Tell us about how you got started in the hospitality industry.
I was born into it. My family operated a hotel, so throughout my childhood I helped with every aspect. I ran the front desk, helped with housekeeping and maintenance, and filled vending machines. Later, I worked at a Hilton near Disneyland and gained experience in operations. I then returned to the family business and managed day-to-day operations for our hotels.
Soon, I began to think up ideas for technology that could make hoteliers’ lives easier. So I co-founded a company that creates technology for the hotel industry. I’m now the CEO of SupplyOcean.com, an Amazon-style platform serving the hotel industry. Hoteliers can search for supplies, compare prices and make purchases through any mobile device. My lifetime of working in hotels gave me valuable insight into what hoteliers need. For instance, we’ve made it so they can browse special deals on overstock items. Sort of like a trade show that never closes.
What makes a great leader?
There are many kinds of leaders. But in my business, you have to be willing to do a tremendous amount of work. Roll up your sleeves and work hard in every aspect of your business. Then when it’s time to delegate and lead others, they’ll respect you. You can inspire great work from them because you’ve set the example. Also, a leader doesn’t mind obstacles, and they don’t cut corners. Never stop, never settle.
What book has influenced you most?
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. I’ve long believed that it’s not enough to work hard, you also have to work smart. So the book spoke to me. Because of the title, some think it’s about working less. Not at all. It’s about efficiency and time management. Learning how to filter out distractions and focus on priorities.
What do you think is most important for the next generation of hoteliers to learn?
Learn from the best, but don’t be too dogmatic. Be creative, take some risks, keep learning. You’ll have a bigger impact on our industry, and your career will be more gratifying.
And this is important: Take the time to clean a few rooms. Run the desk. Fix something. Experiencing so many vantage points of hotel life put me in a position to innovate. Don’t underestimate how valuable that can be.
Who is your role model and why?
My father. He’s a tremendously well-rounded person. He was a great hotelier and the first AAHOA regional director for the South Pacific. He sits on many committees and boards. Serves as sheriff reserve. And still (sometimes) beats me at golf. He’s was also a pilot, and the list goes on. He’s taught me lessons, supported my endeavors and sets the bar for the kind of man I hope to be.
Tell me about an accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
Starting SupplyOcean.com with Anish Patel and Roshan Patel. We knew the journey wasn’t going to be easy. Taking that first step took courage and resolve. So in a sense, the first small step – that initial risk – is one of the biggest accomplishments in any career. We committed ourselves and now continue to work hard for the success of our company. Deep down I believe the most significant achievement in my career is yet to come.
What’s the number-one asset a skilled hotelier should possess?
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you want to meet?