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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Whitehall Weekend

Last weekend, we stayed at the White Swan Inn bed and breakfast in Whitehall, Michigan. It told our hostess, Cathy, that I would blog about it. I usually don’t carry on in my blog about my every day experiences because…because I want my blog to be different than all those other blogs that carry on about every day experiences. So, I’m not going to ramble on about what we did or how crappy the weather was on Saturday. It’s not my style.

Instead, I’m going to talk about passion. There is nothing finer in life than crossing paths with someone who is doing what they are passionate about. I don’t care if it’s a hardware guy, like my friend Mike at Stadium Hardware in Ann Arbor, who is the greatest hardware man I’ve ever met, or Cathy at White Swan Inn, who has spent god knows how many years collecting lamps and paintings, and umbrellas and…well whatever she can find that has a white swan on it. These people love what they do and they pour themselves into it in a way that can’t help but create some enthusiasm within the people they cross paths with.

I’m not sure that Capt’n Ron, Cathy’s husband is all that passionate about the B&B business, but he sure is passionate about boats. He’s launching a new career (pun – as usual – intended) as a charter boat captain. But, his passion for boats is clearly not new. I saw some of his handiwork making model boats around the house. They were quite remarkable. I asked him if he had ever had a commission and said as a matter of fact, he is working on one right now. He disappeared into the basement and returned with printouts and plans and the hull of an unfinished work. He explained his process and how he only builds models of real boats that have some history. He had an article about the boat he is currently building. He didn’t know if we wanted the level of detail he offered of how he makes boats or not. I don’t think he cared. As it turns out, we probably didn’t need the details, but I did enjoy his passion.

I enjoyed watching Capt’n Ron enjoy sharing his passion. I think it is infectious. As a business person, I think that companies run by leaders with passion, tend to seek out employees with passion. This creates companies like I wrote about in my Small Giants post. When I need services, I always look for people who are passionate about what they do. They just seem to do it better than people who aren’t. Even if they don’t, I still like the idea that they care more about it.

Cathy asked me if we had any dietary restrictions when I made the reservations. I told her that Susan is mostly vegan and that I need to keep an eye on my cholesterol. She made a special breakfast the first day that addressed both of our concerns. That day, Susan mentioned in passing that she likes beans for breakfast. Next morning – you guessed it – we had beans on the menu. That’s not just customer service – that’s passion.
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