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纪念万豪CEO苏安励:他的一生是“一本好书”

纪念万豪CEO苏安励:他的一生是“一本好书”

Shawn Tully 2021年02月18日
他将个人不幸转化为集体动力。

那是2019年7月中旬的一个闷热的工作日,我正赶赴一场不同寻常的约会:万豪国际的首席执行官苏安励(Arne Sorenson)邀请我,在纽约时报广场刚刚开业的艾迪逊酒店共进午餐。

酒店经理带我去了顶层的露天餐厅,天方夜谭的主题风格下,飘逸的窗帘和东方风格的吊坠点缀着餐厅。我身着西装,苏安励穿着他标志性的牛仔裤和牛仔靴,出现在我的视线中——他的身边除了公关人员之外,没有其他万豪高管。

在接下来的两个小时里,我们一边享用着凯撒沙拉,一边聊着我们最钦佩的首席执行官是哪些角色。他侃侃而谈,提到酒店行业是艺术和商业的融合,提到他与胰腺癌的斗争——2021年2月15日,病魔最终夺走了他62岁的生命。

那时我就知道,苏安励面临的可能是“死刑”。那场约会的两个月前,万豪公开了他的病情,称苏安励将在2019年11月进行手术。他回忆说,约翰斯•霍普金斯医院的医生告诉他,他被诊断为胰腺癌,当时医生还不知道病情发展到了什么程度。他开车回家告诉妻子和四个孩子,他的病情可能致命。孩子们拥向他,告诉他,如果他在抱孙子孙女前过世,那将是一场悲剧。

“那是可怕的三天。”他说,“整个周末我都在制定计划,担心自己会‘走’得太快。”苏安励和他的家人一直希望他的癌症尚处中期,可以通过手术和化疗治愈。

苏安励回忆道,那之后不久,他回到医院,拿到了完整的诊断结果。他开车回家,打开门,向他的家人宣布——“中期!”霎时间,房间被拥抱和欢呼包围。

苏安励很瘦,体型健康。他爱慢跑。到任何城市出行,他总爱住在公园附近的万豪酒店里,方便晨跑。他自豪地说,最近一次外出时,他跑过曼哈顿万豪集团众多酒店中的一家,突然一名门卫跳出来喊道:“我们为你加油!”员工们经常给他发电子邮件,告诉他,他在万豪受到的支持和喜爱汇聚成了一支“苏安励大军”,以及一种得以克服困难的特殊力量。

午餐间苏安励告诉我,作为酒店首席执行官,他最大的乐趣就是与那些伟大品牌的设计艺术人才合作。他们中的许多人性格颇有些古怪,天才灵感涌现的同时往往伴随着情绪爆发,处理这些情况是一个大挑战,但他却乐在其中。

他说,他的目标是在达成美妙的幻想和拒绝过于昂贵的想法之间取得平衡。他还提到,他与艾迪逊酒店背后的天才设计师伊恩•施拉格的合作尤其富有成效,施拉格甚至说服他在迈阿密海滩的艾迪逊酒店安装了一个滑冰场,让客人们一边滑冰一边享用鸡尾酒。

苏安励还和我谈论了对首席执行官们的看法。

2010年布莱恩•莫伊尼汉第一次执掌美国银行时,大多数观察家都认为他会失败,而我恰恰预测他会成功。其他领导者在金融危机爆发前抛弃了银行业的基本原理,他却对这些基本原理把握深刻,让我留下了深刻印象。“在过去的几年里,我非常了解布莱恩。”苏安励说,“在刚开始的时候,人们很容易忽视这是一位强有力的领导人。”

此外,他还表达了对危机四伏的通用电气的首席执行官拉里•卡尔普的赞赏。“我认识、崇拜拉里•卡尔普很多年了。”他告诉我,“我真的很希望看到他扭转当下的局面。”

