My third spin off interview of my "Hospitality Heroes" piece, is with Ryan Shulman, who is Spa Director and Director of Healing Arts at Bishops Lodge, an Auberge Resort, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Ryan made such an impression on me the first time that we spoke, I knew he was someone very special and someone who offered the hospitality industry something incredibly unique and refreshingly professional and authentic. Ryan is a true leader. The industry is very blessed to have him working and sharing his amazing and warm personality and perspectives.
I hope you enjoy this interview, and possibly get a tidbit (or more) of wisdom, to help you move forward on your journey in a "people" industry.
Me: So what is the one lesson that you learned this past year, working in your role within the hospitality arena? If you had to pick one?
Ryan: Adaptability. I have always been adaptable as a person, whether it is different changes in a work organization, or for me personally. This last year was a bit unique, in that I had to fall into a groove and adapt to something the whole world was going through. At times, and in the moment, it may have seemed like things would not be ok.... but I knew it would be.
In the beginning, we were kinda all 'scared' together. My leader helped me and motivated me to not fear, and this helped me, and empowered me to be strong. I wanted my team to see strength and true leadership in me. Fear is never a good motivator, and does not inspire. True leaders generate loyalty, and this is how great teams thrive.
Ryan clearly stepped up to the plate as a solid leader. Whoever has the privilege of working with Ryan, sees his amazing talent as a leader, and his gifts of compassion, joy, hope, as well as being truly heart centered.
Me: Now that people are indeed traveling, and this past year is behind us, with many lessons learned, what is one of the lessons that you would like to share about now moving forward?
Ryan: Moving forward, my lessons may be a bit 'different', but they are still pertinent and exciting. I am in a very unique position, as I am now working at a brand new place, and I am starting basically from scratch. We are offering in room services for now, and this transition came at a time when I get a totally 'fresh start.' In a way, it has allowed me to 'shake off' this last year or so, and have a totally new start and a new adventure.
I loved where I was at (Four Seasons Santa Fe), and this opportunity opened up, and I took it. I believe that now, more than ever, people are wanting to get healthy, and experience wellness and healing.
Wellness and healing are at the top of the list for many, now more than ever.
Me: I know you loved where you were at previously (Four Seasons Santa Fe), and you are now at another property that you love as well. Many who love this industry are sticking with it, and some are also thriving in many ways.
Let's talk a bit about all those who are leaving the industry, do you think this is unfortunate (or fortunate). Thoughts?
Ryan: I think this time has given many more time to think, and many decided they did not want to come back to this industry.
Me: For me, speaking with so many people this past year, and hearing where people were "at" with their jobs, it definitely was a lot for many. Clients shared so much with me, I do question if they did not have managers, or leadership at their workplace, that they could share these types of things with.
You touched on wellness and healing, and I do think "workplace wellness" is something very few chat about. With so many hours spent at work, I do believe work should be a place of "wellness" also.
Thoughts on workplace wellness?
Ryan: It is important to create and maintain an environment at work, where people can communicate with their managers and leaders. If someone is not able to have a balanced life, they may have to evaluate what they are doing, and with whom they are doing it, and where.
Working seven days a week, and not taking days off, is not sustainable. Many neglect to talk to leadership.
Communicating to those who support them, is what they are there for. If there is not this environment, then some may indeed need to look at other opportunities, and find work environments that are supportive of who they are, and what they desire in terms of workplace wellness.
I agree with Ryan on all points. I think workplace wellness is not at the forefront of many conversations at the board rooms of some/many organizations.
Me: Do you think many do not speak up at their jobs, as possibly they tried before and they were met with "shame." Told to "be tougher;" "be stronger;" etc.... like there is something "wrong" with feeling unsupported and overworked? Again, the "robot" culture way of trying to infest great human beings, who have enormous innate potentials, into mere objects and commodities.
