Defining Hospitality

Today’s guest is passionate about travel, art, history, and horseback riding. She authored her masters thesis toward a study of the intersection of advocacy, historic preservation, and architecture and has completed hotel renovations nationwide from conception through close-out. Please welcome to the show, Shannon Seay! Shannon is the Partner and Project Director at H-CPM, and the founder of an industry Networking Collective. Shannon joins the host Dan Ryan to share her thoughts on the hospitality industry. 

  • The core idea of hospitality is about crafting a community that is inclusive where people are excited to take part in it. It is the difference between place making and space making.
  • Every single thing in each of our lives has helped us to develop the perspective that we hold, and it’s the job of the professionals in the hospitality industry to put that together.
  • When someone is staying at any place that is in the realm of the hospitality industry (hostel, hotel, motel), they are home away from and finding a place to rest.
  • Rest necessitates comfort, and you can’t truly be comfortable if you are in a place that doesn’t speak to you.
  • A successful team isn’t a team that has no problems, but rather a team that solves its problems efficiently, coherently and in a professional manner. This applies to all industries as this will make a team act as a better unit.
  • Core values for your company aren’t something that are just written up and put on a piece of paper or a website to get a new deal. They are values that each and every team member really needs to embody and represent.
  • Everything comes down to a collaborative discussion. When it comes to the custom design space, there are a lot of different people that are involved in that aspect so it’s important to get everyone on the same page, even if that means compromising somewhere.

Quote of the Show:

1:54 “To me, hospitality is placemaking.”


Shout Outs:
4:42 Hersha Hospitality Management
6:56 Radio Kismet
6:58 University of Pennsylvania Law School
11:31 Damon Lawrence
11:32 Homage
14:16 ILC 
14:50 Andrew Benioff
19:23 Justin Chace
19:39 Steve Siegel
24:57 Small Giants by Bo Burlingham
25:02 Ani DiFranco
26:27 Daniel del Olmo 
26:29 Sage
27:15 Will Guidara 
34:59 The Irish Cottage Inn
37:35 1 Hotel
39:13 Good Shepherd
41:05 Chip Conley
41:08 Modern Elder Academy

Ways to Tune In: 

What is Defining Hospitality?

Welcome to Defining Hospitality, the podcast focused on highlighting the most influential figures in the hospitality industry. In each episode we provide 1 on 1, in depth interviews with experts in the industry to learn what hospitality means to them. We feature expert advice on working in the industry, behind the scenes looks at some of your favorite brands, and in depth explorations of unique hospitality projects.

Defining Hospitality is hosted by Founder and CEO of Agency 967, Dan Ryan. With over 30 years of experience in hospitality, Dan brings his expertise and passion to each episode as he delves into the latest trends and challenges facing the industry.

Episodes are released every week on Wednesday mornings.

To listen to episodes, visit or subscribe to Defining Hospitality wherever you get your podcasts.

Dan Ryan: Today's guest is passionate about travel, art, history, and horseback riding. She's completed hotel renovations nationwide from conception through closeout. She authored her master's thesis toward a study of the intersection of advocacy, historic preservation, and architecture. She is the founder of a nationwide industry networking collective.
A partner and project director at Hcpm. Ladies and gentlemen, Shannon C. Welcome Shannon.
Shannon Seay: Thank you so much, Dan. Thrilled to be here. It's so
Dan Ryan: good to [00:01:00] be with you as well, and, um, in doing all these conversations and meeting. and re and getting to know some of my guests a little bit better. You're kind of new on the scene to me, right?
We've met each other, I don't know, what, a year or two years ago. Yeah. Just about that. And I'm just amazed at your initiative in creating this net from creating this networking event to putting yourself out there, um, and really ultimately becoming a partner in your company. Um, And I wish I had all of that drive when I was younger too.
So part of this conversation too is, you know, we get so much feedback from people who just get so much information and confidence and a boost of confidence towards taking that step or asking for that promotion or going out and start hanging a shingle on their wall or on the door. Um, [00:02:00] before we get into your journey on that front, mm-hmm.
the real question is as the point of departure, like how do you define hospitality? .
Shannon Seay: That is the question, isn't it? It is. I think, you know, back in my architecture school days, we spend a lot of time talking about placemaking versus space making, and to me, hospitality is placemaking. It's the this idea of crafting community and inclusivity and creating a space that people are so excited to be in that they wanna tell other friends, they want it on their socials, they just can't wait to.
And so, you know, in the role that I play in bringing teams together and executing projects, to me, we create hospitality and we keep hospitality alive. In this series of a million little moments that the designer contributed to and the operations team contributes to every day, and it's this honestly continual idea of [00:03:00] this like ju that keeps us going, that I think is really evident in a lot of the spaces that we work in.
