In this episode, Pete is joined by a special guest who has worked for the same Fortune 50 company for more than 28 years. The company is regularly recognized as a top employer, which begs the question: Is it due to their culture, or because of managers like today’s guest?
We cover a range of topics: managing a virtual team, the impact of Covid, career motivation, the importance of enthusiasm in the workplace, and how to succeed over time.
- Chasing Your Passion: Tips For Switching Career Paths
- Finding a Job That is Right For You
- Advice on How to Find Your Best Career Path
- Employee Incentive Programs To Motivate and Engage Your Staff
- How To Manage A Hybrid Workforce: Tips For Making Remote Teams Successful
- Ways the Pandemic Will Change the Recruiting Process as We Know It
Pete Newsome 00:00
You’re listening to the Hire Calling Podcast. On today’s episode, I have a very special guest, someone who’s been in their job for almost 30 years and absolutely loves it. What makes this person so unique? You’ll have to listen to find out. Let’s go!
Pete Newsome 00:26
Welcome, everyone, and thank you for listening to the Hire Calling Podcast. I’m Pete Newsome and this is your source for all things hiring, staffing, and recruiting. And today is a day that I’m pretty excited about because I have a very special guest. So I’d like to introduce Kelly Knowlen. Kelly, welcome!
Kelly Knowlen 00:43
Thank you. I’m so excited to be with you today.
Pete Newsome 00:45
Kelly is the Vice President of Sales Engagement and Events for the Hilton Corporation and happens to be my sister. So that’s a couple of reasons why it’s really special to have you on today. So thank you for agreeing to join me.
Kelly Knowlen 01:02
I love it. I love talking about Hilton and I love talking about what I do. So thanks for having me. I love what I do!
Pete Newsome 01:11
It’s, you know, the word love is actually the reason I thought of inviting you on today. Because I’ve noticed for the past couple of years that you actually put that on LinkedIn, you put it in post, you post about your job on Facebook, for goodness sakes. And you are you’re genuinely one of the few people that I know, I’ve said this to you quite a few times before when we talk about work, who loves your job. And what’s so unique is that you’ve been with the same organization for over 28 years. And that is just such an anomaly. So I had to have you come on in and then talk about that, because it’s it’s so unique.
Kelly Knowlen 01:54
Yeah, I know I love it. I was so proud of my company and the team that I get to work with every day. So I’m thrilled to talk about a little bit today and what my experience has been like.
Pete Newsome 02:08
Well, that’s awesome. So let’s just start with that. We won’t bore anyone with family stories. Although who knows if this gets enough downloads, maybe we’ll come back and do an episode about that. But why don’t you start? If you wouldn’t mind, Kelly, just talk a little bit about what your role is today, and what you do.
Kelly Knowlen 02:27
So my job is to look after the team that plans all the customer events for Hilton. So we’ve been doing this for years, probably about 15-16 years, there’s been a group that’s always planned our customer events for Hilton. And so you think you know what customers for Hilton, you go on vacation, you stay in a hotel, you know, who are the customers, how do you get these customers? Well, we have what we call above property team, Hilton Worldwide sales who actually manages the account, just like any other business manages accounts, our sales organization will manage accounts for Hilton.
Kelly Knowlen 03:01
So say it’s Coca-Cola or 4 Corner Resources wants to have a meeting at a hotel, the sales team, the sales organization is the one that works those relationships and then send that group or that event or that conference to a hotel. So they manage those relationships on a global basis. So I’m part of that organization. And so we put on all the customer events for our customers, so they could be connected to an industry or they could just be Hilton events. So we’ve been doing that for a long time. And then a couple years ago, actually about a year before COVID, we actually added to our team, and we started taking on all of the internal conferences that Hilton puts on.
Kelly Knowlen 03:40
So this could be brand conferences. So it could be like if all of our Hilton and Conrad and multiple story hotels wants to have a conference, we’ll do those could be global owners conferences. It could be conferences for commercial organization. So we started doing that a couple years ago, before COVID. And before the whole world changed. So I get to lead a team of about 15 people that executes those events, and no better job in the world.
