Celebrating 2 Years Of Defining Hospitality - Dan Ryan - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 120

DH - 2 year celebration

Dan Ryan: Hey everybody, I just wanted to do a little bit of a different recording this week in the sense that we just crossed the two year anniversary mark of defining hospitality and it's been a pretty incredible journey. Um, I think we've recorded over 120 episodes. I think we've had over 40,000 downloads.

We've reached listeners in gosh knows how many countries, and it's just a really nice time to just take stock, look back and see much, see how much the show has grown, and also to reflect on the amazing conversations that we've had. And we really loved learning from each and every guest. And I know that all you listeners are enjoying listening to all the guests as well.

And. I don't know. There's a black and white dictionary definition for what hospitality is. But what I've learned is it's really this Venn diagram of just different ideas and feelings and putting others first that create this nice little overlay and gray area, uh, of what it really means. And I guess my biggest takeaway is like, you know it when you feel it.

And in order to feel it, the person giving that hospitality, it just, they just have to be in alignment. With their heart, body and soul. And it's just so clear when it's done right. Um, but it's so hard to define how and when it is done right. It's not like a prescription, it's not very prescriptive. It's really, it's very, very intuitive, but also a lot of repetition and caring that really gets it there.

So, uh, Enjoy these episodes. Uh, well, I'm just gonna take a couple of 'em and highlight them, but, uh, we've really put together some of the highlights of a compilation of some of the most listened to episodes over the past year. So we've been doing it two years, but this is just, uh, from the last year. And the first one is a strange one because, uh, It's someone who I saw speak, um, up at a learning event in, in Massachusetts, and it's Amanda Knox and I don't know if you're familiar with her case, but she was imprisoned falsely for murder of her roommate and she spent two years of her life, actually I think it was four years of her life in prison.

but also managed to find purpose and find a certain level of hospitality from. Her experience in that cold Italian prison. Um, I really just found her story completely moving and a bit off the beaten path as it pertains to what hospitality is. But I thought all of you would really listen and enjoy it.

And, uh, just judging by the downloads and, and interest, uh, it worked. So, uh, I'm glad that it resonated with all of you.

Dan Ryan: In light of this whole idea of hospitality, which is kind of where I would like this conversation, I think we both want this conversation to go, what does hospitality mean to you? How do you define it? And then maybe we could use that. I. Sense of purpose to get you through as kind of the, the dialogue to

Amanda Knox: go on?

Sure. Yeah. So if I had to define hospitality, I might say it is creating a space that meets another person's needs. Um, and in so doing, offering a gift to another person, um, and. It's, I, I love that I'm here to talk about hospitality because, uh, prison is kind of the opposite of what you think of what you think of hospitality.

A hundred percent. It's kind of designed to be anti hospitable. Um, but, but

Dan Ryan: the human condition, I think forces all of the, all of you and your fellow incarcerated people to find, and maybe not for everyone, but I, I really got a sense that. You guys kind of created your own, it was like a need, a human need, a like Maslow, like you just have to, we, we need that kind of connection.

But anyway, I'm taking the microphone. Go.

Amanda Knox: Well, yeah. So, uh, what I was actually referring to at the time is, um, I had never really had thought about it as hospitality. It was more, uh, hustle. Yeah, like it, I, I feel like in the, in the world of prisons, people would call it the hustle, but really what it was was finding the intersection between the resources that I had available to me and the community's need and.

You, you'd think that like, what, what possible resources could I have in such an environment, especially when I had been stripped of so many possessions and so much, uh, power over even my own body, much less my space. Like I, I. I couldn't, I had like the number of pairs of underwear I was allowed to have were, were counted, like it was, it was very, very limited what my resources were in terms of things or in terms of space.

But what I did have in abundance, which I noticed my fellow prisoners did not have in abundance, was literacy. Education. Um, I mean, honestly, I even had all of my own teeth. The vast majority of the women around me did not have, they just, they came from circumstances that were vastly different than mine. I grew up in this middle class household.

I went to school, I was going to college. Other people in the prison around me, my community was people who had maybe gone to elementary school, had been abused and neglected and victimized throughout their entire lives, um, had been victims of crime long before they had ever committed crimes themselves and we're longing for connection.

And one of the things that I was able to do just because of what I walked in, in terms of. What I had in my own brain was the ability to maintain communication with my family and friends. I was writing letters, I was doing all of that. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the other women that I was in prison with were illiterate.

They couldn't read, they couldn't write. They were given, you know, their court documents that they didn't understand, and they were asked to sign and it was just like a big X,

Dan Ryan: and they weren't necessarily. They weren't necessarily from Italy either. I, that was the feeling I got from, uh, when you were speaking

Amanda Knox: with all of us.

