Monday, June 29, 2009

Introduce Yourself..!!

Hello.... I have just been busy for the past few days.. and hence there were hardly any blogs from my end.. so on a monday morning.. what best to have but to know.. that something I am used to do being in Sales.. is something that can be useful for getting a longer life.. not sure how long.. anyways.. this came in the article.. newletter.. and I wanted to share the same with you all there..

If you want to live to be 100, be the person at the party who walks up to total strangers and says hello.

Yep, research shows that having an outgoing personality may be one of the hallmark traits of people who live to a ripe old age.

What Runs in the Family
Researchers recently examined the personalities of grown offspring of centenarians, with the assumption that the offspring have a good shot of living to 100, too. And what did the researchers find? Personality may play a role in longevity. The offspring were not only more outgoing but also had a knack for forming close friendships and for dealing with stress effectively. Makes sense when you consider other research has shown that these particular personality traits are associated with greater happiness, vitality, and longevity in older populations.

Are Genes Everything?
Don’t come from a long line of centenarians? What you don’t inherit, you can adopt (with the exception of genes) -- meaning you can embrace healthy lifestyle choices and develop healthy personality traits. Here are some strategies to help get you started:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Choices (Nice way to start your day)

Two Choices

What would you do? You make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.
As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.
Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!
Run to first!'

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!

Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!


We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate.

The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

If you're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren't the 'appropriate' ones to receive this type of message Well, the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a difference.

We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the 'natural order of things.'

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How Much Do We Really Know?

Another nice lesson from Robin Sharma.... Happy reading..

Contrary to popular belief, we don't know much. As individuals, as a species, our information isn't great and there is so much out there that isn't clearly understood. And all those who state otherwise, or who never admit to having their own shortcomings, shouldn't be taken seriously. My information isn't perfect, yours isn't perfect, your neighbours and friends isn't perfect.

But that's the beauty of it all - all that's out there to discover, to invest ourselves in new knowledge and discovery, and creating new and better ways of doing things. As we progress, we easily understand that yesterday's thinking was perhaps foolish, or short-sighted, or simply flat out wrong. Our fast-paced society has no time for yesterday, and the best practices spread around the world like wildfire. We learn, we grow, and we move on.

So why share this? Because knowing our weaknesses, knowing our areas for improvement, is the quickest and best way to our personal and professional development. As clearly demonstrated by this recent economic turmoil, businesses don't have a great understanding of how the world works. If they did, and their information was perfect, our world wouldn't be going through such turbulent times. So it's the businesses, and best leaders, that develop new business models, dedicate themselves to innovation and experiment, and pursue their ideas at a frantic pace that will find the best success.

Here's the lesson: personally or professionally, what you don't know could be your biggest strength. Starting tomorrow morning, and for the next 7 days, dedicate 30 to 60 minutes (your Holy Hour) to thinking retrospectively, uncovering your business' limitations and areas for improvement in your personal and professional life. And be remarkably honest with yourself.

By knowing these limitations, you'll be able to move forward with greater clarity, passion, and awareness. You'll see new areas for improvement, increased focus on your goals and where to ideate, and new best practices for leveraging opportunities. Remember, this exercise might not be comfortable at first, it might be confusing, but it could be the single best practice you complete this year.

In Leadership,

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Think collaboration!

IN Post-Capitalist Society, Peter Drucker wrote: “Every few hundred years, there occurs a sharp transformation ... Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself – its worldview, its values, its social and political structure, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world ...”

In many ways, we are in the midst of this new world being shaped. In a discussion recently, a Malaysian CEO mentioned how difficult it was to beat online competitors.

“It’s almost impossible to win. We try to kill our competition but they seem to be mushrooming everywhere!” the CEO said.

What this CEO failed to realise was that the way to win in this new world is significantly different.

Instead of killing and fighting competitors, the new world requires a new set of skills for leaders.

In the past, winning in business, politics and almost anything meant defeating your competition.

When the Europeans came to the Americas, they usually defeated all the native Red Indian tribes by killing its leader and then watching the tribe crumble.

