Horst Schulze: Excellence & Joining the Dream
In a world where "good enough" is the reality, learn how Horst Schulze, Co-Founder of the Ritz-Carlton, goes against the grain seeking out Excellence in each employee.
Schulze's professional life began more than 65 years ago as a server's assistant in a German resort town. Throughout the years he worked for both Hilton Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming one of the founding members of The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company in 1983. There Mr. Schulze created the operating and service standards that have become world-famous. His principles are both versatile and practical to leaders of every age, career stage, and industry.
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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
The Transcript - Excellence & Joining the Dream
Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent while you are in the right place.
Amanda Hammett: Hi, this is Amanda Hammett and on today's episode of the Next Generation Rock stars, we have Horst Schulze says he is the co-founder of the Ritz-Carlton. Now I think we all know and love the brand of the Ritz-Carlton. They are known for their excellence in everything they do, customer service, their food, their beverages, their rooms, they're beautiful properties, but it's not just excellence in those things. It's excellence all behind the scenes with the people that are there. A Horst actually walks us through how that idea of excellence was really brought into his life as a 14-year-old working as a busboy in a hotel and how he carried that with him and some lessons he learned along the way. But I think what you're really going to walk away from his horse ideas around developing people and learning those lessons and taking them on with you throughout your career. So join us for today's episode and take lots and lots of notes.
Amanda Hammett: Hi, this is Amanda Hammett with the next generation rockstars. And today I have a phenomenal interview for you. I Have Horst Schulze say, ah, he is here with us and he is going to tell us all about his ideas around leadership and developing next-generation talent. Horst, welcome to the show.
Horst Schulze: I'm glad to be here Amanda.
Amanda Hammett: Wonderful. Wonderful. So I know a lot about you because I have this little book right here. Um, but I would imagine our audience may not know a lot about you, so why don't you share with us a little bit about yourself?
Horst Schulze: Well, it really starts when I left home when I was 14 and started working, I bought a hundred miles away, a hundred kilometers away, an awesome busboy in the best talent in the region. That's why a Honda phenomenon, Sabine from home, they're living with the kids in a dorm room and working and learning the business slowly and was quite lucky. That's why I refer to that time. I had a huge mentor at that time when I was very, and it's accessible to information very young. Do you understand? I was 14 and had a huge man that was the Maitre d of the hotel. He impacted my life dramatically.
Horst Schulze: In fact, the first day I met him, he said, now there by other kids who started the same day, no. Yeah, guys don't come to work to just work, come to work to create excellence. And that was kind of impact that mid traumatically throughout my life. Now at that time of went over my head, frankly that's not, and for by on one, what does excellence and washing dishes and dishes and cleaning floors. But however he kept on staying with that theme and he presented himself as a human being of excellence and work workout excellence. So you could sooner or later, after a couple of years working there, I could connect to that very clearly and could, you could feel it, you could see it. And he impacted my life and from down, I've worked in the top hotels in Europe. I mean truly you had that at the very best hotels in Europe and in Switzerland and France.
Horst Schulze: And hold on, hold American Lion, England, Germany. And then I came to the United States in 1964 worked, worked in San Francisco, Chicago, worked for Hilton or for Hilton, Dan Hyatt. And finally, when I worked for hired, I was, I started as a director of food and beverage for a hotel.
Amanda Hammett: Right.
Horst Schulze: They came director of rooms, became a general manager, regional vice president, over 10 hotels, a corporate vice president, 65 hotels. When somebody offered me to come to Atlanta and start a new hotel company, I was not very interested in that because I had my golden handcuffs and everything you want. But they kept on offering me the shop and slowly at Treme start developing what I would do with the new hotel company. That dream started to control my total, totally controlled by the vision. I started the job, gave up my, the handcuff and Arizona, all my friends and everything and moved to Atlanta to start a new hotel company. A year of that coming to Atlanta, we opened our first hotel, which turned out the Ritz-Carlton Bucket, which doesn't exist anymore. But that is the beginning and I live 20 years later, nearly 20 years later and Ritz Carlton had become the leading hotel company in the world. Absolutely. And many countries, four continents. That's my story.
Amanda Hammett: So I will say that when you do think of excellence, so you manage to thread that through the entire, the entire company.
Horst Schulze: Yeah.
Amanda Hammett: Wonderful.
