A recent edition of Entrepreneur Magazine presented the following characteristics of an entrepreneur: Tenacity, Passion, Tolerance of Ambiguity, Self-Belief, Vision, Flexibility and Ability to Break Rules. Just starting your own business is a rule breaking action, as only 13% of Americans classify themselves as Entrepreneurs, according to a study published by Babson College in 2013. Do you have what it takes? I have it, and I’d like to share my story with you!
It was 2009 and I had been working in a home office role in Chicago representing the Hilton Anaheim and Hilton San Diego. Much of my time was spent going back and forth from Chicago to Southern California for site visits, or driving to office appointments around the Midwest. The money was good and I was hitting my numbers, but longing for something more. I had approached my bosses about other opportunities within the company and even interviewed for sales roles in other industries, but nothing was falling into place. A trip out to Anaheim for a site visit with an HPN Global affiliated association customer started my first concrete thought process on joining a third party meeting planning outfit.
Others had solicited me to join their company, including Conference Direct and Helms Briscoe, but I didn’t feel that their corporate cultures and business models were a good fit. Besides, if I was going to be an entrepreneur I was going all in and starting my own concept, not working for a third party meeting planning company! So I did just that by creating Drink Deck Destination Guides in late 2009. The press got a hold of my idea and it took off, so I decided it was time to resign from my 11+ year career working in convention sales for Hilton Hotels!
After three years, a massive cut in annual income from my previous salaried position with Hilton and over 100,000 copies of my product sold I had positioned Drink Deck to be purchased by my largest competitor – City Dining Cards. The sale had been negotiated in the summer of 2013 and once it was finalized it was time to ask myself, “What’s next?”. I had always excelled at sales. I loved the thrill of the chase, the anguish of a slowly evolving sales cycle and the excitement of the close. Real Estate seemed like a great idea, so I signed up for classes to get licensed in Maryland.
After completing the courses and passing the State and National exams it was time to affiliate with a Reality Brokerage. I interviewed countless firms around Baltimore, but couldn’t find the right fit. During my search I reconnected with a former colleague from Hilton whom had recently joined HPN Global, rekindling my interest in returning to the convention business as a third party hotel specialist.
You see, I’d already established a working knowledge of the convention industry, hotel brands and various destination types from resorts to convention centers to airport hotels to downtown venues. Negotiating on behalf of those planning conventions seemed to be a no brainer versus starting from scratch as a Realtor! Plus the relationships you develop in the convention industry are long lasting while buying and selling homes is more of a one-time transactional process.
After a trip to the Corporate Office of HPN Global my decision was made! Having taken the path less traveled by branching out on my own was the linchpin to making my decision to join HPN. If you are reading this article as a hotel or convention sales professional thinking about leaving the supplier side of the business you must realize that having contacts won’t be the key to your success. Instead, I urge you to look within yourself for the key characteristics of an entrepreneur: Tenacity, Passion, Tolerance of Ambiguity, Self-Belief, Vision, Flexibility and Ability to Break Rules. If you’re reading this article as one of my former customers from my days at Hilton, please know that I will be reaching out to share my story and to see if our services can be of assistance!
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