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Personal Ethics & Leadership

Personal Ethics & Leadership


Hello and good day!

Back in 2002, my brother Brian quit a high paying corporate job to start a business with my dad.

To make ends meet, my brother worked as a bartender in a hotel called the Bristol, in downtown San Diego.

His best friend was the GM and they set it up so that Brian could travel back and forth to Peru when necessary.

We've been doing business in Peru for that long now. More than 22 years.

One summer, I needed work, and I asked Brian if he could get me a job at the hotel.

He set it up with his buddy Tim, and I came on board.

That was the summer after I had graduated high school, and I was getting ready to go to college in the fall.

In future years, when I came back home on summer and winter breaks, I used to pick-up part-time work there as well.

Also, three years later, when I was kicked out of college for excessive drunkenness, I got a part time job at the hotel to make enough money to pay for rehab.

That first summer, I worked double shifts as a bellhop during the day and as a banquet waiter in the evenings.

I remember my brother giving me a pep talk my first day.

He was dressed in all black, which was how the bartenders dressed.

"This is where I work kid. Don't make me look bad," he said.

I promised to make him look good and I truly did give my best effort.

I had two mentors at the hotel.

The first was a bellhop named Ceasar. He was a cool, tall, smooth operator who wore cologne and kept his work uniform laundered and pressed.

The uniform was black pants and a button up red coat with golden tassels on the shoulders that the hotel gave us.

"You like to make money?" Ceasar asked me during our first shift together.

"I think so, yes," I said.

"You think so? Or you do?"

"I do."

"Then just watch me little man. I'm going to show you how we do it."

A guest walked into the elegant lobby with its tall ceilings, its lacquered hard wood check in counter, and its freshly polished white marble floor.

The guest set her suitcase down on the white floor while talking to the counter agent to check in.

"You see that right there? We don't even wait. Watch how I do it."

Ceasar grabbed a luggage cart from near the doorway and pulled it behind him.

While the woman was talking, he grabbed her luggage and put it on the cart.

When she saw that he worked for the hotel, she nodded and mouthed the words, "thank you" to him.

Ceasar walked her to the elevator, pulling that one piece of small luggage on the cart, and then he accompanied her up to her room.

When he came back down, he opened up his hand to show me three one-dollar bills.

"That's how you do it little man. All day every day. When you are in the elevator, ask them about their plans for their stay and tell them about all the fun things they can do while they are in town. People love that."

Later on, Ceasar taught me all the little side hustles.

I learned how to sign people up for Sea World packages and tour bus rides through historic San Diego.

We earned commissions for everybody we signed up.

Guests loved Ceasar and by following his advice, I made more money than I'd ever made before.

I thought that Ceasar was just about the coolest person in the world.

I met Ceasar's wife one day. He brought her to the hotel for lunch. She was very sweet and down to earth.

Other days, I met Ceasar's myriad of girlfriends.

The more Ceasar brought his girlfriends around and openly cheated on his wife, the more I lost all respect for him.

Even though he was good at what he did, and was nice and friendly, and people mostly liked him, and he had showed me how to make money, I didn't respect his personal ethics.

His personal decisions reflected poorly on his professional reputation, at least in my eyes.

Upstairs, in the banquet room, the banquet manager was a fellow named Tomas.

I was a huge fan of Tomas.

I was always impressed with how much care he dedicated to setting the tables.

Everything had to be just right and he double and triple checked our settings.

He talked to the customers about every little detail.

There were a lot of weddings up in the banquet room because it had a very cool retractable roof. The only one in town.

Party goers could dance in the open air under the stars.

Tomas would sit with the bride and groom and wedding planner for a long time before the reception started, making sure that everybody was on the same page with the food service and schedule.

"Adam, when you serve, always serve the women first. And serve from the left. Most people are right-handed, and you don't want to come in from the side they hold their utensils with."

Regarding cleaning the tables, he told me, "do not, I repeat do not let empty plates sit for too long. A special occasion requires clean tables. You must be vigilant."

Before setting tables, he gave us all steaming hot pitchers of water to steam shine the wine glasses.

Then, one night, we took a break together.

We used to take breaks out on the hotel roof.

There was a great view of downtown San Diego from the roof.

At night you could see the tall buildings all lit up and airplanes coming down over them through the dark towards the airport.

Tomas pulled out a joint and lit it up.

On the continuum of bad things, smoking a joint during your shift as a banquet captain, when the meal service is over, and the dance party is underway, isn't the worst thing in the world.

But I felt deeply disappointed.

Because of how much Tomas seemed to care, I wanted it to be a complete caring.

I wanted to see somebody who was uncompromising in their performance from beginning to end.

From then on, I observed Tomas closely, and I could see that he was red eyed and high while on the job a lot of the time.

His work did not appear to suffer as a result. He held his high standards.

But it just felt all wrong to me.

I wanted to look up to him, but it's hard to idolize a guy who gets high at work.

For example, if it turned out that me, my dad, and my brother were world class jerks, it wouldn't change the quality of our products one bit.

But it would damage the aura, wouldn't it?

We're not jerks by the way. We're sweethearts.

For leaders within organizations, it is important to execute your work at a high level while also being a good, solid, upstanding person.

If a team member witnesses indiscretions, it can be very demoralizing.

This puts an added level responsibility on leaders.

Thank you so much for time today.


I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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