#90: Ritz Carlton: Inside the Founder and Former President’s Customer-Centric Culture

Ritz Carlton is not just a brand.  

It’s a brand that sets the bar for customer experience.

It was an incredible honor to host one of the icons in customer experience, Horst Schulze, the co-founder and former president of The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company.

We talk about his new book, Excellence Wins, and he shares insights that transcend the hospitality industry.

👉  What lessons did Horst learn from his early experiences in the hotel industry that he applies to his business practices today?

👉  The concept of “We are, ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen” is central to Horst’s philosophy. How has this idea shaped the service standards in the hotel industry and beyond?

👉  What role does leadership play in creating an environment where employees are motivated to meet and exceed customer expectations, according to Horst?

👉  How does employee orientation contribute to the overall vision and success of an organization?

How Horst overcame a terminal cancer diagnosis that led him to a newfound faith and deeper appreciation for life and relationships.

From the legendary 24 principles, to “my pleasure” (Chick-fil-A got it from Horst), to a $2000 customer happiness fund for every employee, Ritz is the gold standard for CX excellence. 

A must listen for anyone who wants to learn from a true master.

🔊 Listen now and subscribe for more insights: https://www.empoweredcx.com/podcast

About Horst Schulze

A legend and leader in the hotel world, Horst Schulze’s teachings and vision have reshaped the concepts of service and hospitality across industries. 

Mr. Schulze’s professional life began more than 65 years ago as a server’s assistant in a German resort town. Throughout the years he worked for both Hilton Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming one of the founding members of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in 1983. There Mr. Schulze created the operating and service standards that have become world famous. 

During his tenure at The Ritz-Carlton, Mr. Schulze served as President and COO, responsible for the $2 billion operations worldwide. It was under his leadership that The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company became the first service-based company to be awarded the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award — twice. 

In 1991, Mr. Schulze was recognized as “corporate hotelier of the world” by HOTELS magazine. In 1995, he was awarded the Ishikawa Medal for his personal contributions to the quality movement. In 1999, Johnson & Wales University gave him an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree in Hospitality Management. Most recently, Mr. Schulze was honored with the “Legacy of Innovation and Inspiration Award” by Historic Hotels of America. 

After leaving The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Mr. Schulze went on to found The Capella Hotel Group. This luxury hotel company managed some of the most elite properties worldwide and gave Mr. Schulze the opportunity to further define the luxury hotel industry, receiving countless awards and recognitions. 

Today, Mr. Schulze serves as Expert in Residence at Arch + Tower, a boutique, organizational strategy consulting firm. He serves on numerous boards and is a sought-after keynote speaker. He also recently completed his first book, titled “Excellence Wins.” In 2022, Auburn University announced its school of hospitality would forevermore be named The Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management.

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Mark Slatin:
Well, I am so excited to have my guest on the show, Horst Schulze, a legend and a leader in the hotel world. His teachings and his vision have reshaped the concepts of service and hospitality across industries. Very, very appropriate for a CX podcast, and I am honored and privileged. Horst, welcome to the show.

Horst Schulze: Delighted to be with you. Thank you very much for having me.

Mark Slatin: Yes. And, you know, it’s hard to imagine that your professional life began over 65 years ago. Well, actually, 70 years ago now.

Horst Schulze: Yeah, because I started when I was 14, you know.

Mark Slatin: And that’s your story, your backstory. I want to get into that. It’s so amazing. But our listeners ought to know that you were involved. First, you worked in Hilton and Hyatt and all these different hotels along the way. But then you were one of the founding members of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. and created the operating and service standards for now what has become famous. When you think about what’s synonymous with service excellence with the name of this podcast is called Delighted Customers. It’s impossible not to think of Ritz. So I just want to say how honored I am to think about having you on the show. And not only that, but And I want to have you share with the audience what you’re doing now. But the fact that you led Ritz to not one, but two Malcolm Baldrige awards, which if you don’t know, that’s not an easy thing to get. It is really hard. And you won it not only once, but you won it twice, which is amazing. So I want to welcome you to the Delighted Customers podcast. And just to say what an honor and privilege it is to have you on the show. I think your story is fascinating on so many levels, but two that stand out to me that I’m going to ask you to elaborate on a little bit was number one, you know, I read your book, which by the way, you need to get if you’re in customer experience management or not, it’s excellence wins. well-written, and by the way, before I get into the two areas, you do a great job of making the complex simple as a writer.

