Significance-A way to a Meaningful Life

Deep within each one of us there is an inner desire to live a life of significance and contribution. Each one of us, is longing for a better future. We want to make a difference. We want to leave the world a better place. We can start the journey by asking ourselves- do we live a life of significance by adding value to others so that we leave a memorable legacy?

Each of one of us has a search for a meaning. We cherish those experiences that blossom us to be all we can be. We enchant in the moments of our greatness. Those moments seem to make us grow and develop to the best version of ourselves.

The journey of significance takes time. It requires persistence and dedication. Mostly, it requires you to pour your life into others.  Those who want to create significance seek deeper connections to their relationship with others. They live a life with the awareness of how they can contribute and enhance relationships. American author and poet Maya Angelou rightfully said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

No one wants to spend their lifetime doing something unimportant. People want to do something that matters.  People want significance in their life. When we strive for success in life, we ask, “How can I add value to myself?”  When we want significance we need to ask, “How can I add value to others?” Instead of asking what others can do for me? I need to ask what can I do for others.

“Those on the journey to living a higher-purpose life have a tenacious desire to live a life of meaning and significance.” Jim Reger

We grow and develop to create a better world around us when we have something to give. We can create significance by placing value on our connections and contributions we make on a daily basis. We add significance when we making a meaningful impact on others.
Significance gives meaning to our life. Each one of us can have a noteworthy impact on the world around us. 

·         We can engage with others to give something from ourselves.
·         We can connect with others to learn what inspires them.  What gives their lives meaningful purpose?

Our most memorable moments are the ones when someone came into our life and helped us discover our true north. People that create significance have a life calling bigger than themselves.
As leaders, we either have a positive impact or negative impact on the people we lead. Ask yourself, are you making things better for your team? Are they better off today because you made the effort and took the time to encourage them to succeed? You have to be intentional in creating significance.

Some of the best leaders we know are less interested in their titles or their position. They want to make things better for other people. Albert Schweitzer, the 1952 Nobel Prize winner advised, “Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. For remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.”

When you add significance to people lives, you lift them up, you help them advance, and make them part of something bigger than themselves. You take them along the journey of becoming who they were made to be.

Significance is the cherry on top.

Significance is the extra mile. Significance is your potential.

Turning a loyal customer into a friend

Over the past weekend I had the pleasure to meet someone special to one of our loyal customers. 

Mr. Pham is a Platinum Level Elite (the highest level of Marriott Reward Guest) who stays at our hotel on a weekly basis since the beginning of the year. 

This is literally his home away from home. He stays with us for several days and by now, he has “trained” my entire team on his room preference location in the entire hotel.

Mr. Pham also has two essential requests on every trip that he can’t live without and should always be part of the room.  He must have a refrigerator and a microwave. These two things are his “non-negotiable”.

When you tell me Mr. Pham is arriving, I ask two questions of my team-“Did we block him into a nice room and did we make sure we have a refrigerator and a microwave?” Mr. Pham buys his groceries on the first day he arrives and instead of eating out all week; he has everything he needs for the week in his suite.

When you spend almost 52 weeks in a hotel, your family away from home is the hotel staff. It’s like coming home to your spouse, but instead you are greeted and taken care of by several team members. We have become Mr. Pham’s “family” away from home for almost the entire year.
Well…since I mentioned spouse, I wanted to share with you who Mr. Pham introduced to his “second family” this past weekend with happiness and joy.

Her name is Ann, soon to be his fiancée! Ann drove from Houston to stay with Mr. Pham over this past weekend in his special upgraded room.  To make the moment more memorable, we surprised and delight the couple with our Romance Package amenities. It includes Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries and breakfast for two.

The couple was delighted for the memorable weekend together. They both have families in the Dallas area to get to know and break the news.
On one of the days as they came back, Mr. Pham introduced his future fiancée. 

Our team had the opportunity to engage and connect with the special person in his life. Ann had a very inviting, warm demeanor and easy to chat with. You can tell by her genuine smile that she was delighted to meet the team.

