Couple months ago someone said to me, “You sound like that guy on the TedTalk.” They went on to explain that they were referring to Will Guidara, author of Unreasonable Hospitality and founder of Thank You. According to Thank You’s website, they are a creative hospitality agency that helps companies make the choice to be in the hospitality industry and show businesses how to be extraordinary. I was curious that I was being compared to this guy, so I watched his Talk.
I was impressed with everything he said and understood why my friend thought we have similar philosophies regarding the business and culture of hospitality. But I didn’t think he said anything new and found his words to be very similar to what Walt Disney always professed. Which, since I got my start in hospitality with The Mouse, of course we’d have similar ways of viewing and approaching the service industry.
I found out that he’d written a cookbook but I wasn’t really interested in that. It was his new book, Unreasonable Hospitality, that I became interested in and so I listened to it on audio. It’s good. Really good. There are quotable tidbits all throughout the book and Guidara has a way of pumping his readers up about the biz with his contagious enthusiasm. I’m sure many read his words and think, like me, wow I’d love to work with someone like him. Fortunately, I have.
Since the very beginning of my career in travel and hospitality, I have had the privilege to work with true professionals. As just one example, the very first executive chef I worked with at the age of 17 (lied about my age to get the job) was the nicest guy you can imagine. I never once heard him even slightly raise his voice. He was sharp and taught the staff of 150 servers, bartenders, hosts, bussers, management, and wine sommelier a great deal. There was no screaming or treating anyone with disrespect. He treated veryone as though we were important and we felt it. We loved working for and with him and in turn we loved our job and taking care of our patrons. Many of whom were repeat guests and flew in on private planes just to eat. Amongst that crew were people that would go on to head huge businesses in the industry. I loved working with and hanging out with them after work. We hardly slept. I still keep in touch with some of them.
But two years before my experience at the restaurant I went to work for Walt Disney World the first summer it was open. I learned so much about quality from that company. Quality service, product, people. Back then Disney’s philosophy was that the guest was always right and I was okay with that. Care and safety of the guest was number one priority always. I’ll never forget the time a Lalique vase that was knocked to the ground by a little boy and shattered to pieces. I immediately went to the boy to make sure he was alright and assured his parents it was an accident and that everything was fine. That’s what I was trained to do and I was thrilled to do it.
I thrived working at Disney. And every time I quit and later wanted to go back in a variety of capacities, I was welcome back with enthusiasm. I loved working for a company where I knew exactly what was expected of me and one where I felt supported as a “cast member”. Many of my family members worked for Disney and some still do. My mom retired from WDW and was employee of the year! I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.
Since those days so long ago much has changed. It’s difficult for me to even find people I want to work with; those with similar standards and dedication to the work. So reading Guidara’s book, if nothing else, made me feel less weird. Just being reminded that there are still people who care is enough for me. His book is all about ideas and ways of “giving people more than they expect”. And I’m here for it!
The book is not just for the hospitality industry. If you’re in any business that offers service of any kind, you will see how the many concepts and ideas he offers easily translate to a variety of scenarios. I’d recommend it for anyone including those in management and HR. It’s an easy read and as always, if you can, I’d recommend listening to it on audio in his own voice.
We spend so much of our time at work. Why not make it enjoyable for all. I believe this book is a guide to do just that.
Here’s Will Guidara’s Ted Talk: