Leadership Lessons Courtesy of Hurricane Patricia

Leadership Lessons Courtesy of Hurricane Patricia

Posted October 28th, 2015 in Uncategorized.


Hurricane Patricia

In the wee hours of Saturday morning I found myself tucked safely back in my hotel bed near Puerto Vallarta, but completely unable to sleep. My husband, our 13-month old daughter, and I were on the tail-end of an incredible, much-needed family vacation. Everything about it had been picture perfect save for the twist of its unexpected ending, though even that turned out remarkably well.

My family and 3,000 other vacationers rode out Hurricane Patricia, the world’s strongest storm on record, for 12-hours in a concrete reinforced building on the ocean-front grounds of our resort after the local airport and the bridge to the mainland were closed. The situation was scary by any measure, considering the potential devastating effects of 200 mph winds and waves slamming into land, but even our evacuation and sheltering in place went far more smoothly than I thought it could.

There’s nothing quite like a crisis to show you what someone is made of. The same holds true for a company. Grupo Vidanta (GV), all credit and my sincerest thanks goes to you. Please accept this post as my open love letter to every employee of your great company who made us feel safe and secure. Not only did you handle a frightening, extreme weather situation with a calm that instilled deep confidence, every staff member did so with a smile, while no doubt wondering about the safety of their own family members.


My daughter, Raya, looking for the storm

Despite having our baby girl in tow, we felt safe and well cared for at every step along the way. We and the other guests never wanted for food, water, protection or shelter. And the unexpected benefits of blankets, cots, and wifi allowed us to reassure our extended families back home that we were safe and sound via Facebook (which, surprisingly, was the only social media platform working.)

The stellar care we received got me thinking about how great a company must be to have such dedicated, kind employees demonstrably willing to go the extra mile. Everyone knows that building a great company starts with taking care of your employees. Workers who feel respected, heard and valued will go above and beyond for their employers every time. It’s such a simple formula, really.

Grupo Vidanta’s website gave me a better picture of how they are doing just that. Among large hospitality industry employers, this year it ranks as the best place to work in Mexico for the second year in a row, and among the top-10 best employers for the past five years. For four decades, GV has cultivated a deep rooted corporate culture dedicated to its employees’ happiness and well-being, which translates directly into a deeply satisfying and happy experience for anyone visiting their properties.

RevisedI didn’t think I could be more passionate than I already am about transforming corporate cultures in ways that improve and enhance the experience of all employees, but our experience with GV this past weekend reinforced the amazing alchemy that occurs when we do. I’m more resolved than ever about the importance of this, and of how our mission at WE might help companies get there.

After the storm passed, we were fortunate to get to rest our heads on the soft pillows back in our room late Friday evening. Though destructive, thankfully the storm was not the killer that was feared. Still my deepest gratitude and my prayers remain with the phenomenal people who make up Grupo Vidanta and with those in Mexico picking up the pieces in Patricia’s aftermath. You are amazing.