In: Hospitality

This is for the women who deal with the fear that causes them to doubt themselves, are caught between standing up for themselves and wanting to be liked as leaders, and/or struggle with the double bind that comes with being a female executive in the hospitality industry. All of it. Listen to me.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I went to a panel discussion yesterday hosted by She Said as part of the NYU conference. I had no idea what to expect, but one of my new female entrepreneur friends was on the panel and invited me. Of course, I said yes. #womesupportingwomen

The topics I mentioned above were my main takeaways from the panel and the conversations before and after.

I feel sad when I hear young women, early in their career bring these topics up because their voice is slightly shaky and filled with uncertainty.

I feel angry when I hear women who are more established in their career do the same.

I understand why it happens.

They feel alone and isolated.
They don’t want to seem weak.
They don’t want to come off as being overly emotional.
They don’t want to be viewed as too pushy, aggressive, demanding.
They don’t quite know how to articulate their fears, so they stay silent.
They have been led to believe that’s how it’s always been, sooo that’s how it shall remain…

To the ladies who are just starting out: ask for help, get a mentor, create your own support network, understand your VALUE.

To the ladies who are more established: mentor someone and share your experience, you’ll hear yourself talk about these topics and realize they are fear based and you’ve accomplished more than you’re giving yourself credit for. If you can’t see it for yourself, the look on your mentee’s face will confirm what you know deep down.

Oh and btw, many of my clients are men. They deal with the same shit it’s packaged a little differently.

I’m on a mission to normalize these conversations so they become part of our everyday dialogue instead of an uber secret, no videoing allowed type panel. Who’s with me?!

(To be clear, I understand the need for the secrecy in yesterday’s discussion—to ensure everyone feels comfortable sharing their most vulnerable questions and career challenges)

We stand to gain far more by bringing awareness to these conversations and when it’s appropriate, including men. If we have a hard time articulating some of these things how can we possibly expect men to support us? And let me be clear, we need their support.

Let’s figure this out together. I want to hear from you either in the comments or email me: marlene@marleneleslie.com.

Have you dealt with any of these issues? How did you overcome them? Are you in the thick of it? How are you coping?

I’ve been fortunate to work for the best in class in the hospitality industry. True visionaries.

Last week I met Ian Schrager.

A legend.

The man created Studio 54, Morgan’s Hotel Group, Public Hotels & partnered with Marriott to launch Edition. His life journey is fascinating. But his commitment to his art & his vision is even more fascinating.

We chatted a little about the industry, how it’s evolved, the challenge in finding people that ‘get it’.

Then we got down to the reason I was there.

Later, this conversation got me thinking about what makes visionaries unique and the experiences I’ve had in the hospitality industry.

After I left The Standard, I quickly realized other companies, owners, and brands desperately wanted what Andre created. They wanted the end result—that is. The highly coveted $50M++ in F&B revenue. Very few cared to hear what it cost to achieve the $50M.

Figuratively and literally.

These companies fail to understand the fundamental reason AB was able to create this amazing experience, this outlier in the hospitality industry, in hotels, is because of his commitment to his vision.

He created this in an area of NY that was in a neighborhood some might call questionable. And he did this…

Despite the criticism.
Despite the pressure and comparison.
Despite the obstacles.
Despite the interference from others.

When you create something of this magnitude, something original that serves a purpose and YOU are original it pays.

Big time.

The same goes for Ian Schrager.

The brands that try to imitate these visionaries fall short.

100% of the time.

I often find myself asking others who try to imitate The Standard business model or another brand if they are willing to do what it takes.

What is appealing about achieving $50M in revenue?

If the response is driven by a financial reason, you’ve already failed.

You are an imposter.

You are not in business for a purpose and on purpose.

You do not have the backbone to weather the ups and downs.

Just stop.

Hire me as your coach and I’ll help you get back on track.

If your response is fueled by originality, purpose, passion, desire, love AND a crazy look in your eyes?

That?

That I can get behind. I will fight tooth and nail to help you achieve that dream. I will be your cheerleader. I will be your advocate. I will be your critic.

You don’t actually need to have these dreams of achieving $50M or amassing a large amount of wealth to be a visionary.

Your vision is unique to you.

You get to define it.

We are all visionaries

On your path to executing your vision, there’s a delicate balance between seeing what others can’t and constructive criticism.

It’s up to you to get clear on your why.

As you face criticism, try not to take it personally. Make sure your vision is fueled by your commitment to your purpose.

The desire to serve, solve a problem & and make an impact. Not about proving others wrong or you’re smarter than you’ve been given credit for.

Now get to creating that vision!

Anytime a friend outside of the hospitality industry asks me if they should invest in a new restaurant or, god forbid, open their own restaurant my response is NOOOOOO!!! Go to Vegas, put your money on black. Your odds of winning are much higher. Most people don’t understand what it takes to be successful in this industry because they underestimate how much of themselves they have to give.

Success largely depends on the intangible components in hospitality–the secret sauce.