Horst Schulze: I think so as thing, so that was my whole purpose and I have and dismayed with deans and of course I'm new, the project and we all are, are the, are there is salt of influence of many, many people with a, with a major influenced by this gentleman and this gentleman, the Maitre d just hard us think excellence and not work more hours, but while your work, instead of painting a wall, pin the painting and that was kind of his mantra and, and you cannot help it, you're so young. You, you adopt some of it. And of course [inaudible] Ritz Carlton, that was the whole thinking. I could not, I saw him in front of me saying, create excellence.
Amanda Hammett: That's amazing. That's really amazing. How that one story of mentorship has shaped your life and the trajectory. So let's talk a little bit more about that. I would imagine that throughout your career that you've experienced, you know, other forms of leadership besides this one.
Horst Schulze: Yeah, sure.
Amanda Hammett: How did that go into helping your style of leadership that you would go on to develop?
Horst Schulze: Yeah, there are many people who have impacted me that way and I can look, and if you're lucky, you have got people who impact you. If you're lucky, you're dumb. And that's really it because the effect is we are a result of that. And it had some great leaders and I remember that the president of, of Higher Ed who was affable and what was fun was relaxed but didn't compromise who was, it was a friend. Right? But didn't, that didn't mean you compromise. I remember a gentleman by the name of Colgate homes, we'll absolutely be precise, communicated. It showed a future to our own, showed us why we do things, not just for the function of the day, but for results in the future, et Cetera, et cetera. So a lot of impacts. And I had a, a mentor I've been on right after I finished my apprenticeship as a young man and gender men who reminded me to, to, to come to work. Also asked a gentleman to act rides, to behave right, to, to understand your work in a place where a certain amount of certain type of customer comes to trust yourself to those people, et cetera. So different in pumps in different learning moments in life is what formed me. Right or wrong. That's who I am.
Amanda Hammett: Of course, of course. Well, fantastic. Now, especially on as you grew through your career, did you ever feel pressure from your bosses, maybe from a board when you were at the Ritz Carlton or any of those positions that you've held that you really had to focus on numbers and not on really, because the way I see it as you're developing people, did they want you more to focus on numbers and profitability versus just the people will do what they gotta do?
Horst Schulze: Just to curse of today. That curse exists forevermore. And, and what is a serious mistake that is for organizations, but your organization can tell and cannot have it, tell it your organization is pressured by investors, by Wall Street, et Cetera. So look at a dollar. Consequently, the organization measures and identifies success by the dollar, the mansion. There's the headquartered in Chicago and it's a hotel or a business. Doesn't matter what it is. I of course report to hotels or hotel thousand months of eight. How does Chicago headquarter evaluates the leadership in that hotel? Nothing but the bottom line.
Amanda Hammett: That's right.
Horst Schulze: And yet at the same time, if I'm down and the vape, I can really impact on that. But that bottom line by cutting and my services to the customer by not painting anymore, by not cleaning so much for taking the flowers away and so on. Sadly that's the same thing but, but excellence. That's the point about excellence. Excellence concentrates on the things that make money and not under money.
Amanda Hammett: Yes.
Horst Schulze: That is the difference. And that's what I tried to show everybody. Let's concentrate on our product concentrate what the market ones and do that superior to the competition that infects, we'll create money on the end.
Amanda Hammett: Absolutely.
Horst Schulze: And that's not how things are measured today.
Amanda Hammett: Unfortunately, you're correct. Yes, absolutely. So Horst what would you say the difference, because how long have you been working since you were 14 so quite a while. What would you say the biggest difference is that millennials have brought into the workplace.
Horst Schulze: You know, that is why in my opinion it's widely understood and I've worked with them. Now mind you, it's not that I'm applying to them. I work with them quite a while. The millennials ask the questions, which we would have liked to ask, but they're afraid to ask this, say the milling and said, what's in it for me? Yeah, we were wondering what's in it for me. We would have liked to know, we would have liked to ask the question of why and the Millennials and says why. And you know, this is kind of fascinating, but because Adam Smith of course, who rode belts of nations 300 years ago, when you wrote another boom of which incidentally was more proud and in that book he studied the human being and he came to the conclusion 300 some years ago, came to the conclusion that human beings cannot relate to all this and direction. Yet what do we do? We give orders and direction. He said, human beings can relate to objective and motive and that's what the animal in its want to know. What's the reasoning, what's the more devoted and what's in it for me? So it really is not new. It's only newly expressed and we're not used to it. I all leadership like me, I'm not used to, we're not used to it. All of a sudden the young person comes in and says, why? So what? What's in it for me? We would have liked to sentencing, the same thing, but we were afraid.
Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. I agree with that answer wholeheartedly. Wholeheartedly.
Horst Schulze: The other things, of course, the medallions, it as a market, as a customer, the millennial, it's, it's really the same thing. They mainly the millennials say, do it my way. [inaudible] do it my way. Nope, you're not your way. No, your way. The businesses way but I wanted my own way and we went also Ribet willing to subordinate two, the producers, what they produced to us missing too, even though we would have liked to have a different the millennials said I take the hamburger, but I won two slices of cucumbers on a sort of one.
Amanda Hammett: Yes.
Horst Schulze: Do it my way. And that's really the differences and you can expand on that, but it's all the same.
Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. They, they very much appreciate that into individualized attention. Whether it's at work or whether it's as a guest. Absolutely. Exactly.
Horst Schulze: Yeah.
Amanda Hammett: You absolutely. Absolutely. So let me ask, how did this influence millennials coming into the workplace and coming in under you? How did that influence the way that you lead them?
Horst Schulze: Well, I had come to a conclusion much earlier anyway that, eh, I don't want people to come to in my organization to fulfill the function. [inaudible] I want them to join my tree, my objective. In other words, I was almost willing to go higher, join me. And that's what the and then that millennials want to do, but have the knowledge what that chosen. But or because organizations still say, join me and then they say, go to work and, and make the speech about we are a team. [inaudible] we are a team. That is, it is ridiculous team speech. But a team is a group of key people who have a common objective. Yeah. And that's what a millennial wants to know. What's the objective?
Amanda Hammett: Yes.
Horst Schulze: And, but the boss says, we're a team here. No, go to work.
Amanda Hammett: Yes, do what I said.
Horst Schulze: You know the team, unless you on the understand the objective and the motives of the organization, I always believed that because I grew up through the ranks.
Horst Schulze: I want you to know that I was up north. I was afraid to ask, but when I was started and Scott and I met very clear, I want people to join us. I wonder if you have an orientation maybe explained fully who we are, explained our three, invited them that showing the dream and then told him, told them our motive for this dream and connected our motive to death. For example, one the girl you want opportunity, we wanted to be on that. You want to be respected it Cetera, et cetera. So I didn't change my approach. I know that because it was deep in me and, and I said, boss, I look back. That came from, I came from being a busboy. I wrote as weight and as a coconut from this, I have done the work our employees do. I know the pain and I know the pleasure of it.
Amanda Hammett: All right, so you are, what I just heard is that you are a man way before your time.
Horst Schulze: No, I know I don't know what that, yes, I was probably a little bit before everybody, but then when many, I was not the only one. Let's understand that. But it's the course I grew up and I had the right influences. I was influenced by the right people and the head of the ride experience. I didn't fall through the ceiling one day and say, Hey, I liked those hotels. I'm the president of. I had worked myself through it. So I know the pain of the employees and I and it was very good. And some of my leaders in the past told me vaping and gentleman, but never cook home set, you know, employees who wanted to do the job do better work better than the ones that have to do a shop. Absolutely. So it's very symbol. So knowing that I have to look back and say, all right, how do you want to be a child? If you feel part of something you say it all is very simple. I also like the, I read the old philosophers and even our sense people, people in order to be fulfilled in life, have to have the excellence of purpose and belonged to that purpose. So why would I hire employees for the function? I hired them for the purpose and let them feel a part of it. Absolutely.
Amanda Hammett: So let me ask you since you just brought this up, let's, let's talk about this hiring process and the recruiting process. Yeah. I mean if you're hiring them for the dream, how do you communicate that through a job listing or how do you communicate that to them, to a wider audience of potential employees? How do you communicate this?
Horst Schulze: Probably to the listening part of it through the first and interview. Okay. To the first interview by the, and by the way, I'll say clearly I identified the processes clearly in my book how to do that. And uh, it is sort of the first interview, invite them to join an organization. Make it clear. Don't just come here to vogue, come here to join us to function, which you fulfill. I why? Why would I hire people? Trust for the function, right. Did, did come here to fulfill a function for its purpose to accomplish a certain goal, which is if you're creative leader, you determined if that objective, the long-term objective is good for all concerned is my objective, is my train good for the Organization of course. But the investments [inaudible] for the, for the customer, for the employee influence society as a whole. Once I determine this, my objective is good for all concerns. I build my systems so that everybody joins me in that objective. So a hire you for my objective, not the function because you see the chairman which was sitting is fulfilling a function. But I'm hiring human beings. Right? We know since Aristotle wants to be part of something. Yes. So I'm offering that on, of course, I made it very clear The function has to be fulfilled better than the competition fulfills it so that we can accomplish our dream.
