An advice column for private club directors and managers previously published in Club Management Magazine under the pseudonym Career Doctor.
I recently published quotes from a select group of club managers who are recognized for consistently exemplifying leadership and professionalism. This is the second of two columns on the subject of “success”. Ages of those surveyed range from the twenties to the sixties. I asked them to provide our readers with Quotes From Successful Managers - a Peek at What Makes The Club Industry’s Leaders Tick . Their responses regarding the concept of “Success” are revealing, instructive and inspiring.
“Luck, whether it be good or bad happens to each of us every day. Thank your stars for the good luck and don’t blame others for the bad. Learn from your staff and hire your weaknesses. Through the years I’ve learned more from my staff than I could have ever taught myself. Be humble and give credit to others - egos have no place in the service profession. Have fun, we’re in the entertainment business, not a cubicle. Be honest with your board, staff, vendors, etc. Whenever a mistake is made at least it’s an honest mistake."
- Jeffrey P. O’Brien, GM, Pinetree Country Club, Kennesaw, GA
“Set high goals and standards. Consider yourself an employee, not a member (don’t use golf, tennis or pool facilities). Always be a good listener. Put your work before your private life - dedication. Consider the club as your own business and realize that the club is an extension of the member’s home. Keep the employees and members happy.”
- Philippe Bogaerts, GM, Green Acres Country Club, Northbrook, IL
“The fact that I’m considered successful by you means I’ve arrived. Experience, perseverance and patience are without question three most important ingredients for today’s club manager. But, failing to acknowledge the fourth will put any manager at a disadvantage and they will never reach the full potential of their abilities. Sooner or later we realize our success is tied directly to the performance of the people we hire. A good manager is truly known by the staff he keeps and any achievements for which I have received credit have been the direct result of my ability to hire, train, work with and retain a great staff. I’ve known managers who couldn’t lead a herd of hungry orphans to McDonalds but they had great staffs. They nurtured, stroked, defended and praised those exceptional front-line department heads who performed even above their normal abilities and caused their managers and their clubs to shine.
“I’m blessed with an excellent Board, an exceptional staff and a world class club. How could I possibly be anything but successful?”
- John W. Meeks, CCM, GM, Long Cove Club, Hilton Head Island, SC
“Thank you for your note which is humbling and flattering. Throughout my career I’ve remembered my father taught me to surround myself with qualified, dedicated people that complemented my strengths and weaknesses. By having strong people working with me, it allows me the opportunity to shape the vision and continue to advise our directors towards achieving their concept for the club.
My wife has helped me realize the club belongs to the members and my vision must be tailored to the wants and desires of the membership I serve. At times we all have the notion that ‘we know what is best for the club’ however, we must realize that our ideas will at times, conflict with those of the directors. That’s when we must be receptive to change or directional shifts within the club in order to remain in a leadership position.”
- Peter H. Young, CCM, Chief Operating Officer, Country Club of St. Albans, St. Albans, MO
“I believe that G-d has blessed me with certain gifts and I have tried to capitalize on the abilities those gifts have given me. They include but are not limited to:
1. The wisdom to surround myself with quality people whose individual expertise exceeds my general knowledge.
2. The vision to perceive the long and short term needs of the club and the patience to realize those visions as time and resources allow.
3. The courage to remain true to a planned course of action in the face of second-guessing, disbelief or ridicule.
4. Gratitude for the many people who have touched my life and assisted in forming the person I am and will become.
5. Enough humility to listen and understand that I do not have all the answers.
6. And finally, do whatever Harvey Weiner says to do.”
- Kurt Pitcher, GM, Wichita Falls Country Club, Wichita Falls, TX
“Build a team who share the same desire to be great. Ideas and tasks are never allowed to just sit - follow-up. High ethical standards, with no gray areas, tend to rub off on the organization, Focus on member satisfaction and remain flexible because there are lots of right ways to do things. It is usually easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”
- Steve Boggs, GM, Highland Country Club, Fayetteville, NC
“ ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work again’. We all need some discipline in our lives and that usually includes a work schedule. But, the demands of the Hospitality Industry require flexibility in hours and this in turn defines one’s dedication to a career. See yourself as others see you especially when the heat’s on. Be politically astute. The powers that be at the club can determine your effectiveness. A good manager must, early on, identify those Board Members, Committee Members and staff who know how to get things done or will support the manager so the manager can get it done.”
- Alan C, “Chris” Borders, CCM, GM, Atlanta Athletic Club, Duluth, GA
“Success is when the membership not only accepts you but respects you. I owe my success to an ability to be sometimes strong and sometimes soft, sometimes firm, sometimes flexible, sometimes apologetic, sometimes quiet, sometimes adaptable, sometimes stubborn, sometimes able to smile and sometimes not smile - it all depends on the situation and the people I am facing. Most important is to always remember that I am a manager, not a member. When I’m gone I hope I will be judged by the way I treated all employees who worked with me not for me to achieve our common goal of maintaining a membership that is content, in a club run with the least amount of controversy.”
- Chris Rindermann, CCM, GM, Royal Oaks Country Club, Dallas, TX
“Success can not be measured by one person but by the overall accomplishments of a team. No manager can be successful without the team working on the same goal....that being 100% satisfaction of the Membership.”
- Paul Geallis, CCM, GM, Ravisloe Country Club, Homewood, IL
“You get, not what you expect but, what you inspect. Be visible to your membership. Keep an open mind when members bring things to your attention. Act quickly after evaluating the merits of suggestions.”
- Lewis Frank, CCM, GM, Memphis Country Club, Memphis, TN
“I’m flattered. You required me to pause and assess whether there was any merit to the request. I have difficulty admitting to my own success because, for me, success is like a golf score - it can always be better. I credit my parents who wanted more for their seven children than they had for themselves. When I was twelve years old I told my Mom I had a headache and couldn’t go to my job as a dishwasher. She said, ‘You’ve got a headache? Take an aspirin and go to work, Those people are counting on you’. I share that story with young employees when I think it might help that person’s career. My Dad didn’t go to college but made it clear I had no choice. I put myself through in five years, got two degrees and had money in the bank. This, despite a high school principal who had told me I wasn’t college material. At the time she was damn close to being right."
“My personal code: Do not ask someone to do something you are not willing to do yourself, then do it every so often just to prove to yourself and others we are all equal in this world."
“My favorite quote: ‘We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing. Others judge us by what we’ve done’.”
- Max A. Holthaus, CCM, GM, The Salina Country Club, Salina, KS