Updated: Nov 12
With Paul Patino
My fourth interview of this series is with Paul Patino who is Hotel General Manager at Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs. Hope you enjoy...
Me: So what is your definition of a good leader?
Paul: For me, it is someone who puts others first. They lead by example. Leaders do not just tell others how to do something, but physically show them. The best mentors I have had, perform what they instructed me to do.
I love Paul's definition, and believe that good leaders lead by example. My definition of a good leader is someone who guides, empowers, and inspires others to live their greatest potential. Paul is one of these individuals who empowers, as well as inspires others.
Me: So did you have some good mentors early on?
Paul: Yes, indeed, and hindsight is 20/20. Every time I moved, the purpose was to expand my growth. Every time I went somewhere, someone with the experience was there to teach me. There is really no way to know the impact one has on someone, whether it is for a small moment, a conversation, etc... We do not know how big our impact is on others. It is important how I treat others, and it is important that I affect others in a positive way. It is the total butterfly effect. A good leader, is a good mentor. They do no get upset or throw negativity on someone they are trying to mentor. Good leaders focus on the strengths needed to have a strong foundation built. Similar to a house. if the individuals within a team build a strong foundation, they can then all expand and build upon this; whether F&B, Rooms, etc... all our departments work together and are intertwined.
We never know the effect we have on others. Whether a kind word of support, encouragement, some advice given from life experience, etc... we never know the reach we have with our words, and deeds with another. Paul is a real example, of someone who knows on a deep level that the impact someone has one on one with another, is truly significant and meaningful. Paul is someone who is definitely expansive in his energy, and is not only extremely self aware, but also keenly aware of others.
Me: So do you listen to any leadership podcasts? Read any leadership books? Attend leadership seminars?
Paul: I am pretty detached from social media, as I am more focused on one on one interactions with those who get it. This is one of the reasons I was so excited when you told me you were doing this. I am very excited for your platform and what you are doing.
I am very detached from social media as well. I do not think this is a "bad" thing. Like Paul, I am very focused on one on one interactions, rather than social/group engagements. Many of us love the one on one, and social media is not as important to people like us, as it may be for others. To each his/her own. We are all unique, and value and enjoy things that light us up.
Me: Do you think there are a lot of good leaders out there? Company leaders? Cultural leaders? Organizational Leaders?
Paul: No, not really. Unfortunately, many of those in positions of leadership go through the motions.
I agree with Paul. Many in "leaderships" positions, are going through the motions, and are not fully embracing what it means to be a leader, and most importantly a good leader. Paul is an example of an excellent leader, and there are some like Paul, who are within the hospitality arena, as well as within other industries and arenas. The good leaders like Paul, are leading, inspiring, and empowering others; so hopefully there are many more good leaders finding their stride, and embracing their impact that they have on those around them. I believe we are all "born" leaders. The more one can be fully present with another – share their gifts, talents, uniqueness, perspectives, life lessons and experiences with others; the more people will be comfortable being fully themselves. Good leaders do indeed help build other leaders.
Me: You show an extremely high degree of empathy. You are one of the few people, who have asked these last six/seven months through this "shut down" – how am I doing? You know I work alone for the most part, and even on our call last week, you asked me again, how am I doing? And I could really feel like you cared, and were indeed interested in how I am doing. Your empathy is quite rare, in an industry that is all about "hospitality;" where it should indeed be the norm. Have you always been such a compassionate person?
Paul: Well, thanks for that. Yes, I believe I always have been. My grandmom used to say "that an angel kissed me on the forehead." So yes, kinda early on, I had this empathy and compassion for others.
I have mentioned a lot, that our childhoods hold many keys. Who we were as children, are real indicators of who we really are, at our core. Unfortunately, there is much "programming" that happens by parents, teachers, peers, culture – telling others who they need to be, how they need to act, how they need to think, etc... I was very sensitive, kind, compassionate very early on as well, as a little girl. I was mostly criticized for these traits, unfortunately, and now that I am older, I know these are my greatest assets. I love what Paul's grandmom said about Paul, and I agree with her – "an angel has indeed kissed him on the forehead."
