Four Seasons: The Story Of A Business Philosophy

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9780670069217: Four Seasons: The Story Of A Business Philosophy

How did a child of immigrants, starting with no background in the hotel business, create the world's most admired and successful hotel chain? And how has Four Seasons grown dramatically, over nearly a half century, without losing its focus on exceptional quality and unparalleled service?

Isadore Sharp answers these questions in his engaging memoir, which doubles as a powerful guide for leaders in any field. He recalls the surprising history of his company, starting with its roots in his father's small construction business, which Sharp joined after getting a degree in architecture. Shifting into hotels wasn't easy, and he learned by trial and error.

His breakthrough was a vision for a new kind of hotel, featuring superior design, top-quality amenities, and, above all, a deep commitment to service. Sharp realized that customers would gladly pay extra for a "home away from home" experience. But that would be possible only if everyone—from managers and supervisors to bellmen, servers, and housekeepers—was fully engaged. The front-line staff, who have the most contact with guests, can make or break a five-star reputation.

Readers will be fascinated to learn how Four Seasons does it, year after year, in more than 30 countries around the world.

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About the Author:

Isadore (“Issy”) Sharp opened the Four Seasons hotel in 1960 on Jarvis Street in downtown Toronto. After a decade of trial and refinement Mr. Sharp created a single vision that today has made Four Seasons the leading luxury hotel operator exclusively focused on mid-size luxury hotels and resorts of exceptional quality.

The child of Polish immigrants, Sharp studied architecture in college and started out in the construction business working for his father. Over the years, his educational background combined with his design and construction expertise, his single focus on satisfying the customer and his leadership skills have allowed him to attract the capital sources and a loyal employee base to create the largest luxury hotel management company in the world.

He is a much admired Canadian business leader and was the first recipient of the Ruth Hartman Frankel Humanitarian Award for work on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society. Sharp and his wife, the former Rosalie Wise, live in Toronto. They have three sons, Jordan, Gregory and Anthony. The Sharps lost a fourth son, Christopher, to cancer in 1978.

Review:

"There's something different about a Four Seasons hotel. It's like gravity doesn't have the same effect there--the weight of the world lifts from your shoulders as soon as you walk in the door. I've often wondered how they do it. Now I know. It's an inspiring story."
--Morgan Freeman
"I have a great deal of respect for Issy Sharp and Four Seasons. I stay at their hotels all the time. This book is a terrific read by one of the smartest men in any business."
--Larry King
"Full disclosure: I am a rock-solid Four Seasons apostle. And now I know exactly why: perhaps to a more successful degree than any other mogul, Isadore Sharp has animated and applied the Golden Rule as business principle. This book will no doubt become a mandatory manual for hospitality professionals everywhere; but leaders of any business that has employees and competitors would be seriously remiss to miss out on Sharp's lovingly written memoir chronicling how he built the world's most innovative and beloved collection of luxury hotels. How uplifting it is to see how a philosophy built on so much common sense so directly leads to such uncommon success!"
--Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and author of "Setting the Table
"Regardless of your business, regardless of your pricepoint, Four Seasons offers invaluable lessons for us all."
--Tom Peters, author of "In Search of Excellence"
"Four Seasons truly sets the gold standard for excellence. He is an amazing guy!"
--Donald Trump
"The gripping yet breezily-told story of the man who transformed the hotel business, hospitality, and, in many ways, business itself."
--Don Tapscott, bestselling author of "Grown Up Digital" and "Wikinomics "
"This isn't just another 'rags to riches' story but a story about a leader who embodies three essential qualities of exemplary leadership---trust, integrity and optimism--- how he leveraged those values to create quality at the Four Seasons, and how just about every business that cares about excellence can do the same."
--Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California and author of "Judgment" and "Transparency"
"Brilliant, incisive and honest. A story of engagement, imagination, ambition and charm. Four Seasons defines luxury and comfort."
--Michael Silverstein, author of "Trading Up" and "Treasure Hunt"
"An entertaining and educational peek inside the wonderful world Issy Sharp has created at Four Seasons. It is a must read for anyone who aspires to excellence and meaning in their life."
--Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
"No one--in our generation--has established a global brand name so totally identified with unquestioned quality as Issy Sharp."
--Peter Munk, Founder & Chairman, Barrick Gold Corporation
"Issy Sharp is one of Canada's great business success stories - success that's been achieved on a global scale and recognized throughout the world. He's the living example of what a business leader can and should be."
--Rick Waugh, President & CEO, Scotiabank
"With humility, humour, intelligence, innovation and ambition, Issy Sharp dared to take on the biggest by being the best. Today, his legacy is clearly not just a global chain of fine hotels with an impeccable brand, but a pioneering approach to business that always puts people first."
--Gordon M. Nixon, President & CEO, RBC
"For my money, Isadore Sharp is one of the smartest entrepreneurs Canada's produced."
--Seymour Schulich, author of "Get Smarter"
"A consummate hotelier, Isadore Sharp is in the pantheon of entrepreneurs who reinvented innkeeping, with Cesar Ritz, Conrad Hilton and Kemmons Wilson. "Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy "reveals how Sharp re-conceived the hotel as a discreet oasis of small- scale serenity and assiduous service to guests."
--David Olive, author of" No Guts, No Glory"
"Any time I'm travelling, I'm always proud to point out that Four Seasons, one of the premier hotel chains in the world, was founded & developed by Canadian Issy Sharp. It's a great credit to Canada."
--Jim Pattison, Chairman & CEO, The Jim Pattison Group
"Four Seasons hotels are a reflection of Issy Sharp; they are a multinational model of first-class service. A brilliant example of true success, this is the story of a great business leader and his iconic company - as well as a chronicle of perseverance and self-confidence in adversity."
--Dr. Sherry Cooper, Executive Vice-President, BMO Financial Group

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