These moments make my heart melt for several reasons. First and foremost, our loyal guest had felt comfortable with our team to share this special moment in his life. We felt part of the family. We created a relationship that goes beyond the transaction of checking a guest-in a guest to the hotel.

Secondly, and probably more significant, was a moment of happiness and joy for Mr. Pham’s new chapter in his life. We became his friends.

These moments go beyond customer service. 

These moments are relationships for a life time. 
These moments are very meaningful and inspiring to my growth as a service  provider to customers.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes experiences can create the same emotional connection to create another memorable chapter in our life.

We all have the need to be acknowledged

“Next to physical survival,the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival-to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated and to be appreciated.” Stephen Covey

One of the best questions any leader can ask themselves is- How do I really hear what my team needs from me, and orient myself to support them? People feel better understood when you connect to their cause and care enough to show how valuable each person can become to the organization.
According to a recent study by Towers Perrin, the single highest driver of employee engagement is whether the leader is genuinely interested and cares enough for the well- being of their employees.
As leaders, we have the opportunity to look for positive qualities in your team, rather than looking for problems to be fixed. It creates an environment that establishes mutual respect and trust. You have the opportunity to reveal your team strengths, qualities and capabilities by acknowledging what they do right.  Sometimes, we take for granted what works right without sincerely appreciating the value of people’s daily contribution.
Here is an example how you can acknowledge someone at work, “James, as I watched you run your team meetings, I saw your ability to deeply listen to your team. Your openness and patience allowed them to speak honestly, which in turn helps them grow.”
Acknowledgment goes beyond the person’s action to recognize the qualities and characteristics that enable that person to do what they did.  We acknowledge specific qualities and actions that we really like and admire about someone. We bring their inner- character value to light.
“Pretend that every single person you  meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, Make Me Feel Important. Not only you will succeed in Service, you will succeed in life.” Mary Kay Ash
Here is a simple way to think about it-Remind people who they are instead of what they did or didn’t do. So how can you as a leader acknowledge others better to create an engaging environment?

  • Identify the qualities that enabled your team member to perform as they did.
  • Keep your acknowledgment simple and to the point.
  • Be honest and speak from the heart. Be authentic in your communication it has a better impact.
Appreciation and acknowledgement focuses on performance and the employee value as a person. It begins with the leader’s acts of service.

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are charming gardeners who make our soul blossom.” Marcel Proust

As the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, we take the time to reflect on what we are thankful for.  Thankfulness is a joyful journey to our heart of gratitude. But, we can’t be thankful with ourselves alone. We need others to be thankful. To be thankful each day, we need to look positively at the people around us.  We take the time to really appreciate those who we come in contact with. I realize not every interaction is a positive one but with a sense of gratitude, we constructively also appreciate the challenges along the way.

By being thankful, we appreciate what is right in our life. By being thankful, we highlight the strengths of others instead of their shortcomings.  That’s why gratitude is so powerful. It’s our natural state of looking at the glass half full. We tend to feel that we always have to be number one. Always finish ahead of everyone else. However, having an attitude of gratitude is about appreciating the journey to success. Each of us is a person on the path to become better person through our daily moments of gratitude.
Gratitude is about abundance and fullness in our lives. Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life, and it turns what we have into enough and more.” When we begin to think of abundance, we begin to think what we have done today can be a building block for tomorrow.  We cherish the stepping stones as part of the trip. We have the courage to enter other people lives and communicate how much we value them.   Remember, it’s what we focus on the most.

  • ·Everyone has something to offer.  
  • ·Everyone is unique.
  • ·Everyone has something right about them.