Pete Newsome 04:06
And you mean it? And that’s what is just, you know, it’s so fascinating to me. And while I’m really talking to you, because you just you see the energy, you feel the energy. I want to get into that. But you mentioned COVID. So let’s, let’s just start there. How has that changed in your job, given that it’s event-centric? To say the least that’s a big, you know, the world’s changed a lot and what has that meant for you? What has that meant for your team?
Kelly Knowlen 04:38
Yeah, it was a really tough time, of course, for everybody. I mean, it sounds kind of silly to even say that that’s stating the obvious, but when COVID hit events just started canceling and you probably saw all over the news, you know, the government would in a lot of states would not even allow large gatherings. So our whole world fell apart pretty quickly. So we started having to roll back all the plans for meetings, conferences, events, instead of trips, things that we’ve been planning for years, we had to start rolling all those back.
Kelly Knowlen 05:09
And our company took a huge hit at the time. Of course, as all hotel business, all hotel companies did, you know, people weren’t traveling, they weren’t staying in hotels, they won’t go into weddings or events, in hotels, and so my team was furloughed, except for there was two of us that stayed on board. And we started working on virtual events, you know, like this, like, you know, virtual zoo teams, WebEx type of platforms, we had to learn a little bit of a different way to connect our customers with our salespeople. And we started working on that. And that lasted for about six months. And before we were able to bring our team back, and it wasn’t the full team, I lost about half my team.
Kelly Knowlen 05:47
So it was probably one of the toughest years that I’ve ever been through. And again, I feel like that stating the obvious, probably everybody could say the same thing. But losing a team of incredible people was, was rough. And so when we were able to start bringing people back, that was just game changing for us. So it was hard on them coming back to after being on furlough for six months, they started coming back, we were able to in the spring of this year, get all of the conferences up and running again, you know, as a hospitality business, we’re in the business of people serving people.
Kelly Knowlen 06:21
And so we want to show our customers it’s safe to have in person events. And so they approved all the conferences to come back, they improved my team coming back on board, and we were able to start hiring again and, and bring it back a team and we still weren’t hired for one more position right now we’ve got one more in January, that will be back to full, full steam ahead. And it’s just fantastic. So we got our first conference coming up in Vegas in December, and I can’t wait.
Pete Newsome 06:47
So your team was already always virtual? Correct. You’ve been managing a virtual team touch on that for a second. Because that’s new to a lot of us, myself included, we were always on-site in the office every day. And we’re having to adjust as so many people are right now many companies, as I’m sure you know, are, you know, realize that that’s a model that they’re going to stick with. What advice if you have in a I’m putting you on the spot here do you have for folks who manage a virtual team to still have it feel like a team?
Kelly Knowlen 07:22
Well, I can tell you, because I’ve done both. So we have worked remote for probably about 12 years now. But leading a team for the past four, and all being remote in virtual because we travel all over the place, you know, part of our role is to go to wherever the events are, where the customer is, are. And so we get to travel to some really great places. And you know, one of my bosses at one time told me that my office is in the airport and and that feels true back and you know, pre COVID I was on the road probably three weeks out of the year.
Kelly Knowlen 07:56
And so it back then we you know, we saw each other all the time and a really awesome places, you know, we go in and have planning meetings in Cabo, or, you know, in in, we did one in Hawaii right before the pandemic, as we were planning an incentive trip. I mean, how great is that, you know, again, best job in the world, I get to have an incredible team. And we get together and experience these amazing properties that are part of Hilton. No complaints, right? But when we weren’t able to do that anymore, and we weren’t traveling, we had to find new ways, of really keeping those relationships going.
Kelly Knowlen 08:30
And so because we weren’t able to be together, we went two years without seeing each other. And I have two people on my team right now I’ve never met in person. Well, I’m gonna meet him in a couple of weeks in Vegas, but I’ve never met him in person, which is weird. But you know, we try to really stay connected like this, you know, virtually through zoom calls, team calls. Every week, we do one on ones every week, we do weekly or bi-weekly team meetings. And we try and keep things fun. this coming week, we’re doing a costume party for Halloween.