Me: So, empathy and compassion are surely the "buzz" words these days... you clearly have a high level of both. I know your team is blessed to have you as their GM. You and I have been speaking since this "shut" down began, six/seven months ago. The words that have come up regularly since then, (but first couple months especially) from those within the hospitality industry, trying to navigate daily with protocols, slim staff, lower than usual occupancies, etc... – "weird;" "bizarre" times. How have you been able to keep your staff engaged, while having to navigate through these times with them? More meetings?
Paul: Well, with a very limited staff, every day we all evolve and learn – in real time. We have learned to work with less, and still do more. I have been fortunate to keep my team engaged, and they know I also care a lot. There is definitely more communication, but less meetings. I am having face to face conversations all day long with all departments. I value all relationships. I oversee 88 employees, and 50 different vendors. We want to keep them employed and how I deal with them all is important. We show each other respect, and whether I speak with someone for five minutes, or longer than that... having heart and compassion is at the forefront. Everyday is an opportunity to build a relationship with someone, or strengthen one. We are understanding that this "new normal"/"unknown" will be for a while now, and we understand we need to be strong and work as a team for this long haul. I have seen all the individuals on my team, step up to the plate, and have a positive demeanor,; and that means the world to me. As a team, we have grown together, and this is unifying us.
With so many in the hospitality industry struggling on many levels, Paul is a terrific example of how he has been able to guide his team, and use the times we are in to grow, and develop his team. True leaders, and great ones, in my opinion, are able to go through "crisis" and find some silver linings. These times we are in, have made many stronger, especially emotionally and mentally. Also, relationships and teams have indeed grown stronger. All in leadership positions, can learn a lot from Paul.... he walks his talk.
Me: So people that really know me, know I am an artist at my core, and I have "a thing" for artists, and other creatives. I know you like to feature local artists at your hotel, and I was quite intrigued by the works and art of Nobel Truong. What can you tell me about his art, and how you incorporate his art within your hotel? Like those Cacti of his, I found so enchanting......
Paul: Yes, those neon cacti. .. We have those in our renovated rooms, and the material it is made of – lights up with the sunlight. We have his art in our books and menus in the rooms. When we do collaborations, they are specific for the hotel. Before all this shut down, we partnered a lot with artists in CA and NY. Most recently, we have been doing a collaboration with a local tattoo artist. We have a hallway that goes into the cafeteria. It is a brick wall, that kinda looks like a prison. Only the employees see it. But we wanted to make it nicer, so this amazing tattoo artist, Shyanne, is doing a mural on the wall.
This is so cool! I love artists! I wish there was more appreciation in our society, for those who are artists, and those who have innate creative talents and gifts. The sense of community, culture, and art, Paul has been able to blend, is definitely worth noting. Beauty, creativity, talent are no doubt some of the "invaluables" of life.
Me: So how did this employee hallway come about? I think this is fascinating. I am a big believer in having beauty, nature, etc... within our environments, whether at home or at work. I am so intrigued how you wanted to make beautiful the space where no guests would even see.... just to create some art and beauty, for your employees and for their upliftment, and appreciation.
Paul: Well, I was speaking with one of our pool bartenders, and she said that she knew a great tattoo artist – this is a friend of hers. I then reached out to her.
Paul is a prime example of a great leader – always looking to add talent to his team, and what he is creating within his work and environment.
Me: So, it is clear to me, you empower, and inspire others. Your example of this is profound to me. As we have chatted about a lot, we never know how we can touch others, affect others, inspire others, etc... You do walk your talk in your clear and deep understanding of the butterfly effect.
Paul: Well thank you. At the end of the day, I believe it is not how high I climb, I want to help others climb higher. Once I reach a mountain top, I want to enjoy the ride with others, and also reach down and help another climb even higher than I can climb.
Paul = exceptional individual and leader!
I want to thank Paul so much for his time, insights, perspectives, as well as amazing and warm personality. He is a light and an inspiration to many! I know he inspires and empowers me, each time we chat.