Yeah, absolutely. So that's another thing. Um, I would say a good solid half, if not like 60% of the population was not even Italian. They were people who were coming from Africa or Eastern Europe, and a lot of them spoke very, very minimal Italian, if at all. And so. Eventually after I. I, it took me about a year in prison to become completely fluent in Italian.

I also started, uh, working as a translator, so I was the unofficial translator in the prison. I would be called in to help people explain their medical symptoms to the. Staff, I was called in to help people read their court documents for them, and every evening I was escorted to a different cell so that I could help people write letters to their family members.

So that was, that was my hustle or my hospitality as we'll call it for this purpose.

Dan Ryan: The next one that happened over the past year is like a personal hero of mine in the hospitality space. Will Guera, he's the founder of Thank You, the Welcome Conference. Uh, really some amazing restaurants over his tenure and his career.

Um, but October of last year I interviewed him with the, with his book coming out, uh, unreasonable Hospitality and Unreasonable Hospitality. If you haven't read it, I really, really, really recommend it. Um, Because it is possible to go over the top with hospitality and exceed all everyone's expectations to really create a raving fan base.

we dove into the importance of really having your values front and center of the work you do. And again, it's, you go into any company or any establishment corporately or in a restaurant or in a hotel. I always say like, if there's a good culture, you can smell it, you can touch it, you can feel it. And that all comes down to being like very value centered.

Um, and a, on a funny side note, um, it's right around that B D N Y conference was happening and a client was in town from Salt Lake City and she had the book randomly. And I said, oh my God, I just interviewed him. So I texted Will. I asked him if he could sign a copy and leave it at his, uh, with his doorman.

And I just went down to his apartment building, and it was waiting there for me and I delivered it. And it was like an incredible gift. And again, those are those things that well, let's just call it Unreasonable Hospitality. So thanks so much to Will Gera for being on. And uh, I've just been so excited with all the content that he's been generating and.

I hope you guys will enjoy it as well.

Dan Ryan: So I just want to go into a time machine. I actually went through my old emails and I found this, and I think that this is really gonna be a great point of departure. Um, so for all those, the restaurants that I mentioned before and everything that you've done and all the ones that I omitted, um, like I just remember having one of the most incredible me meal experiences at 11 Madison Park, which it involve.

You remember how they do the, um, The card trick at the end.

Will Guidara: Yeah. I loved the card

Dan Ryan: trick. Well, the coolest thing is I was with three friends, or my wife and two friends, and we wound up playing hearts or something with the deck of cards until closing time, and it was like, I think it was a six hour dinner.

But it felt like no time and I just felt so warm and cared for and it was incredible. Which I know goes like you, you definitely highlight and speak about throughout un Unreasonable Hospitality, the book coming out. Um, and that was just a magnificent experience, but I think what my office used to be right across the street from the Nomad, um, from the Nomad on Broadway in 26th.

And I remember I wrote you this email after attending your welcome conference in 20. 18, I think, where it was basically, I said, um,

I know we never connected, or it was so great to meet you at the welcome conference. I, but I never got to tell you about an amazing experience. Right. I just had at the Nomad Library. I haven't been in a while too much, but I, Brittany was there, who I was a regular, and she said, oh, how have your travels been?

And I said, you know, I was going to Denver. I, I, I've been traveling out, I'm going to Denver. So she brought over this woman, Skyler, who's from Denver, was working at the library bar. Skyler brought me a handwritten card of things to do in Denver. And, and I remember writing to you just like, I just had to share it with you.

And I was just awestruck. And I, I, but I, as I read your book and just knowing you and having experienced all these things, it's, I think it's those little moments that are the most priceless. And I just wanted to get your, your feeling. I mean, you said it, it made your day and lit up your heart. So how does that

Will Guidara: tie man?

Yeah. I wanna, I wanna say two things real quick, because first you talk about playing hearts and, um, the, the card trick. I came up with that idea when I was playing a game of cribbage. Um, Do you know, I'm not sure if you know the game. Oh yeah. It's a very, um,

Dan Ryan: Massachusetts, new

Will Guidara: England game. Yeah. And, and my dad is from New England and we grew up playing cribbage and I was playing cribbage and drinking a bottle of wine.

And I was like, man, like why can't fine dining meals include a game? Like, wouldn't it be awesome if our guests could play a game when they were with us? And the card trick itself wasn't a game, but the fact that you guys ended up playing hearts until the, the wee hours. It was actually the absolute fulfillment of how that idea came to pass in the beginning.