Kelly Knowlen 08:59
And I know that’s nothing I know you guys have four quarters, do it all the time. But you’re trying to find different ways to still stay connected, stay engaged, as much as we can, and do business a little bit differently. And I’ll tell you, one of the biggest things is to get back out on the road. There’s nothing like being together, face to face in person. So we have almost the whole team going out together to Vegas in a couple of weeks. We’ve got a big industry event, we’ve got lots of customer events. It’s IMAX is our biggest trade show of the year and the industry.
Kelly Knowlen 09:31
We’ve got 450 customers coming to our first event at our new resort, which is Resorts World, and it’s going to be awesome. We’re on a rooftop overlooking the strip, and we’ve got a ton of customers ton of hotels, a ton of our corporate people coming. And then we’re also at the same time planning for this conference that I mentioned that we’re going to have out there in December it’s going to be for about 800 people. So we’re going to have the whole team together for the first time and It’s just gonna be incredible, because there’s nothing like it. This is one way of working. But as often as you can get together, I would still say, you know, try and make those connections when you can.
Pete Newsome 10:09
Yeah, it’s been an interesting journey for us. And for a lot of the customers of ours that I speak with where it seems like such a great idea to offer that the virtual work environment. But now that we’ve all been doing it for a while, you start to realize that it’s, it’s not, you know, all the better roses, right? So, you know, everyone likes the idea of it, but you lose certain things, you lose camaraderie, you lose just that personal connection that humans need. And it’s gonna be an interesting thing to observe over the next year or two to see where companies ultimately land with that. And even at 4 Corner, we’ve, we’ve gone from thinking it was the best thing that could possibly happen, right? A real silver lining from COVID. To realizing hmm, maybe we need to rethink this a little bit long term, right? Because it’s just not the same. It’s not.
Kelly Knowlen 11:08
I think there’ll be a healthy balance that we find eventually. I personally have worked from home for a long time. Like I said, I love it, I love being able to go do a load of laundry, you know, in the middle of the day, or something like that. Or, you know, before we started doing all these video chats, you know, I was no makeup hair on top of the head pajamas some days all day. But I still think that you’ve got to have that one-on-one, FaceTime. Yeah, we had, I had my team, half of my team. And last week to Orlando, we were doing site visits and planning meetings at the Hilton Orlando and the Hilton, Mike Buenavista, for some upcoming events in 2022.
Kelly Knowlen 11:47
And had everybody over to my house and pizza party, because we had, it was team member Appreciation Week, which was good timing, and for all of our worldwide sales team, which is about 250 people I like I said before I stood under Help worldwide sales. And we did a virtual pizza party for all 250 people. And it was awesome. It was like an hour or so had my team come over reorder pizza, you know, and had some wine and, and there’s, there’s just nothing that’s gonna get any better than that, you know. So I think it’ll be a healthy balance eventually. So I would say try and find that balance as you’re working virtually make those connections when you can don’t lose touch, you know, really try and stay connected and find those personal connections, to keep the relationships going.
Pete Newsome 12:31
I think what you just said is one of the keys to it is it’s not going to happen by coincidence or accident, you really have to make a point of it in a way that you probably for most of us didn’t have to do when we were in office every day, you’d walk by someone you’d see him on Monday morning, ask about the weekend, ask what they’re doing, you know, on Fridays, and now you don’t have that. So I’ve noticed that I can go days and weeks without having conversations with people that I used to speak with every day, or at least one on one conversations. And you do have to be very conscious of that, in order to make it happen. It’s not going to happen naturally.
Kelly Knowlen 13:09
And you find yourself when you do talk to him, you’re sitting down with business, because you’ve got to kind of get answers to whatever it is that you need. And you kind of forget that, Hey, how was the weekend? Or what are you doing this weekend? You forget that water cooler coffee talk? Right?
Pete Newsome 13:22
No, absolutely. And people need that. And so we’re seeing in staffing, a lot of turnover right now. And it’s not necessarily because people are going back to the office, I think in many cases, we’re seeing people who want to go back, right, they’re not leaving because they’re forced to, they’re leaving because they want to. And that’s I think an unexpected scenario. There’s so many things with COVID that we didn’t see coming, couldn’t have predicted the outcome of how it affects society, and specifically through the work environment.