我在2017年春天就认识了苏安励,当时我正在写一篇文章,探讨与喜达屋的合并如何重塑万豪。对达拉斯附近的盖洛德德克萨斯酒店的区域经理来说,场地非常宽阔:巨大的穹顶盖在酒店的塔楼之上,各种餐馆、花园和天井位于其中。他向人群发表了20分钟的演讲,没有看任何笔记,也未置一句“我是说”、“你知道的”这种话。以我的经验来看,只有达美航空的埃德•巴斯蒂安可以与他凝聚员工的能力相媲美。

苏安励的父母是路德会传教士,他们在日本抚养他长大。苏安励在马里兰州贝塞斯达的办公室的墙上,挂着长矛和弓,这些都是他的父母从新几内亚带回来的。这种装饰正体现了苏安励对异国度假的热爱。

他反复重温的一件事情,就是赴印度瓦拉纳西的一场旅行。苏安励回忆说,在恒河岸边的家庭向导名叫“沙伊莱什医生”,他说他是“婆罗门版的文森特•普莱斯”。苏安励回忆道:“神圣的火葬仪式在木材火堆上进行,成群的人在河里沐浴,河面上还有一簇簇漂浮的蜡烛。”他说,这一幕是“感官超负荷”的极致体验。

在艾迪逊酒店,我问苏安励能否给提供一些独家消息,告诉我在经营全球最大酒店帝国的同时,他是如何与癌症抗争的。他同意了,之后,我们俩互发了不少邮件。

2019年9月30日,他写道:“手术将于11月进行。这对我来说很可怕。但我更想赶紧把它抛在身后。”在下一封电子邮件中,苏安励经典的乐观情绪丝毫没有减弱。“手术是六周前的事情了。”他说,“一切都很好,我正在快速康复。我已经重返工作岗位,从来没有这么急切过。”他在12月3日的最后一封信中说:“我期待明年见到你。”而他战胜癌症的故事,是我2021年的获奖报道。

2020年3月19日,苏安励为万豪员工录制了一段视频,在视频中,他谈到了新冠疫情对行业的毁灭性影响,以及不可避免的裁员浪潮。开始时他提到,因为“我的新光头形象”, 苏安励的团队犹豫过让他出镜这回事,但他说,这“正是我们所期待的”。随后,他的话题从个人的不幸转向了“我们共同的危机”。他的讲话,一面是勇气,一面是领导力。

今年1月中旬,他的身体状况还不错,足以主持高层领导会议。但后来,他的病情迅速恶化,2月2日,万豪宣布例行检查显示癌症仍然存在,苏安励将退居幕后,但留任首席执行官。

在苏安励的办公室里,一张2011年拍摄的全家在乞力马扎罗山山顶合影的照片,被排在最显眼的位置。在高原反应的折磨之下,一家人在海拔19000英尺的火山口里度过了一晚,那里距离山顶只有500英尺。向导不停地喊着“Poli,Poli”,在斯瓦希里语中的意思是“慢点,慢点”。当他们成功登顶时,苏安励、他的妻子和四个孩子肩并肩站着——这是一场胜利。

在生意场,从曼哈顿的酒店门卫到他最亲密的伙伴,苏安励在每个人心中唤起的忠诚,也让他收获了胜利。

他的去世让我想起伟大的心理学家阿莫斯•特沃斯基在59岁死于黑色素瘤时所说的话——他的一生是“一本简短的书,但却是一本好书”。 苏安励的一生虽然很短,但也是难以逾越的“一本好书”。(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一

那是2019年7月中旬的一个闷热的工作日,我正赶赴一场不同寻常的约会:万豪国际的首席执行官苏安励(Arne Sorenson)邀请我,在纽约时报广场刚刚开业的艾迪逊酒店共进午餐。

酒店经理带我去了顶层的露天餐厅,天方夜谭的主题风格下,飘逸的窗帘和东方风格的吊坠点缀着餐厅。我身着西装,苏安励穿着他标志性的牛仔裤和牛仔靴,出现在我的视线中——他的身边除了公关人员之外,没有其他万豪高管。

在接下来的两个小时里,我们一边享用着凯撒沙拉,一边聊着我们最钦佩的首席执行官是哪些角色。他侃侃而谈,提到酒店行业是艺术和商业的融合,提到他与胰腺癌的斗争——2021年2月15日,病魔最终夺走了他62岁的生命。