So that brings me joy. I, I think the reason why Brittany, by the way, was one of my favorites at Nomad, and so it's fun to hear you mention her name. But yeah, the reason that that filled my heart to the extent that it did was, listen, it's, it's one thing to believe in the idea. Going above and beyond for the people that you work with and the people that you serve.

The, the idea that you pick up on these little cues that give you an opening to do something that will just make them feel great. It's another thing entirely and something that I believe is actually much more fulfilling. Well, you can create a culture within your organization where other people become addicted to doing those things for people as well.

And so there. There's nothing that makes me happier than when I hear from someone who's been to one of my places that something like that happened to them and I had absolutely nothing to do with it because it means that the idea has fully taken root within the organization. And so, um, I just think it's the best I, for me, there is nothing more energizing than seeing the look of complete joy on someone's face when they receive a gift.

I am responsible for giving them except hearing. That people on my team have grown accustomed to doing it as

Dan Ryan: well.

Dan Ryan: The next highlight is from an interview with Stephanie Hopkins, and she is a senior interior design manager at Marriott International.

And Stephanie, just from my experience, works really tirelessly to ensure that every detail has its place within the design aesthetic for guests also, just as a brand and taking over the, the smallest little details to the biggest brand ideas and, um, I think what I really enjoyed most about her is shortly after I started the podcast two years ago, it was, we were at an industry event and I was just on a panel and I saw a friend of mine walking up and I said, oh, I did this podcast, I started this one, and I, I'd love to have you on.

And the friend that I was talking to was like, oh, I had no idea. Um, Stephanie was like, oh my God, I love your podcast. It's been great. I really enjoy it. I'm learning so much. So she was like, I think maybe my first fan also that I actually knew about. 'cause oftentimes you're just like shouting into a thunderstorm hoping that this will stick and people will listen.

Uh, but I really consider Stephanie my first real fan, aside from my mom of course. Um, but uh, It was just a real pleasure to have her on and also her, her conversation that we recorded just generated a lot of interest out there, which was fantastic. So enjoy the excerpts from that one.

Stephanie Hopkins: Hey, Dan. It's so good to be in person. It's

Dan Ryan: great to be in person. I'm loving this and the, and the experimentation, so thank you for letting me try out something new with you.

Stephanie Hopkins: Yeah, it's been awesome. I mean, I, I think anytime we get a chance to be together, finally, um, is really good and. You know, it's exciting to be at HQ and recording and all that.

Oh yeah.

Dan Ryan: That's another thing. We're in the mothership right now. We're

Stephanie Hopkins: in the mothership. We're in the mothership with, um, yeah. Amazing. Bethesda behind us. It's pretty cool to be here and exploring around the building. This is your what, second time here?

Dan Ryan: Third, I think. Yeah. Yeah. It's pretty cool.

Stephanie Hopkins: That's more than I've been here.


Dan Ryan: that's funny. Yeah. 'cause you live in Austin. Yeah. So I wanna, I just wanna let everyone know, like to kind of loop them into how we came to be right here. Yeah. So about. A year and a half ago, we were at a trade show and I saw Kristen Connery, who was a previous guest, and I said, Kristen, how are you? I'm so happy you, uh, transitioned over to Marriott.

Like, it's kind of exciting, a new journey. I've been doing a podcast. Have you heard it? And she's like, no, what are you talking about? And then, and I, but you were standing with her and said, oh wait, you're Dan Ryan. I love your podcast. And to me that was like the first real affirmation that like, Oh my God, people are actually listening to this and it's kind of cool.



Stephanie Hopkins: love that. I am so, uh, I'm a podcast junkie as I like to call myself. And so yeah, I was, um, I'm on Kristen's team, kind of. And so we were kind of looking to kind of get some of our, um, on some podcasts, look and see what's out there in the design industry. So I was like researching and I found yours and was listening to it and I was like, I love this.

So then when I saw you with B D N Y, I think in yes. Maybe 21, I guess, right? It was 21 because 20 we didn't do it. And so it was b d n Y 21. And, um, yeah, and that's how this, you know, whole, you know, thing. Big friendship got started and how it got started. But yeah, it was really, it was really fun. I just, um, yeah, I'm, I'm a big podcast fan and love listening to hearing different people's stories and, you know, tell, you know, different little design snippets here and there.

It's pretty fun.

Dan Ryan: I love it. Um, It's so, I mean, it's incredible and, you know, and so in a, in a way, you're very much a part of the success of this because that affirmation and then the other conversations we've had at Marriott, and I don't know, it's just thank you. So

Stephanie Hopkins: thank you. Well, thank you. It's, it's sweet.