Ryan: Unfortunately, some team members may keep things inside as they do not want to 'rock the boat.' It is my priority as a leader, to allow space for my team to give feedback. Good leaders value others' perspectives. Good leaders allow space for receptive feedback. Maybe some processes are not working, so it is productive to have open dialogue and space for ideas. Once someone is in a toxic work culture, it is harder to see their way out of it, in many ways, one can not sacrifice boundaries, and people need to find their way to a middle ground that is sustainable for them personally. When the energy is not right, one needs to find a place where it is right.
Some people want to work in a toxic environment. There are plenty of masochists. They may feel stuck and do not see any other way to do it.
One must remember we all have the ability to choose. With my hard work, and my efforts, I also get to choose a life of wellness and balance. For those who are in sales, business owners, etc.... they also get to choose. They can decide who they work with and who they serve. My wife talks a lot about the power of consumerism. How we spend our money is a choice. The types of people we choose to do business with is also a choice. We get to choose how we best focus on the people and causes, that we most care about.
I agree with Ryan, that good leaders definitely value others' perspectives, and allow space for receptive feedback. In my previous interview, the topic of managers versus leaders came up. Good leaders lead, and create work environments where people can thrive, and be themselves. Sometimes, as Ryan suggested, once someone is in a toxic work culture, they may have a harder time seeing their way out of it. This could be one of the good things that came from this past year. People became more aware of their roles and positions, and how they are treated in their workplaces.
Many are thriving, and learning and growing through these times, and building better teams. This is a great takeaway.
Ryan touched on the "power of consumerism." More and more people thankfully, are paying attention to where products are made, how they are made, and how are they contributing to the greater good. Whether it is USA made products, or products that are sustainable; or whether it is companies that use simple and ethical supply chains in the manufacturing of their products.... this is also a great takeaway, as to the power of choice in action for the good.
Me: Finally, do you have one quote, or a couple favorite quotes, that you tend to live by, and refer to on a regular basis?
Ryan: I live with the idea of 'surrendering to the flow'. One can swim upstream but it is not worth fighting against the current. When one keeps trying something, and it is not working, one needs to look at the signs. There is definitely a path that makes sense, and the universe will push you in that direction, if one is paying attention, and receptive to the flow.
Me: I am all about the flow. I know when I am in the flow and when I am out of the flow. This is one of the reasons, I think surfers have such wisdom. They go through life with the energy of flow. They intuitively know when they are in the flow, and are great at getting back in flow, if they step out of it. I am not a surfer, per se, but I have always been drawn to the water, and surfers; hence so much time living in Southern CA. Nature holds many secrets, and if we would spend more time in nature, we may be better off as a society, in my opinion.
Ryan: I am a white water rafting guy, so I understand what you are saying about 'water people'. Some of the lessons I learned being on the water I do indeed take into life. I agree about the nature thing. Nature definitely keeps me grounded. People are spending too much time on their computers, and the 'computer world' is not really real. It does have an impact on how people view life, and can change a person's way of thinking since marketing, ads, etc... are all funneled to all who are looking.
Where are our roots, and where do we come from. Spending time in nature, we can ponder some of life's big questions. Looking at a bird on a tree chirping, the bird chirping on the tree is real. There is nothing being 'funneled' to our experience and awareness of the bird in the tree.
Those who love nature, and love the water, probably understand this section on a deeper level. Whether like Ryan, who white water rafts, or someone who surfs, kitesurfs, swims, etc.... The water energy is vibrant, and special. Many who have a lot of the water element in their birth charts, also have a deep affinity to the wisdom, and awe of the water and know intuitively it holds much of life's keys to being and thriving in the flow of life.
Great insight about the bird on the tree..... Ryan is no doubt a very deep thinker, and has much wisdom to share.
I want to thank Ryan for this amazing time spent. It was a joy and fun, and it is my hope that someone else, or many others, can learn or embrace something in this interview that resonates with them.
For more information on Bishops Lodge, please visit: