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Success Of Jobs Should Inspire Ideas For Industry

Tuesday November 8th, 2011 - 4:08PM


Dennis Nessler, Editor, Hotel Business

Some have suggested the recent death of Apple co-founder and technology icon Steve Jobs was one of those rare “where were you when?” moments, such as when JFK was shot in 1963.
I happened to be walking the streets of Chicago on October 5 when LodgeNet vp, sales and hotel relations David Goldstone turned to a group of us attending the company’s annual Customer Technology Symposium and told us the news. Ironically, of course, Goldstone received the news on his smart phone.
But even more to the point, just hours earlier we were in the throes of a technology conference discussing things like tablets, cloud technology and video streaming. After all, were it not for Jobs this conference, if it was even taking place, would most likely have an entirely different agenda.
The profound impact of his inventions from the original Apple MacIntosh computer to the iPad have been felt throughout the world and hospitality is no exception. Everyone agrees that there’s no substitute for service in the hotel industry but the efficiencies gained and costs savings alone from technology are staggering, not to mention how in-room entertainment has evolved.
I recently read a book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The premise of the book was that behind every successful man or woman were circumstances that contributed to their success, in many cases when they were born, as well as breaks that they got along the way.
Jobs, for example, along with Bill Gates and a number of others, was born in 1955, which seemed to be the golden age of revolutionizing computers. That meant that Jobs was in his late teens in the early 1970’s when the computer industry was primed for a revolution and he was in position to take a risk. Having grown up in Silicon Valley, Jobs frequented after school lectures at the Hewlett Packard Co, where he later worked and met Steve Wosniak. The rest as they say is history.
While all of the aforementioned facts may be true, to suggest that Jobs’ success was entirely the byproduct of fortuitous circumstances would be unfair, to say the least, and is not the intention of Gladwell. Jobs was clearly a visionary who was determined to make a difference and had the innate ability to do so on the grandest of levels.
It’s that same vision that has produced pioneers in the hotel industry like Bill Marriott (Sr. and Jr.), Conrad Hilton, Barry Sternlicht and so many more. The book references the 10,000-hour threshold as being critical in making anyone an expert in anything. In the case of Jobs, it was 10,000 hours of programming.
But it occurs to me that there are many in the lodging industry who have logged at least 10,000 hours dedicated to the pursuit of hospitality. While no one is expecting Steve Jobs-like revolutions, it certainly would benefit the industry to have a few fresh ideas, particularly during these difficult times. After all, such ideas are the lifeblood of any industry.
Sometimes it involves taking a risk and stepping out of your comfort zone. But as the saying goes, no guts, no glory. In the case of Jobs, he clearly had both.