The same was true in business – MAS vs AirAsia, Pepsi vs Coke – each outwitting the other. But the new world calls for a different set of engagement rules to win.

In 2005, MGM, BMG and other entertainment companies sued Grokster, a small company providing peer-to-peer (P2P) services, allowing users to share music and software files over the Internet.

Before that, they sued and bankrupted Napster, a similar P2P provider.

After defeating Grokster, they sued and defeated Kazaa, eMule and other P2P companies. They even started suing individuals who downloaded music illegally.

To their dismay, even though they kept winning these legal battles, more P2P companies were set up all over the world. Then emerged a winner – Apple. Instead of trying to “kill” P2P applications, Apple adopted the P2P model but legalised it.

Apple struck a deal with the recording labels to allow users to download files at marginal fees via iTunes. Apple reinvented the conventional model and built a collaborative model.

Back to the Red Indian example – only one Indian tribe remained undefeated for 200 years, the Apaches.

How did the Apaches survive undefeated against the Spanish and other mighty armies?

Through a collaborative leadership model. Apache leaders, called Nant’ans, kept changing. Geronimo, a famous Nant’an, never commanded an army but was rather a spiritual leader. Whenever a Nant’an died, a new one emerged, not by appointment but by a collaborative process.

People followed a Nant’an because they wanted to and not because they had to. This collaborative leadership model enabled the Apaches to survive.

In recent times, we have seen this collaborative leadership model being deployed even by terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda. How could Osama bin Laden, a man operating out of a cave become so powerful? Because Osama never took a traditional leadership role.

Many CEOs today lead by command and control mode. The collaborative leadership model is about engaging everyone in the leadership process.

But it’s not just with leadership. Businesses are collaborating with customers on new products and innovation. YouTube and Twitter enable collaborative marketing, and new newspapers are being launched through collaborative journalism.

The Huffington Post has grown to be a major online newspaper by leveraging the power of collaborative journalism.

It has huge reach and unlike the New York Times, which has 1,332 newsroom employees, Huffington Post only employs a total staff of 50. It has more than 1,800 “volunteers” who write daily for free from all over world.

Some collaborative businesses are run entirely by the general public and not a CEO. Since Wikipedia was launched online as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit,” it has become the largest depository of information surpassing all other encyclopedias.

Articles in Wikipedia are written collaboratively by unpaid volunteers throughout the world, edited and policed to ensure no one falsely adds or destroys information.

Wikipedia is a 100% collaborative business where its founders are not its leaders, but the collective community of editors, writers, and police volunteers.

Mozilla, another collaborative company, competes against Microsoft, Apple and Google at the same time as it collaborates with them.

Mozilla’s Firefox has no employee while Microsoft hires top engineers, yet Firefox gets updated daily by volunteers.

In fact, in 2004, Mozilla’s users banded together and raised US$250,000 to help advertise the release of Firefox 1.0 in the New York Times.

Collaboration is not just limited to information technology or technology companies. Southwest Airlines and AirAsia have both successfully engaged their customers to collaborate with them to lower their costs through downloading and printing their own airline tickets. Toyota employs collaborative teams to build their cars from scratch.

The idea of sharing ideas and innovation between competitors is against every business rule book.

Research and development is traditionally protected fiercely and so, the idea of providing propriety information for others to learn off seems crazy.

Rob McEwen, chairman and CEO of Goldcorp in Canada, completely changed the gold mining world when he triggered a gold rush by issuing a challenge to the world by opening all his propriety mining data.

Then he asked the world to help him study the data and find out where the next 6 million ounces of gold were. And he offered a prize of US$575,000, in his Goldcorp Challenge.

McEwen knew that the contest entailed big risks as it exposed the company and its propriety information. But he knew the risks of continuing to do things the old way was worst.

He knew he would attract the attention of world-class talent to the problem of finding more gold and speed up exploration.

His risk paid off when Australian Nick Archibald, who had never visited Canada, used 3-D software to identify key areas to mine.

Not only did the contest yield copious quantities of gold, it catapulted the under-performing US$100mil Goldcorp into a US$9bil juggernaut.