Dan Ryan: Another thing is most of the listeners here, they hear from architects, interior designers, hotel management companies. But what I'm also most amazed about is like when I go to a, a cocktail party or a dinner and people say, Hey, what do you do? I say, oh, I furnish hotels, like I sell furniture to hotels.
They're like, that exists. People actually do that. You mean they don't, there's not just a store. The same with interior designers, the same with architect. What's interesting about all these different channels and on all the construction side, there's someone kind of conducting the symphony for the shareholders or the, or the owners of that asset cuz it is a real asset and I'm just amazed by the people who conduct that symphony, you being one of them.
So walk the people who don't know. How do you conduct the symphony to get everything to open [00:04:00] on time and on budget, hopefully on
Shannon Seay: time and under budget. Oh, is always the goal. Great. Um, you know, this is absolutely a job that I did not know existed when I was studying. I did internships in architecture, construction, preservation, and.
in architecture school, everyone assumes you're gonna be a capital A architect. You are going to be drawing every single day and there's not a lot of direction as to what else you can do with a degree. Um, truthfully, this is a job I absolutely fell into when I was in my final year of grad school. I was applying for jobs.
I had requested permission for my program to come to Philly to focus on a, an adaptive reuse project here that has since come to fruition, which is really exciting. Um, And I worked my way through school, as so many folks do. And so as I was coming back, I was trying to find a job, and at the time, I can't say if [00:05:00] this is still the case, but design firms were notoriously slow to respond.
And so I'm on Indeed or LinkedIn or one of those, and I see this posting from Hersha Hospitality Management, and the listing is this list of skills that I'm like, I, I can do. and I You
Dan Ryan: were like Li, you were like Liam
Shannon Seay: Neon . I have a very specific set of skills and this is what that is. No, candidly, I was mass applying because I was just panicking about how I was gonna pay my bills.
And for reasons unbeknownst to me, they called me and I was very candid in my interviews. I remember so distinctly them asking me Interview one. So what do you know about hospitality and deadpan? Dan ? I looked at them and said, I've stayed in. And their eyebrows flew up and they were like, all right, okay.
And I was like, but I learned very quickly and I'll work hard, but you're gonna have to teach me hotels. Mm-hmm. And they were like, okay. And so fortunately they took a chance on me and I found myself in this role with a set of [00:06:00] skills, . And um, I really grew from there, and I got this opportunity to see every side of the project.
The beauty of starting within a REIT is that you are seeing every single aspect of the. And I was sitting next to asset management, but working in development and, and really quickly gaining this, I understanding of how a project goes from underwriting to planning to execution. And I had wonderful mentors and I continue to have them to this day, which I think it's back to the crux of your question of how I'm doing this already and being new on the.
I've had amazing people guide me along the way, offer their hands to help offer their guidance, and I have tried to sponge it all up and just learn from best practices and put it all in one place.
Dan Ryan: Well, I also want to go into, I know you mentioned here in Pennsylvania, Hersha out in Harrisburg, right? Or were you working out at the Philadelphia office?
Shannon Seay: was here um, in Philly. Philly is now actually their headquarters. Oh. Historically it [00:07:00] was Harrisburg, but they're now based in Philly and I am thrilled to say, Even though I've been gone five years, there's still a client of mine and
Dan Ryan: they're one of my kids. I'm embarrassed to say I'm horrible at my job.
I should have known that I've been to their offices in Harrisburg. I haven't been to the ones in Philly. So they actually just moved, so, oh, okay. So I don't feel so bad. Um, but also being in Philly, just for those of you who aren't watching this, we're in this really cool place, radio Kismet. Kind of right near University of Pennsylvania Law School, right downtown, I dunno, Chestnut and something.
Shannon Seay: This is, we're in University City right off the Penn campus in near Drexel.
Dan Ryan: Oh, there we go. So we're right around all these universities and we're in like a really cool like professional recording studio. We have a, we got Justin over there in the sound box and it's amazing. It's swanky. Yeah, it's really cool.
I, I feel like I need to up my.
Shannon Seay: I feel like I should have worn the suit. I thought about it.
Dan Ryan: Yeah. , . No. Well, it's also casual, but again, in the here thing, the reason why that we're here also is there's this independent lodging congress, um, confab, I guess they call [00:08:00] it downstairs. And there's gonna be some thought leadership, some experience sharing, and probably some cocktails a little bit later.
Um, but I'm really glad that Chris. Let us leverage off of what was going on here and let, and let us use this space because it's, it's pretty awesome. So I just wanted to give them a little plug there too. Um, so we got the here out of the way cuz I wanted to just bring everyone into where the here is. Um, I wanna dig into that million moments because what I find.
in what we do, right? So we're, we're opening hotels, let's just say, say that. It's like I'm not really furnishing them. You're not really project managing them. Designers aren't really designing like, okay, we're all do, that's the what, but the why is we want to get them open so that we can keep the REITs and the shareholders happy because you know these, they are operating assets.
But I think what's drawn me and and drawn out the passion that I have for hospitality [00:09:00] is that it's not, it's not really about the what so much in that it's the why. And in some indirect way we create these spaces where all these interactions and collisions happen that have a profound ripple effect somewhere off in the future.
And we, we, we, we will oftentimes never know about it. But you know, there's, it's not just place making, but also memory making and, um, How has that idea kind of given you lift in what you do?
Shannon Seay: You know, you're talking and it's just, my response is, how cool is that? This idea of those continual memories that go so far beyond us.
It almost speaks to the idea of legacy, right? And everybody in a project touching something. I think for me, whether we're working in the limited service, prototypical space or top tier luxury, , there's so much intention on a project and there are so many folks that make it happen. This idea of, of continuity and a million little [00:10:00] moments, it's, it's microcosmic of everyone's worldview, right?
Every single thing in each of our lives has helped develop the perspective that we now hold. And then you get this team of professionals, or hopefully professionals that assemble. Put their worldviews in one place, talk about the goals of the client, and ultimately create something together that we hope will be there for a minimum of seven, 14, or 21 years.
Thank you. Big brands or perhaps much longer. And I just think there's something really beautiful in that and the layers of of place and culture and memory all overlap and what hopefully becomes a beautiful zeitgeist of that place. And I think. Ultimately what makes some of these notorious hotels so special?
Dan Ryan: Hmm. And you also said a few moments ago, I love the idea of Notorious, but you, a few minutes ago you said, um, community and inclusivity. Like, why is that [00:11:00] such an impart important part of like what drive.
Shannon Seay: That's a wonderful question and I'm not sure I can articulate it perfectly, but my gut says, you know what?
It's interesting. I feel as though across all different professions, you hear everyone talking about d e I right now, which is so important, and I being younger on the scene, right? I wonder why it took so long when, when someone's staying in a hotel or anything in the hospital, any sort of place in the hospitality space, hostile resort, you name it.
You are away from home, but you are finding a place at a very basic level to rest, and I think there. Rest necessitates comfort. And can you truly be comfortable on a holistic level inside and out if you are not included, if that space doesn't speak to you. And I think we're seeing really exciting people in the industry work to create new concepts that reflect that.
You look at Damon Lawrence with homage, right? And you see him [00:12:00] intentionally creating a space for a community that within hospitality has been underserved. Mm-hmm. , right? And there are so many people looking to do that. And I just think. Such an exciting time. And so why is inclusivity important to me? I don't see another option.
If your space, if your hotel is not inclusive, can you really call yourselves hospitable?
Dan Ryan: I would say no, but so many do, right? And that so many do. And that that's, that's really the irony. But you know, for the work of, I'll say many. and I'm seeing it. I'm really hoping it's starting to change. Um, okay, so another thing.
So thank you for that. Another thing that I've noticed in these almost, or more than 100 conversations I've had with people in our industry and thought leaders within our industry, um, you being among them is. This idea of they didn't know this whole [00:13:00] world existed and they fell into it. It's accidental.
And I, I also believe that much of that brings in a always a fresh perspective in hospitality and what, what that is and how to deliver. Cuz it's always evolving cuz we as people are always evolving generationally. Mm-hmm. , uh, mindset, just informational overload. , do you find that you're not alone in having stumbled into this industry and like, what are your thoughts on that?
Shannon Seay: You know, when I first started I felt that I was entirely surrounded by Cornell graduates and I had missed the memo and I was this odd accidental hotelier in the middle of, of the Cornell Hospitality program. As I meet more and more people, I find that I'm certainly not alone. And so often I hear people ask, why are you in hospitality?
And I, I think the better question isn't how you got here. Why are you still here? Right? What's keeping you in hospitality? [00:14:00] And I don't know if you've ever heard the phrase, you like something because you love something. . Mm. To me, despite all of the challenges that hospitality brings, because candidly, in owner's representation, there are other sectors of commercial real estate that are a little bit simpler.
Right. Multi-family, no one's in them when you're working on them. . Right. Um, so despite the challenges, there's this, there's this love that I think gets down that whittles down to the people. Mm-hmm. and that, that keep you excited, that keep you coming back. , what more could you ask for than not only creating something, but working with people that you're genuinely excited to see to reunite with at these shows and events like the I L C event tonight?