Horst Schulze: That was the intent. That was truly the intent. I want, first of all, I didn’t want to, you know, being cynical a little bit, business books, when I read business books, I usually put them away after about one third, because it becomes boring, becomes sharp, becomes, and so I wanted to tell a story. and make it so that everybody gets it. And you know, sometimes when you’re in an audience, talking about the Baltic, when I first started, the meaning of the Baltic, the meaning of quality, and so on, I’m listening to speakers and I didn’t understand what I said. They talked to the experts in the room rather than to the ones that want to learn and become an expert. And so I wanted to make that clear that distinction in my book. And also want to make sure that the young person who happens to read it doesn’t put it away. Because there’s a business in a story. Here’s how this worked. Here’s the reality. Here’s the simplicity of it. And I think that is a very, I’m glad you saw that because that’s very much on my heart. And, and the interesting thing is that since I’m consulting with a lot of different, totally different industries, it’s all the same. It has nothing to do with hotel. Yeah.

Mark Slatin: Well, and that’s a good lesson. So if you’re reading stories and you do a great job, you turn the whole book into a story, but within the book, you craft and weave some really interesting, fascinating stories about adding color to everyday business and everyday life that bring it to life. And sometimes you say to yourself, Oh my gosh, you know, we have, what seems like an insurmountable problem that we can’t seem to solve. And it turns out, you know, something as simple as another department in a hotel is using the elevator to do something else and stopping at every floor. And that’s, and that’s messing up efficiency for another department. And so you do a great job, but one thing that’s a little bit different about you and your background, I’d love for you to share is like, you know, when I went to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. And two, three years in, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Not so true for you. At 11 years old, you know you want to go into the world of hospitality and not only that, but where you lived in this village in Germany, you bucked the trend of what people were doing, right? Most people want to go to technical school and kind of move along and move out. And yet that’s what, tell me about what was going on for you.

Horst Schulze: Well, not only did they go ahead and take the suit, it was literally, I’m not exaggerating, my grandfather started to get terribly embarrassed that I said I want to work in a hotel. I’m not exaggerating, when I tell you if I would have said I want to be in charge of the street sweeping in the village. I would have been honorable. That’s a hand job. That’s a work. But in the hotel, he pictured me walking around with a tray of beer. and serving people. And he could not comprehend it. And here’s the crazy thing. I don’t know where I got the idea because there was no hotel. I had never been in a hotel. I had never been in a restaurant. Mind you, those were after war years still. I had never been in a restaurant or anything like that. I must have read something about it. and went to my parents, that’s what I want to do. They said, yeah, yeah. That had no meaning in the beginning when I came up with the 11, but I kept on saying it, kept on asking for it, kept on all of a sudden reading something here and there about a hotel, and kept on dreaming to work in a hotel. And when they realized I was possessed with it, that’s when the concern came, what are we going to do now?

Mark Slatin: So yeah. So you go to this school and it was like a boarding school?

Horst Schulze: It was a boarding school. My parents didn’t know what to do. How do you do that? And then they learned there is a boarding school for young people that want to work into, move into the hotel business. So they applied for that school and I got to six months boarding school, following which you were placed as apprenticed. in a hotel. Apprentice, if you would, related to a busboy today in my case. So I was lucky, because also my parents looked into it, to be placed in the best hotel by far in the region. Unfortunately, it was far away from my home village. at that time very far. Today with the autobahn I would drive it in 50 minutes, but at the time it took hours to get there with the trains and so on. But it was fun. And so I worked in that hotel, lived in a dorm room with other kids, obviously, and started there my actual in-hotel life.

