“______ Gives Me Life”


You know you’ve stumbled onto something profound when a sentence that slips out of your mouth is cited as being both in the old school Bible and the new school Urban Dictionary. I was giving a speech recently and said, “Writing Gives Me Life,” meaning that writing revitalizes me and pumps me up. I’ve always been fascinated with that which gives life. It’s partly why I named my hotel company “Joie de Vivre.” And it’s why I chose “Vitale” for one of our landmark hotels as it has Italian/Latin roots meaning “life-affirming.”

How would you fill in this blank? What lengthens your spine and widens your soul? Given the time of year, you might fill in the blank with “Spring” or, based upon the time of day, “Sleep.” Depending upon your parental status, it might be “My Children.” It would be interesting to do this exercise over a few weeks time and see what’s common on your top five list. Here’s my top five list at the moment…

“Words” and “sword” share the same five letters. And there have been moments lately when my written word has felt like my weapon. During the first fifteen days of February, while on a beach in Baja, I made the practice of writing a poem a day and publishing it on Facebook. I’ve now put the poems in a book for friends. Robert Frost suggested, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” I had no history with poetry as a practice, but it definitely gave voice to what was rumbling inside of me.

I’m humbled that it’s the ten-year anniversary of “PEAK” and the publisher has asked me to write an updated edition, and the book will be coming out in paperback, in more languages, hopefully by the end of 2017. I also dusted off a screenplay I wrote in 1985, “Fourplay,” that seems more relevant today than ever (it would have been way ahead of its time back then) and am enjoying connecting in Hollywood with producers and screenwriters. Small chance that it gets made into an independent feature film, but it’s such a thrill seeing a writing remnant attract the attention it’s receiving.

As you’ll read in the fifteenth poem in my collection, Baja has become my muse. It gives me life and space and time to write and explore. I feel like such a young spirit as I’m learning how to surf, kiteboard, speak Spanish, and get certified in scuba. And, later this month, I do a week in the Sea of Cortez meditating and kayaking with whales. Half the challenge in birthing creativity is finding the habitat (including the people you surround yourself with) that allows the genie to channel through you.

I love being 56 years old and a novice in so many ways. This is what it means to be a “Modern Elder,” a sage and student at the same time. Happy to share my Wisdom 2.0 speech on this subject that just went live. And, I’m deep in discussions with publishers to write a book on the subject — exampled by Travis Kalanick’s recent travails as the CEO of Uber (“I need leadership help”), the time is ripe for this topic.

As my futurist friend Nancy Giordano reminds me, “With little training, we expect young digital leaders to miraculously embody the relationship wisdoms we elders had twice as long to learn.” And, Laura Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, tells me there’s growing evidence that the presence of older workers increases team productivity and reduces turnover of younger workers due to the advice and guidance the Modern Elders can offer.

I’m looking forward to be speaking/facilitating at a Wise Leaders retreat (www.wiseleader.org) in Sonoma May 10-12. In a confidential setting (25 people maximum), this exclusive residential retreat offered to startup founders and C-suite leaders was created in response to their call to build a community around purposeful living and compassionate leadership. Topics include awareness training, unleashing creativity, social and emotional intelligence, and wise leadership. And participants will experience yoga, meditation, nature walks, workshops, improv, and purposeful dialogues.

My four years helping guide the rocketship at Airbnb taught me a lot about life as well as where the hospitality industry is going. I tried to capture that learning in these 10 Lessons in Hotels magazine. Hospitality expert Alan Young wrote this interesting article on how hotels can compete in this new era. And, I was fascinated reading this Hipmunk article that shows that nearly half of Millennials prefer staying in homes to hotels (while only 11% of Boomers would say the same). And for an illuminating look back into my world — for those fascinated by the history of the hospitality industry — it’s worth reading this Skift report. No one has ever written a more comprehensive review of the history of the boutique hotels niche in the United States.

The good news is I don’t think hotels and homes have to be a zero-sum game. Yes, the bigger Airbnb gets, the more competitive it may become for some hotels. But, generally speaking, Airbnb’s core market isn’t even close to the bull’s eye that creates profitability for the big global hotel chains, road warriors who typically only stay a couple of days at each hotel stop along their business trip. But, as the nature of work evolves and more and more workers aren’t tethered to their home offices, Airbnb becomes not a home-away-from-home but a home-instead-of-home for these global nomads who can live all over the world while they are still connected to their work. This is why Airbnb’s new initiative regarding longer-term stays makes sense, as Airbnb has the potential to be the dominant player in the one-week to three-month segment of global travel. This segment will continue to accelerate as we become more mobile and less attached to our personal homes and cars.

You know festivals are a growing phenomenon when one of them pops up at the other end of your beach, as the Apparitions festival did in my beach home community of Pescadero in Baja California. I’m proud that we’ve just announced our fifth annual Fest300 list of the 300 best festivals in the world. Fest300 has merged with Everfest to become the leading global website for discovering festivals.

I’ve had the good fortune of writing more than one hundred articles about festivals over the past few years (they’re chronicled on my profile section at Everfest). If I can make only one recommendation — and if you’re looking to add to your Bucket List — it’s my ten favorite festivals of 2013 when I went to 30 festivals in 15 countries including Kumbh Mela, the largest collection of humanity ever assembled.

My favorite read of the past year is my friend Frank Ostaseski’s “The Five Invitations,” which is well-depicted in this poignant video. His storytelling and wisdom-offering is epic and will help sharpen your gratitude muscles as we roll into spring.


Wishing you all the best,