Updated: Aug 20, 2020
With Kathy Anton Galietti, Director of Hospitality at Coeur d' Alene Casino Resort and Hotel
My fifth interview in my "Wellness for Real" series, is with Kathy Anton Galietti, Director of Hospitality at Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort and Hotel. It was such a joy to share ideas, perspectives, as well as practical tools we can implement into our lives, as we embrace "wellness for real." Hope you enjoy!
Me: Do you have your own definition of "wellness" that you can share?
Kathy: What a perfect opening question. I live my life, and look at my life as a series of decisions. Whatever I am presented with, I have one of two choices. There is no dancing in the middle. My priorities are very defined and with my faith, I hold family first, my productivity at home and work, then growth in my career. After I left Marriott in 2008, I redefined myself. I realigned my life and priorities. All I do focuses on my family’s security and well-being and my career compliments this. Most of my decisions are based upon my priorities, and my decisions are based upon being responsible and decisive. Being decisive, is what "wellness" is. I believe the key component to wellness is realizing that at every turn in life, there is a choice. We can learn from "wrong " choices and accumulate our best choices for us. This is growth and this ultimately makes for the best choices for the people around us, and in front of us. As far as physical wellness, I have exercised since high school, and am always aware of what I eat and when I eat.
So profound. Choices. We all have choices. This is a wonderful perspective, and not one we hear of too often, when speaking on the topic of wellness- thanks Kathy!
Me: So tell me a bit about the experience of leaving your "big" job and position at Marriott. That seems like it was quite a "defining" moment for you.
Kathy: Well, back in October of 2008, I experienced a huge job loss, and as I look back, it was "tragic" for me. I made a lot of money so I had to "readjust" on many levels after I was laid off. At that time, I was the breadwinner and I had two little boys. Looking back, Mondays were indeed the hardest, given I had nowhere to be so I doubted my value. I was with this organization for 15 years and worked at least 60 hours a week. I loved my job and I was good at it. As I look back now at my career and where I spent my time, I did miss a lot of experiences with my youngest son. My husband worked from home so he was with the kids more than I was. I did a lot of busy work to try to wrap my head around my situation. I sure did a lot of crossword puzzles during this time. It was indeed a struggle, but I was sure with 100% conviction, that I would come out of it well.
From my own experience, it seems like those "forced" forks in the road, can somehow provide us with a "pivot" in our perspectives, thoughts, actions, and future decisions, that may lead to a "better" overall life. Tough to have this perspective while going through the "muck" of life, but there is indeed something positive awaiting, as we navigate, and move through to the other side of it. Kathy is one strong and amazing woman!
Me: So it is clear to me, that you love working at the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel. How did this come about?
Kathy: During this time of "transition" one of my best friend's (from Spokane) father had passed. My high school friends went to the funeral, and after the service went out and through that interaction, I was contacted to see if I was interested in relocating back to Washington State and apply for the role of Hospitality Director. I did and was offered my position in May 2012. Prior to this, I was doing some consulting for Hilton Grand Vacations where I was given the opportunity to work with eight of their key properties. The experience was awesome and through that journey, I learned so much.
Good for Kathy! So thrilled she landed in a place where she is fully happy and fulfilled. We all deserve to be happy , fulfilled, and inspired. I am also thrilled that she works with such amazing people at Coeur d'Alene.
Me: So I know that you now work at an amazing place, with terrific people. How have these past few weeks been for you, through this 'closure" due to Corona Virus?
Kathy: What has been so inspiring is given we are owned and managed by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and during the closure, the Tribe paid all of the employees the entire time we were closed along with our medical benefits. We closed on March 20th at noon, five days before the Idaho Governor’s order to Stay Home. They kept us “whole” for over 5 weeks. The Casino is the economical driving force for the Tribe so the money the Casino earns, fuels the Tribe’s social service programs, veterans programs, early learning programs – essentially the tribe’s overall sustainability. We’re valuable to this region in the form of jobs, charitable donations, and we’ve donated over 33 million towards education.
I could tell the leadership at Coeur d'Alene is spectacular. From my own experience, and listening to others' stories/experiences, while observing other companies and corporate cultures , it is clear that the "health" of any organization always trickles down. If the people in leadership are "healthy" in their perspectives, and how they treat those who work for them, then their employees will all be happier, and in turn, healthier overall. The ability to thrive at work, seems to correlate with how well workers are treated in their own workplace environment. Conversely, if the people in leadership are "unhealthy" in their perspectives, and how they treat those who work for them, then their employees will be frustrated, unhappy, and not thrive, for the most part.
Me: With so many in the Spa/ Hospitality industry now at home, what types of things are you implementing into your hourly/daily/weekly routine, if anything? What do your "typical" days/weeks look like?