Mark Slatin: Yeah, and in the school, you wrote in the book, you would meet someone who would forever change the trajectory of your life, and someone I imagine you would consider more than even a mentor. Tell us about what you found so special about Carl Zeidler.

Horst Schulze: Yeah, well, he was in the hotel. What was my, of course, finally I was placed in that hotel. My mother took me there, and we met the general manager. You have to understand that played a major role. And that general manager, said to me, my mother sitting by now, young man, you are here to learn how to serve and be a servant to very fine ladies and gentlemen. Our guests are very fine ladies and gentlemen. They’re very important. They play a major role in life and in the country and the world. And you learn how to be a servant to them. But that’s what I wanted. And that was the mantra of the hotel. You are the servants to very fine ladies and gentlemen. But the next person I meet was the gentleman you mentioned, Carl Zeidler, who was the maitre d’ of the hotel, the head waiter of the hotel. my direct report. And he, when I met him, he said only two sentences to me, which changed my life. Now, not that moment, I did, they went over my head at the time. Mind you, you have to understand I was 14. Yeah. And he said, now young man, tomorrow, you show up here at 7am. And he said, if I meant one minute after seven, I would tell you so. When I was he established discipline, expectations, everything in one sentence. Now, I got that after the next three years working with him, I didn’t get it in the moment, right sentence was, and don’t come to work. Now this was confusing. Let me tell you this. And don’t come to work. He said, you come here tomorrow to create excellence in what you are doing. This truly created confusion for the moment. I have to wash dishes tomorrow, and I have to clean floors. What does it mean with excellence? I didn’t get it. But I learned over the next three years with him, because everything he did, he was a very unusual human being, truly unusual. I wish I could bring it to that level. But he made very clear excellence is that any function that you, anything that you’re going to do, you have to have a high intent for it. High intent excellence, he made very clear. By the way, he used the English word excellence. Hmm. He spoke five, six languages fluent. I mean, it was unusual guy. So excellence is an excellence is not an accident. Excellence is always the result of high intent and hard work. That was this Monday. And I totally today feel the same way. I didn’t apply it as well as he did, but I feel the same way. Why? Why do we as human beings just fulfill functions rather than fulfill any functions for a higher intent? Think about it. And I like to use that as an example, because it should hit home. The chair on which we’re sitting is fulfilling a function. But we are human beings. When we fulfill a function, it should for a higher intent rather than just for the function itself. Yeah. And with other words, it means that we do things for a higher purpose. And even the Bible says, if you don’t, people without vision will perish, people without purpose will perish. So why not bring it down to the denominator, which gets us there, that do everything with a purpose.

Mark Slatin: I think I was reading, and you correct me if I’m wrong, but you had to write like a reflection or a paper at the end and it came to you. I know what you refer to.

Horst Schulze: In a typical German upbringing at the time, working in the hotel, in any business where you start working in the business, if you’re a bricklayer or a baker, you go once a week to the school of your industry. So once a week, I went to a hotel school. After two years, I was 16. The teacher asked us, young professor, to write an essay, three pages, what we now think about our industry. That evening, I was, again, working in a restaurant. And I happened to watch the maitre d’ approach a table. And I realized, I had seen it, but it wasn’t clear to me, I realized that the guests at the table were proud that he came to them. I said, wait a minute, this is a reversal. They are the important ladies and gentlemen, we are the servants, the men of the hotel. And this is a reversal. And when I went to my room that night to start writing on my essay, I was thinking about that so much. I want to write about this impression. And I came to the conclusion for the first time in my life, because I think, why do I disapproach? Because simply, he had defined himself as a very fine gentleman, as a first-class MetaD. And they were proud he came down because of how he had defined himself. And it hit me, I can define myself too. Even if I was a dishwasher my whole life, I can still define myself as a fine human being and a gentleman. Not somebody else defines you, which our society seems to think everybody. No, you define yourself. And you make it, you have to make a decision how you want it and who you want to be and define yourself as such. And I wrote that in an essay that evening. And I named that essay. We are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen, we’re not servants.

