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William is an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in the Department of Business Administration and Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is fascinated by research around how individuals construct and create their social realities, intrigued with the powers of creativity and innovation, and an avid proponent of outstanding service experiences. When not teaching, writing, or researching, he tries to spend time with his family and occasionally paint. He is currently completing his PhD in Management at Saint Mary’s University.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More Juice in 2011

Ah, 2010. You crazy last year of this, our first unnamed decade in quite some time (we still haven't yet given it a moniker...the 00's? ooohhhs?)

I'm still processing all that has happened personally and professionally over the last decade. Ten years ago, I was in charge of a 3 a.m., multi-floor evacuation of one of the nicest hotels in Ottawa after someone decided to humorously pull the fire alarm. Today, I'm working on my dissertation and course planning to wrap up my tenth full year of teaching.

Ten years ago, I recall having fewer people in the house and a tad bit more hair.

Some things have changed dramatically, but other things less so. I still think that if you're my customer, you deserve an authentic experience. Back then, it was hotel and restaurant guests. I never recommended food that I hadn't eaten myself or wine that I hadn't tasted (good gig by the way!)  I always did the very best for the customer standing in front of me; it's likely one of the reasons that I can logically explain why hotels and airlines overbook but it fundamentally goes against everything in my DNA. A la Seinfeld, I had a clear appreciation for the difference between 'making' and 'holding' a reservation and never wanted to take the cash in front of my face if it meant breaking a promise to an incoming customer.

Today, I don't serve tables or check guests in. I get nostalgic about it occasionally but it's no longer my role. Now I have students, and for them, I try ensure an authentic experience as well. What does that mean exactly? Do I always have the right answers? Tell them what they want to hear?

No. It means that they get to see me in action, faults and all. When we hit a road block, we work around it. If I drop the ball (and it happens), I want them to tell me where I dropped it! You can't fix what you don't know is broken after all. And I rarely tell them what they want to hear; they didn't pay high tuition prices for unearned self-esteem (more on that in a future post). I try to customize my message to each student, telling them what they need to hear, especially if it's constructive. I want them to be open with me so the best thing I can do is attempt to be open yet sensitive with them.

After ten years, I could be cynical; anyone who has taught for a while gets that way. But I still want the best for my students, still see the potential in them that they might not yet see in themselves. That's the juice.

So, to 2011, I welcome you! In the wise words of Gary Vaynerchuk (just finished his last book), I'm going to try and 'crush it' this year with hard work and hustle. After all, the kids and my students are watching =).

Just my two cents...WCM

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