I mean, it's, they keep you coming back for more. The crux of it is people, and so for the crux of what I do, successful project management is putting my people first.
Dan Ryan: I totally agree. And on a humor. , but also serious note. Um, how many of [00:15:00] those Cornell folks out there in that Cornell Mafia , like your
Shannon Seay: what's not mine?
Dan Ryan: Yeah. All my, my stepdad, my brothers, like, I, my whole family went to Cornell, so. Oh, you can really say it then. Yeah. So, uh, how many of those cornellians Andrew Benioff being one of them as well, , um, he's kicking us out after this? Yeah. Got a discus. How many of them can throw a discus really far?
Shannon Seay: You know, they have a great track and field program.
Dan Ryan: Well, just so all of you know Shannon here, you broke a record in throwing
Shannon Seay: the discus. I did. I, I broke the, uh, collegiate record when I was at Roger Williams for undergrad. Was the full collegiate
Dan Ryan: or, or? Roger Williams?
Shannon Seay: Roger Williams. Oh, okay. No def certainly not, uh, NCAA
Dan Ryan: wide. Wow. How did you get into discus throw?
Shannon Seay: Oh, that is a long and kind of boring story. I think. Um, the better version is that when I was in high school, my sophomore year, I, um, took a [00:16:00] drafting class and it so happened that the drafting teacher was also the field coach. Hmm. And one day class was slower. I was done an assignment or just not doing work all very likely.
And he asked me to help him move some equipment. And so we were moving it like across a field. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. And, uh, a shot put fell out and he was like, Hey, can you toss me that? And, uh, I grew up working on farms. Fun fact. And so I'd been slinging hay bales since I was quite young. I'm also a, a very tall lady if I haven't met some of you.
And, um, so I picked up the shot put and I just chucked it. What I now understand was fairly far, my teacher was like, so what are you doing in the spring? And uh, you know, I was like, well, basketball and volleyball are over. I'm gonna be horseback riding. And that's about. and he was like, I'm, I'm gonna need you to join the track team.
And you know, basketball coach caught wind of it, thought it'd be good to stay in shape and I totally fell into it. And then I got really good at picking things up and putting them down really far away and, uh, [00:17:00] just kept up with it.
Dan Ryan: So don't mess with you on a job site. Pretty much.
Shannon Seay: Correct. And there are many reasons for that, but especially the shot put arm.
Dan Ryan: I would say on the, on the job side front, the, the jokingly, I think. from my experience, the people who were the most inflammatory on a, on a project. And then I would also drill down into the job site because I worked in construction, um, one of my first jobs outta college. I always found that those people who were the yellers were often the most disorganized, and they didn't know what was going on.
They didn't have a, they didn't have a grasp of all the detail. and so they would just yell because of their own inadequacies. What are, what are your thoughts on that?
Shannon Seay: I am not a yeller on the job
Dan Ryan: site because I can say you're very freaking organized. Thank
Shannon Seay: you. Thank you. Um, I learned very early on that.[00:18:00]
no one listens. Once you start yelling, or perhaps the better statement is no one cares once you start yelling and specifically being a woman, and I think this applies to anyone who identifies as a woman in the construction space. There's already a little bit of concern, right? We're not, we're not the typical person out there.
So I prefer a very quiet, calm, condescending voice to ask people why they've done that. , I find it's a little more effective, but I, I do not work with people who yell. Mm-hmm. , I, it is, it does not solve anything. And at the end of the day, I am here to solve problems. The Occam's razor of construction is that if it can go wrong, it.
And so a successful team isn't one that has no problems. It's one that solves problems efficiently, coherently, and professionally.
Dan Ryan: I totally and completely agree with you, and I think we can take that idea of collaborative problem solving. [00:19:00] And tie it into your journey. So you, out of college, you moved to Philadelphia, you started working with Hersha a, a reit, which you said, which a real estate investment trust, for those of you who don't know.
So it's a really big ownership group, um, that owns a lot of assets and you're always working on fixing things, improving things. It's like a never ending list of stuff. What was it that compelled you? To go to H or what drew you to Hcpm on the project management side to ultimately become a partner? So it's working for you, obviously , but like what was, what was the draw and like what lit that fire for you?
Shannon Seay: You know, at the time, um, the person who had been my most impactful mentor at Hersha had stepped away and left the hospitality space. And who was that? That was Justin Chase. He's now, um, in the commercial multi-family space. And I, you know, they say you should always listen when people make you an offer, right?
