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The Simplest Leadership Lesson — EVER.

Just back from vacation and…

It was the highest of high season and there wasn’t a room to be had in Moab until someone cancelled at the LaQuinta. My friend Cindy and I grabbed it. I hadn’t stayed in one of their hotels since I went on a house-hunting trip to Denver in 1989. This time, I was really impressed by the staff — especially when Cindy realized she’d forgotten something valuable in the dresser drawer shortly before flying out of Grand Junction, Co. The front desk clerk immediately retrieved it and took it to a mailing center.

Our flight was delayed and we wound up getting stuck in Dallas for the night. American Airlines put us up at the — guess what? — the LaQuinta Inn. We arrived late with a dozen ornery and exhausted travelers who’d also gotten stuck. The front desk clerk passed out cookies and water bottles, told us she’d asked the restaurant to stay open until we all were fed, arranged for a shuttle driver to come in early to take us to the airport and notified the breakfast crew to get in early to make sure we didn’t leave hungry.

I was impressed, so I wrote the company CEO, Wayne Goldberg. We exchanged a few e-mails and I finally asked him what it takes to lead so successfully that your vision carries all the way through your organization like that. He wrote back the simplest, most eloquent leadership lesson of all:

“It is actually very easy because it is all about people.  It has always been my goal to make coming to work the best part of our people’s day.  Just like wanting loyal customer, we want and work to drive loyal employees. The key word is engagement and when you have loyal engaged guest and employees, you have a powerful combination. I am fortunate, I get to come to work every day and work with the most incredible people in the hotel business. I am driven everyday by our core values:

People – Make coming to work the best part of your employees day.

Passion – Approach your work with a sense of pride a s personal ownership.

Integrity – Do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Excellence – Do ordinary things, just do them extraordinarily well.


Unique – We have become a big company, but we think and act like a all company and we are not afraid to be different.

I can also say that other than spending time with my family, coming to work is the best part of my day.




What he did was create an environment where people could serve others at a level that goes beyond any Marriott, Weston or Hyatt. They aren’t far off from a Four Seasons or Ritz, either. I told him he should write a book. What a great lesson for all of us.

  1. It’s not the size of the room that counts! It’s the people there that assume the responsibility for your safety and comfort! Wayne should be on the “Undercover Boss” TV reality show! Bet he would be proud of what is discovered! I travel a lot! NOT! But I will for sure stay at a LaQuinta Inn when I do and I will certainly pass this story on! Thanks, Fawn! And I have to add, I have seen you do this before…taking the time to “go to the top” to let a company know your thanks and appreciation! I am proud to be your ‘Granny’!!

  2. Fawn. Such a wonderful story ! So many employees in customer service miss the point. It is about the people. It is a great benefit when organization’s leaders embrace a positive culture about what they do and what the real mission is really about. Thanks for sharing !

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