Do your goals reflect your passion?

I recall a time where if someone asked what do I want to accomplish, I might have given a typical answer involving my family being happy, healthy and comfortable. And I do want that for them. But that was about them, not me. I think I am very comfortable now being honest in my mid-4O’s and saying exactly in detail what I want.

Which means when one if those goals happens, it is no surprise to anyone least of all me. I intend to reach those goals, some with my friends, some with my husband and some with my family. And some by myself with that stubborn independent streak I have in me. I have finally gotten to that point of life where my goals reflect my passion.

This week, I co-authored my second book with my writing partner and after 7 years, it is published. We had a lot of life changes in that time but never gave up. And yes, we will shamelessly self promote it when ever possible. No big book deal yet, we are keeping our day jobs ( but should anyone have a deal ready for us – we are all ears), but we are on Amazon and it is about hospitality in a more personal view. We dreamed of being writers, then we made it a goal – and we are writers. And I am passionate about it, as there are always stories to tell especially in our chosen field. Hospitality, hotel management, sales and training – these are not for the faint of heart. From the housekeeping to sales to revenue management, this ever changing business never lets you rest on what you already know. And I love that.

So when you are on Amazon ordering the next best sellers to add to your shelf – consider The Red Book by Jokima Hiller and Jill Woods. We would love to be your next favorite authors, and give you a very insightful look into the wonderful sometimes wacky world of hotels. If you like it, review it – we would love to hear any feedback. We already have ideas on what will happen to Jackson next, are you curious?

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Can you take a hit? How many?

I should have known, expected it. I felt it in my gut something was off.

I read a tweet from Barbara Corcoran – “All phenomenal salespeople know how to take a hit.” It was twice in my Twitter feed in the past week. Not a coincidence. In hotel sales we live and die a little by our latest wins or losses. Some losses you see coming and can prepare your response. Some knock the wind out of you. I had one of each kind this week. Big ones. Not easily replaced.

When it happens, you go through all the phases. From who can be blamed, to second guessing your entire strategy, to the overwhelming feeling that you won’t recover. I told myself I could wallow in despair for the weekend but by Monday – I had to be ready to kick ass again. I wasn’t convinced but I said the words.

Today I drove the scenic route to visit my grandmother on my dad’s side in Nashville IN. It was our regular monthly visit to lunch, chat and maybe shop. I looked forward to the newly discovered drive that took me through Morgantown, then Bean Blossom to Nashville. Great way to clear my mind and enjoy a more leisurely pace. Nana is 2 weeks from her 94th birthday, and a little rain was not going to stop our lunch out. She had a new place in mind and I found a new shop during our walk back to the car. A small teak wood statue of an elephant from Bali tempted me there and I had to bring it home. Nana insisted on a small metal sculpture of an elephant that holds a tea light candle to go with it.

We had our usual talk after I took her back to her apartment- family, how we were raised, how we try to raise kids now. I never told her about my big bad week of work, I didn’t have to. But somehow she knew to remind me where I come from and that we are people that rise up to the challenge, that we calmly face whatever comes our way.

So, now I have to set the tone and be the elephant, not easily moved or distracted. Wallowing in despair time is over. Plus, who doesn’t love a good comeback story?

Annual honeymoon- Biloxi this time

Finally it was that special time of year where my husband and I get away from work, dogs, kids and the usual daily grind. We don’t plan much except the flight and hotel – as the goal is not to do much except sleep well, relax and do what we want when we want.

And we did. We stayed at Harrah’s Gulf Coast, enjoyed the pool and walked on the beach. We slept in and through the night ( I almost never sleep through the night), each morning later and later. We ordered breakfast at the poolside side bar and enjoyed a very friendly and helpful staff. It’s funny how one associate can set the tone for your vacation. Constance at Harrah’s did that for us from day 1, just by being nice and making suggestions. We got there Sunday and by Wednesday, we knew we would miss her the most. She was off Thursday and Friday and there was a difference in service. Still good, just different.

My oldest daughter had just came back from a cruise and we were catching up. She told me about the excursions they went on and the activities on the boat. But the best part? The staff on the cruise. She was most impressed how they would remember her name and greet her every time she saw them. How collectively they all worked together so their guests on the cruise felt welcome and it was genuine. They were from all different countries but all had the same goal.

You have heard this before, you can teach skill but not personality. Well, in hospitality – you have to hire people who are professional but above all, know how to put aside whatever is going on personally and be hospitable. Those people that guests can connect to, feel welcomed by and will overcome any challenges that happen. And your company has to have the traits that attract those kind of hospitality rock stars.

Your hotel can have the most basic of amenities, your staff makes the difference.

Okay, ready for some pictures?Biloxi has some great resorts, casinos and beachfront dining. Enjoy!

From TX to TN

Being home for a week or two feels amazingly good. I love traveling but miss cooking in my own home. I am a decent cook, nope that is being too modest- I am good. Good as in most restaurants I leave thinking, I can do that at home- but would have to refill my own glass.

Our recent quick trip to TX for a friends wedding had the usual stresses- cramped leg space on flights, last minute choose your seats charges (when did that start?), and flight delays that have you running while praying you make your next flight. But we made it and enjoyed great Mexican food, local beer and the clean, friendly downtown of Abilene. I love unique event venues and The Mill was rustic, beautiful and perfect for our friends wedding. TX pics follow

On to Nashville TN, the following weekend for my oldest daughter’s 21st birthday. One of my sisters helped me chaperone, but really we wanted to just make sure my daughter and her friends got there safely and back. A fun road trip for sure. Now that I am older and wiser, lol, I would suggest for the more mature visitors that “day” downtown Nashville is more fun. Fun means easier parking, less crowds and more chances to sit down at the historic honky tonks or at the new restaurant & bars that the newer country stars seem to be opening by the minute.