那时我就知道,苏安励面临的可能是“死刑”。那场约会的两个月前,万豪公开了他的病情,称苏安励将在2019年11月进行手术。他回忆说,约翰斯•霍普金斯医院的医生告诉他,他被诊断为胰腺癌,当时医生还不知道病情发展到了什么程度。他开车回家告诉妻子和四个孩子,他的病情可能致命。孩子们拥向他,告诉他,如果他在抱孙子孙女前过世,那将是一场悲剧。

“那是可怕的三天。”他说,“整个周末我都在制定计划,担心自己会‘走’得太快。”苏安励和他的家人一直希望他的癌症尚处中期,可以通过手术和化疗治愈。

苏安励回忆道,那之后不久,他回到医院,拿到了完整的诊断结果。他开车回家,打开门,向他的家人宣布——“中期!”霎时间,房间被拥抱和欢呼包围。

苏安励很瘦,体型健康。他爱慢跑。到任何城市出行,他总爱住在公园附近的万豪酒店里,方便晨跑。他自豪地说,最近一次外出时,他跑过曼哈顿万豪集团众多酒店中的一家,突然一名门卫跳出来喊道:“我们为你加油!”员工们经常给他发电子邮件,告诉他,他在万豪受到的支持和喜爱汇聚成了一支“苏安励大军”,以及一种得以克服困难的特殊力量。

午餐间苏安励告诉我,作为酒店首席执行官,他最大的乐趣就是与那些伟大品牌的设计艺术人才合作。他们中的许多人性格颇有些古怪,天才灵感涌现的同时往往伴随着情绪爆发,处理这些情况是一个大挑战,但他却乐在其中。

他说,他的目标是在达成美妙的幻想和拒绝过于昂贵的想法之间取得平衡。他还提到,他与艾迪逊酒店背后的天才设计师伊恩•施拉格的合作尤其富有成效,施拉格甚至说服他在迈阿密海滩的艾迪逊酒店安装了一个滑冰场,让客人们一边滑冰一边享用鸡尾酒。

苏安励还和我谈论了对首席执行官们的看法。

2010年布莱恩•莫伊尼汉第一次执掌美国银行时,大多数观察家都认为他会失败,而我恰恰预测他会成功。其他领导者在金融危机爆发前抛弃了银行业的基本原理,他却对这些基本原理把握深刻,让我留下了深刻印象。“在过去的几年里,我非常了解布莱恩。”苏安励说,“在刚开始的时候,人们很容易忽视这是一位强有力的领导人。”

此外,他还表达了对危机四伏的通用电气的首席执行官拉里•卡尔普的赞赏。“我认识、崇拜拉里•卡尔普很多年了。”他告诉我,“我真的很希望看到他扭转当下的局面。”

我在2017年春天就认识了苏安励,当时我正在写一篇文章,探讨与喜达屋的合并如何重塑万豪。对达拉斯附近的盖洛德德克萨斯酒店的区域经理来说,场地非常宽阔:巨大的穹顶盖在酒店的塔楼之上,各种餐馆、花园和天井位于其中。他向人群发表了20分钟的演讲,没有看任何笔记,也未置一句“我是说”、“你知道的”这种话。以我的经验来看,只有达美航空的埃德•巴斯蒂安可以与他凝聚员工的能力相媲美。

苏安励的父母是路德会传教士,他们在日本抚养他长大。苏安励在马里兰州贝塞斯达的办公室的墙上,挂着长矛和弓,这些都是他的父母从新几内亚带回来的。这种装饰正体现了苏安励对异国度假的热爱。

他反复重温的一件事情,就是赴印度瓦拉纳西的一场旅行。苏安励回忆说,在恒河岸边的家庭向导名叫“沙伊莱什医生”,他说他是“婆罗门版的文森特•普莱斯”。苏安励回忆道:“神圣的火葬仪式在木材火堆上进行,成群的人在河里沐浴,河面上还有一簇簇漂浮的蜡烛。”他说,这一幕是“感官超负荷”的极致体验。