Horst Schulze: Yes, we are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen, which I met the motto of Ritz-Carlton when I started Ritz-Carlton. And it became world famous in our industry. I mean, everybody in our industry knows that. It became and isn’t it so that we’re not servants unless we lower ourselves to that level. I’m not I’m I’m a gentleman, but my profession is to care, serve my guests, whom I respect as ladies and gentlemen. Yeah, that was the deal.

Mark Slatin: Yeah, at 16, you came up with that.

Horst Schulze: I wrote an essay and I had it, I saw it last about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, we had a mold problem in my office and I had to burn everything and I probably burned it because I can’t find it anymore. But I still had it as much, less than 10 years ago, I still had it. But you know, I have to tell you though, the reason why I kept it was not because it was great, it was the only A I ever had. And the teacher wrote some great remarks on it and put big A on it. And that’s why I kept it.

Mark Slatin: Well, it still lives on and it’s with us in spirit. Yeah, for sure. So let’s dig into that a little bit because you do talk a lot about what we call today the employee experience and the connection between that and the customer experience. In the book, you get into something you call the three universals. Would you mind sharing a little bit about that?

Horst Schulze: The expectation, yeah. Well, the three expectations of the customer, I’m, I think that I talk about two, three things that basically that’s why I’m, let me make sure that that’s it. It’s very clear that the customer, the purchasing The subconscious expectation in every purchase, every purchase has nothing to do with hotel. You may go to a hardware store or whatever, or legal service or whatever. You have subconsciously, you have three expectations. Yeah. Every human being, the interesting thing, those studies have been made, that is true for every culture. Doesn’t mean either Chinese or Japanese or German or American doesn’t make a difference. You have those expectations. Those expectations are number one. You expect the product that you purchase to be defect-free. A radio could be a bottle of water or it could be doesn’t matter what. You expect that product to defect-free in that purchase. You also expect timeliness. You want it when you want it. And that timeliness issue, by the way, has become much more important over the last 50 years or so. Number three, what they expect is that the people who give you the service or the product, that they respect you and that they’re nice to you. So once I know that, that is the deep subconscious expectation every customer, then as a manager, I have to create processes, controls, systems, to make sure I deliver those three things. Now, as a leader, that is, I want to emphasize that as a leader, I have to make sure, as the manager, I can say that again, you have to make sure that you now, once you know the expectation of the customer and you should know them very clearly, you create processes, system measurements, controls, and be sure that happens. As a leader, you should create an environment in which your employees want to do that, not have to do, want to do that. And there you are. right, where, what is the role of a leader? Create that. And the way to create that, of course, is to have the right selection process, right, rotation, blah, blah, blah, blah. There are processes, again, to put that into the, everything is a process. And people, if a manager would tell me, which they have, they wouldn’t have done it anymore, once they’ve worked with me for a while. While Bill left, because he really was not a good employee, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re the leader here. and has nothing to do with Bill. If Bill was not good, you shouldn’t have hired him in the first place. What’s wrong with the selection process? You are in charge, or maybe you didn’t orient him right, or maybe you didn’t train him right, or you have the wrong work environment. It’s you. It’s us who lead us, who create the environment and have the right employees and the right attitude in the employees. We can’t just refer to somebody else. What is our role as leaders?

Mark Slatin: Right, right. Ownership, accountability as leaders. Yeah. And you do write a lot about spending some time in the recruiting process and making sure there’s a good fit.