I've, I also, also too, like I've heard you kind of start and then develop as a podcast host as you've gone into it. So I have to say that, um, I've been. Happy to be part of the journey, kinda

Dan Ryan: so, oh. An important part of the journey. So thank you. Thanks for

Stephanie Hopkins: saying that. It's good

Dan Ryan: to be here. Um, so I'm gonna start off by, you know, the big question, which is always like, first of all, everyone should know there's so many guests on this, on this show that, on, I call them accidental hospitality people.

Yeah. I don't, I, they're not accidental ho, I dunno what I call them. They're accidental hospitality, indus industry. Fans or people who kind of happen into this world. And you are one of them. Yeah. One of the many. Yes. And um, I guess like the big question is from your journey to where you are now, like how do you define hospitality?

Stephanie Hopkins: Yeah, it's, that's good. And obviously I've been thinking about it a lot Yeah. Lately, but I think, um, I mean, you know, I think for me and what really, um, And as being in hospitality, what hospitality kind of means to me is it's more of that kind of, um, it's that overall experience, kind of that 360 degree view.

I'm from Texas and from the south and you know, I think thinking back to historically kind of how it was growing up and my mom constantly was entertaining. Like our house was the house where everybody came over and all my friends were there and. And it was kind of in itself this hospitality experience.

You know, she always kind of had the great food and snacks and the house was always looked a certain way and she, you know, and it had a certain smell associated with it, you know, the lawn was done well when you pulled up. So kind of all of that, I think has then translated to me mm-hmm. Into what hospitality is kind of now.

So I think it, it is, you know, and what was has been ingrained in me kind of. A lot from my early training is it's from the minute you pull into kind of that portico share and what that's ex like coming up to the hotel and how do you guide that experience and then coming in and then the scent that you smell and then how you're greeted and, you know, um, from moxie you check in at the bar.

So you kind of have that whole experience and then you, um, you have your room, you have the sound, you know, so each hotel has, its its own sound. And then ultimately for me, um, like many hospitality people, I think is. Really kind of that vibe that you get when you sit down at the bar and you kind of have that, that final drink.

So it's just that overall experience of, and then of course the sight of, you know, the beautiful, um, hotel itself. And then just getting that like signature cocktail for kind of that hotel is also a really great experience. So all of that I think defines a hospitality experience to me. Mm-hmm. And I think that comes from really ultimately, kind of thinking back is how it was in my childhood

Dan Ryan: and then, From your childhood to, you know, you go to, you go to school and then you, you were an entrepreneur Yeah.

In, in a family business with your sister, correct?

Stephanie Hopkins: Yeah. My sister and my sister-in-law, um, started up this window covering company in Austin and they still have it. Um, and they're still going strong and, and doing great. And so I, I graduated with a business degree. Mm-hmm. And so, kind of when we started the company that I had more of like a business lens going into.

You know, kind of around operations and financials and things like that. And then we kind of started to expand the product line into, and then I expanded into sales. I mean, as you, anybody who has their own business, you do everything right? Yeah. You do business development, you do this, you do that. So kind of expanding into sales and then being like one-on-one with customers and helping them kind of, and then expanding the product line into draperies and things like that.

I was like, oh, this is really. This was really cool, like, I think, and I was kind of sketching out draperies and doing stuff that I was completely foreign to me that I'd never done. And so I really started to start to research, like interior design and maybe getting a second degree. And that was, you know, this transformation process.

Um, and then I found a program in London and went to London to kind of do, um, a diploma there. And, uh, it was a really awesome experience. And, um, and then from there interned at like a. A really great, um, British furniture company mm-hmm. That had a bunch of hospitality clients in New York and then, um, got my first gig with Tony Chin Associates and Unreal.

That's a great first gig. And jumped into hospitality and kind of just was like, oh wow, this is pretty awesome.

Dan Ryan: Uh, lastly, another super popular one was with Brent Hardy from the Hardy Group, and just wanted to wrap up with this last highlight from my interview with him.

Uh, Brent had some really amazing insights to share on client relations, and I dunno, I just loved. I love talking to people who have family businesses where they're, they're multi-generational and more often than not, those don't really work out very well. But just having known his dad forever and he, he, and then Brent and his brothers, um, I don't know.

I just feel like it was a really cool conversation to think about how to navigate that ship of a multi-generational family business and also just. Delighting and, uh, delivering excellence for, for his clients. Um, that was really fun. And also we just share, um, well, he's a bit more passionate, but we share this, uh, love of pickleball.

So that was just a fun, a really fun interview and it really resonated with all of you.

