Remarks at the 2012 Fall Dinner at Shanghai
Welcome to the Ninth Annual
FTA “A Fall Evening in Shanghai with Very
We gather in New York City spring and
fall, and annually at Singapore, Kuala Lumpur,
Beijing, Bangkok, Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong
and now as well at Shenzhen, Saigon and New
Delhi to recognize hospitality excellence; in
the names of those whom we honor, provide
scholarships at schools of higher hospitality
education; and to make charitable contributions.
An industry is only as
strong as the wisdom, vision, compassion and
actions of its leaders; leaders who define
excellence for the benefit of all those who look
to them to know the way to realize their dreams
and ambitions and not be left behind.
In the end we are judged not by whom we
include, but by whom we exclude.
Great leaders inspire and teach all those
who seek to be included, because serving the
least of us is truly the highest calling and the
only measure of service from the heart.
This evening we come
together to announce the 2012 FTA Hospitality
Awards for Excellence and to donate to charity.
This is truly a very special evening for
us all and I thank you for joining us, because
as I say at every FTA dinner, YOU are the
But the deeper meaning of
why we come together is really at the very heart
of why the hospitality industry is so special to
those of us who have come to consider it our
Hospitality is about
SERVICE and in particular, Service Excellence.
Service is truly the Highest Calling.
It is not what we do for ourselves, but
what we do for others that are the measure of
our worth to humanity: And simply because it is
the right thing to do: Not for personal
The truth is that we are
free to dwell at any given moment in as
beautiful a place as our hearts are open to
loving others and our willingness to serve them
without regard to our advantage.
Life is a series of micro
steps from the time we arrive to the time we
depart and the quality of our life is but a
reflection of the quality of our contribution to
the peace and happiness of others: It is not
about pleasing ourselves or collecting “things”:
It is about serving others and after one’s
basic, personal needs are met, allowing what
remains of what comes our way to pass through
our fingers for the benefit of those less
While I have nothing against luxury
goods, when it is your time to pass from this
life, do you want to be remembered for your
collection of Rolex watches or your charity for
those less fortunate?
I am confident if Mother Teresa or
Mahatma Gandhi was given a Rolex, they would
have honored the gift for 24 hours and then
offered it to someone they thought would cherish
So, why should we be any different?
I ask you to consider making charity your
way of life, rather than an annual after thought
for a tax advantage.
I ask everyone to please
remember those less fortunate, especially the
estimated 500,000 refugees at the United Nations
camps in Kenya, which is running out of water
and food; not to mention the now 40,000 refugees
in camps in South Sudan who are without water.
And the poverty and suffering in
Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, the
Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and everywhere
else; as well as the massacres taking place in
Africa and the Middle East.
A recent report by UNICEF and The World
Health Organization says that annually at least
7.5 million children under the age of five die
from preventable diseases. The suffering of so
many continues, as does their need for your
compassion, including the recent natural
disasters in Japan and great floods around the
world, including many parts of the China
I ask you to consider your comfortable
lives and accordingly, open your hearts, just a
little bit more to those less fortunate and in
I was born into an
upper-middle class, American family with both
upper class society standing as well as lots of
My family had a very prosperous food
I was sent to the finest schools; we
belonged to the “old money WASP country club”,
which quietly discriminated against everyone who
was not exactly like us, because of their race,
religion, education, income and neighborhood.
We had a live-in combination maid & cook,
plus a cleaning lady who came on Thursdays to
help with the heavy cleaning.
We vacationed at fashionable resorts in
Florida; my parents went on luxury cruises
around the Caribbean and from the west coast to
I was sent to ballroom dancing classes; I
attended all the area society cotillions both
charity and debutant; I was sent off to prep
school in Connecticut beginning with the 8th
I was taught that all of these advantages
and all of my energies should be spent towards
retaining and carrying-on the family name and
standing; and to selfishly hoard as much money
and possessions as possible to grow the family
It was all about hoarding wealth, power
and our social standing at the expense of all
Charity was to appear generous and to
seem to have a social conscience; not to mention
the tax benefits for our annual charitable
The ego of the family and my own ego were
to be constantly massaged.
But today, I do the
I do not draw a salary from my consulting
business: I have converted my business into a
We give away to those less fortunate all
our monthly and annual company profits, leaving
no reserves except just enough to keep our
business checking account open at the bank.
We help some families and students weekly
with funds for food and necessities; we help
others monthly; and others at year’s end,
depending on what remains upon audit.
And via our FTA dinners we now give six
USD$5,000.00 scholarships annually in the names
of those whom we honor; and a total of
USD$1,000.00 per FTA dinner to charity from each
I no longer worry about my
social standing: I am simply a Soul temporarily
residing in a body vehicle; and just like
everyone else, doing my best to get by.
I only replace clothing if it can no
longer be sewn or repaired, for appearances mean
very little to me now.
I would rather be judged by the openness
of my heart to all others; by my compassion for
those less fortunate than myself; and for my
deeds, rather than my words.
I will not be with you in
years to come, for my time is nearing its
closure in this life in this dimension.
I already sense the call of what is to
come and I welcome it, for coming and going is
what we all must accept, if we are to remain
grounded: The only question is “when we pass”;
not “if we pass”.
But the Buddhists have a
beautiful saying, “One never knows which comes
first, the next morning or the next life”.
I pray that as a result of our coming
together this evening for higher purposes,
namely recognizing human excellence, providing
much-needed scholarships for worthy students of
limited means and charity for those less
fortunate through the United Nations agencies,
UNICEF and UN-HABITAT, that we will all be
reminded that people are more important than
things and that we all wake-up in the morning in
THIS life; but rededicated to devoting our lives
to serving others, simply because it is the
right thing to do; and not for others to praise
us or to cater to our ego.
For Service with an Open Heart and Right
Intention is the foundation of our hospitality
industry: So, from this moment forward, let
“Service Unto Others” be your mantra, until it
is your time to wake-up in the NEXT life.
Thank you very much.