Dr. Starr Shafer is the founder and president of StarResults, which works with business leaders to drive the effectiveness of their teams and achieve their business imperatives. Not only is she a valued partner of Marriott’s, she’s a former Marriott associate herself. Having both worked for and with Marriott over the years, she can speak to how the company prepared her for success in her own business, and how a Small Business owner can establish and grow a relationship with a company like Marriott.
How did your career at Marriott prepare you for success in your own business?
I was an on-property general manager for 17 years. I led regional sales and service training for supervisors and associates. I was full-time with the sales organization, and then I moved into learning development globally.
My foundational experience came from working on the sales side, and my goal was always to develop relationships where our clients saw us as a trusted advisor — “what do they want, and how can I help them?”
The best thing about my time at Marriott was the opportunity to work with Steve Marriott. His commitment overall taught me what a servant-leader is: take risks, be authentic to yourself, and open your ears to listen.
These are even more important to me now as a business leader. How do I serve clients? By making them comfortable with taking risks, because change is never easy.
What was the catalyst for starting your own business?
The diversity of work. Regardless of the industry I’m working with, leadership experience the same challenges. And having the ability to work with many stakeholders taught me techniques for success in entrepreneurship.
Beyond just doing business with you, how has Marriott supported your business?
It’s based on relationships. Individuals inside the company have been supporters – recommending things to consider, opening my eyes to opportunities, connecting to their colleagues and organizations that they’re part of, or recommending me to other organizations. Sometimes that’s a business opportunity, sometimes it’s a partnership, or sometimes it’s just bouncing ideas off of the wall.
What advice would you have for a small business owner who is entering into a relationship with a global company like Marriott?
It’s all about the relationship. What are they trying to accomplish? Know what’s important to them, and to your business and your team. Make sure there’s a connection there. Follow your passion. It doesn’t always happen, but the closer your values align with anyone you do business with, the stronger the partnership will be.
Also, as leaders, one thing we need to do is, to continue to develop and grow ourselves. We don’t do a good job of sharpening our own saw. You have to step back from time to time and ask, “did I invest in myself?”
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Marriott family?
I do feel a part of the “family.” I love the “I Belong / I am Marriott” campaign. I’m proud of my Quarter Century Card and my Marriott Rewards Platinum Membership Card.
I love hearing associates’ stories of how long they’ve been there and the road they’ve traveled. It’s a blessing to have seen it from both sides