Many years ago I noticed something that has continued to interest me ever since: Those who clearly need help don't ask for it, while successful people who don't seem to need help will take all the help they can get.

At first that didn't make sense to me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense.

My first experience with this truism goes back to the early years of Marriott Hotels when we had 10 hotels and I was responsible for advertising and public relations. Just before our annual marketing planning trips to the hotels, I dropped the hotels a note to tell management that, while each meeting was planned for two days per hotel, we would be pleased to extend any of the meetings by one full day to cover additional subjects as requested by the hotels.

Two hotels requested an additional full day. One never answered the note, one said that a half-day meeting would be sufficient, and six said the two days as originally planned was fine.

The manager of the hotel who didn't answer my note finally told me that in his opinion a meeting of two to three hours could cover everything.

At that point I thought that those lagging behind in the implementation of our new, fairly complicated advertising system, introduced six months previous, would request more time for additional help.

When I compared their requests with what I thought would be their needs, I was shocked to find that the neediest requested the least time and the superstars requested the most.

After thinking about this phenomenon at length, it started to make sense that poor performers were poor performers because they spent less time on the new system than the top performers. Requests by the top hotels for as much time as we could give them and lack of interest by poor performers was verified over and over again.

What can these experiences teach us? First, you must use every resource available within your company, franchise or association to be successful. The most successful never become as successful as possible by depending just on their own judgment. Bill Marriott and his dad, the founder of Marriott, were great because they knew it was best to use the best ideas of all instead of just their own.

The most successful people I've ever known constantly ask my opinion on a variety of issues. I realize that I'm not the only one whose opinion they would seek.

Taking the opinions of others into consideration was their way to make good decisions. Some seem to believe it's a sign of weakness to ask others. On the contrary, I believe it's a sign of strength.

People I've known who don't ask input from others usually don't make good decisions consistently. There are thousands out there who never even think of getting input from others before making decisions. These are the people who don't take pride in a decision unless it's completely their own. This doesn't lead to the success we would all like to have.

Tom McCarthy, CHME, CHA, spent half his career with Hilton and Marriott in sales, advertising and public relations and half in his own training and consulting business, Hotel Professional Education and Consulting of Falls Church, VA. He is a past president of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and is a member of the HSMAI Hall of Fame. He can be reached at or 703-931-0757.

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