Pete Newsome 13:57
And that’s one of them is that there are a lot of people who just don’t want to work at home. And I understand why they may not have the right environment, they may not have a workspace that’s conducive to being productive, especially depending on what their job is. So it’s a really interesting time right now. I mean, I do want to ask you about silver lining. So you mentioned the negative of COVID. We all know what that means to so many. What about silver linings? Have you seen anything? That’s been a pleasant surprise that you wouldn’t have expected as a result of all the changes.
Kelly Knowlen 14:34
Yeah, I think, you know, we’ve, we’ve had to look at doing things differently. And again, trying to get, you know, fresh ideas and a conference. And when we’re bringing people back together for the first time and couple years that they haven’t seen each other. I mean that right there is exciting, but then how can we get those relationships jumpstarted again, you know, and we’re our organization We’ve had a lot of changes, you know, when when, as a company, we had to downsize a bit and we’re rebuilding you know, a lot of the organization, I sit under the commercial services organization, and now that includes marketing and IT and customer experience as well as our sales operations and our worldwide sales team.
Kelly Knowlen 15:17
So it’s a whole new group of people that are coming together for the first time. So it’s made us get super creative and how we’re going to execute the event to have that cross-functional collaboration, that maybe we would have just not even maybe wouldn’t have been as important before. So small group settings, really letting the attendees drive the themes and the discussions and the topics that they are most interested in. So it’s a rather personal development, I think that you know, another silver lining is that that wellness, and, and people’s mental well-being and health and fitness have really taken a forefront more than ever, you know, so I know, as a company, we are very focused on people’s personal well being, and making sure that they are balanced, because it’s taken a toll on everybody mentally and physically.
Kelly Knowlen 16:07
Some of us, you know, over the last year, I want to make sure that, that we acknowledge that and we think about that as we develop our content. So I think that’s a really good thing that’s come out of all this.
Pete Newsome 16:18
Yeah, that is good. Well, you, you’re sort of forced to make those changes, but you’re on the other side of it, when you look at what that represents, you realize it’s not all bad, I think, and, you know, times, there’s almost some guilt associated with that. And, and, but it’s, we have to take the wins where we can, and, you know, I, I think there’s a lot of us who’ve come to appreciate the work situation, we have an entirely different way, right, just being able to go to work is something that be thankful for.
Kelly Knowlen 16:56
That’s true. I mean, over the last year, you know, you know, my story during COVID besides losing my team, I lost my boss, my direct boss, and, and I was a vice president and I was taken, my title was taken down to the executive director level. So, you know, there was a lot of stuff that people were going through, but I was so thankful still to have a job at the time, you know, to try to do this because I love my company, 20 years, you know, and I started out as a sales manager and worked my way up to Director sales and regional supporting Group of Hotels and then went to corporate office and, and, and I love my job and people I work with and the thing that makes it so great is, you know, the people that you surround yourself with, besides the job that you do.
Kelly Knowlen 17:39
And that’s what’s kept me with Hilton for so long. And honestly, I think I would have been devastated if I had not been able to stay without thinking about it. You know? So I mean, it’s really what, what, what makes it makes it great to go to work every day is the reward that you get the relationship and the job that you do, you know, and having a purpose.
Pete Newsome 18:00
Okay, so. So, you know, seeing you get emotional about this, right, I think is just so indicative of how you, you think of the organization, you work for the situation that you’re in. And it really is unique. I wanted to try to find and could not find this statistic in advance of speaking with you today about how many people basically stick with one organization throughout their career. And my conclusion was that it’s so rare. It’s like point 000 Something that there’s not even a statistic on that. But what I did see is that most people change jobs an average of about 12 and a half times throughout their professional career. That’s, that’s the norm. Yep.
Kelly Knowlen 18:45
Lay. Wow, I can’t imagine that would be
Pete Newsome 18:49
The end for you. You couldn’t imagine but for almost everyone else, clearly that’s what’s normal. So what is it? If you have to look back and say, what is it that? So yes, it’s Hilton. But what about Hilton? You know, brings that out and you do thank me because it is so unique. I, I’m dying to know if you even have an understanding of why you feel the way you do.
