What You Have On Your Desk Can Keep You Focused

by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor

I kept these things on my desk:

A crystal ball;
A crystal pig with wings;
A small wooden owl;
A golden apple;
And a box of crayons in my desk drawer.

At least twice each week I would come into the office about 4 am and put on a pot of coffee.  Then I would go down and talk to the night cleaners, night auditor, and the early kitchen and coffee shop crew.

Office DeskReturning to my office I got a cup of coffee, put my feet up on the desk, smoked my pipe and stared at the things on my desk.

What did the crystal ball tell me?  Not much really, but it reminded me that I was not a modern day seer and should not claim to be one.  It also reminded me that I did need to plan for the future.  I thought great thoughts.  Okay, some of them probably weren’t all that great and that is why I had the pig with wings.

The pig with wings reminded me that like the pig I couldn’t fly.  I needed to keep my feet on the ground and be practical.  Pigs are really very smart.  I needed to be smart.

Then I looked at the little owl.  He reminded me that I needed to be wise enough to know which of my great thoughts were really great and which were like the piggy and wouldn’t fly.  He reminded me that like him, sometimes I needed to just sit and listen.

My golden apple reminded me that I needed to teach and mentor.  I was only as good as my staff.

Then before starting on the mountain of paper work that always grew over night, I opened my desk drawer and looked at my box of crayons.  We can learn a lot about a box of crayons you know.   They are each different.  Some are sharp, some dull, some short, some tall, different colors with different names, and made of different elements and they all exist in the same box.  Just like the staff, each one had a purpose and must be managed individually.  They also reminded me that sometimes it is okay to color outside the lines.

Now before anyone asks, no I didn’t smoke anything illegal in my pipe.  My routine was just a way to manage myself, and the reality that the employees make the business work.  Like the box of crayons, the individual employees in the hotel could make some pretty pictures if properly managed.  The crystal ball, the piggy, and the owl would help me do that.

What do  you use to stay focused?  What do you keep on your desk?


Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent
KEN is a 46 year veteran hotelier and entrepreneur. Formerly owned two hotels, an advertising agency, a wholesale tour company, a POS company, a leasing company, and a hotel management company. The hotels included chain owned, franchises, and independents. They ranged in type from small luxury inns, to limited service properties, to large convention hotels and resorts. After retiring he authored a book, “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” in which he relates what life is like behind the scenes for a hotel manager. Ken operated more that 100 hotels and resorts in the US and Caribbean and formed eight companies. He is a firm believer that senior management should share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of management.

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