Sometimes it takes a while to discover it and unlock that potential, but we begin with what is right. Begin today and reach out to someone you really care about. Show them how much your value and appreciate what they have done for you. It’s an amazing feeling making someone else feel good and appreciated.   Robert Ingersoll summed it up by saying, “We rise by lifting others.” Their world is brighter because you provided the sunshine in their day. It requires enough trust and openness to see the goodness in other people. When we live with a thankful heart, we realize there is more to give.
Here is what I am thankful for as I try to focus on gratitude every day. First and foremost, I am thankful for my loving parents-Arie and Sarah. They are great role models of leadership. We are influenced by what we see and what I see is something very special. Something I am blessed with. I am blessed to be their child because of how much I have learned from them. I may have not appreciated it when I was younger, but as I grow I begin to appreciate more and more.  My parents are special and I am lucky to have them in my life as they bring joy and happiness to my life. They add value to my life.
I am also very thankful for my two younger brothers-Idan and Liraz. Although we live in different cities now, I always seek their input and feedback on my life in whatever venue I choose to follow.  They are supportive and encouraging.  Only in recent in years we have bonded together to understand each other personalities and attitudes, but I am blessed with having a wide range of their opinions as sometimes we may not agree but we learn from each other strengths.  We focus on the right things.
Our family was also expanded almost two years ago with the addition of my nephew Remy. He is adorable. He brings a big smile every time I see his pictures.  He is full of energy and joyful to be around. We can’t get enough of him!
Last but not least, I want thank my sister in law- Tamar. Remy continues to grow beautifully because of Tamar’s love and warmth.  Her influence on Remy has created a warm, caring environment for him to grow and develop nicely.
The more thankfulness we express, the more we experience the richness of soul that grateful feelings produce.

sweat the small stuff!

“Small things make perfection but perfection is not a small thing“. 

The magic behind every outstanding performance, exceptional meal, and a fine piece of furniture, jewelry or clothing is always found in the small details. Customer loyalty is built on the small; seemingly insignificant details repeated perfectly everyday to create an unforgettable excellent experience. 
The Myers family picked our hotel this past weekend to have their B’Nai Mitzvah gathering. Family and friends from all over the United States came to join the special moment for Jack and Jessica Myers. 
B’Nai Mitzvah is the Bar-Mitzvah and Bat-Mitzvah happening together on the same day. Bar Mitzvah occurs when a Jewish boy becomes 13 years of age and it symbolizes a rite of passage from being considered unable to properly understand the Torah (Jewish Bible) to being considered old enough to begin to understand. Bat Mitzvah occurs to a Jewish girl at the age of 12. The boys and girls alike are to be treated more like adults.  Reaching the age of bar/bat mitzvah signifies becoming a full-fledged member of the Jewish community with the responsibilities that come with it. These include moral responsibility for own actions, eligibility to be called to read from the Torah.

I had the pleasure meeting the parents of Jack and Jessica Myers on Friday as they were a little nervous preparing to host their big family for this special event in Jack and Jessica’s life. They wanted everything to perfection. Every little detail would make an impact on their family from the moment they arrive to the last guest departure.
We ensured the Welcome bags are ready for every check in with the family-a nice Welcome Texas treat with the weekend itinerary for each guest. It sure made everyone feels very welcome with little Texasflavor to start the weekend. As family members were checking in, I was helping with several reservations for Paul Myers (the grandfather of Jack and Jessica). He wanted to use his Marriott Reward points to take care of the room but did not get a chance to do so before he left for the trip. “No problem Mr. Myers, I will take care of it for you right now and ensure it won’t cause a delay.” I immediately called our rep at Marriott Elite members support to help expedite the process so that Mr. Myers is ready to settle in with the rest of the family in the hotel. We solved it within couple of minutes as Mr. Myers had several reservations under his name and he was very pleased with the quick response. “Thank you Tal, you have been very helpful.”
The next day, it was another great opportunity to connect with the rest of the family.  People flew in for the weekend and we wanted to make them feel right at home. Our team had a chance to engage with friends and family by getting to know everyone and giving a little bit of our warm southern hospitality.
During the day, most of the time was in the synagogue for the Bnai Mitzvah services as the boy is called up to read from the weekly portion of the Law (five books of Moses). He may also give a d’var Torah (a discussion of some Torah issue, such as a discussion of that week’s Torah portion) and/or lead part or all of the prayer services.
Later in the evening, the parents had tried to use our computer in the hospitality suite, but unfortunately we had a technical issue with the computer and they needed to print a list of attendees for their gathering at local restaurant for almost 200 people. They needed to thank everyone who came for the event and celebrate their children Bnai Mitzvah. I suggested our business center to help the parents but yahoo email seem to take a long time so I needed to act quickly with a better solution. I offered my computer to have them just get into their Yahoo email to print their list. Within couple of minutes “mission” was accomplished to their satisfaction. Just in time!
These small moments of truth with our customers may seem unimportant at times but they add up to a memorable experience. If we didn’t take care of those small details, the customers have enough reasons not to come back. We have to start with the end in mind. How can we create the experiences that customers would come back in the future?
  • Every moment counts-Make it memorable by being personable. Engage with the customer to find out more about them.
  • Pay attention to what matters most to them. What is on their agenda?
  • Follow up with the solutions as they will appreciate your efforts.