Kelly Knowlen 19:18
You know, I’ve thought about it over the years, because I mean, obviously everybody goes through times where they get frustrated this or that, you know, and you don’t have an update my resume, you know, but in my you know, my husband always says you’re never gonna leave Hilton. I mean, come on, stop. But I think that the thing that keeps me grounded is a couple things. One, I’ve been given a great opportunity every step of the way throughout my career, to do what I wanted to do. And this is something that you know, thinking about what would I tell young people coming up in the career, you got to tell your boss what you want to get what you want.
Kelly Knowlen 19:54
You’re the captain of your own ship. You know, and I’ve always thought of that, you know, my career is is no one else is gonna control my career except for me. And so I’ve always made it a point. I don’t know whether it’s deliberately at the beginning or just because maybe I’m a little bit of a big mouth when it comes to that kind of stuff, I don’t know. But when I was my boss, what I wanted as the next step in my career, and I would give advice to not, don’t sit back, don’t wait for it to come to you. I’ve had team members who will that worked for me over the years say, Well, you didn’t come and ask me if I wanted this and that promotion, like, you know, you kind of you got to be the one asking for the promotion, you got to be the one telling your boss what you want your next step to be?
Kelly Knowlen 20:39
And then let’s make a plan to get there, you know, help me make a plan, what can I do? That’s, that’s so I was given us every step of my career with Hilton, I started out with double trees, as the salesperson was promoted to director sales, then I moved up to a big box Hilton, then I was made a regional then I moved on to corporate offices, and then given this chance to run the events team four and a half years ago. You know, I never thought that I had a roadblock in my career. And so being able to progress in a company like this kept me in one place. So that’s one. And the second thing is I kind of mentioned before is the people, you know, because we were hospitality companies, we just work with really nice people, you know, everyone I work with, I’m friends with, you know, like, they’re the people that I wouldn’t want to hang out with.
Kelly Knowlen 21:31
And so that’s what’s kept me and the third thing is, Hilton’s got an incredible culture, you know, we were founded 101 years ago, and Conrad Hilton said, you know, it’s our goal to fill the earth with the light, more the hospitality. And so, you know, we try, to anchor everything we do to that purpose. And, you know, I think it’s proven that people with a greater calling and a higher purpose, they do well in their careers, because they know what they’re working for. So
Pete Newsome 21:58
It’s interesting. So you, you did this unconsciously, I’m sure. But twice, you said, you were given an opportunity. And I, you know, having observed you and your work ethic for so long, you’ve earned it every step of the way. I mean, you’re, you know, you work as hard as anyone I know, and you’ve committed your professional life to the organization. And so you certainly weren’t given anything, you had to earn it.
Pete Newsome 22:24
And I think you, you know, that, but it’s interesting that you still clearly have an appreciation for the situation where that’s also rare when, you know, I think today’s employ too often, you know, doesn’t have that appreciation, and it needs to be mutual. I believe that right, the organization needs to appreciate the employee and the employee should also appreciate the organization. And you clearly have that, and you’ve been given opportunities, if you want to call that as a result of earning it. I mean, there’s no question about that, which I think, you know, I hope, you know, yeah,
Kelly Knowlen 23:07
I think so. Yeah, no, I agree. I think, you know, you and I’ve had this discussion before, I think that, because we talk a lot about this, you know, over Thanksgiving, or we get together, you know, what, what keeps young people in one place, so, you know, or what keeps employees motivated. And I think you said to me, there’s got to be three things. And I think about this a lot, you know, that you got to like what to do, and see opportunity, you got to like your team and the people you work with. And you’ve got to feel like you’re fairly compensated for what you do. Right?
Kelly Knowlen 23:42
If that’s you, and if those are out of balance, or there’s, you know, you’ve got to don’t have one maybe to live with it. But if you’re missing two, and you only have one of the three, you’re gonna feel really unbalanced. And I think that’s what you got to think about and not always just jump to the next opportunity for a couple $1,000. In the long run, could I have changed jobs over the years and made more money at some point in my career? Maybe? I don’t know, because I never really explored it because I’ve always felt like I Oh, I had a balance of all three, I liked what I did, the people I work with, I always saw opportunity to advance and I felt like I was fairly compensated.