Horst Schulze: Exactly, exactly. Well, we took it very seriously. We didn’t hire people, we selected people. So, and then of course we used outside analysis and everything and a lot of behavioral analyst studies and so on. And after the interview, the first day of orientation, first day of work, we talked extremely serious. In fact, the first 40 or so Ritz-Carlton hotels, no matter where they were, if they were in Shanghai or Berlin or Philadelphia, I opened them and oriented the employees and did the first 10 days of training in the hotels. Orientation or what other people may call onboarding or whatever, is always a thing that is totally mismanaged. I see it. What happens there always, it is simply that the new employees come to work and we give them rules and regulation. We give them, here we are a team here without giving objective and a team has to have an objective. We let them fill out the insurance paper, we give them the employee handbook, we give them all, we tell the employee, a load on the employee, do’s and don’ts. Finally, we turn the employee over to somebody who knows the ropes. That’s the common thing, always gets me, even though you don’t have nothing to do with ropes, but all of a sudden there’s somebody who knows ropes, we turn them over to. Well, we didn’t do that. Orientation, I spent the first day of orientation with the employees and told them who we are. Make sure that they understand we don’t want them to work for us. We want them to be part of us. Make sure that they understand the vision, the dream of the company, and how they will benefit if we accomplish this vision. Make sure that they know the expectation of the customer from us. Take a look at the behavioral aspects. That’s the thing, people go wrong. Here you have a moment where you have all your new employees together. For us, of course, I said I did all the orientation. I meant with every new hotel and every takeover hotel, the ongoing orientation, obviously, I didn’t do the onboarding. But I made sure that the first day of work, they know that they’re part of something, and they know what they’re part of. They know the purpose of the organization, the vision of the organization. I work with so many companies now, totally different from the hotel business. And it is shocking how companies, if they have a vision statement, most of them don’t. Their mission statements, here’s what we do, that’s what you do should is not a vision, it’s a mission. It should take you to a certain place, and that certain place is a vision that you may accomplish in 10 or 20 years, it doesn’t matter. And even if they have a vision statement, the employees don’t know it. In other words, in a way, it’s immoral. We hired those employees for nothing else but fulfilling a certain function. In our case, cleaning rooms, cooking food, checking people in. But again, the chair in which you’re sitting is fulfilling a function. But we’re actually hiring human beings whom we should hire to join a purpose. Big difference.

Mark Slatin: Big difference. Yeah. Yeah. So there’s so many gems already that you shared, but I’m going to double tap on that one, which is that most onboarding really is mismanaged and it’s really critical to set the stage early on and make sure people understand not only what the mission is, but what the vision is.

Horst Schulze: Exactly. Exactly. And not sharing the vision with the employee. Again, to me, that is a little bit immoral. We shared the vision of the company when we interviewed them and invited them to join us, not to work for us, join us to accomplish this mission. In order to accomplish it, we have to work, maybe even a little bit harder, not more hours, but Maybe, but we’re doing it not for the work itself, but to accomplish a vision that is of value to all concerned. That again is leadership’s role to identify that division, but make absolutely sure that the vision of the organization is of values to all concerned. That means, of course, to the investor. Without the investors, we don’t have a business. Number two, it is of value for every guest, every customer. Number three, it’s of value for every employee. Number four, it’s of value for society as a whole. If it is not, you shouldn’t be doing it. It shouldn’t be your vision. I personally went away after agonizing all day long with my earlier employees. Do we want this to be our vision to be the best in the world? That was the vision. To be known as the best hotel company in the world. Is this good for all concerned? After we identify a clear yes after hours of discussion, frankly, on a personal basis, I tell you, I went away and questioned, would God approve? And once the answer is yes, in all those, it is good for the investor, it is good for the employee, it is good for the company, it is good for society. In that moment, I have no more right to compromise it. I have to go and accomplish the vision with everything I can. At least move closer to it.

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Mark Slatin: I want to explore this idea that you share that talks about what you’re just sharing in terms of once I know the vision and the purpose, and I’m clear about that, I need to go after it. And you talk a lot about the importance of repetition and processes and sort of best practices, if you will. And yet you also talk about allowing room for employees to be innovative. So I think I have a quote here from you that says, let’s see, what is it? Do with excellence what the customer loves and the money will follow. And so there’s a tension between what often you hear senior leaders saying, well, we’ve got to control costs, we’ve got to manage it, we’ve got a business to run, we’ve got to grow, we’ve got to have sustainable growth, and yet at the same time there’s room, a room for innovation. How do you manage both?

