Once is never enough. Three is too much. Two things are what's right.

One is never enough, so while I was asked to talk about one key lesson that I carry with me, I just have to give you more. You can’t say, “I have one thing to talk to you about.” It just doesn’t seem like one is enough, right?

And three, don’t even get me started on three! Three is way too many. “Can you please do these three things for me?” Nope, doesn’t work.

Two is the right number, don’t you think?

Think about it: the two most important books in your life are:

  1. Your date book
  2. Your check book

That should give you some perspective on where you spend your time and where you spend your money. 

The two most important days of your life:

  1. The day you were born
  2. The day you figured out why you were born (what’s your purpose?) 

There are just two things I know for sure:

  1. You can plan for what’s about to happen, or
  2. You can deal with what just happened

Two food things:

  1. Don’t eat ballpark food before the 5th inning
  2. Don’t eat sushi on Sunday.

Don’t make important decisions when:

  1. You’re drunk
  2. Your angry

No matter how flat a pancake is, it always has two sides.

The two most important things in a relationship:

  1. Trust
  2. Communication

You don’t always get what you want, but:

  1. You get what you negotiate.
  2. You get what you commit to.

You can’t have:

  1. Fear and faith at the same time.
  2. A positive and a negative at the same time.

Two most important days of your life:

  1. The day you were born.
  2. The day you realize why you were born.

Two most important things in an employment review:

  1. What I want you to do more of.
  2. What I want you to do less of.

When you get out of college you should ask:

  1. What am I going to do?
  2. More importantly, what kind of person am I going to be?

Two is the magic number. That’s why in my daily life, and with my employees at Steiner Sports, we count by two’s.

So, my two lessons from two influential people in my life that I will be forever grateful for:

Jim Beard is the guy that gave me what was my dream job out of college as a Management Trainee in the employee cafeteria at the Hyatt hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. At the time, Jim was my Food and Beverage Manager, but he eventually went on to become General Manager of the hotel and then was a corporate executive for Regent Hotels & Resorts, ZipRealty, Inc. and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. The guy is a legend in the hospitality industry.

All I wanted was to work at Hyatt. It was a great hotel chain and they had an excellent training program. When I arrived, it wasn’t long before I felt Jim’ presence as an executive. He was someone I could look up to because he demanded a high quality of presentation and service. He always got the most out of this team. And, the guy knew how to dress the part. There were times where he might send me home after a staff meeting to get a haircut, or if the tie I was wearing didn’t match or look right, he would cut the bottom.

Jim showed me the difference between management and leadership. He also showed me the importance of a team; how all of us were better than some of us. And, under his direction, anyone on the team at Hyatt was involved in every area of the hotel; from making beds to running banquets. There was no area left uncovered when help was needed.  Staff meetings were short and to the point. Management parties were long and crazy. We were a group that worked hard and played hard. We always showed up for each other regardless of the time of day.

I have tried to instill everything Jim taught me all those years ago into the way I run Steiner Sports today. We try our best to create an environment where our employees can learn and also have fun…kind of like a fraternity. I owe all that to Jim.

I left Hyatt to go work at the Hard Rock Café when it opened in New York City in the 1980s. That’s where another lesson comes in, from Isaac Tigrett, the founder and another one of my mentors.

In 1971 Isaac Tigrett founded the first Hard Rock Café in London with Peter Morton. 10 years later the two began to expand what would become a multi-national restaurant empire into the US. The two founders split the company, and with rights to all locations East of the Mississippi, Isaac started the original New York location on 57th street, where I became the location’s first Assistant General Manager and Isaac was my mentor.

There was one particular night I recall during the opening months of the restaurant where the crowds were piling in. An average of 150-200 people would be waiting in a line out the door starting at 2:30 in the afternoon for about 12 hours, seven days a week, and this was a 250-seat restaurant with two bars!

I walked over to Isaac and said, “What do you think? It looks like we’re doing pretty well here.”

Isaac responds, “I’m nervous.”

I didn’t understand. The restaurant was off to an amazing start yet Isaac was in a very doom-and-gloom state at 1:30 in the morning on a busy night. But, he explained.

“Are we going to be able to maintain the same level of service? Are people going to get what they expect—and beyond—over the long haul?”

Most owners would be ecstatic at being as popular as the Hard Rock Café was in those early days, but Isaac had the long-play in mind. He was worried that we wouldn’t be able to meet the same quality standards as we got bigger and had more success; hired more staff; diversified our offering 

Here I was a 23-year-old kid and very excited, but that night Isaac taught me something for important. Real, sustained success is about not resting on your laurels and always staying hungry.  

When you have a high level of short-term success, just look past it. The objective isn’t to be popular for a little while, but to have a concept that can stick for a long time. For some people, it can be easy to get confused. But for Isaac, it was obvious in that moment that he was in it for the long-haul.

Quote of the Day: "Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music." -Paul McCartney


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