Kelly Knowlen 24:24
So you know, and again, maybe it’s a unique situation because with Hilton, you think about just hotels, but we’ve got sales, marketing, technology, finance, I mean, legal Human Resources communications team, I mean, just think about it, you know, I you know, I’ve tried to talk to your daughter and take a look at it as a career because she’s majoring in communications, I think she’d be amazing to have opportunity to travel and use your skills that there’s a job for just about anybody and in a company like that. So, you know, again, you know, my choice I like the big corporation and the opportunities that We’re available to just stay and grow and have that balance.
Pete Newsome 25:04
Well, and you touched on managing your own career. And you said something, which I think is so important as an employee. It’s something that I did as an employee, everywhere I went, I did two things. I looked around to see who’s, who’s my competition, right to be number one. And then what do I have to do to advance and I think that is such an important thing. So I want to not go too far past it. Because I tell everyone, then when I have the opportunity to always know that what your boss expects of you, your manager, whatever you want to call that person is job number one, and everything else is a distant second, so much so that it’s not even worthy of talking about unless you understand what number one is.
Pete Newsome 25:52
And I couldn’t tell any employee that we have right now what to do if they want to advance. But the reality is, I don’t get asked that often. Even though that answer would always be forthcoming. Is that something? Do you know? Do you remember? Is that advice someone gave you? Or is that just something you started doing? Naturally?
Kelly Knowlen 26:15
You know, no, I think maybe it was something that happened over time with my career when I saw that what I wanted and, and I made sure everyone knew it. But you know, you’re so right, and it’s important to make sure that you understand what the expectations are. And you’re focused on that I remember a story once I would, I took over a hotel, supporting sales and marketing for a hotel. Because before I was an event I was in sales. And I guess I didn’t say that at the beginning.
Kelly Knowlen 26:44
But I grew up through sales. And I went into this hotel, and it was a convention hotel in a downtown city. And that was the priority fill-in with group business convention, room blocks. And that was it. And our Director of Sales was worried about creating little play areas in the lobby for kids. And I had to sit this director sales down, and I hope this person never hears this podcast.
Pete Newsome 27:14
We have so few listeners, the odds are that they won’t, that’s okay.
Kelly Knowlen 27:17
But, I had to sit this person down and say, you got it forget all of that. Your focus is group business, you need to know what’s coming in your pipeline, what you need to move to turn definite what you had on the books the same time last year, so you can beat those numbers and your booking pace. And just, I was dumped that I think that was like the first time that I encountered someone who really was so far off track. And what they were focusing on is as a leader in this hotel, it was impacting the hotel’s revenue. And so, you know, I so agreed that it’s great advice, talk to your boss, what do you need me focused on right now that that’s going to help me succeed and help us as organizations exceed? And do that. Everything else is backburner or you know, can wait, but focus on what’s most important.
Pete Newsome 28:10
Absolutely. Yeah. So it was really neat to hear you say that, because I don’t think that’s ever come up before at least not in that particular way. So two more questions. And one is something I thought about after looking at, your profile on LinkedIn today, and you alluded to it as well, you didn’t start off in the role that you’re in now. And you even had to earn the vice president title twice. Right. And, and to be at an organization for almost 29 years, and to go through multiple job titles, job responsibilities, geographies, requires significant patience. And I don’t know that if you look back to 28 years ago, um, did you ever think that you would envision your career to end up that way? Did you think I’m here for the long term? Or, you know, did did did it just sort of evolve that way?
Kelly Knowlen 29:10
Yeah, that’s a good question. Yeah. I don’t know when you’re young and coming out of college, you know, my degree was in hospitality. And I guess I’m just kind of one of those. I don’t like a lot of change. And that, you know, in the career, I stuck with it. And I think the statistics in the hospitality school at FSU are that 65% of people don’t stay in the career. But ironically, I worked my boss that I worked for, who’s the SVP of sales and more wide sales. We graduated together from FSU.
Kelly Knowlen 29:38
And if I ever told you that kind of funny story, that’s great. But, you know, I don’t have a lot of patience in that something that I’m always trying to work on. But I think that looking back, I probably would have said it. My preference would have been to stay with one company. If it was possible. I would have never said I would end up in events because I thought I was going to be in sales. and that was it. And as just a few, four and a half years ago, somebody an organization that I really respect admire asked me to take a chance and trust them and take a leap of faith and move into this role.
