Archive for October, 2007

Humility in an Age of Swagger

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Today’s Washington Post has as its lead in the Business Section, an article on 34 year old David Marriott, Bill Marriott’s youngest son.  The article discussed the major sales reorganization David is leading at Marriott and quotes me as an owner of Marriott hotels:

“A regional sales approach will definitely have greater appeal to the clients who we must ultimately serve and therefore should increase brand preference,” said Fred Malek, a former top executive at Marriott who owns several of the company’s hotels. “But it also has to be blended with consideration for the profit/loss interest of individual general managers in a diverse ownership group.”

This is a good article about a fine young man, who may indeed one day follow in his Father’s footsteps and head Marriott International.  However, the article only touches on what is one of the core characteristics of humility shared by both Bill and David Marriott.  This humility has earned them deep respect as well as affection.  There is no swagger, no pronouncements from on high.  In my eight years as President of Marriott Hotels, reporting to Bill Marriott, he did a lot of listening, careful to acknowledge and in many cases defer to the expertise of executives in various specialties.  He listened, learned, made the right decisions, and rallied people around these decisions.  It was a lesson in leadership, it was an exhibition of humility, and it demonstrated how humility and consensus building can strengthen leadership and produce results.

David has inherited these characteristics of his Father, and in my view they are a large part of the reason for his past success and promising future.

Joe Torre and Performance-Based Baseball

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Joe Torre should have taken the deal!

After 12 years as manager of the New York Yankees, and twelve post season appearances and four World Series titles to his credit, Joe Torre yesterday turned down a one-year contract to continue. The reason as reported in the Washington Post was because of a pay cut from $7.5 million to $5 million, which as the Post reports is still the highest in Major League Baseball.

Well, in my view it wasn’t a pay cut. Rather, Yankees’ ownership took a page out of the pay policies that the smartest companies are adopting – pay for performance. The contract included incentive bonuses of $1 million if the Yankees reached the playoffs, another $1 million if they made it to the American League Championship Series, and a further $1 million if they reach the World Series. Add it all up and it’s $8 million, an actual increase. What’s wrong with that? Let’s compare Torre’s pay with that of other manager who have won titles recently. The baseball fan site The Red Sox Times lists the pay of all MLB managers for the ‘07 season. Turns out that with an ’07 salary of $7.5 million, Torre is already getting paid more than three times as much as Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona ($1.65 million), Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen ($1.1 million), and Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia ($2 million).

As the highest paid manager in baseball – and perhaps in the history of the game – and with the highest payroll in Major League history, why not agree to incentives vs. guarantees, as do most of the corporate world and many in sports? In my view Yankees ownership acted responsibly, and I wish this great manager had agreed to return. The world of sports and baseball has lost (hopefully for only a short time) a legend.

On a related note, contrast the Yankees with the Washington Nationals, who operated with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and a rookie manager, Manny Acta. When I led the group partnered with the city to bring baseball to Washington, it was my dream to see a team developed from the ground up along the lines of the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies. That’s what Manny Acta and Jim Bowden are doing under the able leadership of team President Stan Kasten – and at a fraction of the cost in management and players. I like what I see there and look forward to the day they enter post season competition.

Yes, Fred Malek Does Blog

Friday, October 19th, 2007

 

Earlier this week I wrote about the greening of the hotel industry, based on a Washington Post article on the makeover of The Bethesda Doubletree, the hotel owned by my company, Thayer Lodging Group.

That blog post earned a nice mention by Anne Schroeder of the Politico, who writes their Shenanigans column. Here’s what Anne wrote yesterday:

Fred Malek Blogs?

The man who has done everything under the sun in Washington — though possibly best known for his philanthropy, his leading role in returning baseball to D.C. and his advising top Republican officials and presidents — has gotten all Gen X-y on us, admitting Al Gore got to his staunch Republicanism.

And his views on air, too.

“Did Al Gore get to me? Sure — it proves even Democrats can get it right sometimes; and in my view, Mr. Gore earned his Nobel for drawing attention not only to global warming but to the environment overall,” Fred Malek writes about his new goal of hopefully becoming the leader of going green within the hotel industry.

“Ever get sleepy in the afternoons? Wonder why? Maybe it’s more than the big lunch. Maybe it has something to do with the air you breathe. We are convinced that we can differentiate our product and improve preference for our hotels through these measures. Green means more than improving the environment — it can also create more green on the bottom line,” he writes.

Agrees a D.C insider: “Fresh air is something this town sorely needs.”

 

It was a gracious and fun item in Anne’s column. But more important than my blogging, I hope it sparks greater discussion about how going green can help consumers and businesses alike.