Amanda Hammett: Right. Okay, that's wonderful. So let me ask you this. You obviously came up through the ranks starting as a busboy. Um, and, and I feel like I, I'm guessing here, I'm going to put words in your mouth for a second, but I would assume that you got a lot out of that development process. Coming up through the ranks and it has influenced who you've become as a leader, who you've become as, as a co-founder. It's influenced by everything. Yes. What would you say is the benefit today of starting at the bottom, at the busboy, at the whatever and working your way up? What would be, what would you say to someone today to try to a young person trying to tell them, hey, join us in this dream. I need you to start here.
Horst Schulze: Yes. Well, yes, I would show him, show him all have, obviously that is a Korea, no matter on what level you are going to start. It's quite simple. In fact that career [inaudible] it's a guarantee. It's a guarantee that we have a guarantee. Don't you have a current, a career? If you take any trip that you're in, I can give you examples of people that started as a dishwasher. There's one very close by over here. The manager ended in a Marriott over here, but you know in Atlanta. I remember when he was oriented in the first Ritz-Carlton. I was still running that hotel. He was a dishwasher, a refugee from Nairobi.
Amanda Hammett: Really?
Horst Schulze: It was a dishwasher, but what he did is exactly what I met my career. He was a little better than hours. We didn't come five minutes late. He came five minutes early, maybe ask them to do something. He didn't say, why me? He said, I'm happy to thank you for letting me doing et Cetera, and said, Ron, he was excellent in every shop they had soon after. He was excellent as additional sham, the room service manager, ours can. I have them work for me and it became the best room service with them and soon the banquet manager said, can I have them worked for me? Everybody wanted him because he was excellent at what he was doing. That's the story. That's the story. I, that's my story. I wrote as room service that in the Hilton in San Francisco when the cam first United States and I made the decision that I will be the best after I real. After somebody got promoted ahead of me and I realized that person is served at a little bit more than me. I came to work tired in the morning, sometimes five minutes late because I was young, was partying, and then I didn't get a promotion.
Horst Schulze: Now first as thought stupid management by didn't I get the promotion and to every few months. Of course, it taught me a few months to realize the other guy disrupted more. He said when he was told something, he didn't say, why me? Is that I'm happy to, and that's when I made the decision. I will be excellent and average shop category that I will ever have and I've consequently had a career just like eBay, the Manitoba, then the Marriott who was nothing but promote along because in every job he was excellent. He came to work to be excellent and not just fulfill the function. That was his decision. That decision can be made if you're a millennial or not a millennial.
Amanda Hammett: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I agree with that. I'm curious, how old were you when you were passed over for that promotion?
Horst Schulze: 24 I was a room service waiter.
Horst Schulze: It impacted my life. Totally impacted my life. I suddenly now no manual. I wanted that promotion. I didn't get it. Of course I knew it was the best waiter there, technically I was good when I was in a funny book up in the morning, but when you come in, come in every day and they look a little tired and sometimes you lead and the other, the other guys, every morning there are a few minutes early and says front the good morning. And that was a difference. And when I saw it, I saw something beautiful. I looked once I've taught me a few months mind you have called me a few months to overcome my ego, my ego, or in the stem, it's not me. Obviously, in about suddenly, I looked at my hand and there was a key to success. That's from now on. I'm going to create excellence now all of a sudden. And as so in front of me, my first made a deal saying to me, I told you, come to work for excellence. I saw him, I saw it in front of me and I said, this will never ever happen to me again.
Amanda Hammett: And it did. There you go. It was a wonderful learning lesson for you. Sure.
Horst Schulze: Hopefully we all have those lessons or we all have them. But if you recognize them or not, that's the question.
Amanda Hammett: That is the question. That is the thing. You have those opportunities to learn, but do you take it as a learning experience or do you take it as a, Oh, that's, that's not why.
Horst Schulze: Why not be planned? Somebody [inaudible] and player management, which I did for a few months. Of course, something that makes you feel bad that, but it doesn't get you anywhere.