Leaders that embrace this collaborative model understand that success is not built on “killing the competition” or a “win-lose” model but by collaboratively engaging the world to help you succeed. The collective wisdom of the “world” always produces better innovative output.

Unilever through sources the best ideas and intellectual property from all over the world and then partners with the idea generator to build a business around the idea.

So how can I apply this to my organisation? If you have a problem and need a plan – your best bet is often to throw together a group of talented individuals and let their collective creative energy go to work.

Collaboration works through a combination of passion and purpose, so get people who deeply care about the issue and have a vested interest in solving it.

Collaboration is not new. Early history suggests that tribal systems of collaboration and cooperation, based on trust and kinship, were the norm. This predates the power and competition-based hierarchies of today.

The effectiveness of collaborative movements, like the leaderless Alcoholic Anonymous, touching millions through shared ideology, highlights that the future depends on your collaborative capability.

The Internet has created a collaborative infrastructure and interface for the 21st century. People can participate in the economy like never before. This change presents far-reaching opportunities to collaborate for every company and for every person.

The skills of leadership in the future will be about sharing everything with everyone and trusting people to support and grow with you. So stop being obsessed with “killing” your competition ... Think collaboration!

Getting thru an Interview !!!

This is another article from the Oracle recruitment blog which sheds light on getting thru interviews and the essentials of performing well during an interview. Here it goes..

I would like to share some ideas on how you can best approach a job interview. Whether the interview takes place on your campus or at an Oracle site, remember this: be yourself and relax. An interview is a two way process, not only are you interviewed to assess your suitability for the role, but it is also an opportunity for you to understand if the role is right for you.

An aspect to keep in mind as well is that finding people you like is an important element in your job decision. The people with whom you'll work may have great influences on your growth, your future, and your happiness. Some of those that you meet will be the actual people you may be working alongside in just a few months — so be sure to get to know some of your future team members and give them the opportunity to get to know you.

I would also advise you to use the introduction phase of the interview as a moment to build rapport with the interviewer and demonstrate your soft skills. First impressions are important when you are attending an interview. Even though you might be feeling nervous, smile when you are greeted.

Most of the time the second part of the interview will focus on questions regarding your experience. This will cover questions related to your period at the university, jobs you have had or time you spend on extra curricular activities. When you share your experience with the interviewer it is essential is to be specific, detailed and able to give example. Most commonly used is the STAR technique. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results. Try to think of examples where you have worked as part of a team or when you have worked towards a target. Think of a situation, what was your role, what actions did you take, what was the result. Aim to provide examples on a variety of different situations. Keep in mind that you give examples of actions you took and not your team.

In every interview there may well be some seemingly difficult questions, such as; What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you deal with criticism? The effective way to answer these is to think of them in a positive way and what you have done to improve it.part1 013_jpg

Other questions could be: What are your interests? How do you show your creativity? What's the secret behind your drive? What is it that you care about most? Where do you see yourself in 3 years time? What are your career goals? All these questions are aimed at getting to know you better. Do not miss the opportunity to come up with examples that can make sense in a business environment by demonstrating competencies such as ability to work in a team and the ability to think medium and long term.

Overall, I would recommend when talking and listening to the interviewer to maintain eye contact, and if you’re interested in the role make sure the interviewer knows this. If “next steps” have not been discussed ask for confirmation of what they are, and finally confirm that the interviewer has all the information required to make a decision.

I wish you the best of luck with your interview

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nothing is impossible.

When someone tells you that you can't do something...

Look around...

Consider all options...

Then GO for it!

Use all the things God gave you!

Be creative!

In the end, you will succeed and prove them wrong!

Always remember

"Nothing is impossible, if your heart is willing"

Effective Phone Interviews in English

This is an article published on the & I felt it shall Oracle Corporation Recruitment Blog be useful for anyone following my blog as well.

The following article will share with you some tips about how to conducting effective Phone Interviews in English with non-English speaking candidates. Before writing this article, I conducted a survey with Hiring Manager’s from China, Singapore, Japan, India, US and Australia to get their input.

Hope this article would be helpful to both native and non-native English speakers during your interview in a way or another.


