Monday, December 22, 2014

'Tis the Season

Today’s crisp chill in the air feels just right, for after all, ‘tis the season‘Tis the season for friends and family to gather and most importantly, to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
‘Tis the season for events and gatherings that build camaraderie with neighbors, co-workers, colleagues and business associates as well. Our annual Hotel Equities’ Open House brought together an eclectic group of people who enjoyed a festive time.
This year, our entire family, including our six grandchildren, will spend time at a Costa Rica beach resort where we’ll have time to strengthen our relationships and share stories that help us know where we’ve been and who we are.
If we are not careful, Christmas can also be one of the most stressful and hectic times of the year. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of attending events and buying gifts that the holiday always demands. My personal challenge, and one that I share with you, is to keep things in perspective this year.
‘Tis the season to remember the real reason for Christmas: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. When we focus on Jesus, God’s precious gift to all people, we can experience heavenly peace, unconditional love and complete joy. That’s my wish for you.
Merry Christmas!
Fred Cerrone

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Do You Have the Courage to Honor Your Convictions?

Like many of us, I once forgot what day it was and visited a Chick-fil-A on a Sunday morning, only to be reminded that they were closed. I admit to being a bit frustrated at first, to be denied the goods from my favorite fast food restaurant. My first reaction was followed by surprise that the company would close on such an important day for restaurant sales.

I have since learned that the sales achieved in six days, at the average Chick-fil-A, far exceed what most of its competitors average in seven days.

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, and I would never meet, but his sacrificial decision to value his faith and worship ahead of profits has been an inspiration to me.  His witness of the priorities in his life has impacted millions of people who have driven past his closed restaurants.  He touched more people by that one decision than many pastors will reach in a lifetime.

I have to admit that I have given much thought over the years as to how I might replicate Cathy’s model within the hotel business. I concluded that it would be difficult to ask guests to vacate their hotel rooms for the day in order for me to follow his lead. Having said that, his example has challenged me to think of other ways I could express my faith as a part of my business.
Cathy died recently at the age of 93.  It's tempting to describe him as another rags-to-riches American financial success story.  But if that's all we remember, we'll miss the most important lesson he tried to teach us: that the more difficult our obedience, the greater the reward.

I don't know how much Truett Cathy's decision to close Chick-fil-A on Sundays cost his company's bottom line, but I do know that his sacrificial commitment to honor God touched me and countless others. 

What difficult decision is God asking you to make? 

Fred Cerrone

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tools of a Leader: Courage

You may have heard that CVS made a bold and courageous move last week by announcing it will eliminate cigarette sales in all its stores. According to the Wall Street Journal, tobacco is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in America. A U.S. Surgeon General report last month linked 480,000 deaths to smoking.

Larry Merlo, a pharmacist who became the CEO of CVS in 2011, announced, “The sale of cigarettes and tobacco at CVS pharmacy stores ends today. By eliminating the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans.” 

His announcement is expected to put pressure on competitors Walgreen’s, Rite Aid and Walmart to adopt similar measures.  I admire the courage that it took for Larry Merlo and his leadership team to be the first in their industry to take a stand and, undoubtedly, take a hit in profits to do what they believe is for the greater good.

Jim Denison, one of my personal favorite mentors when it comes to relevant cultural issues, wrote in his September 4th Denison Forum that he spent an evening not too long ago discussing cultural issues with a group of brilliant, passionate young adults. One of the questions that surfaced during the discussion was, “How can I make a difference?”  They apparently see the great needs of our society and want their lives to count.

Don’t we all want our lives to matter? Wouldn’t we all like to think that, once we leave this earth and our “Dash” is over, we will have made a difference?

I believe that one of the things we all have in common is our search for significance. How many opportunities have we allowed to pass us by simply because we didn’t have the courage to act?

I hope you will join me on my journey to help build a hotel company that makes a distinct difference in the lives of others. This I know.  It will take courage.

Fred Cerrone

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spending Quality Time

Today is the birthday of one of my best friends.  Although, like you, I sometimes get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, today I was reminded that there is nothing more important than relationships … relationships with God, family, co-workers and friends.  I believe that life is a journey and that we get to choose where, how and with whom we travel.   Our lives are really the sum of the things we prioritize.  Today, I choose my relationship with my friend, whom I am taking to lunch.  Remember to take time today to express the value of your relationships. 

Following is a message that helps me to keep things in perspective.

