Don't Be Popular. Be Respected.

When I managed the Hard Rock Cafe in the 80s, it was one of the hottest spots in New York.

It seemed like there were celebrities there every night. (A lot of them were athletes, which is partly how I got started in my current business.)

My fellow staff members were always trying to cozy up to these stars in one way or another.

But while the rest of the staff was fawning all over the beautiful people, I made sure they got impeccable service.

I made sure they didn’t get taken advantage of, if they were a little tipsy, or otherwise indisposed. I made sure they felt safe.

And it didn’t go unnoticed.

The stars saw how hard I worked. They came to rely on me. In that way, I developed real relationships with some of them.

I probably saw Keith Hernandez more than anyone else. He was at the place every night. He frequently invited me to parties he was going to after dinner, or to go to a Mets game as his guest.

But I wasn’t interested in being his friend. I wanted to be his favorite restaurant manager.

“How many times have I asked you to go to games?” Keith asked me one night at the restaurant.

“I wish I could go,” I said. “But I need to be here.”

He respected that.

Later on, when I started my own business, Keith was one of the first people who said he’d support me.

Business goes up and business goes down. It’s consistency over time that equals credibility.

I wasn’t Keith’s pal, but I was a serious person to him.

Later on, when I needed things from him for my career, that made all the difference.

Be popular at parties. At work, be respected.

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