It is easy to stand out in an extraordinary way when you work for a less-than-extraordinary organization. But what happens when the place you work has a world class reputation for service?
Recently I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Atlanta. My friend Joseph Michelli has written an excellent book called “The New Gold Standard” that provides insights into what makes the Ritz-Carlton brand great.
Everyone you’ll typically meet at the Ritz is on top of their game. They refer to you by name and exhibit the attitude of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” The staff excludes class. During even a single stay you come to expect that and, frankly, you tend to get used to it. It can ruin you for staying at other hotel chains. But it also makes it challenging for a Ritz-Carlton employee to truly stand out.
After a nice night’s rest I dined in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. It was a buffet that included an omelet station attended to by a chef named Jeremy. “What can I prepare for you sir” he asked.
I ordered an egg white omelet with lots of vegetables, ham and “a little cheese.” “You’ve got to add a little cheese to an egg white omelet,” I shared with Jeremy, “or otherwise it’s just too boring.”
“Not my omelets!” he boomed. “They’re never boring. That’s because I add a special ingredient. (He paused for effect) I make my omelets with loooovvvveeee!!”
Jeremy whipped up an extraordinary dish for me and later came by the table to see how I liked it. I told him it was terrific, probably because it was made with love. Jeremy got serious for a moment and said, “If you can’t do it with love, why do it? That’s what my kids tell me…”
Jeremy gets it. He understands the secret ingredient for success in any business, and that is putting love into your work.
Businesspeople, I’ve been told by book editors, are uncomfortable with the word “love.” Maybe that’s because they either don’t understand it or they misunderstand it. When you put love into your work that doesn’t mean you come off like an over-the-top motivational speaker. It means you include your passion, commitment and care. And you do it whether or not it is appreciated. To do it to get attention only would be gimmicky. Jeremy didn’t know me from a box of rocks; he didn’t know I write books and speak about extraordinary service. I’m betting he makes all his omelets with love because that’s part of who he is.
February is the month of love and usually the sugary sweet kind. Valentine’s Day is fun. There’s nothing wrong with that. I also think it would be great if more of us were like Jeremy all year long, enjoying what we do, doing it with panache and adding our own version of love.
Nobody I know loves every aspect of her or his job. I don’t know of any perfect jobs in this imperfect world. But by and large you can love what you do, love who you do it with and love who you do it for. And that’s the secret ingredient not only to success in business but enjoyment and fulfillment in life as well.
It is February. Don’t forget to show the love.