The Greening of the Hotel Industry

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Today’s Washington Post carries an article on the makeover of The Bethesda Doubletree, the hotel owned by my company, Thayer Lodging Group. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Mood lighting is the latest fancy touch added to the Doubletree by its owners, Thayer Lodging Group, the Annapolis hotel company co-founded by longtime Washington investor Frederic V. Malek. Over the summer, Thayer installed a purification system in the hotel’s meeting rooms to help keep air fresher and cleaner with an eye toward drawing more business customers.

The Post piece discusses our focus on providing a healthier and relaxing alternative to typical hotels. That it is, but there’s more. Our goal is to become the leader in the “greening” of the hotel industry. Surprising for this conservative Republican? Yes. Did Al Gore get to me? Sure – it proves even Democrats can get it right sometimes, and in my view Mr. Gore earned his Nobel for drawing attention not only to global warming, but to the environment overall.Perhaps the most important part of our efforts at Thayer Lodging is the impact not only the environment but also health. Not only are we providing healthy menu alternatives but we’re also purifying the air in meeting rooms and guest rooms. Typical hotels re-circulate the air throughout the day leading to a depletion of oxygen. Ever get sleepy in the afternoons? Wonder why? Maybe it’s more than the big lunch. Maybe it has something to do with the air you breathe. We are convinced that we can differentiate our product and improve preference for our hotels through these measures. Green means more than improving the environment – it can also create more green on the bottom line.

 

hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi

Optimism For Our Prospects In The Senate

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

(Originally posted at the Republican Party of Virginia’s blog)

What a tumultuous month it has been for Republican U.S. Senators. Almost overnight the climate has changed dramatically with the planned retirement of Senators Warner and Hagel, and the resignation of Larry Craig. As Republicans, we can view this as “Woe is us,” or “Hooray for us.” I view it as the latter because we can and should hold all three seats, and we have some excellent candidates. I wanted to share with the readers of the Republican Party of Virginia’s blog my thoughts on the style of the departures and the prospects for the future, especially here in Virginia.

Let me start with Larry Craig. Of course there is no comparison whatsoever between Craig and the Warner/Hagel departures. While all of us have erred at times, in my view Larry Craig acted disgracefully in his behavior and in his expeditious guilty plea. Of course he was subjected to a sting operation, and it is unlikely he would have been convicted if he had fought the charge. At my alma mater, West Point, we were taught in the cadet motto to “have the courage to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong,” a phrase so ingrained in me that it adorns the plaque in my honor at the Malek Tennis Center at West Point. Larry Craig chose the easier wrong, and he has put his party and the Senate through a humiliating spectacle. He should resign as he originally announced.

The polar opposite of Craig is John Warner who not only has served with the greatest honor and distinction in his 29 years in the Senate, but came to the most difficult of decisions for any leader: Depart at the top of his game and create the opportunity for a new generation. He is a Senator’s Senator, and a consensus builder, and a great champion of U.S. military forces and national security. He announced his ‘08 retirement as he should, with the greatest of honor and class. He placed country ahead of politics or personal in the best spirit of the Party of Lincoln.

Chuck Hagel has also served two terms with strength and independence. As Ambassador to the Economic Summit of Major Industrialized Nations in 1990, I had the good fortune of selecting fellow Vietnam veteran Chuck as my deputy. He proved to be an effective manager with a unique blend of toughness, charisma, and judgment. He was even able to make me look good – a tall order. In recent years Chuck’s reservations about a U.S. policy in Iraq grew to the point of disaffection. I believed he was also fed up with the inability to get much done in the Senate. While I disagree with him on the conduct of the war against terror, and in particular Iraq, I deeply respect his independence and conviction. He is making the right decision for his family and himself, and his future will continue to be bright. I hope he will join John Warner in supporting John McCain’s candidacy.

I believe we will readily hold the Senate seats in Idaho and Nebraska and also believe we can and will hold Virginia. As the State Finance Chairman for the Republican Party of Virginia, it is of course my job to believe and say this. However, the efforts are there. We have two likely contenders for the Republican nomination, and both are dynamic, hugely qualified candidates. Tom Davis has been one of the most effective leaders in the U.S. Congress for a decade, and his leadership helped keep a Republican majority when he chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee. Jim Gilmore was an effective Governor who reduced taxes, including the car tax. They will likely engage in a spirited primary which will raise their profiles and put the victor in a strong position to defeat Mark Warner in 2008.

Call me a pollyanna if you will. But I believe that led by a strong Presidential candidate in 2008, our Senate prospects are strong, and Republicans will hold all the seats with the election of vigorous newcomers.