Brent Hardy: Hey, thanks for having me. Appreciate it. Oh,

Dan Ryan: it's so good to have you on. And it's crazy to think that you've been at the Hardy Group for 15 years because I've been in the industry for longer than that, almost twice as long. But I feel like you've always been there.

Brent Hardy: Yeah. Well, I mean, I'm, there's, there's a couple hardies around, so it's easy to get us confused.

But, um, you know, I, I, I tell everyone, like I started the company when I was 12 years old, envelopes, you know, back before email. So, uh, I was perhaps unpaid intern then. Um, but, but yeah, fulltime the last 15 years,

Dan Ryan: we won't tell anyone about the unpaid intern part, um, except all of our listeners. Right. But, you know, to start off this, I know that you, you know, you've been.

Raised in this industry, you know, your dad, um, and built this great company and now you're at the helm and steering it on, forward in, in a really exciting and great and innovative way. Mm-hmm. So I, before we get into everything, I'd just love to. Go into the first question, which is how do you define hospitality?


Brent Hardy: that's a great question. And I think, you know, for me, when I was starting out as a kid, you know, hospitality was my dad, hotel. Hotel, seeing buildings, and that was hospitality. As I grew in my career, you know, I realized over time that's really limiting definitions, not just.

And, and the appreciation for those kinds of, of moments, uh, whether that's checking into a hotel lobby, experiencing the pool, or, or just appreciating you, the value people are doing every day at their job, or even as a guest when you're, you're traveling to a hotel. And so I think it's really, you know, a broader just appreciation for those kinds of interactions with people.

I think hospitality as an industry does very, very well. And I think a lot industries reps are jealous of, um, because it's, it's, it's really meaningful and it's greater than any one product or property.

Dan Ryan: Yeah. And I do believe, just like you, that it is that kind of space between the, the interpersonal relationship and so many of the projects that we work on.

And just life in general. It's all about that energy between the people and it's just exciting to work on all these projects sometimes with you, sometimes not with you, but just in any project where we're building these environments where people come together, exchange ideas, and hopefully have really positive

Brent Hardy: memories.

Yeah, I mean, I think when you, when you think about in.

It's you who.

And what role you are in industry. That's really what you lead with to be successful. And I think, you know, you, you, it just, it's a really great thing that I've kind of come to appreciate perhaps I wasn't aware of when I was starting out in my career. Now it's, those things really matter. And, and, and I think if you, if you lead with that and that's your focus of what you're doing, eventually you'll find success in this industry.

Dan Ryan: Um, one of the things I'm always amazed by you and colleagues of yours is, To really make these projects come to life, like you're, you're there at the very beginning. You have a, a, a budget with a lot of zeros on it. You have a lot of different stakeholders and you really, you have to bring it to life, obviously on time, on budget, but without losing sight of that hospitality.

And I'm always intrigued by when you start. When things start going a little bit sideways, you're like, uh oh. Uh oh. How do you maintain that level of hospitality when, for all the stakeholders, but still trying to, you know, be accountable and deliver what you've promised?

Brent Hardy: Yeah, it's difficult because, you know, there's very, you know, no, just no such thing as a easy.


Everyone's working the same goal. And a lot of times, you know, if things are getting heated or getting, you know, people are getting a little anxiety over things, you gotta kind of pause and calm them down and say, look, we're all trying to get the same goal. And I think, you know, so much of what we do as a, in, in our businesses, project managers, all managers, really managing teams and, you know, every team is different.

A lot of, a lot of successful teams and projects are because people are able to sort of come together, whether it's owner, architect, contract consultant, project manager, and really be effective as a team and work well. And that's, that's a level of combination of, of professionalism and experience and, and trust.

And, you know, sometimes it takes a while, takes it's harder, earn. Ultimate, you know, no single person is, is responsible for it's.

Dan Ryan: I hope you enjoyed all those clips. Um, and thank you for joining me on this journey. Really the two years of you guys listening. It's just been really humbling. And I remember saying, oh, I'll do it for 18 months.

I'll see what, what happens. And now we're two years in and I, I gotta say, I don't know if I've said this, I'm sure I've said this on the, on the show, but this is my favorite thing. I do all week. I do it weekly. Um, I try to record them on Fridays. It's a great way to end a week. Um, and I've just learned so much from all of my guests and also, I feel like in a way I'm just really impacting our small but passionate community, um, of hospitality and hospitality design.

Um, so I'm just honored that y'all are still listening and growing and I'm just happy to keep doing this. I wanna do this forever. So this is my forever gig. Um, but thank you so much. We couldn't do it without you. And a heartfelt thank you.

Celebrating 2 Years Of Defining Hospitality - Dan Ryan - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 120
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