1. Highlight your achievements. During the interview, avoid answering the interviewer’s question by reading any paragraph in your CV. The interviewer doesn’t expect you read what he/she can also find on your CV. What you need do is to share what your major achievements are and how you made them in a particular situation. Make sure you can explain any details of the project you did fluently in English.

2. Understand how to address your strengths and weaknesses from both technical and personality perspective. Though most experienced interviewers won’t simply ask what your strength or weakness is, it’s important that you can prepare how to address it in advance.

3. Be confident. I've met some applicants who like to answer the interviewer’s question starting with ' Sorry, my oral English is not good...’ Please bear in mind that a phone interview is the opportunity for you to demonstrate how your experiences and qualifications match with the company's needs. Never lower your interview score by yourself before the interviewer has even started to make any evaluation of you. If your oral English is not as good as how you expect it to be, just try your best to speak each sentence slowly and clearly. Never say anything irrelevant to the interview and please be confident!

4. Don't hesitate to raise questions. Have you ever been in a situation where you could not understand the interviewer's question in English? How did you respond ? More often than not, I have found that candidates choose to keep silent or just try to guess what the question was. Sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes they get it right. However, the better approach is to clarify with the interviewer about the question.

5. Never give the worst answer. Do you know what the worst answer given by the interviewee in an interview is? “…. I don’t know” The interview is about taking the opportunity to show what you know. Especially in a phone interview, the interviewer can’t see you in person so the only way for the interviewer to evaluate you is your CV and your answers to his/her questions. If you simply end up by saying “…I don’t know”, you are just giving up the opportunity.

6. Ensure a good interview environment. Before your English speaking phone interview, ensure the place you are taking the call is quiet and with strong cellphone signal. In most cases, we would suggest you use your land line telephone to have phone interview.


1. Start by building rapport. Building rapport with the candidate at the beginning of an interview plays an important role to a smooth and easy communication onwards. Not only can it create the pleasant atmosphere, but also can let the candidate become familiar with your voice and your English tongue. Each interviewer is different and has their own accent when speaking English.

2. Be careful using Speaker phone. It would be better to use a headset with microphone or handset to have a phone interview. However, if you must use speaker phone, please try to sit as close to the speaker as possible so as not to allow your voice to be unclear for the candidate’s benefit.

3. Rephrase your question in different ways. Sometimes due to the limited vocabulary, the candidate may not understand your question, so if you can rephrase the question another way, he/she may be better able to catch your meaning.

4. Try to avoid asking theoretical or hypothetical questions. This kind of question can involves terms that may not make sense to a non-English candidate. If you can provide illustrations to explain the question via data and sample results wherever possible, that would be much better.

5. Use tools to assist your phone interview. Interviewing completely in English is hard, especially for a technical English phone interview. It would be better to use some tools like Oracle web conference system to make the complex programming questions and answers more visible. If this kind of tool is not available, perhaps you could ask the interviewee to write down the answer first and then read it out for you. This approach will help the interviewee give you a more logical and clearer answer.

6. Invite a local interviewer or recruiter to be one of the panel interviewers. If your position doesn’t require an excellent command of the English language, then perhaps regard the English phone interview as the way to assess the candidate’s English communication skill, but, not as a measure of their technical capability. Hence, invite a local interviewer to be part of the interview process which will improve the effectiveness of the interview.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can I borrow $25!

I have come across this story before, but its wonderfully poignant to be reminded.

A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door.

SON: 'Daddy, may I ask you a question?'
DAD: 'Yeah sure, what it is?' replied the man.
SON: 'Daddy, how much do you make an hour?'
DAD: 'That's none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?' the man said angrily.
SON: 'I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?'
DAD: 'If you must know, I make $50 an hour.'
SON: 'Oh,' the little boy replied, with his head down.
SON: 'Daddy, may I please borrow $25?'

The father was furious, 'If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I don't work hard everyday for such childish frivolities.' The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.

The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy's questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money? After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down , and started to think: Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $25.00 and he really didn't ask for money very often The man went to the door of the little boy's room and opened the door. 'Are you asleep, son?' He asked. 'No daddy, I'm awake,' replied the boy. 'I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier' said the man. 'It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the $25 you asked for.' The little boy sat straight up, smiling. 'Oh, thank you daddy!' he yelled.

Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father. 'Why do you want more money if you already have some?' the father grumbled. 'Because I didn't have enough, but now I do,' the little boy replied.

'Daddy, I have $50 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.' The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.

It's just a short reminder to all of you working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts. Do remember to share that $50 worth of your time with someone you love. If we die tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of hours. But the family & friends we leave behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Want Bigger Brains? Walk


True, there’s no home-gym equipment designed to build up your brain muscle. But a simple walk will do.

A new study shows that regular cardiovascular exercise can enlarge the hippocampus -- a brain structure vital to memory function. 

Fit Body, Better Memory
As we age, our brains tend to shrink, and our memory can wither in the process. But a new study shows that an aerobically fit person has a larger hippocampus and performs better on spatial memorytests than a less fit subject. In the study, being more fit did not slow the rate of hippocampal shrinkage once it began, but it meant that people generally had more to work with once shrinking started. And that means less total deterioration overall. Find out what types of exercise provide brain-boosting benefits. 

Banish Brain Downsizers
Related research suggests that exercise may even help restore lost brain volume and cognitive function in people with early-stageAlzheimer’s disease, possibly because exercise increases cerebral blood flow and boosts the birth of new brain cells. Here are some other cognitive-health tips to consider:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Can Condiments Make You Fat?


Put down the ketchup. Set aside that pickled relish. And leave the sauces and salsas in the fridge. 

New research suggests that by leaving your condiments in the cupboard, you could end up eating drastically less, overall. 

Can the Condiments
In a small study of college students, dressing up fries with ketchup and brownies with a topping caused the nibblers to eat from 25 to 40 percent more of these waist-padding foods. But the theory behind the additional bites isn’t just that a few extras make food taste better. The extras actually increase the amount of time it takes for your palate to get tired of the taste of a particular food. So you end up eating more, regardless of whether you’re hungry or full. Eat this type of fat to stop hunger in its tracks. 

Keep It Simple
In fact, a good strategy for curbing overeating is to minimize variety in meals. Focus on a few fresh flavors, not every side dish under the sun. YOU Docs Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen even recommend eating the same thing for lunch every day. And try these additional appetite-busting strategies:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Practice Proximity Management

I got this article from my ex-colleague during MBA in pune university. He sends very interesting forwards to me & usually they are very witty & soemthing that one can learn from or something of a collectible email.

So here it goes.. 

Many managers assume the best way to handle star employees (or all employees for that matter) is to get out of their way and let them do their jobs. This may work when there are no problems or obstacles in the way, but that's rarely the situation. For a more effective approach, try "proximity management." Sit down with your employees and get to know them as people. Regularly ask what's on their minds. If you are managing a remote team, be sure to find ways to spend unstructured time with your staff. Hold agenda-less meetings where employees can share the problems they are facing. This type of close management will build trust between your employees and yourself and pay off in performance later on. 

At a well-known five-star hotel, I asked if I could extend my checkout time by two hours. I was told no; the hotel was full. Unless I paid for a half day; then they'd accommodate me.


If the hotel was full and needed my room, why would it make a difference if I paid them? And if they did have the ability to extend my checkout, why would they charge me? I spoke with the manager. Same answer.

That was the last time I stayed at that hotel franchise.

Contrast that to my recent experience at the Four Seasons in Dallas, TX, a hotel where I've stayed several times.

When I arrived I didn't have to stand in line to check in; the valet simply handed me the key to my room. Which was set-up exactly as I like it: a yoga mat and an exercise schedule on the bed; a bowl of fruit on the table. And they automatically extended my check out time.

I am a customer for life.

How do they do it? What's their secret?

I sat down with Michael Newcombe, general manager of the hotel and 17-year veteran with the Four Seasons, to find out. A woman from room service brought us water and we began to talk

He told me about meeting Isadore "Issy" Sharp, who founded the Four Seasons in 1960 and is still its CEO. Michael met Issy in London two weeks before transferring to a mid-level job at the Four Seasons in Toronto. Issy shook his hand and told him he'd check on him the week he arrived in Toronto. True to his word, Issy showed up that first week to make sure Michael was settling in comfortably.