So Hcpm reached out to [00:20:00] me, I believe Justin suggested it, and I met with Steve Siegel, who is our founder, my boss, fearless leader. And we clicked. Um, and you know, we talked about details and how we run projects, but I immediately felt comfortable and aligned with him. And he yelled at you. Well, that is key.
Yes. I'm just, I'm just kidding. That is key. Dave. You know, I've never heard It is, it might be my goal in life to hear Steven yell, just he. He is like Yoda and I think that he, I mean he is, he's been doing this for over 40 years. He's excellent and has, so he has just such a flawless reputation in the industry.
But he is so calm and I have heard people on calls go off and scream expletives, you name it, Steven responds. Okay. So here's what I think we should do. . There's a level of calm that I really love. I think I sometimes scare him when I'm a little bit more fiery. But, um, you know, we just really clicked and I felt like he really saw [00:21:00] me for what I was producing.
I think at the time, and maybe still a little bit, I had a little chip on my shoulder for being younger and felt that I really valued folks who focused on not my age, not my gender, just what I was produc. and that to me, it just felt right. And so he also offered me work from home, which now is in vogue, but I can tell you it was not five years ago.
Mm-hmm. . And for the amount of travel I do, that was really meaningful to me. My now husband was losing me more and more. I'd be on the road four or five days at a time and then in the office and I was just really excited to spend some time at home. Mm-hmm. .
Dan Ryan: And then, so being younger and becoming a partner here.
What is your vision for the future? Are you, do they, are you, are you allowed to share your vision at a strategic leadership level? I would assume yes. But like, how do you, how do they tap into what are not rookie smarts anymore, obviously. But that same idea when you [00:22:00] came to work for Hershey and had no experience, you added tremendous value.
Right? And then what, what Stevens and, and the other leaders in the company, how. Extract that from you and like in what kind of a format and like how, how do you, are you involved in that strategic vision and what is it?
Shannon Seay: It's a great question. Um, I think that the shortest answer is that I've just had really phenomenal mentorship internally and externally at every step of my career.
And I've been fortunate when I've reached out to people who are really successful with many decades under their belt, they've been thrilled to tell me how they got there. I'm a big proponent of what got you here won't get you there. And, um, I think the, the trendier phrase would be, the hustle never stops.
And so for me, when I think about how I got here and how I wanna keep going, my goal is to be as successful as possible. And I don't mean that in a fiscal sense, though, of course that's important to keep the company going, but I, I wanna be excited about work every day. I [00:23:00] wanna continue that excitement. I care so much about my team internally and externally, and that's something that I really shifted into focusing on in my current role.
I work with a team. I think any of the guys on my team would tell you that when we do their one-on-ones every week, I'm asking them what they need. Do they feel supported? What is missing? Are they okay? And it's not a checklist for me. It's, I really care about the people I work with. Mm. So when I think about the future and where the company's going, um, I will tell you we very much consider ourselves a boutique consulting firm.
And to that end, we are committed never to being bigger than about 15 folks. We're about 12, right? . And the reason for that is I think what we offer in this kind of boutique space that perhaps differs from some of our competitors is that one-on-one attention. Mm-hmm. . So every project we do has an executive involved.
And you know, when you think about project management, I think some folks have a misconception that there's somebody with a checklist just not taking [00:24:00] accountability for anything. And we are not that group. We are in the weeds and. For us, we look at ourselves as an extension of every client's development team.
And my approach is, let me hold your hand right and I will walk with you every step of this journey. It, it's intimidating. It can be scary, especially for newer PE groups or folks that are new to hospitality, right? There's this huge investment, they're not really sure how it works, and we're the person that says, hold my hand.
We're gonna walk with you every step of the. There are gonna be problems. You won't be alone. We'll figure it out and then we'll go tackle the next one. And so for me, the future is an inspired team, an excited team, a satisfied team and clients that continue to come back to us, which, um, is something that we've seen in the company's history.
I think we're at like 99 or something percent return clients, which is unbelievable. and yeah, [00:25:00] I think that's my gut answer.
Dan Ryan: Okay. And fair enough. And I, you know, so many on the entrepreneurial journey, it's all about scale. We gotta scale and grow and, you know, blah blah, blah. Hey, I drank that Kool-Aid, but I really wish I re and I, this has come up in a conversation before, but there, I think his name was Bo Burlingame or something, he wrote this book called Small Giants and used all these different.
Examples from Annie DeFranco and her, um, publishing, music, publishing, uh, business up in Buffalo to some kind of sandwich shop, sandwich shop that begins with a Z and Ann Arbor, um, and a whole bunch of other businesses as case studies where they, they really just drilled in and focused on what they were best at and decided we don't want to grow, we just want to deliver the best product that we can.