Are you an intentional leader?

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” JFK

Each action we take, each contact we make, is born out of intention. We have the power to create our lives from the inside out. If we want to connect with other people, you have to be intentional about it. James Allen, the British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry, said “Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit.” 
If we want to grow and develop as leaders, we have to be intentional in our relations with others. We can’t rely on accidental connections in order to become a better leader.  Experience alone will not elevate your leadership potential. However, if you combine your experience with intentional connections to uplift others, you can become a better leader.
We attract success not by our wants, but by what we become every day. The best leaders are very intentional about developing their people. It’s not plaque mounted on the wall or Human Resources job. It’s about leaders who understand that they can not walk alone; they need other people in their journey to a better future.  As you become more intentional, your team is better off than they were yesterday. You are committed to adding value to their potential. Being intentional also helps you growth potential as you become more self-aware of your relationship to your team. Leadership doesn’t develop in a moment, but develops over a lifetime.  If you become more intentional you can commit to on a daily basis, the better your leadership development.
Intentional leaders build their rapport and credibility by working diligently on the “why” something has to be done. People working in organizations with unintentional leaders are cynical about what their leaders expect. Closure is not valued in the organization and the workers results fall short. We are our best when we are side by side sharing our knowledge, taking initiative to teach and bring the best out of each other.
So how can we be more intentional in our leadership development? Here are three suggestions to reflect on:
  • Make every action counts-make the effort to meet everyone on your team. Show them you really interested in their growth potential.
  • Focus on doing the right things- encourage someone on your team, find out what their strengths are. Follow with them in a consistent way.
  • Seek feedback on your interactions. Part of being intentional is also about our growth and development.

A Small Act of Kindness Enlightens Our Soul.

Caring is letting things matter to us, including care for other people. Caring toward another person really means valuing their welfare and acting with thoughtfulness to their needs. When we care about someone or something, we hold a consciousness of what can harm them and what is needed for them to flourish. Acts of kindness and words validate how much we care. Caring can comfort another person even when neither of us has the power to change a difficult situation.

One of our superstars at the hotel recently had gone through a terrifying moment in her life. Jacquie was frightened as she received a phone call that her husband was having seizure and is in the emergency room. Jacquie works in our Delighted to Serve Department in the hotel which handles all the incoming calls from our guests and room service.  She is a remarkable person. She is always a pleasure to work with and goes the extra mile to create memorable experiences for our guests. Her joy comes from helping others have a great stay whether it’s owning the guest requests or anticipating our guest needs when they call for room service.
Jacquie requested to leave her shift immediately due to her husband emergency.  I agreed and comforted her to assure her not worry about her job. I said, “Jacquie, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. What can we do for you at the moment?” Jacquie was shaken and had tears coming down her cheeks.  Her husband is only 37 and this was the second time he had seizure.  Thoughts were running through her mind fast. She became very stressed and worried as anyone would for their loved one.  She wanted to be with her husband quickly, but more importantly hoping that his situation doesn’t deteriorate even further.