Nights are a little more hectic, where the sidewalks of Broadway are packed. Side street venues are your friend then. Our new favorites this time? BB Kings, Bourban St. Blues in Printers Alley, Merchants Restaurant. Favorites we revisited? Wild Horse Saloon, Jack’s BBQ, Big Shots, Tequila Cowboy and George Jones Rooftop. Pics follow. I loved showing my sister around one of my favorite destinations and my daughter enjoyed walking her friends and boyfriend around as well. It is a downtown that is always ready to party.

Next? Biloxi in July. It’s gonna be hot y’all. Happy Travels!

Recent road stories

Been awhile but I actually am still traveling a bit. Just not as inspiring until recently, and upcoming travel has me stoked. Sometimes I get a little too “career talk motivational” when the truth is travel drives my creative side more. As much as task force work 4 years ago was tough on me, my family and friends – it also gave me distance and perspective. Time to think, and not just be in action mode.

For work, I have revisited some hotels in my region in the Dayton, OH and South Bend, IN. Changing markets and staffing requires an in person visual, to really assess any strategic changes to be made. I love looking at the market, the competition and the business environment. Change is constant, not being prepared for it can be devastating. I love the South Bend area and can see the attraction of the Notre Dame campus, the downtown canal area and new casino. The challenge is – so do hotel companies. There is a building boom there that seems to changing the entire market. Big challenge for the hotels that are not shiny and new.

Dayton, Ohio is also interesting as the different sides of town have distinct business potential and growth of construction is changing the city.

But my truly inspiring road trip of late? Being the navigator and passenger on a 10 hour drive to Fort Benning, GA with one of my sisters. And back. Yep, 10 hours in a car with her in high school might have meant fights of epic nature. But as we are older and more mature with kids that can drive us crazy – those 10 hours of sister therapy might have kept us insane. And I got to see one of my nephews enjoying the challenges of starting his military career. We both came back a little calmer, proud and confident that we are not horrible moms. We may even be good at, but our biggest critics aren’t old enough to appreciate it fully yet. And that is okay. We didn’t appreciate our mom fully at those ages either. But we got back home, ironically, on Mother’s Day. And we were missed.

Up ahead? 3 flights and 2 road trips for leisure in the next two months. And yeah – work trips to fit in there too. Who knows where my next blog will be from? Where are you going?

Happy Travels,

Jill

Why teamwork is important

No one succeeds alone. Let me repeat that – No One Succeeds Alone. Whether it is your team at home or at work – you don’t really succeed all by yourself. In my younger years , I may not have recognized enough the importance of being one part of a strong team.

Let me now say – it is everything. If you have ever experienced the lack of teamwork, then you know what I mean. As an individual, you know you can do so much – which includes putting your family last, working late, giving every last ounce of your “good energy” to your job. And you can still be “thrown under the bus” by a colleague or colleagues that need to put the blame somewhere.

It’s not personal, it’s business. And I have heard that before – but when you are on the recieving end, it is very personal. When you take your work life personally, it hurts. But when you succeed as a team, it is equally as awesome. Where is the balance?

The team is your balance. Win or lose, you do it together. It’s called trust, responsibility and not passing the buck. Learn this young, and you may have a future that is full of people that will work with you, for you and refer other potential rock stars to you.

Take too long, and you play defense forever. Your latest win, your most recent team – is all you take to the bank. In hospitality, that is dangerous. I have the utmost respect for those that I have worked with and for– and would again. That is rare, but I know I am lucky that there are a few of those in my past. And in my future. Most of those folks are from my early years. They took the time to listen to my ideas while teaching me from their experiences. That is my bank, my future.

Which makes it very personal. Who is in your bank?

A year to remember

Ah, yes – you almost escaped my one year anniversary post. And I am late, I will give you that. In the midst of the chaos of balancing our careers, home, our 3 pre-teens, time with our college students and vet visits for our dogs – we got away to celebrate our 1st yr of wedded bliss. Okay – really we went away to be able to take naps, in between whooping it up in Louisville and remembering how fun we can be.

And we are so much fun! When you take away the daily “have to’s” of life. We stayed at the same B&B where we got married, DuPont Mansion in historic Louisville. Louisville is one of my favorite places, you can go several times and not go to the same places twice. We did both, mixing our favorites from last year with a few new places. And we did nap, the beds were so comfortable and no kids or dogs to wake us up. We enjoyed the music, and food at Fourth Street Live, the casino at New Albany, visited Churchill Downs for the first time and dreamed of having our own B&B someday.

And we reflected on the challenges over the last year. It is the same at home and at work – there are things that work and what doesn’t work, you adjust. He transitioned from a midscale brand general manager to full service while getting the right people in the right places, while I had some very real budget challenges and changes to face in my region. We had days that we questioned what we were doing and then gave each the confirmation to keep going. Sometimes we had times where balancing our jobs and the kids school events took a lot of effort and we still weren’t “SuperParents”. We adjusted some rules at home to reflect the kids getting older and needing some space to make their own decisions.

We strive for a better balance every day, keeping our focus on professional goals while maintaining a more peaceful home to come home to. And we planned for this summer…

Safe travels,