That's really cool to hear and unusual to hear in the entrepreneurial world. [00:26:00] Um, but I think it's a valid perspective and a really important perspective.
Shannon Seay: Honestly, it's one that really excites me. Um, as those who are closest to me know, I'm really excited about wellness. I've al, I've clearly, as we've joked about, always loved all things sports, but I'm a big believer in holistic wellness from meditation to a balanced lifestyle.
And to me, the balanced lifestyle is achieved in the work-life. I think our industry is known for hustling, right? We're known for working nonstop, crazy hours, flights at all hours of the day and night to make it happen, and we do that. But to me to do that at our best level, we have to rest, we have to rejuvenate, we have to do whatever fills our cup, whether it's time with family, friends, travel, you name it.
And I think the scaling aspect relates to that. Mm-hmm. ,
Dan Ryan: um, it's interesting on this work-life balance you said, I recently spoke to Daniel Del Omo from Sage and he came up, his idea was work life presence. So it's like really being [00:27:00] present in there and mindful. With your from family, personal work. Um, and that really resonated with me so much that when we stop recording, I was like, you gotta write a book , and that URL is available.
Like buy it right now because that's gonna be your, that's gonna be your jam because that Daniel,
Shannon Seay: I wanna write that book with you. Call me up. Yeah.
Dan Ryan: Because I feel like that's something that in his case, that all of Sage can get behind from, um, all of operations to development. And that whole cul culture can be built on that, and I'm sure he's building that.
Um, and then the other one, this idea of rest and recovery. Um, I had Will Gadara on and he does this welcome conference in, uh, Lincoln Center every year and they have a theme and I went to one on rejuvenation and it mostly, it's, um, restaurant, restaurant folks there. Uh, but I do think that as hard as we, anyone works.
Or just lives. [00:28:00] It's hard. It's really important to pay attention to the other side of that balance sheet.
Shannon Seay: It's so important. Um, I feel like folks used to say if you weren't, you know, it's work to live or live to work. And if you weren't living to work right, people are like, do you not, do you not care? Are you not passionate?
Well, of course not. But there's a whole world out there. And it's great when those two things intertwine, but let's make sure there's space for both. And that's something that our company takes very seriously. You know? And I think in the current age, people often hear the phrase like work as a family, and they think it's a tech trap, right?
That means you're there 24 7. For us, we really mean it. Our founder and his wife are still with us every single day working and leading the. and we know the names of everyone's children and pets and we send each other holiday cards and there's something there that, scalability and all the other things that come with it.
You lose that at a certain point and, uh, to me it's just, it's so [00:29:00] important. I would
Dan Ryan: also say you, you can lose that at a certain point. There's a few companies that have scaled and have been able to maintain that. , those stories are kind of more few and far between, right? There is a Aus. . I think that that winds up happening.
Shannon Seay: Well, I think it's also for us, and I, I won't speak cause I know there are larger companies that succeeded it and I cheer them on. I think for us, that is part of the size though. Mm-hmm. . It's to have that one-on-one interaction time, albeit virtually for most of it, cuz we're spread out across the country.
It's, it's critical to us, to our rapport, to our relationships. They're not just values that we put on paper, our website so that people give us a look for the next rfp. We really mean them and. We're actually, we just finished rewriting our core values, so those will be rolling out soon. Oh, great. So this has all been top of mind.
Dan Ryan: I'm a big fan of core values. It's, I think those are something that should not just be a poster on a wall, like they really need to be spoken about every single day, and it needs to become the vernacular [00:30:00] of any company because that's the culture. And what is that culture eats skills any day or something like that.
I forget
Shannon Seay: who said that. I don't know, but I like it. I mean, really bringing it back to your first question here, why are we doing this? For us, those core values are our why. And you know, we, we sent them, the leadership team, we worked through them and we sent them to the rest of the team. We were like, Hey guys, what do you think?
Because we know we all operate together. Do you believe these? And nothing was more gratifying than having everyone agree. Mm-hmm. . And hopefully that wasn't just out of fear. Fear share information or are they not published yet? We are, you know, we're publishing next week. Okay. So, um, we are actually, we just revamped our.
we added the core values. Um, they'll be in our RFP docs for anyone that actually reads the book that comes with our proposal. And um, yeah, I'd be thrilled to talk about 'em, but I think that's a Ted talk for another time.
Dan Ryan: Okay. Well I like, for me, and the core values come from the best parts of any group of people, right.
In a, in a [00:31:00] company. And then you can have your own. But for mine, they're caring. And it's funny cuz caring used to be the bottom. when we first did this, I don't know, eight or 10 years ago, and then we moved it up to the top because that was really the most important one. Caring. We're tenacious, we say what we mean, and we do what we say.