在艾迪逊酒店,我问苏安励能否给提供一些独家消息,告诉我在经营全球最大酒店帝国的同时,他是如何与癌症抗争的。他同意了,之后,我们俩互发了不少邮件。

2019年9月30日,他写道:“手术将于11月进行。这对我来说很可怕。但我更想赶紧把它抛在身后。”在下一封电子邮件中,苏安励经典的乐观情绪丝毫没有减弱。“手术是六周前的事情了。”他说,“一切都很好,我正在快速康复。我已经重返工作岗位,从来没有这么急切过。”他在12月3日的最后一封信中说:“我期待明年见到你。”而他战胜癌症的故事,是我2021年的获奖报道。

2020年3月19日,苏安励为万豪员工录制了一段视频,在视频中,他谈到了新冠疫情对行业的毁灭性影响,以及不可避免的裁员浪潮。开始时他提到,因为“我的新光头形象”, 苏安励的团队犹豫过让他出镜这回事,但他说,这“正是我们所期待的”。随后,他的话题从个人的不幸转向了“我们共同的危机”。他的讲话,一面是勇气,一面是领导力。

今年1月中旬,他的身体状况还不错,足以主持高层领导会议。但后来,他的病情迅速恶化,2月2日,万豪宣布例行检查显示癌症仍然存在,苏安励将退居幕后,但留任首席执行官。

在苏安励的办公室里,一张2011年拍摄的全家在乞力马扎罗山山顶合影的照片,被排在最显眼的位置。在高原反应的折磨之下,一家人在海拔19000英尺的火山口里度过了一晚,那里距离山顶只有500英尺。向导不停地喊着“Poli,Poli”,在斯瓦希里语中的意思是“慢点,慢点”。当他们成功登顶时,苏安励、他的妻子和四个孩子肩并肩站着——这是一场胜利。

在生意场,从曼哈顿的酒店门卫到他最亲密的伙伴,苏安励在每个人心中唤起的忠诚,也让他收获了胜利。

他的去世让我想起伟大的心理学家阿莫斯•特沃斯基在59岁死于黑色素瘤时所说的话——他的一生是“一本简短的书,但却是一本好书”。 苏安励的一生虽然很短,但也是难以逾越的“一本好书”。(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一

It was a sweltering work day in mid-July of 2019, and I'd was en route to a highly unusual rendezvous: Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International had invited me to lunch at the just-debuted Edition hotel in Times Square. The hotel's manager showed me to the open-air restaurant on the top floor, festooned in an Arabian Nights motif of flowing curtains and oriental pendants. I wore a suit; Arne appeared in his signature jeans and cowboy boots. He was unaccompanied by Marriott execs except for PR folks. For the next two hours as we enjoyed Cesar salads, Arne and I exchanged views on which CEOs we most admired, his view of the hotel trade as melding artistry and commerce, and especially, the bout with pancreatic cancer that would eventually take his life on February 15 at age 62.

I knew then that Arne was facing what could be a death sentence. Marriott had made the news of his condition public two months before, and he was awaiting surgery in November. The day the doctors at Johns Hopkins told him that they'd found pancreatic cancer, he recalled, they didn't yet know how far the disease had advanced. He drove home to tell his wife and four children that his condition could be fatal. His kids huddled and told him that it would be a tragedy if he passed away before they could honor him with grandchildren.

"It was a terrible three days," he says. "I spent the whole weekend making plans on the fear that I might go quickly." Arne and the family harbored the hope that his cancer was in stage two, a state that's treatable with surgery and chemotherapy.

Shortly thereafter, he recounted, "I went back to Johns Hopkins to get the full diagnosis, then drove back home, opened the door, and announced to the family, 'Stage two!'" It was hugs and high-fives all around.

Arne was a lean, super-fit jogger; in any city, he always stayed at a Marriott near a park where he could go on early-morning runs. He related with pride that on a recent outing, he'd been speeding past the entrance to one of Marriott's many Manhattan hotels when a doorman jumped out to yell, "We're pulling for you, Arne!" Employees often emailed him to say that the support and affection he'd inspired at Marriott gave him an Arne's army of support, and a special power to overcome.