Michael tells that story to every new hire on his or her first day.

Michael practices proximity management. Every month he meets informally with each employee group. No agenda. No speeches. Just conversation. That helps him solve problems: for example, the time guest check-in was being mysteriously delayed.

During his meeting with the front desk staff, he learned they were slower than usual in checking in guests because rooms weren't available. Then, in his meeting with housekeeping staff, someone asked if the hotel was running low on king size sheets. Most CEOs wouldn't be interested in that question, but Michael asked why. Well, the maid answered, it's taking us longer to turn over rooms because we have to wait for the sheets. So he kept asking questions to different employee groups until he discovered that one of the dryers was broken and waiting for a custom part. That reduced the number of available sheets. Which slowed down housekeeping. Which reduced room availability. Which delayed guests from checking in.

He fixed the problem in 24 hours. A problem he never would have known about without open communication with all his employees.

Michael walks the property regularly. He asks employees about their families, brings donuts, arranges for birthday parties and softball tournaments. He gets beyond the name tag.

I tested him by asking about the woman who poured our water. He smiled, "Judith transferred here from Nevis four years ago, before I arrived at the hotel." And then he told me something about her family.

These are all good management techniques. Perhaps the secret is that Michael does what others just talk about? But there's more to the hotel's approach.

To get a job at the Four Seasons, you need to make it through five interviews, each looking at you from a different angle. The HR director assesses your ability to work. The division head assesses your skills. The Department head looks at cultural fit. The resort manager explores your potential to grow within the resort. And the GM (yes, Michael meets every new prospective employee) looks at your potential to move to another resort.

One in 20 new applicants gets through the process. A 5% admissions rate. That's twice as competitive as Harvard.

Each interviewer is looking for one thing. Together they get a full picture of an applicant. Can he do the job? Will he fit in? Can he grow? Perhaps that's the key to a turnover rate of 11% compared with the industry norm of 27%.

Almost as an afterthought, Michael mentioned one more thing. "When an employee transfers to another resort, they're accepted without interviewing."

"On the basis of?" I asked.

"Our recommendation."

And there it was. The secret ingredient.


Sure it's important to stay close to employees, clients, and products. And it makes an important difference when the CEO listens and really cares.

But underlying these is trust, deeply embedded in the culture of the organization, exemplified in its daily operations, driving its success. These days, with banks going bankrupt and employees getting laid off, trust is in short supply. So its value is higher than ever.

Trust is as simple as following through on your commitments. Every sales person knows the way to make a quick sale is to develop quick trust. A good sales person will send you an article with a little note saying it made her think of you. That builds a relationship.

But a great sales person will call you to tell you she saw an article that made her think of you and promise to send it to you. Then she'll send it. That builds trust.

Great sales people create an opportunity to fulfill a commitment -- even when one doesn't naturally exist -- and then fulfill it. Like Issy Sharp's promise to visit Michael in Toronto.

Michael listens to his employees and trusts they have something real to say. In turn, they trust him enough to say what's on their mind. Each interviewer looks for something different and trusts the viewpoint of the others. And each GM trusts the others to transfer only those employees who will succeed in the new resort.

I know plenty of managers who transfer their poor performers to other divisions. But at the Four Seasons that would kill a GM. They know their reputations depend on successful transfers.

That trust trickles down from GM to employees. And from employees to guests.

I was in the locker room, having just worked out in the gym and taken a shower. I didn't want to put my sweaty clothes back on, so I was wearing a gym bathrobe. I was worried the locker room attendant wouldn't want me taking a bathrobe out of the locker room. How could they keep track of the robes? Guests might take them home. That's why so many hotels have little notes on their robes that say, "You are welcome to buy this robe in our gift shop."

So I was walking out of the locker room in the robe, sweaty clothes in my arms, when the locker room attendant said, "Excuse me, sir."

Busted, I thought to myself, as I turned to face him.

"Would you like a bag to carry your gym clothes up to your room?" he asked, holding out a plastic laundry bag.