We adapt and improve, and we are organized. So those are ours, and basically every day we have a huddle and we share a core value story about. Someone on the team or an an external stakeholder, like a, a client or a vendor or whoever. And it's just a great way as a constant reminder. And it's an exercise, it's a muscle that you need to flex, but I think it's tremendously important.
So congratulations and it's a fun exercise to get through.
Shannon Seay: It is a fun exercise and you know, for most folks that are in the development space, for most of North America, Q1 is the busiest construction time. So for most of us, you're catching me at the end of my busiest four months of the year. And when you are tired or working [00:32:00] at a late hour on a ridiculously horrible flight, of which there seem to be a lot lately, um, for me it's, it's also helpful.
You know, why am I doing. , you know, it, it's not for the paycheck. If it were for the paycheck, I'd probably be in finance, right? I wouldn't be doing this. Wouldn't be chasing contractors around sites with punch lists, . But, um,
Dan Ryan: no. You'd be running banks into the ground and getting bailed out by the government.
Ooh, that's key. That's key. Um, okay, so, so many of the, um, listeners of this show are designers, be it architectural or interior. For you and your position as that symphony conductor, also acting as a fiduciary for whoever, whatever ownership entity or person it may be, um, you really have to strike a balance between the cost of execution and then the vision.
And sometimes there's a million different scenarios, but let's, how do you bridge a gap between an ownership. or owner you [00:33:00] pick has a vision that's very, very, very much in alignment with the architects and the designers, and they really want to push it. But then there's a disconnect on like how much capital you have to execute, said mm-hmm.
how do, or it could be, but, well, let's leave it with the, that, that triangle. Um, how do you wind up fi striking that balance? Without diluting too much so that everyone can be happy. Are there any specific examples or scenarios that you could walk us through?
Shannon Seay: everything comes down to a collaborative discussion. So typically in that scenario, and you know, in a perfect world where I have plenty of time to run a project, we, and especially at the larger scale, how often do you
Dan Ryan: have plenty of time to run a project?
Shannon Seay: That's a dangerous question that for the sake of my clients that might listen to this, I am not going to answer good.
Dan Ryan: but because on that sense, it's, we're talking about money and what you're gonna answer, but it's also the time, right? Mm-hmm. , and I think all these cool things come out [00:34:00] when we have constraints. I know I work really well when they're constraints. Mm-hmm. , because it, it. For me, find that path forward. And sometimes I can't figure it out.
It's a Rubik's cue, but if there's enough pressure and enough constraint, I thread the needle. But anyway, I hand
Shannon Seay: it back to you. You know, so much of it comes down to the team and having people who are willing to be creative and problem solvers together. Um, and when we're working, especially , in the custom space, let's say you get to a hundred percent design development, well, I'm sending that out to a contractor for construction budgeting. I'm working with a procurement team that is telling me if I'm spending too much money based on the appropriate budget, and then we all get together, right?
And we say, okay, we are 20% over budget in these spaces. Design owner, what meant the most to you? What is most quintessential to your vision, and how do we keep that while making some concessions elsewhere? Right. So maybe instead of doing a custom hand painted [00:35:00] wall vinyl mural, we're switching to running line to enable a beautiful.
Furniture piece or a beautiful light fixture that really makes the space shine. Mm. Um, we are just completing a very small boutique hotel in Galena, Illinois, the Irish cottage in, um, with a new client. And we worked with Studio Partnership on that, and we came to them and we said, we have an impossible schedule and a very tight budget.
How can you, is this doable? And. You know, in the Instagram world there would be a meme and someone would say, hold my beer. And they were like, we will figure this out. And so we priced it right and we were like, We're still over budget. We love it. It's stunning. And then we started that exercise and we got with our procurement team and we got with the design team and the clients and we asked them what means the most to you?
And that's, that's really what we do everywhere, regardless of the design team and the procurement team. I think we've been fortunate to foster really wonderful, proactive relationships with a lot of the biggest, especially on the procurement side, agents in the industry who are happy to work through [00:36:00] that with us.
So when I call up by Brown, Benjamin Wesbury, whale, you name it, and I say, I have a $50,000 sofa and I can only spend $10,000 on it and be like, oh, maybe you should call Dan Ryan and talk about how to get that cost down. Right? I would gladly
Dan Ryan: sell a sofa for $10,000. I figured,
Shannon Seay: yeah, a facetious example. But you know, again, it all whittles back down to relationships, right?