To realize
The value of a sister/brother
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one.

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
Who has given birth to
A premature baby.

To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when
You can share it with someone special.

To realize the value of a friend or family member:

Fred Cerrone

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tools of a Leader: Leaders Take Action

I often find inspiration in reading stories of the lives of others and the lessons learned.  Take for example Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. 
Hillary shared some excellent leadership wisdom about the importance of taking action when he said, "Once you've decided what it is you're going to do, start right now."
In an interview not long before his death, he talked about taking action versus procrastination that has caused failures in people who could have achieved great things. He said, “Today, I'm eighty-eight years old and there are six projects I will never be able to do.”
He shared that in 1955, he was exploring Antarctica and came to a mountain range. He climbed to the top of the range, looked across the glacier and saw animal life and sea life. He thought, “I will climb down this mountain, crawl across the ice of that glacier and I'll climb the other mountain range."
But then another thought took hold of him. “No, that's not necessary, I'm still a young man.  I'll come back another day to climb the next mountain.”  But the years passed and Hillary never got back to Antarctica. 
The lesson for leaders is this.  In every person's life there are two seasons. There is a season when time and energy work for us and there is a season when time and energy work against us. I have learned, over the years, that there is never an ideal time to begin a great work.  The choices are NOW and LATER.  Leaders are made to take action. Whatever you've decided to do, don’t procrastinate, take action and do it now.

Fred Cerrone

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tools of a Leader: Communication

Author, speaker and leadership guru John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. If that is the case, I believe communication is the “WD-40” of leadership.  Simply put, if you don’t communicate effectively, it is difficult to lead effectively.

I don’t think anyone starts a new job or begins a new task without having the intention to be successful. If they fail, it is often because expectations were not communicated clearly.

We have all experienced leaders who did not communicate effectively. They are hard to read and difficult to please since their unclear or irregular messaging leaves us in doubt and uncertain as to how to help them be successful.

The root of the word communicate is commune, meaning to come together.  As leaders, our goal should be to help our people become successful, contributing team members. Good communications, or the effective use of words, does just that.

George Bernard Shaw, a writer and a co-founder of the London School of Economics, said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.“

Good communication is especially critical in the workplace.  Even today, with the myriad of communication devices and their multiple applications available at our fingertips, we often fail to communicate properly. My iPhone sometimes has a mind of its own and communicates unintended messages. I have a friend who mistakenly communicated the following email to an important client. He was trying to say, “Sounds like you are stuck and need help”. The message his iPhone sent was, “You suck and need help”.

There’s a good chance that at some point in your career you will be accused of either under or over communicating.  To my knowledge, no team has ever been defeated because the leader over communicated. On the other hand, the reverse has caused the defeat of many a good team.

Strive for a good balance, but if you are ever in doubt, over communicate.


Fred Cerrone

Friday, May 30, 2014

Are You Herding Cats?

I have to admit that I’m more of a dog person, but the fact remains that leadership can sometimes mirror an image of herding cats. 
You’ve seen the examples.  Each group member is pursuing his/her own agenda or goal.  Associates are competing with each other instead of working as a team. Team members aren’t communicating. Morale is not great and turnover is higher than it should be.   What to do?
Cast a clear vision.  Paint a picture of your desired outcome and the benefits of its successful achievement to inspire and engage an enthusiastic team. 
Next, bring everyone to the same page and direct all efforts to the vision by aligning goals and objectives.  Allow team members to give input to secure their buy-in.  Participants achieve a sense of ownership when they are given a voice and allowed to provide ideas and strategies.
Finally, guard against the possibility of vision leakage.  Use a variety of methods to keep the team focused and motivated.  Restate and reinforce the vision frequently to keep it relevant, fresh and top of mind.

Lead on!

Fred Cerrone

Friday, May 2, 2014

Make a Difference!

Growing up in Boston as a boy, my parents were divorced when I was five years old. I lived with my mother, but my grandfather served as an important mentor. He taught me the importance of having a good work ethic and that people mattered more than material things. He encouraged me to make a difference in life and to use my career choice as a means to impact people. Although he worked as a janitor of an elementary school, he taught me that my work is as important as I would allow it to be.
When I founded Hotel Equities in 1989, I made it a point to heed his advice and make his legacy a part of our defining culture statement: A legendary lodging company making a distinct difference in people’s lives.
At our hotels, we greet weary travelers and provide crisp, clean accommodations in a friendly and safe environment every day. 
However, we should never underestimate the impact our work or our smile can make. I believe that opportunities to impact others abound in our lives.  And remember, when you make a difference in the life of someone else, it can’t help but make a difference in your life, too!

