Business & Leadership Behaviors Random Thoughts

Excellence Wins: My Take-Aways from Horst Schulze

This week, I had the pleasure of finishing Horst Schulze’s new book, Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise.  It was released last month and relates his journey in the hotel business over the past half century.  It does an excellent job of laying out his values, his attitudes and the behaviors that guided his success.

My first exposure to Horst was when he was a featured speaker at a leadership summit I attended in 2015.  He spoke about his Ritz-Carlton experience as a co-founder and eventual president of this world class hotel chain.  I recently had the opportunity to hear him again during a monthly leadership podcast that I subscribe to where he was discussing this new book.

I have been a student of history my entire life.  Initially it was to fantasize about the time period and what it might be like being part of that story.  More recently, I look to history with a thirst to learn from our past successes and mistakes and as a means to assist me in shaping my views, understandings and actions.  That leads me to reading a lot of books on different subjects like world history, business success and failure, people who have overcome challenges, etc.

In every book I read, I look for my take-aways and lessons.  Excellence Wins presented plenty of these.  For me, it was a re-enforcement of what I need to lead an emerging software organization.  As I finished, I found that there were three D’s that really stood out to me:

Desire –Desire is our understanding our motivation – for whatever venture we’re undertaking – and making sure everything we do aligns. It begins with the right Vision Statement that communicates and guides everyone – inside and outside your organization.  It is usually not monetary related but instead provides a kind of True North to our behaviors – assisting us in our focus, execution and results.

Discipline – This is where most organizations fail. The get the mission right and have a reasonable plan to launch, but lose heart along the journey.  I have been asked many times over the years how a small business like ours can be successful doing business with the government.  My answer has always been “persistence and patience”.  If the plan your working makes sense, then you need to stay the course on executing to your Desire.  The challenge is to continuously monitor, measure and respond to those items out of your control and intelligently adapting as you go.

Data – Working from true, timely and relevant information is the key to efficiency, effectiveness and success as an individual or organization. We live in a data-rich world that challenges us to wade through mountains of facts to find and focus on the right data, and understand the information that it relates.  The good news is that there is technology available and organizations that can assist in this effort to dramatically impact success and better guide our actions and results.

HL Group’s exists to support our customers with the Data.  Our mobilePLUS application provides the right data, with accurate and timely information, to meet the compliance and reporting needs of our customers.  In order to effectively provide that service, we still follow the same Desire/Determination/Data principals for managing our own business.

Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise is a good read for folks interested in how you take a large competitive market (in his case, high-end hotels) and determine a path to uniqueness and success.

And if you have a book to recommend, I’m always looking.


Wes Haubein is the President of HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile asset inventory management, RFID and supply chain solutions.  He writes regularly about management, solution integration and technology.