ways that benefited my boss. I was
promoted in three months at Avis because I took
time to write a leisure business plan for the company,
although I was only responsible for a region.
At Sheraton, there was no strategic effort to align
with other companies or to obtain joint marketing
funds from other companies. I showed there were
companies that complemented our brand and would
bring marketing dollars to the table that would expand
our marketing reach. I asked, “Why spend $5 million
on an ad when AT&T, who would benefit from the ad,
would pay half?” So we took the approach of being a
good partner, understanding our partners’ needs but
leveraging partners to expand our marketing reach.
If you asked seven years ago if I wanted to run a
brand, I probably wouldn’t have said yes. The role as it
exists today didn’t exist. But in 2002, when opportunity
presented itself, it sounded like a new challenge to run
Four Points by Sheraton, [so] I took it. There was a need
in the organization and they gave it to me.
While Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is a
big global company, it’s still relatively small. I meet
with senior leadership quarterly. We go through
I TELL PEOPLE TO HAVE THEIR
ELEVATOR SPEECH READY. EVERY
EMPLOYEE SHOULD HAVE A CLEAR
UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR ROLE.
strategic planning and budgeting on a regular basis.
When it came time to look at revitalizing Sheraton,
they were looking for someone who could lead
and manage a diverse team, deal with owners and
operators, deal with the internal management team
and having a sense of urgency—and do that with
passion and salesmanship. So I find that people work
well when they don’t have a fear of failure. I try to
create a stress-free environment. I told my team that
no one takes a bullet but me.
I tell people to have their elevator speech ready.
Every employee should have a clear understanding
of their role and be able to quantify what they’ve
done to add value. If your business is entering a
downturn, would you be one of those valuable people
the company would want to keep and protect? If that
value is in doubt, then you need to look at how you