Jacquie‘s means of transportation to work was usually getting a ride with another co-worker working the same shift. Unfortunately, her colleague was off that day.  I immediately offered our hotel van to take her to the hospital located about 7 miles away from our hotel.  Typically, we do not go further than 3 miles radius with our hotel van, but I made an exception to the rule. I informed my hotel bellman to ensure she gets there quickly to be with her husband.
Later that evening, I called Jacquie to follow up to ensure she got to the hospital safely and wishing her husband a good recovery. It almost felt like her husband was a family member of everyone in the hotel.   Her husband well-being was part of our thoughts and prayers.

Jacquie’s husband needed to stay several days in the hospital to recover from the seizure attack.  The doctors recommended medicine to help counter any seizure symptoms in the future. When Jacquie came back to work this week, Jenna, our room service associate had bought a gift for her with a very touching hand written card that really spoke from her heart. It brought tears to Jacquie as it caused an emotional reaction of the tough situation concerning her husband seizure attack. But she also responded with grace and gratitude to Jenna’s hearted gift.

Moments like these are rare in the corporate world.  Touching somebody’s heart and soul enlighten their spirit. I took the time to thank and appreciate Jenna’s kindness and blessed heart. Jenna shed some tears as I spoke to her conveying my appreciation for an inspiration to all of us.  Jenna said her sister passed away few weeks ago and we took the time to show care from our heart as one would to their family. That showed her we are not an ordinary place to work.  Creating memories begins with the memories we create for our team. Caring moments are the seeds of true internal customer service. As Pablo Valle said, “Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift.”

Three Daily Questions

Leadership can be many different things to many people, but I think everyone can agree that relationships with people are at the heart of having anyone follow you as a leader.  Most of us can trace back our successes or failures based on our relationships with other people.  As we develop and grow we touch the lives of others on a daily basis. Leadership is not about how many people report to you. It’s really about the meaningful connections you make to elevate your people to the next level.  
With that in mind, here is a simple reflection technique to help you develop and strengthen your relationships leadership. Remember it’s not about you. Every night, on your commute home, ask yourself three questions. It’s an honest internal dialogue about how you performed as a leader today.

What did I contribute today? (A Value Question)
We all ask the big question, “why am I here?” I believe we have the gift to touch somebody’s life and create a positive memory.  A servant leader is inspired to add value to somebody’s life.  Peter Drucker, the father of business management said, “The effective leader focuses on contribution. He asks: What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?”  In other words, did I make a difference today? Did I add value to create a competitive edge for my team and as a result, the company is performing better?
Life is expanded when we make a contribution. Meaningful contribution adds abundance of victories to your quality of life with other people.

What did I communicate today? (A Mentoring Question)
Leaders have to communicate daily with their teams. It’s a big part of a leader’s responsibility to ensure on-going, two- way communication is part of their daily agenda. Ask yourself: did you provide new information today? Did you share something about the company’s direction and goals to increase people’s awareness of the overall big picture? How did you inform, educate and explain new initiatives to your team? As you reflect on these communication questions, remember it’s about your ability to communicate clearly so that your team has the ability to carry your vision forward to deliver the results you communicated. Many leaders get frustrated when their teams don’t understand why a certain initiative or a project didn’t meet its objectives. This is the time to reflect on how well you communicated and engaged with your teams to create that sense of urgency to your goals.

Who did I thank today? (A recognition Question)
We are not alone in producing results.  As a leader, it’s up to you to set the tone for a positive working environment. Leaders are judged by the environments they create.  Are you saying “Thank you” regularly? Are you recognizing and appreciating people’s efforts and contributions? Do you encourage positive feedback? Take the time to reflect whether you helped and facilitated that type of environment.  As leadership expert   John Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Excellence is an attitude.

Recently, I had an opportunity to watch Horst Schulze (The former president of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company)  giving a speech about caring service and leadership. The speech took place as part of Liberty University’s “You matter” campaign encouraging employees to provide superb customer service and taking care of their community.

He said something rather interesting. Schulze said, ““You don’t go to work to work- you go to work to create excellence and be with our friends.” In other words, we go to work to create something beautiful together. We want to create dream-like experiences to our external customers as well as our internal customers. Unfortunately more and more people feel they have to work instead of going into something you can passionately create, taking pride in your hard work and dedication.  

