The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) brings prominent industry professionals to speak at SHA most Fridays during the fall semester. For 2015, students worked in groups each week to research, meet, and profile featured speakers, and then guest-blog here about the experience.
This week’s student authors are Rebekah Catalana ’16, Madeleine Fessenden ’16, and Jacob Schaffer ’16.
Last week, the School of Hotel Administration (SHA) welcomed Mr. John Meadow ’02 back to his alma mater on Homecoming Weekend, which also happened to be the weekend of the inauguration of Cornell’s newest president, Elizabeth Garrett. Mr. Meadow, founder and president of LDV Hospitality, traveled to SHA to speak with undergraduate and graduate students about his entrepreneurial endeavors since graduating. He arrived in Ithaca on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by his wife, Karin.
Shortly after arriving, Mr. and Mrs. Meadow attended an Italian-inspired dinner held at Taverna Banfi, hosted by Dean Michael Johnson and his wife, Jill. Also in attendance were Mr. Meadow’s good friend and mentor, Professor Giuseppe Pezzotti, and various SHA undergraduate and MMH students. A Hotel Leadership Development Program (HLDP) student prepared the delicious, three-course meal.
The conversation throughout dinner centered on Mr. Meadow’s career, his two little girls, and his goal in achieving a work-life balance. He said that the key to success is, “to really be at home when you’re at home, and to be at work when you’re at work,” and that “when you work from home is when this balance is disrupted.”
On Friday afternoon, Mr. Meadow delivered his Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series presentation. He described his career and the important lessons that he has learned. He talked about attending SHA and pursuing a career at the Plaza Hotel, before leaving to launch his own restaurant. Mr. Meadow then described the various projects that he has worked on and answered many students’ questions.
Throughout his presentation, Mr. Meadow provided invaluable insights that he learned during his career. He described the importance of learning from mistakes, and viewing failures as an opportunity to do better. He talked about the importance of reaching out to friends and connections for support in times of hardship. Regardless of any successes and failures, however, Mr. Meadow stressed the importance of treating his employees well. When employees are treated well, they will treat guests well.
Mr. Meadow concluded his speech with the three most important principles he has learned in his career. The first is to surround yourself with good people. The second is the timeless real estate adage, “location, location, location.” The third is to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Mr. Meadow will continue to expand his restaurant empire using these principles.
Following his DDLS lecture, Mr. Meadow attended HADM 4100, where he participated in a roundtable with SHA upperclassmen. He addressed various topics, from how hiring the right people for the job can change the company for the better, to the focus that LDV is currently placing on developing a strong brand presence.
Mr. Meadow also emphasized taking advantage of our time as students at SHA. He told us he wishes he had not graduated early or focused so much on grades while in school. Between the education and the people, SHA is a special place to him where students should just focus on learning and personal growth. He discussed how he is currently signing a deal with an alumnus that graduated 20 years prior to him, but that there is still that sense of Hotelie community between them.
Overall, all enjoyed Mr. Meadow’s visit. He was able to return to his alma mater, show his wife where he spent his college years, and reconnect with former friends and professors. The students enjoyed talking with Mr. Meadow about his experiences and hearing his advice about having a successful career in the hospitality industry.