Kelly Knowlen 30:13
And they would help me to get that Vice President role that, again, I had said, I want to be vice president. And they said, take this job, and I will help you with your crew management. And, and they lived up to their word. And so I would have never thought I’d be in events. But again, you know, what a great job to be able to help people connect and go to great places and have amazing experiences.
Pete Newsome 30:39
But it’s taken decades, right? I mean, decades of consistent, you know, work and effort and success and achievement that, you know, I think that can be that’s daunting, in a way for all the societal changes. We’ve had generational changes where, you know, that is something your success, worthwhile success, takes time, takes effort, I don’t know how to be successful quickly in anything, not anything that’s meaningful.
Pete Newsome 31:11
And yeah, that is such a hard thing to impart today, on young professionals who have instant gratification, we all know that social media has, you know, they have the Encyclopedia of the history of the world, at their fingertips all the time. And they’re not used to having to be patient. And so that’s why I wanted to ask about that. I’m sure you weren’t thinking in those terms, necessarily, when you were starting out, but you, you, you couldn’t be where you are without having some degree of patience along the way. And it’s a really important trait, I think.
Kelly Knowlen 31:53
Yeah, I think, you know, you just have to understand when you’re starting out that you don’t know everything, even though sometimes I think thank you do, you know, then it’s just like, you know, when you’re a kid, and you think your parents don’t know anything, and you realize in your mid-20s, that they do, I think it’s the same with, with work, that you look back, I look back now. And I remember sitting in meetings and being so nervous, and presenting to leaders and being so nervous, because I didn’t have all the answers, and I didn’t know at all.
Kelly Knowlen 32:22
Now I can sit with any of our you know, executive committee members, our Chief Commercial Officer who is my boss’s boss, and president of our organization, I’ve got a meeting with him two weeks, and, and have all the competence of my years of experiences, decades of experience to draw on that I worked my way up through the hotels, that I you know, worked as a regional supporting multiple hotels, and now having this experience over the last 10 years or so working a matrix organization, like our corporate offices, and having to work with all the different brands and marketing and communications and HR, and finance all the different teams that how a great depth of experience to draw on.
Kelly Knowlen 33:03
That’s what gives you the competence, you know, and that’s what gives you the I can walk in any meeting and talk to anybody about anything, because I’ve done it, you know, and I and I know where others, like walked in their shoes, so I know how they feel about things, or at least that they, you know, I think they do. So I think that part you definitely have to be patient about because until you’ve lived it, you really don’t know what all
Pete Newsome 33:28
Right, no, you can’t and it’s something that transcends industries and professions I talked to my team about that all the time is that I have a very big Arsenal now that there’s not a situation that I can, that will throw me off. But although I say that there’s always something new, but that that was built over so many years, and you can’t fast forward that so while I’m happy to impart my knowledge, you have to live it and you have to do it and I think that, you know, that lack of willingness to walk through the fire, or climb the mountain, whatever, whatever you want to call it, you know, really limits a lot of young professionals today.
Pete Newsome 34:09
And that’s why having someone you know that it’s done it like you have in been committed and not quit not given up, you know, continue to charge for it. And I do think of it as walking through a minefield working through for a big organization like Hilton, right? Because there’s a lot of politics and interpersonal things that happen. I could never do it. I have too big of a mouth. That’s not a surprise. But yeah, it takes a special unique individual to do that. But I think that mindset of commitment to longevity commitment to success is the key to it and not expecting success to happen too early. Right because it’s not realistic.
Kelly Knowlen 34:50
Yeah, you know, there’s always that little bit of luck to you know, I had a boss one time say, you know, a lot of hard work, but there’s also a little bit of an element of luck sometime. But if you don’t have the hard work, there’s no luck in the world that’s gonna get you to where you want to be ultimately, I think with a successful career,
Pete Newsome 35:07
Yeah, and I don’t know, that I could identify or point to anyone that I know in my personal or professional life that has been able to be lucky for decades at a time, right? It’s not luck at that point. It’s just not Yes, a little bit along the way helps. But consistency over time is really the key
Kelly Knowlen 35:28
Might help you with a big win every now and then, you know, big contract signed or something right place right time, but it not for the long haul. Now. It’s, it’s that that Dogit determination, you know, that you, you want to stick with it, because you have an end goal, or whatever it might be, you know, again, for me, it would be Vice President, that was always my goal to be a vice president to 28 years to get there, you know, this one’s gonna stick. And even when I’ll be hitting 30 years with the company, and another year and a half, and I’m not going anywhere, so you know, till it’s time to retire. This is it.