Nini that works in our Banquets Department is such a person that goes to work to create excellence.  Working in the hotel banquets area is a lot of small details to perfections for our client’s events. It requires on going communication with the client on site while organizing for their big gatherings. Sometimes we also have the pleasure of creating the magic for newly- weds at our hotel. Talk about memorable experiences-The one night that stays with the romantic couple is a great opportunity to create excellence and leave a wow impression forever.

Recently, we had a big a conference for restaurant owners at our hotel. Hundreds of people came to re-energize and strategize to take their business to the next level. I had the opportunity to watch Nini take pride in her work. Her approach to working with the client on such big event in the hotel was a process of on- going communication to ensure the client is satisfied all the way to the end.  I noticed Nini in work diligently to the small details without complaining. Her attitude came across as I am grateful for the opportunity, “I am excited to be here for my clients.” An attitude that says,” I am here at your service and I really look forward to create excellence.”
At the end of the week, I can tell the event became a success due to those little small interactions with the client from our Banquets Department.  But Nini was the person who had the servant heart to go that extra step to ensure the client needs at every request. She had the ability to anticipate their needs to make it seamless and beautiful for the client. Nini created excellence in her work and also made new friends.

Often times, people wait for something to make them feel good about work. The wait for “right moment” to really make a difference.  I think it’s a decision you make at the beginning of each day. Do you want to create a meaningful connection with people and as a result make a positive difference in how you feel about going to work every day?
Creating excellence begins with self- leadership. Anthony Robbins said, “It’s not what we get, but who we become and what we contribute that gives meaning to our lives.”  Our lives become more meaningful when we put our hearts into our own creations.  If we want to create beautiful lives, we have to be the artists to paint the daily memories for other people.

The Warm Welcome-the forgotten gesture.

We live in a fast pace world where everyone is competing for the attention of the customer. As service leaders we have to go back to the basics. Hospitality is mastering the fundamentals of a warm gracious welcome. Hospitality begins at the door. 

The very first moments of face to face contact with our customers can start the magical journey to a delightful relationship. Those vital moments can sometimes be taken for granted by service professionals now a days.
A customer’s first impression is even more significant more than ever due to the rise of social media feedback power. In the past, customers usually waited until after they left the business establishment before posting their feedback on line. Now, with customers tweeting and posting Facebook updates about their experiences almost in real time, a poor first impression can be immediately broadcast to hundreds—even thousands.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression in anything in life. The experience stays there forever.  You don’t have to be a customer or a business owner to understand the meaning of first impressions. We can create those meaningful moments in our daily interactions with people we meet every day. We are drawn to people who make us feel important and valued. The Golden Rule applies here.  How do you want to be treated and welcomed?

When I began my career in the hotel business, I learned from one of my mentors the simplicity of a warm welcome. “Welcome every customer like it’s your favorite person in the world walking into the hotel.”  Imagine the customer delight to your warm exciting gesture. In some places they actually know your name in advance. In some hotels, the staff has access to the guest profile online and prepares in advance to wow the customer the moment they walk into the hotel lobby. That sense of arrival is something missing in most places.

I was lucky to grow up in a warm loving family that creates a sense of welcoming arrival when we had friends or family visit. I remember my mother always graciously welcoming our guests with coffee or tea and scrumptious pastries. She would always look forward with excitement and preparation to serve our guests as though she was the guest herself. She taught me this lesson for many years and still does every time we welcome guests over to their house. The lesson of that stuck with me as a valuable lesson to practice everyday in my career. Here is what I’ve learned from mom and other mentors about the warm welcome:
  • Make the first contact. It shows the customer you are excited to begin a meaningful relationship.
  • Smile and be upbeat. Your attitude is reflected in your body language.
  • Create “Small Talk”. Remember it’s about them and their life.  Make them feel at ease and try to learn more about their day. Sometimes we assume we know but it’s amazing when you listen closely, you begin to learn more and make a connection.
  • Make them feel like a Million Bucks! Everyone is important.