At our lunch, Arne confided that his greatest pleasure as a hotel CEO was working with the artistic types whose brilliance in design created great brands. Many of them were temperamental, so handling strokes of genius interspersed with outbursts was a challenge, but one he relished. The goal, he said, was to strike a balance between nurturing wonderful flights of fancy, and nixing ideas that were just too costly. He cited as especially fruitful his partnership with Ian Schrager, the mercurial genius behind Edition, who'd even convinced him to install a skating rink at the Edition in Miami Beach, where guests sip daiquiris as they glide.

Arne and I also compared notes on CEOs. I'd predicted that Brian Moynihan would succeed when he first took charge of Bank of America in 2010, when most observers saw failure. I'd been impressed by his grasp of the banking fundamentals other leaders had jettisoned in the run-up to the financial crisis. "I've gotten to know Brian quite well in the past few years," said Arne. "Early on, it was too easy to overlook that this was a strong leader." He also expressed admiration of GE's embattled chief Larry Culp. "I've known and admired Larry Culp for years," he told me. "I'd really like to see him turn this thing around."

I had originally met Arne in the spring of 2017, while doing a piece on how the merger with Starwood was reshaping Marriott. The site was an extravaganza for regional managers at the Gaylord Texan near Dallas, whose towers framed a collection of restaurants, gardens, and patios under a gigantic dome. Arne addressed the crowd for 20 minutes, sans notes, never uttering an "I mean," or a "you know." From my experience, his skill in rallying employees was only rivaled by Ed Bastian of Delta Air Lines.

The walls in Arne's office in Bethesda, Maryland, featured spears and bows that his parents, Lutheran missionaries who raised him in Japan, brought back from New Guinea. The decor reflected Arne's love of exotic family vacations. A trip to Varanasi, India, was one he loved to relive. Framed by the spears and bows, Arne recounted that the family guide on the banks of the Ganges River was one "Doctor Shailesh," a figure whom he described as "a Brahmin version of Vincent Price." Arne recalled marveling at "the Holy cremations being performed on timber fires, throngs of people bathing in the river and clusters of floating candles." The scene, he said, was the ultimate in "sensory overload."

At the Edition, I asked Arne if he'd give me an exclusive on how he'd battled cancer while running the world's largest hotel empire. He agreed, and we emailed back and forth frequently about the timing of the story. On September 30, 2019 he wrote, "Surgery coming up in November. That's terrifying to me. But I can't wait to have it behind me." In his next email, Arne's trademark optimism was undimmed. "Surgery is six weeks back," he he declared. "All good here. Recovery seems to be proceeding apace. I've been back to work and have never felt more eager." His final missive on December 3 said he was "looking forward to seeing you next year." Indeed, telling the story of his triumph over cancer was my prize project for 2021.

On March 19, 2020, Arne hosted a video for Marriott employees where he talked about COVID's devastating impact on the industry, and the inevitable wave of layoffs to come. He noted that his team had thought hard about having him host a video because of "my new bald look," but that it was "exactly what was expected" from his treatment. He then turned from his own calamity to the "crisis we share." His performance was a profile in both courage and leadership.

In mid-January, he was still well enough to host a senior leadership meeting. But his condition worsened quickly, and on February 2, Marriott announced that routine screens showed the cancer was still present, and that he'd step back while remaining CEO.

In Arne's office, a photo of his family gathered at the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011 took pride of place. They'd spent the night in a crater at 19,000 feet, 500 feet from the peak, and were suffering from altitude sickness. Their guide kept shouting "Poli, poli," meaning "slowly, slowly" in Swahili. When they reached the summit, Arne, his wife and four children stood shoulder to shoulder in triumph. In business, and in the loyalty he evoked in everyone from the Manhattan doorman to his closest associates, Arne triumphed as well.

His passing reminds me of what the great psychologist Amos Tversky said when he was dying of melanoma at age 59––that his life was "a short book, but a good book." Arne's life story was all too short, but it's harder to think of a better book.

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