Early on in my career, I fell in love with the energy of the industry. That fleeting moment when it all comes together—the food, the service, the ambience—that moment is energizing, deeply satisfying, and intoxicating. The look on a guest’s face when you and your team have truly nailed it. Knowing that you’ve played a very small part in the creation of a memory for a perfect stranger.

That satisfaction is intangible.

As I progressed in my career I got further and further away from those moments. I started working for myself and rediscovered what I love so much about the hospitality industry. It’s always been about making an impact and the people.

(more…)

Eric Ripert meditates. Isn’t that enough of a reason?

So does Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs, Jeff Weiner, Tim Ferris, and many other successful entrepreneurs and CEOs have a meditation practice.

Meditation is having a moment right now. Some people view it as a woo-woo trend despite the scientific studies that support the short-term and long-term health benefits. I think those people are just afraid of facing themselves. It’s daunting, I get it. Meditation needs to be rebranded.

My vote is to brand it as a superpower.

I mentioned Eric Ripert not only to grab your attention but because his story about meditation changed his life and his business. In 2014 he was part of a panel hosted by the NY Times Talks with Daniel Bolud and Alain Ducasse.

Just let that sink in for a second.

I’m giddy thinking about that moment! These three legendary, culinary geniuses on stage sharing their personal stories with the world.

(more…)

It seems appropriate to elaborate on the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, specifically the not so sexy & glamorous part, of doing your own thing aka entrepreneurship. I also want share what has worked for me and would LOVE to hear what’s worked for you.

But first, the million dollar questions…

How do you persevere?

How do you balance your ambitious vision with the cold hard reality that most new business ventures fail?

When do you course correct?

When do you tune everyone out and commit to your vision?

At what point do the lows become the new norm and you throw in the towel?

Honestly? I have no idea. I’m in it.

I think if someone had the answers it wouldn’t be quite the same thrilling roller coaster now, would it?

This journey is about you sharing and bringing your idea to life. It’s 100% about you. The saying fail fast, fail early? You will fail. It’s less expensive to do it now. Look at the low points in your journey as such and make a game out of your rejection. No is Latin for not right now. Ask anyone I’ve worked for or with. I hear no and my response has always been, “Huh? I don’t understand? ” The point? Collect no’s as if it’s your job.

Here’s what’s worked for me:

1. Keep a running list of wins. Condition your subconscious to look for them in everything you do. Try it. When shit hits the fan? Review the list. That’s your reminder you’re on the right path.
_________________________________________________________________

2. That little voice inside your head that’s playing tricks on you? The one that says “who do you think you are to do X?” Yeah, that one. Train it to serve you. Train it to look for the lesson in your experience. You are a broke entrepreneur, you need every single employee you can get.
_________________________________________________________________

3. Commit to a daily practice. For me, it’s a 20-minute meditation first thing in the morning, 10-20 minute journaling (if I’m feeling really down or things are really out of control it’s much longer) 1 hr exercise. Those three things are non-negotiable. I will not respond to a text, look at an email or talk to anyone until the above has been completed. Don’t test me. I’ll explain another time how this almost 2 hour investment yields a significant ROI time and time again. If I’m really strapped for time—I cut all three practices down to a total of 20-30 minutes. I’ve been doing this for the last 8 years. Figure out your own daily, non-negotiable practice.
_________________________________________________________________

4. Stay in action. Similar to #3, but this is directly related to your business. What is the daily activity that will have the biggest impact on your business? Decide and execute. Every. Freaking. Day. A while back, mine was secure 5 high-value conversations on my calendar every week. At some point, I had to get creative on how I got there, but I did it. It forced me to do something consistently. I refined my message. Right now? It’s posting content. This is so outside of my comfort zone I press post and run away from my laptop.
_________________________________________________________________

5. Work backward and make an attempt to understand the root of the low. What were you doing 6 months ago? For me, my last low was a direct result of what I WAS doing and WASN’T doing 6 months prior to it. Remember, some entrepreneurial ventures are like gardening. I went all in on an idea and neglected to plant other seeds and water the rest of the garden. Rookie. That was an expensive lesson that cost me my most precious resource—time. Don’t be like me.
_________________________________________________________________

6. You really hit a wall? Serve. Serve your community, serve someone less fortunate than you, solve someone else’s problem. You were born in the right country (right up until Jan 20, 2017), you GET to experience these lows, you CHOSE this path. Don’t you dare forget.

I had the perfect blog post prepared yesterday.

Word count check. Perfect amount of SAT words check. Grammatically correct…mostly.

Relevant, current topic. #metoo and WTF are we doing about it?!

Then I had a realization. I run my business based on two questions.

Does it feel right?
Can I make a difference?

It didn’t feel right to post the #metoo article. Not because I’m afraid of standing for something nor because it might be controversial. Strangely, that’s the least of my worries.

It occurred to me I should share the moment I’m experiencing right now. Perhaps it will resonate with someone.

(more…)

You have Successfully Subscribed!