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One Man's Opinion Vol 1, No. 11

In the last six issues of One Man’s Opinion, I explored five types of corporate leaders I had identified during my career. I have not found another “type”, but I do have another set of five that I will explore over the next year or so. Perhaps I see the world in sets of five, though that does tend to become complicated. My friend and former colleague, Doug Geoga, used to say “there are two kinds of people in the world: those that think there are two kinds of people in the world, and those that don’t”. I’ve never been able to boil down a personal philosophy to such a minimalist view as Doug, and, because this is my forum, I don’t have to.

I have noticed, in my career peregrinations, that one can look at a corporate position and make some qualitative judgments about a person’s ability to thrive in that position (or company) by looking for five characteristics. I used to carry the five words around on a Post-It note in my wallet, so I could readily remind myself whether my job offered them to me. Most jobs offer some but not all, and one needs to judge whether they are sufficiently present to stay in place. I need not point out that, in the case of my sojourn in Las Vegas, they were so lacking that I could not identify one that existed; that is, of course, and has been the extreme position.

The five words/characteristics, upon which I shall elaborate in this space over succeeding “One Man’s Opinion” pieces, are as follows:

  • Authority
  • Accountability
  • Autonomy
  • Incentive
  • Motivation

Think about these and please return to this space for my thoughts

Last year, at year’s end, I tried not to prognosticate, as I had been mostly wrong the year before. I did, however, predict that we would be awash in defaults, restructurings and workouts of hotel loans. I was, it seems, only one-third accurate. The hotel industry was replete with hotel loan default. However, the restructurings and workouts, though no doubt frequent, were relatively under the radar. As we begin 2010, I will predict that the restructuring and workout activity will, indeed, accelerate into the year.

I hope, of course, that unemployment is reduced, capital returns to the marketplace, and lenders and equity providers leap back into the transactions market. There are some $20 Billion of hotel transactions funds announced or raised as of this writing, so someone must believe that there will be a transactions marketplace. One can only wait and see.

I closed my 2008 year-end One Man’s Opinion with these words:

I firmly believe that there remains a relatively small group of us left in the hotel industry who went through this phenomenon in the early 1990’s and who understand what it means to get through these problems. Without wishing ill on anyone, I hope we are all busy; if we’re not, then 2009 could be dismal for just about everyone (and that’s the only prediction I’ll make).

I could repeat that prediction as we move into 2010; OK, I just did.

I might also add that a return to normalcy in the transactions marketplace is not likely to occur in 2010. However, as we look to a new decade (by the way, I do not understand why 2010 begins a new decade; if we measure from the first year of measurement, that is, year 1, then the decade ends at year 10, and each decade thereafter should end in year . . . 10), one can imagine that the four largest (by population) countries other than the United States, China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil, will continue their growth. For a hotel development/transactions executive, these countries (labeled by someone at Goldman Sachs (I think) the “BRIC” nations) should be ripe for growth, particularly among the branded international players, whose presence in each is only now being noticed. I suspect that the BRIC countries will bring enormous growth for American hotel companies in the decade of the “10’s.”

Of course, this is just “one man’s opinion.”

Four Corners Notes

In the last quarter of 2009, I came across Coach Smith’s book on corporate leadership (The Carolina Way—Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching, by Dean Smith, Gerald Bell & John Kilgo), and I heartily recommend it. Coach Smith and his co-authors blend Coach’s views on coaching with corporate lessons to be taken from his coaching rules and precepts. It revisits some great Carolina basketball stories and provides a practical application for businesspeople. I commend it highly.

The principal of FCA, Michael Shindler, has over 40 years of sophisticated legal and transactional experience in commercial real estate, of which the last 30 years have been spent in the hospitality field.