Fred Cerrone

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Let it Go

Learning to delegate is one of the most difficult initial steps in becoming an effective leader. I, too, have found it difficult at times to let go of things that I thought I could do myself, better than anyone else.  Over time, I have learned that I have to let go in order to grow both personally and as an organization.
If you are a leader, you probably believe you know what needs to be done and the best way to do it.  However, at some point in the leadership journey, we have to come to grips with the reality that we cannot do it all by ourselves.  At this point, we have a critical choice to make.  Either delegate the task and become a more effective leader, or hold on to the task and possibly restrict the growth of our associates, our company and ourselves.
The key to success as a leader is finding the proper mix of delegation and accountability.  Here is what I’ve found to be a winning formula for leading a high impact team: [1] hire well, [2] on-board and teach job specifics well, [3] provide the proper tools and equipment, and [4] inspect what you expect for best results.
All effective leaders find satisfaction in helping people grow; now we need to learn to let it go.
Fred Cerrone

Friday, February 28, 2014

Building the Future

Two years ago, I was in Miami on business but had the opportunity to visit Miami Beach as well as Coral Gables.  I was struck by how vibrant a metropolis Miami has become.  When I worked there in the early to mid-1970’s, it had a similar feel but on a much smaller scale.  The hotel where I worked was the tallest building in Miami at 22 stories.   Now, it is dwarfed by office buildings, condominiums and hotels nearly twice that height.
In 1972, Miami hosted both the Republican and the Democratic national conventions. My hotel was headquarters for all candidates for both parties including Republicans Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew and Democrats Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, George McGovern and Thomas Eagleton, later replaced on the ballot by Sargent Shriver.  That year, the Miami Dolphins became the only NFL team to go undefeated for an entire season.  The city seemed to be at the top of its game and I thought it was the best of times.  Little did I know what the future would bring for Miami or for me.
In late December, Hotel Equities executed a franchise agreement to develop a new construction, $52-million Residence Inn by Marriott in Miami Beach/Surfside.  Our partnership through Hotel Development Partners is building a beautiful 175-room resort-style hotel directly across from the beach.  We broke ground in February and are scheduled to open in 2015.
These are exciting times for Miami, Miami Beach and most especially for Hotel Equities.
Fred Cerrone

Monday, February 3, 2014

Highlighting Hotel Equities’ Heroes

"Free Coffee &
Hot Cocoa @
TownePlace Suites"
Snowjam 2014, Carpocalypse, a local government let-down – call it what you will. Last week’s snowfall in Atlanta wreaked havoc on roads and people’s schedules but also showcased some real heroes at our Atlanta hotels.
Derrick walked three miles over icy roads in the bitter cold at 3:00 a.m. to get medicine for a guest who had just been released from the hospital but couldn’t make it home. Anissa provided blankets, pillows and food for guests for whom we did not have a room, but who were invited to spend the night in our lobby instead of their cars. Yvette took care of an eight-year-old guest till his mother, delayed ten hours by traffic, arrived at the hotel. Bryan shared his personal phone and loaned a charger to a guest who was sleeping in the hotel's lobby.
With rooms fully booked, all of our teams opened our lobbies and their hearts to welcome guests stranded in the storm. 
Associates came in early, stayed late and worked double and triple shifts.  They set up rollaway beds, put mattresses on the floor, and handed out pillows, blankets, towels and toothbrushes.  They made coffee and hot chocolate, popped popcorn, and emptied refrigerators to cook everything available so that guests could eat. They set the example for a “whatever it takes” attitude.  They didn’t stop until they cared for everyone under their roof. 
The stories of heroism and the names of the heroes are too numerous to mention. I could not be more proud of our teams and the manner in which they displayed a real sense of caring during this crisis.  That is the epitome of our value statement, “The greatest leaders are the greatest servants”!

Fred Cerrone

Welcome to Fred Cerrone's Blog

Welcome to “Stuff Worth Sharing”! It is our hope that this blog will help you to know more about our Founder & Chairman, Fred Cerrone, as well as gain some insight into his vision and dreams for Hotel Equities. We welcome your feedback as well as any topics that you would like Fred to cover. Thanks for all you do to help make Hotel Equities a success!

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