Career Leadership Life

Celebrating Ten Years

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We often talk about customer loyalty at Starwood.  Crazy loyalty.  Like pay any price loyalty.  Name kids after our brands loyalty.  Loyalty beyond reason.  We work hours upon hours to get our customers to be crazy loyal.  Because, the more loyal they are, the more money they spend.  The more they tell their friends and family about us.  The happier they are.  And then, the happier we are.

Well, it’s not that much different from a Starwood employee perspective.  In fact, just two weeks ago in San Diego, we, as a company, celebrated a gentleman who was saying goodbye to Starwood after forty years.  Forty years.  Yeah, employees are loyal, too.  We love our jobs.  And when we love our jobs, we work harder.  And when we work harder, we produce more money.  And we tell our friends and family how great Starwood is.  And we stay at tons of hotels.  And Instagram our way through our business meetings.  We are loyal beyond reason.

And this weekend, I celebrated ten years with Starwood.  No, it’s not forty.  But, it’s a decade.  And, a decade that I have loved every single minute of.  Okay, no, that’s a lie.  Let’s be honest.  I have had many moments of hating my job.  Annoyed at my boss (sorry, Lori).  Bored with the work.  Blah blah blah.  But, 95% of the time it’s quite the opposite.  I go to work and think to myself, “man, how did I score this job?!”  I am constantly challenged.  Constantly inspired by the people around me.  Constantly excited about the next project.  Just this past weekend I sang the praises of my boss.  She actually cares about me as a person, FAR beyond the Starwood walls.  She supports me, challenges me, laughs and is someone I can be 110% myself around.  Yeah, I’m lucky.

The past ten years at Starwood really have blown my mind.  I have so many highlights and deep joy as I reflect on this decade.  And those reflections are the faces and words and moments and tears and laughter of people.  It’s the people, people!  Yes, of course, I have learned a billion things.  I have traveled thousands of miles.   I have spoken in front of really smart people.  I have won awards.  But those things are trivial compared to the relationships I hang on so close to.   You see, I am not a different person at work than I am after work.  I blur the lines and befriend people I work with.  I am open.  And then they are open.  And next thing you know, we are crying big, wet tears together over wine because of heartbreak or loss or a combination thereof.  My theory is that blurring the lines is key to joy at work and to successful leadership.  I am sure someone – or many people – would disagree.  And that’s fine.  But, knowing I get to work with my friends and be myself and share intimate, incredible moments every day while getting a paycheck.  Yeah, that’s pretty awesome.

And that said, I took a trip down Starwood memory lane and want to share with you some of my favorite Starwood people and moments (there were hundreds but I figured you would unsubscribe if I got too carried away).  From California to New York to Madrid, I feel beyond blessed to share my life with so many incredible people.  So, thank you Starwood, thank you Starwood peeps for an amazing ten years!

Yeah, I am most grateful to have met Rick, my husband (we celebrated 3 years of marriage back in October), 8 years ago at Starwood.
Yeah, I am most grateful to have met Rick, my husband (we celebrated 3 years of marriage back in October), 8 years ago at Starwood.
Mirta (the sweet, sweet daughter of my dear friend Gladys) and me.  I remember this moment on Gladys' porch in San Diego like it was yesterday.
Mirta (the sweet, sweet daughter of my dear friend Gladys) and me. I remember this moment on Gladys’ porch in San Diego like it was yesterday.
My first boss at Starwood, the one who taught me blurring the lines was the right thing to do.  I was blessed to celebrate her special day in Newport, RI.
My first boss at Starwood, Sarah.  The one who taught me blurring the lines was the right thing to do. I was blessed to celebrate her special day in Newport, RI.

 

My dear friend Aslihan and her husband, Adam. I will never forgot our many nights drinking wine and eating her delicious Turkish spread.  My favorite moment with her was in Turkey celebrating her and Adam's nuptials.
My dear friend Aslihan and her husband, Adam. I will never forgot our many nights drinking wine and eating her delicious Turkish spread. My favorite moment with her was in Turkey celebrating her and Adam’s nuptials.
Northeast Adventure May 2009 060
Keeping on the wedding theme, here we are celebrating Nina, a smart, sweet friend. She taught me so much, we laughed a lot and ate a lot (she’s such a foodie).
And then there was Jerry...and Ashish picking his nose slash photo-bombing.  I honestly laughed most working with both of these guys.
And then there was Jerry…and Ashish picking his nose slash photo-bombing. I honestly laughed most working with both of these guys.

 

Jenny Benny.  Jen.  Ahh.  Jen was one of the first people I worked with at Starwood back in 2004 AND we still work together.  I love her dearly.  This pic was taken at around midnight at The Westin Palace in Madrid 4-5 years ago when I had dinner with her, her mom and her son.
Jenny Benny. Jen. Ahh. Jen was one of the first people I worked with at Starwood back in 2004 AND we still work together. I love her dearly. This pic was taken at around midnight at The Westin Palace in Madrid 4-5 years ago when I had dinner with her, her mom and her son.
And then there's Dana.  She's basically my little sister.  She's seen me cry probably more than most. And this picture just sums it up.  Awkward.  Smiling. Up to no good...
And then there’s Dana. She’s basically my little sister. She’s seen me cry probably more than most. And this picture just sums it up. Awkward. Smiling. Up to no good…
Alyssa.  Alex.  Me.  This laughter sums it up.
Alyssa. Alex. Me. This laughter sums it up.

 

Me.  My boss and friend, Lori.  My colleague, former boss and friend, Suzanne.  I have worked with these incredible women since day 1.  Smart women, working moms, well-traveled people.  Yeah, these are the type of ladies you want to work with.  And yes, this is at The White House, naturally.
Me. My boss and friend, Lori. My colleague, former boss and friend, Suzanne. I have worked with these incredible women since day 1. Smart women, working moms, well-traveled people. Yeah, these are the type of ladies you want to work with. And yes, this is at The White House, naturally.
Switching gears.  Over the past ten years, my teams have done a lot of philanthropic work.  This Bright Pink event just this past year was super fun (and not only because we met Bill Rancic), for an incredible cause.
Switching gears. Over the past ten years, my teams have done a lot of philanthropic work. This Bright Pink event just this past year was super fun (and not only because we met Bill Rancic), for an incredible cause.

 

There have been tons and tons of super fun team outings and dinners and events.  This one, at the W Lakeshore, was a riot.  I love, LOVE the whole work-hard, play-hard mantra and clearly, we are playing hard here.  It's an intense game of spoons (because why wouldn't you play spoons with your boss and her husband?!).
There have been tons and tons of super fun team outings and dinners and events. This one, at the W Lakeshore, was a riot. I love, LOVE the whole work-hard, play-hard mantra and clearly, we are playing hard here. It’s an intense game of spoons (because why wouldn’t you play spoons with your boss and her husband?!).
Addie.  I feel like I have grown up with her.  We have worked together for, jeez, I think 5-6 years and every day she makes me laugh, inspires me and challenges me in all the right ways.  Plus, she rhymes a lot and is always positive...yeah, you want to work with her.
Addie. I feel like I have grown up with her. We have worked together for, jeez, I think 5-6 years and every day she makes me laugh, inspires me and challenges me in all the right ways. Plus, she rhymes a lot and is always positive…yeah, you want to work with her.

 

This moment, which just happened less than two weeks ago, was for sure one of my proudest moments at Starwood.  My team won team of the year and I couldn't be more humbled and honored!
This moment, which just happened less than two weeks ago, was for sure one of my proudest moments at Starwood. My team won team of the year and I couldn’t be more humbled and honored!

 

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