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Jonathan Tisch is the co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation, an American conglomerate, and the chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels. He is Chairman Emeritus of the United States Travel Association, and a New York Giants trustee. I sat down with Jon to talk about the values his family imparted, how he integrates those values into his leadership, and the advice he’d give to his 21-year-old self.
Sanyin: We’re often so future-oriented that we don’t think about the past. But in order to look forward, we have to understand the past and our traditions. Can you share a tradition from your organization that helps propel you forward?
Jon: For us at Loews Corporation, I am honored to run the company with my two cousins. I am Co-Chairman of the Board of Loews Corporation with my cousin Andrew, and his brother Jim is President and CEO of Loews Corporation. We’ve learned from my father and uncle—and my mother and my aunt—that you treat people with respect, listen, protect the downside, and do your homework. Not everything will go exactly as planned, but you learn from your mistakes, and move forward.
Sanyin: How have your parents and family made you the person you are? What values and perspectives did they impart?
Jon: My family emphasized that, while you can be committed to your own success, you need to have a mindset that creates success for others. It was the subject of my first book, The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships. It’s important to analyze our challenges, prioritize relationships when mediating challenges, and move forward together. It’s important to have a generous spirit and be responsible to the community.
Sanyin: You’re a storyteller. You started your career after Tufts in the film production business. Can you share a story of a time when things went wrong and how you managed it?
Jon: When I graduated from Tufts University in 1976, I became a cinematographer/producer in Boston. I taught myself how to shoot and edit films. There were shows that I did as an amateur/rookie/freshman in the TV industry that didn’t work. But I was fortunate to have people who taught me how to document life and tell a story and people who were patient. I learned early on about constructive criticism, the value of mentors, knowing your craft, and being sure of your values. Especially as you become the leader of an organization, people look to you for the same guidance and skills that you learned earlier in your career.
Sanyin: How are your values evident in your work life?
Jon: One of my core values is knowing that you can’t do it by yourself. I try to incorporate my values into everything I do—my for-profit life, my not-for-profit life, my pro bono work, and my community work. Values matter. Having a sense of purpose matters. Having a soul matters. Every organization, no matter the size, is a living being. The climate you create for your employees has a lot to do with your success.
Sanyin: What makes you energized and excited to go to work every day?
Jon: I get excited about the future, but I’m also keenly aware of how the past and the present are precursors to the commitment we’re making to the future. I’m excited about the impact of new technology on the travel and tourism industry. And I’m excited to work with women and men who are good at what they do. We have 10,000 team members, and that number will grow 50% in the next two or three years.
Sanyin: What advice would you give to 21-year-old Jon Tisch?
Jon: There are three very important lessons. One: listen. Stop talking and listen. Listen to what people have to say. In a sense, get over yourself. Take a moment to see what other people might offer and what advice they would give. The second is networking. Make sure you meet with as many members of the community or people in your industry of interest as you can.
The third lesson I learned 38 years ago from my boss. I had just started working with Loews Hotels in 1980. I was a sales rep, and the Head of Sales and Marketing told me, “Never start a paragraph with the word ‘I.’ When you start with an ‘I,’ you’re immediately indicating that you are more important than the person you’re corresponding with. Try to put yourself in a different place and find another way to start a paragraph—to communicate.
- You can’t do it alone. If you’re in a leadership role, work hard to ensure that your people have the tools they need to succeed. Investing in their success is just as important as investing in your own.
- Past traditions contextualize your future trajectory. Know the history of your environment and use it to shape your goals and propel you forward.
- Don’t start with “I.” Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and perspective when you’re responding to someone.
January 28, 2019 at 04:26PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs