When CEOs of the past, present and future gathered for a Jeopardy-style hotel trivia game on the last day of ALIS, it was only a matter of time before things got a little bit chippy.
“They’re old. They don’t need that much help,” Carlson’s Nancy Johnson quipped playfully after insinuating that the buzzers were rigged in favor of the elder statesmen of the bunch. Appropriately dubbed, “Old Guys rule!” (aka retired CEOs) the duo in question comprised FelCor’s Tom Corcoran and Don Landry, formerly of Sunburst Hospitality. They were up by a few hundred points at this point and were on their way to a rather decisive victory over teams “The boss” (aka current CEOs) and “Wannabe CEOs” (aka future CEOs).
But while the one-liners and laughter evoked by long-lost pictures of hotel legends (picture young Horst Schulze with a greasy coiffed ’do in the vein of Elvis) may have dominated the fast-paced, 20-minute game, it wasn’t the answers that revealed much about the contestants—but rather the way they played the game.
Take the Wannabes, for example. Johnson and teammate Jim Anhut of IHG weren’t afraid to take risks, even when their score drifted southward to an embarrassing tally of -700. By the end of regulation play, they had managed to claw back up to -100, and later finished with 400 after a benevolent Jim Burba, who played host, granted them 500 points to wager on the final question.
The current CEOs, Best Western’s David Kong and Nobel Investment Group ’s Mitesh Shah, played a much more calculated game. They buzzed in when they were certain they knew the answer, and refrained from throwing up Hail Marys for higher-value questions. They finished in second with 900 points after losing 500 points on the final question.
The last group—the aforementioned Old Guys—won handily. Confident and cool, their years in the business proved invaluable when answering history-related questions and those involving famous hotels from around the world. By the end of regulation, they had a 500-point lead with 1,900 points, and would eventually jump to 2,800 after answering the final question correctly.
So after watching them play, what does each team’s respective style of play say about their ability to lead?
I hesitate to draw any definitive conclusions from a 20-minute trivia game, but I couldn’t help ponder how such behavior would transfer to the boardroom:
The Wannabes: not afraid to voice their opinion, even when that meant suggesting a somewhat controversial or alternative approach to a challenge. Ultimately though, they still have a bit to learn.
The Old Guys: Serving in an advisory role, they boast experience in the industry that keeps them confident and cool.
The Bosses: Under the most intense scrutiny, they take a more calculated approach and only act after confirming their decision is correct.
That final question, by the way? Name the hotel in the movie, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
Answer: The Chicken Ranch