Kathy: Every Tuesday our executive team meets with consideration to social distancing and we talk. I do have the opportunity to go into work a couple times a week. It was nice to get caught up and nice to plan for a new normal when we open back up. For any of us that went to the workplace during the closure and worked, the employee was compensated additionally for helping during the closure. With more time at home, I am cleaning and nesting. I cleaned out my china cabinet and it just sparkles! My youngest had just went off to college and most recently had to move out of his dorm because of the COVID-19 virus so he moved back home. My oldest works at Albertsons, spending up to 60 hours per week working to keep the shelves stocked. I believe our grocery workers are all hero’s. He is a senior at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington and intends to go to law school or into medicine. My husband is working out of our house so we are enjoying a lot of family time. Prior to the pandemic, I was enjoying my Barre exercise class at 6 am, 4 times a week but now I am doing some virtually online which is really hard to stay motivated but twice a week is better than none. I have to say, I really am enjoying this time at home to spend with family; puttering and nesting; and cleaning and organizing.
It is quite wonderful that as Kathy still goes in to work some days each week, she is still also embracing her extra time at home. It is my opinion, that those who enjoy their life outside of work, and have hobbies and things that bring them joy, are overall "healthier" individuals.
Me: So I notice from all your emails to me, (not just some, but all) , your kindness and hospitality come through your words. There is an elegant, genuine, and sweet energy behind your words, which someone like myself can feel. Whether you buy a product from me or not, you are so professional and sincere in your communications, it is clear to me that you are always present with what you are doing. Even during this interview, I can tell you are very present. In times when most are "multi-tasking" and not being truly present with what they are doing in the "now" – how do you stay present?
Kathy: I am always engaged in what I am doing or I couldn’t do it well. I stay present because I choose to be present. My priority is always the person in front of me, whether on the phone, with me physically, or as you referenced, by way of email correspondence. I know that someone would not "come" to me, if they did not "need" me, and I know that people need to be heard and feel valued. I choose to be responsive and I put myself in check if I am ever in a "bad" mood. So my ability to be present, just boils down to choice. My choices that I make are centered and conscious. I am very thoughtful, and know that there is good in everything and good in everybody – I choose to believe that.
Kathy's keen ability to make choices from a very centered and conscious place is inspiring. Being able to truly be and stay present with another, is a "gift", and very few, in my option, are able to live moment to moment like this. Words are powerful, and even more powerful is the energy behind the words. We are living in a 24/7 "communication" society where many rely on email and text. In a time where most seem to be "short,” "abrupt,” somewhat "rude,” or even "robotic" in their communication "styles" in emailing and texting, it is quite refreshing to communicate with those like Kathy who are conscious of the words and energy that they are putting out to another human being.
Me: So let's talk about all your amazing experiences. I believe that we all bring our own life experience, as well as energy, perspectives, and consciousness to all we do. You have a BS is Sociology, with an emphasis on criminal justice. I have a BA in social psychology and attended law school for a year, where I attained law review status. How do you think you bring some of this experience to all you do at the Resort/Casino, and in addition, how do you think we can all contribute more of who we are, as whole and integrated human beings, into all we do?
Kathy: With my education, I intended to work with juvenile delinquents. In my Spring quarter I had to go to a group home which was a place where kids go before they are reintroduced back into society after a situation with the law. I had experienced what it was like to be with these kids and it was very tough on me emotionally. I was crying to my dad about some of this, and I remember him saying to me that I really can't do this kind of work, saying "you are not made for this". Years later when my husband took a job in Hawaii, I learned about hospitality. When we were living on Maui, I worked four years as the executive assistant to the GM where I learned so much about Hospitality leadership. When we moved off the island, and back to California, I started with Marriott where I learned so much through their training initiatives. I still use my strengths and still impact people in a positive way. I believe in the vital importance of human capital. In my position, I work late and my door is never shut- it is always open. As a leader I am available to those that depend on me physically and mentally. The human capital is key to any successful business. I believe when we take care of the employees, they take care of the business. Through this pandemic, the Tribe is the epidomy of this mantra given the care they have shown to close to 1000 employees during this closure. I am so honored to work for the Coeur d’ Alene Tribe.
I have noticed through most of my life experiences, that those who have gone to school and have a degree in sociology or social psychology have a unique interest not only in people but also in culture. Kathy continues to use her talents, gifts, and leadership to impact and inspire others. It really does not matter the form or "title" of what we do, as it is really the "content" and "thread" that holds it all together.
I want to thank Kathy so much for this interview, and her time- it was truly a joy!
To learn more about Coeur d’Alene Casio Resort and Hotel in Worley, Idaho, please check out: https://www.cdacasino.com/hotel/
Be sure to also check out their Spa- Spa Ssakwa'q'n at https://www.cdacasino.com/spa/