Thee Wise Men: watch and learn

Wow! We have received such a hearty and warm response from media and industry personnel with regard to my father, Otto Stehlik, joining us at BON Hotels. Throughout our recent trip to Indaba, nothing but good wishes and heart-warming reactions from travel and hospitality people flowed: a wonderful feeling for my dad and I. We are both pleased and honoured.

BON Hotels have recently added a few ‘silver foxes’ to our team. But, instead of trying to muscle in ’our way’ of doing business or train them on the way business has changed and is ‘currently done’, we’ve decided to be smart: to sit back and take some serious notes, watching and learning.

As much as we are told that there is no substitute for experience, it is easy for young entrepreneurs to assume an arrogant attitude and insist on doing things our way, happy to learn by forging ahead and banging our heads! Fortunately, we have taken a different approach this time: listening and taking advice from these golden sages.

It has been amazing to sit back in boardrooms and lunch meetings and savour the power of knowledge and experience. These people have negotiated thousands of deals, using timeless principles of relationship-building. I have been reminded that how much time we invest in relationships is critical. Young business people are too often guilty of trying to achieve too much too quickly at the expense of fostering lasting relationships.

From the start of our negotiations in Nigeria, it was apparent that the decision-makers were the older, more mature people in the room, and in fact, no one paid much attention to the young bulls eager to please, preferring to discuss and deal with our grey-haired team members, clearly a custom of huge merit and a logical one at that.  I have admired my dad and other senior people in our team negotiate with supreme skill, patience and ease.

How fortunate we have been that instead of choosing to sail off into retirement, these seniors with so much wisdom and experience to offer have decided to keep their brains active. They are simply not ready to let it all go. What a privilege for us! We are happy to support in the background as the pros work their magic.

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