Amanda Hammett: No, it doesn't. It sure doesn't. So wonderful. I'm glad that you have that experience for sure. So, um, I think you've touched on this a little bit, but I want to really hammer this home, especially for our younger audience. What advice would you give an early career employee? Is it coming to work five minutes early or is it?
Horst Schulze: Well, it is so it's the same words. There's nothing different. If you're starting in your career, be excellent and what you're doing standout. I recommend this to my children. I have four daughters. I urge everyone to go to work five minutes earlier, be heavy. When you walked a road, make a decision. It was used to decide. Make a decision that you like to get shot. You know, today, half the people in the, in any given job go to work happy and the others are pretty happy.
Horst Schulze: What is it? It's a decision. It's not a feeling. Control your feelings. Make a decision as a chop protected. Be early, be happy if you have extra roping given, gives you a chance to learn this. Be Excellent today, every day for day. And you will get rewarded. The rewards will come. Oh, it takes much too long before somebody recognizes. I know it takes much longer, but it will be recognized. It will be rewarded. The rewards will come. The reward is in the future. And you're working for the future young people.
Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. I think that a lot of times it's hard to, I have been guilty of this myself as a young employee. You know, you see the frustration today. That's what you're living in is this today and it's hard. It is hard to look beyond that and say, okay, what it can be in six months.
Horst Schulze: Exactly. So yeah, exactly. And so it's so important to it. I'm, I'm at a point, once I had done the experience and for God's, the message from my first met with excellent, I infect them for years wrote and my on my mirror, their shape in the morning, go to work for excellence. I had to remind myself so that I wouldn't to live away from it. I had to manage myself. We have the manage, we have to be leaders of ourselves first before we are leaders of others and wait to be led by artists. The most important form of leadership is self-leadership. Lead yourself to excellence. Have a vision for yourself and commit yourself to implement the steps that get you there. And I'm focused on it that that is where the pain comes into focus in because you see, you find excuses, you find apologies that make you feel good for a moment but doesn't take you anywhere. The only division takes you somewhere. Have a vision for excellence.
Amanda Hammett: All right, I love that. I love that actually. So you know, if something popped up in my head when you were just talking just now, what would you advise someone who is, when you're looking to promote people, say you're looking to promote somebody to lead a team. What's more important to you that they are a rock star as an individual contributor or they understand they have a better understanding of how to lead people?
Horst Schulze: Well, I have a better understanding of how to lead people. However, contrary to what everybody says it, leadership can be learned. Leadership can be learned. Some people said that porn, it's not true. And there is, I have seen creatively the crib leaders that I touched on earlier, they had all totally different styles. It's not the style leadership is in my opinion, the understanding that the objective of the organization must be of excellence for all concerned.
Horst Schulze: If it lets out one, one of their constituencies, if you, if you will. It's not good leadership. I have to have to think if, if my company here is an objective for my company and if I do that as a, as a leader and set the objective and see something beautiful, it has to be beautiful. It's not something that you can do. It's something you wish to be. I said out before the first Ritz-Carlton, I came here, I took that job because I wanted to create the best hotel company in the world. Yes. That was my dream and when I hired people I said show me for that. There are some of the lovings of us. We don't even have a hotel you're talking about like that. But that's the dream. Once I understand this stream is good for all concerned, I want to underline that it's not a train for you only it's self-constraint.
Horst Schulze: No, it must be good for all concerned and then align your people behind it and hire people for it. Align everybody behind it. That's leadership to see something beautiful and how people on a journey to that destination help them and management is that to do what? To help them to get there but not compromise. You do not compromise. That's because of the moment that compromise if my vision isn't created one and good for Arkansas and soon the moment when a compromise, I'm going against everybody, I can't do that. Done my direction is clearly a set.
Amanda Hammett: That's wonderful. So I actually, I think that we should end on that note because you had so much wonderful, so many wonderful things to say about development and talent and excellence and of course excellent, right?
Horst Schulze: Yeah. In the book, [inaudible] all pretty clear how to go on a kind. Of course, I can not detail everything here, but I think it will be oh of volume for young people particularly.
Amanda Hammett: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for your time and thank you so much for being here.
Horst Schulze: Amanda, great to be with you.
Amanda Hammett: Thank you.
Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rock stars, where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader, and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rock stars show up just for you.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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