Horst Schulze: You know, there was a recent survey made a very recent one is, well, this is fascinating. I mean, I don’t know if that doesn’t fascinate people. I don’t know anything because I am absolutely blown away by that survey. It says that survey shows, it says that about 80% of the American market says, I will deal with you if you are nice with me. If you care for me, even if I know I could buy the same product next door for less. Okay. So with other words, if I create more excellence, you’re willing to pay more. That’s where the bottom line is. I mean, it’s so, it’s so simple. I mean, not only are you willing to pay more, I will have more customers because you want to deal with me. Where does it really come from too? Because there’s, I’m sure there’s doubt here. It comes from the very fact that if I’m nice to you, you will trust me and consequently deal with me. By being excellent and caringly, I will have more customers and they’re willing to pay more. So the bottom line is there. Let me tell you something. You cannot save the money from cutting cost. What means cutting? People talk, every business, all of a sudden cost cutting comes in. What does always happen when there is a cost-cutting initiative? We take something away from the customer. In other words, make the soap a little smaller. In our industry, we have become masters. We are not washing, making the room because of the environment. Well, baloney, we do it because of the cost. We’re not washing your towels because of the environment. Yeah, the truth is we save money. So with other words, I take something away from the customer, really. Yeah, if in the same time it helps the environment, so be it. Good, good. But we really did it to save money. We take something away from the customer. Rather than saying, how can I give my customer The product, the way the customer wants it, how can I deliver it, but make sure it costs me less to deliver it, but fully the way the customer wants it. And that is called continuous improvement. It usually is accomplished by eliminating the mistakes that you make. And consequently, your product become better and your cost goes down. That’s not cost cutting. That’s called efficiency.

Mark Slatin: difference between cost-cutting and efficiency.

Horst Schulze: There’s a huge difference, that’s right.

Mark Slatin: Yeah. So you may know that I have been, I don’t know, last 10 years or so in the world of customer experience and customer experience management. I served on the board of CXPA. I’m teaching at Michigan State University on the faculty in a CXM program. And yet I think about what you’ve accomplished. A big part of what CX management is, is about creating structures and frameworks and methodologies to move companies more toward a really customer-centric culture. Yeah. And so I wonder, you know, how you have been able to successfully do that? And do you have any designated people in the organization to kind of do this enterprise wide, like designated to do that across the different business units or back when you were at RIT?

Horst Schulze: Well, just to the overall structure, first of all, I bought countless studies, customer studies to understand the economy. And we made studies, what is the customer really expecting from us? And consequently, the funny thing, by the way, the first one we did with Shady Power a long time ago, we were the first company in the world with Shady Power outside of automotive. And they looked at The first one they did, they looked at our, what we thought the customer wants. They made a study with us in the company. And then they made the customer study what the customer wanted. And we realized all of a sudden, we are bypassing each other. Here we are. So it became very clear. You have to know what the market wants. You have to understand what is the market expecting from you, from your business. truly, not your opinion, not the market’s opinion, not what your mother-in-law thinks, no, but the market thinks. And once you understand what the market wants, you, of course, you create processes, systems, and organization around delivering to the market what the market wants. We already know the three subconscious things they want, which I expressed earlier, no defect and so on. So I have to work my processes so the market gets what the market wants. The market wants nice employees. So I have to have processes. So I have nice employees. I cannot hope. I couldn’t hope that my passport or my doorman in Shanghai is nice. I can’t hope that. I have a process to accomplish this and then measure if it actually happens. And that’s the thing. Expectation systems to deliver measurements where to improve and continuously improve. That’s really in a nutshell it, and that is true for any industry. It doesn’t matter what it is, if you’re a hotel or make cars or sell hammers. It doesn’t matter. So, and that’s why I’m able to work with a lot of different industries now, totally unrelated to hotels, and accomplish the same thing. I work with a dermatology group. I work with a hospital group. I work at a bank. It’s all the same. But let’s give an example. Hospitals. Mind you, product is important. Yet, in a hospital, when you see a doctor, you have no idea about the product. You don’t really know what he is. One out of 10,000 understands the medical, but nobody else understands it. But you will understand and develop trust in a doctor if the doctor is nice to you, explains your things, and so on. But most doctors don’t know that. The decision about your doctor is made on how he handled you and the timeliness and how he treated you. So it’s, yes, it’s product most of the time, it is timeliness. I have to know that. Now I have to, once I know that as a business, I have to create processes so it is delivered. Even the being nice is delivered. And so that’s how any business should be built. How am I going to do that? And I mean, employees, I work with a cleaning company right now, they hire cleaners, beautiful people, wonderful people, the company has create thought, how, how do we create more value in the minds of our employees. So when I when I listened to the selection hiring process, they offered cleaning jobs. My offer them to join you to make your company the most respected cleaning company in the world and say you are an ambassador of ours. Now your function is cleaning, but we are hiring you as an ambassador and as part of making this the finest in the world. It’s a totally different communication. And then of course you have to make sure that the cleaning process works. Of course, that’s the product. But what about if you have a factory and you leave in the evening and the cleaners come in and they say friendly hello every time you see them? And maybe even leave a note on your desk and say, I hope you like my work. And suddenly you respect that company. It’s all the same. We’re dealing with human beings. My goodness, what is so difficult here? Respect them. Yeah, yeah.