Pete Newsome 36:02
So that’s so you just this perfect segue into the last question I would ask you is that determination is called Dr. called Motivation. Where do you think that comes from? When you look back? And we may have had this conversation, you know, at a Thanksgiving or over drinks? But have you been able to identify that to see, you know, why do you think you have that drive for what is what in your life brought that out? Do you think
Kelly Knowlen 36:30
This is gonna be like the Oprah moment you’re gonna make me tear up again?
Pete Newsome 36:35
That’s up to you. There’s no gift if that so it’s not really an Oprah moment. There’s no gift under your seat?
Kelly Knowlen 36:44
I, you know, no, I guess it was just a good work ethic growing up, you know, our parents were hard workers, they both were career people. You know, our mom was a teacher or our dad was a building construction, commercial contract, contractor. And, you know, just always seeing them, they never slacked off, they never called in sick, you know, they, they knew what their job was, and that they had to do it. And they’re raising three kids, and they put us all through FSU, through college.
Kelly Knowlen 37:08
And, you know, and seeing that I think there was just never any question. There was never any question for me about working hard or having integrity with work and, you know, not doing the basics of you show up, you show up on time you show up ready to go, you have a good attitude about it, you know, you try and be positive and, and network and, you know, make those relationships that will help you with your career. So I think that was it. I think it’s just, you know, just the work ethic that our parents gave us, really, and I hope they’re listening. And you know, because I do owe it to them.
Pete Newsome 37:47
They do listen that you pointed up as if they’re no, they’re they can still listen here. They’re not up yet. So let’s look we need to clarify. Yes, they’re doing the Claremont, they’re not they’re not quite in heaven yet. Although they will, they will listen, they’re one of their one of our faithful few lessons, but we, but yeah, that’s
Kelly Knowlen 38:15
Another podcast or article or something, they were always good about checking it out.
Pete Newsome 38:20
That’s great. That’s great. Well, thank you for doing this today. And I, you know, I you know this already, but I really do admire everything that you’ve accomplished. And I think it’s, it serves as a really valuable lesson to young professionals who do want to achieve who are ambitious to know that, you know, when I think of you, I think of, you know, enthusiasm, always I think of, you know, passion, you know, in a way that just you can’t, you can’t miss it.
Pete Newsome 38:48
And I think that’s infectious. I think people notice that I think people are extremely attracted to those who show up, you know, wherever they are. And look, it’s not always easy, I know that. But you’re always going to go 100% And what you do, and you know, if you can do that, as hard as it is, you know, rewards will happen. And it’s been really neat to see that happened for you. Because I know, I know, it’s well deserved. So
Kelly Knowlen 39:17
I feel the same way about you. I’m so proud of you, and all you’ve done and I could never do when you didn’t you say you could never work for a big organ matrix organization like Milton, I could never go in my own business. So I have much admiration and respect for you and everything you build from your den, you know, to build an organization that’s such an incredibly well-respected staffing organization and, you know, and now my daughter’s in recruiting and she’s kind of she watches what you do and so admires you and you helped her you know, get her feet in the door and it’s been great but much much love and respect back right back.
Pete Newsome 39:52
Well, that’s fun to see. And she’s gonna do awesome because she had such a great role model. So thank you and, and thank you and this is has been a lot of fun. So, who knows? Maybe we’ll have to come back and get that 30th anniversary. How’s that?
Kelly Knowlen 40:06
I think I need to interview you next time. Maybe I’ll interview you.
Pete Newsome 40:12
Yeah, I know I haven’t had that happen yet. So. Yeah. Alright, so someday soon. Well, Kelly, thank you so much. And thank you everyone for listening and we will see you next week.
Kelly Knowlen 40:28
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