“Talent” in the Hospitality World
A Comprehensive Look at How an Overused Word Applies To the Hotel Industry
By Larry Mogelonsky President & Founder, LMA Communications | May 18, 2014
Originally, I had set out to write a short, inspirational manifesto about the nature of innate talent versus the merits of hard work. But as more and more evidence mounted, I realized that there is a lot more behind the word 'talent', especially when applied to the hospitality industry. Even though the simple conclusion, in a strict business sense, is that hard work and dedication to one's job will always trump talent, the real answer is mired in gray.
For starters, how would you describe a 'talented hotelier'? Does this modifier imply the same attributes when compared to that of a talented athlete or a talented entertainer? Can the term even be applied to the world of hotel operations and management? If you'll have me, let's take a closer look at some of the lurking qualities of talent to see if perhaps there is more we can do to foster the talented hoteliers among us and improve our own skills to the point where we too might be labeled as 'talented'.
Destined for Hospitality
When trying to decode the hidden contributors to talent, it's inevitable that one delve into the lives of many disparate and prolific personalities from the annals of history. A common thread you might find through various accounts, biographies and memoirs is that a person is described as 'destined for' a certain profession where they would later flourish. This implies that, rather than being a tabula rasa, an individual can somehow be preternaturally earmarked for a given occupation from birth. Whatever your beliefs in the existence of fate and divine machinations, there is conclusive evidence showing that to be 'destined for' something – and thus to be talented in that something later on in life – arises from environmental influences in our early childhoods.
A classic example: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In retrospect, it's easy to say he was destined to be music talent incarnate, writing his first digestible composition by age six before crafting dozens of masterpieces throughout his teens and early adulthood. Alas, though, this is a naïve conception of the man.
To understand Mozart, we must also know his father, Leopold. As a work-from-home composer and teacher, Leopold was skilled in both music and mentorship – two insurmountable gifts to a child's sponge-like mind. With Leopold as a resident musician, a day in the life of infant Mozart would be one brimming with melody, so much so that Mozart's brain would learn music's structure and rhythm intrinsically similarly to how we learn our first language. Aside from mere noise, the walls of Mozart's domicile would also pulse with Leopold's own insatiable enthusiasm for orchestral oeuvre – a passion that rubbed off on his offspring. Lastly, as an experienced teacher, Leopold would know how best to train his soon-to-be-prodigal son, having wrought out the kinks in his instructional approach over the years of tutoring other children.