Mark Slatin: Horace, one more question before we start to close up, because I could go all day. I just love talking about this and love listening to you and sharing all your knowledge. I want to take you back to 1992, and you shared a story in the book where you had just won the Malcolm Baldrige Award and one of the highest achievements in customer experience, customer service that anyone can win. And you’re riding high, you get a couple of young children and you get some horrific news. So tell us, if you don’t mind, what happened and how that shaped your life.

Horst Schulze: Well, yeah. Yes, I had to check out, check up. First it was nothing and then I had an operation and it was cancer and then it was a cancer that was very rare that always leads to a snowstorm of cancer, that was the word, within 10 months to a year. In other words, I was told to get my stuff in order so I could die leaving my stuff in order. Believe me, when you get that news, and you have children, one and a half, five and 10 year old, and a wife, and you know, you’re being told you’re going to leave them in about a year. It changes your life. It totally changes you. I drove to a meeting where I had a meeting every four weeks. And I parked my car where I always parked it. And I realized right there was a tree that I had never seen before. It’s always there. But now all of a sudden I saw my life change, my relationship, my faith changed, everything changed. All the egos and everything is gone and you become a different human being. So it impacted me dramatically. I, however, and of course I was advised, I went around to everybody, every expert. I wanted somebody to tell me, you’re not going to die. And so I went to every expert, but they all told me that I am going to die. I finally decided if I’m going to die anyway, I will not get go anymore treatment. I will not go to chemo, which everybody recommended. I looked into the various, many people talked about various diets. I looked into that. I drove around, flew around, looked into them. Finally decided on a so-called macrobiotic diet. What really amount to, I wanted to do something myself. So I went to this extreme diet for two years. After a year, the person who did the diet explanation said, if you do it another year, the cancer will never come back. My oncologist was amazed. And that was nearly 30 years ago, or it was 30 years ago. And the funny thing about three years ago, I was in John Hopkins University, three, four years ago, and John Hopkins University made a speech. I had dinner with the chief oncologist, one of the people sitting besides me. I told him that I had cancer. And he said, impossible because nobody has survived that cancer. We argued about it. Then he said, well, The diagnostic 27 years ago was not as good as today. And so I went back to Atlanta, called the hospital where I was operated. In the archives, they still had the slide of the cancer. I sent it to the guy in China, and he called me and said, wow, I didn’t know anybody survived it. But you know, I also, frankly, it also did something impactful to me. And that is faith, faith in a higher being, because I realized I was not in charge. Up to that moment, I thought I was in charge. I am not. And it’s and it created something very unique. So in a way, in a big way, in a big way, it was the best thing that ever happened to me because of a different faith I have now and a different fulfillment in life, different relationship, different how I see my children, see my wife, see people, see the world. It was a fabulous experience. Not when it was happening, believe me. But now in retrospect. So I had to touch on that in the book because I was, the way I wrote the book was my experience in business. But if I would have ended there, I would have, I felt I would be lying if I wouldn’t tell the rest of the story there too. So I addressed it to, not to get anything out of it for anybody, but to be fully transparent.