And I think in our industry, it's one of the many reasons why networking can be so beneficial, because. There are people that have been doing this much longer than I have, or that have been really specialized in a certain niche in the industry, and why should I spin my wheels trying to fi fix a problem?
if I can call someone up and they can say, oh, I know how to fix that, right? Mm-hmm. , and how cool is that, that there are, that we have such a helpful, proactive, caring industry full of folks who are happy to help you solve your problems.
Dan Ryan: Yeah. I also think in many cases that question of what's most important doesn't get asked, [00:37:00] right?
We're all, everyone's like lemmings running over a cliff sometimes. Get whatever needs to be done done, but no one's really stepping out and kind of reprioritizing or refocusing saying, Hey, what's the most important element of whatever it is you're talking about? And then everyone can organize around it in the line around it.
Shannon Seay: you know, to that end, I would just add that. It's important to know your client and your goal, because in hospitality you might have an acquisition that's a quick flip, and the sole goal of the private equity, uh, firm or the Reid, is to flip it, complete the PIP and sell it for 20% more. Again, facetious example.
But in that case, those decisions get a little bit more transactional. Whereas, and again, a bit of a facetious example, if you've got a passion project, right, or hotels that are meant to be in the portfolio for a long time that are really making a statement, right? You look at the one hotel that just opened on Honah Bay and Kauai.
Wow. Talk about making a statement, right? What is your why and how do you bring it to a [00:38:00] to fruition? For me, qualitatively, my metrics are scope, budget, schedule, what are we doing? How much is it gonna cost? How long is it gonna take? But I'm sorry, quantitatively, qualitatively, I, I want everyone on my team to be happy.
Mm-hmm. , for me, a successful project doesn't just hit the metrics. I have a team of happy people. They might be tired, but everyone feels like they've been heard, like they've been respected, and that their portion of the project has been brought to fruition. Mm-hmm. .
Dan Ryan: Okay. So this is kind of the journey to where we are right now sitting in front of each other in Philadelphia.
Thanks again, Chris and Radio Kismet. Um, I love and I completely agree with. When you said, I always say whatever has gotten us to where we are now is not gonna serve us getting forward or moving forward. So when you think about, we're here right now, you and [00:39:00] me, microphones, headphones, cameras, um, what's exciting you most about the future?
Shannon Seay: I am most excited about ongoing developments that are bringing in this idea of hospitality with a purpose, which are in my words, but we've started working with some folks who. are almost bringing in this beautiful intertwinement of the nonprofit realm with hospitality or with a vision beyond the space itself.
That's really exciting me. We started working with the Good Shepherd program about a year ago, which I feel like is not getting the PR it deserves. So the Good Shepherd Hospitality is was founded by Rick Haik, inspired by his. And we worked with them to open the First Shepherd Hotel in Clemson last year.
And what's so unique and beautiful about Shepherd Hotels is, is that they partner with local universities who have special needs programs to provide places for those [00:40:00] students to work as an intern and maybe potentially permanently. . And in that way it becomes this hotel with a bit of a higher purpose.
So in Clemson, it's partnered with Clemson University's Life Program. Learning is for everyone, and this space is not only beautifully designed, well constructed, what is going to be a very financially successful hotel, but it has become a home and a center for learning and skill development for these students.
I would argue our society does not cater toward most of the time for these people that may not feel welcome in other places. And to see our industry creating space and, and starting to develop new programs that serve these people, it honestly feel, it warms my heart. It fills my proverbial cup. It's just, it's so exciting.
And, you know, we're hoping to partner with them on a few more that I can't yet share, but, that right now, that is what excites me. This idea that we can bring in [00:41:00] a bit of a higher
Dan Ryan: purpose. Yeah. And we'll call that hospitality with a higher purpose. I, I, that's what I wrote down on my book here, and I think from all of, again, it's in the tagline of what we, what this show is like.
It's all, we have all these, what's that we do? What's that? We do. Um, I, I recently interviewed Chip Con. Founder of Juvi, he now has this modern elder academy, like a real hero of mine. It hasn't come out yet, but um, in there we were talking about purpose and it's always amazing cuz he's now tapping into an older, the older generation, the midlife and beyond, and helping them kind of refocus and reformat their purpose, um, through the Modern Elder Academy.
But I think what was, I think something I said, he didn't say it, but it. You know, I'm just amazed at how many people out there haven't put the work in, or have never really gotten that perspective to think [00:42:00] about what their why is, like why are we doing it? And for all the people that I've met that have figured out their why, and that higher purpose, it makes it, it makes everything so much easier.
Everything else falls into place because again, you're, you get to that place where people say, oh, you know, work. Choose a career path that it doesn't feel like working or choose a career path that you'd do for free. And I, again, I think that that why it gets into the feeling of the cup. It's, it's a tremendous motivator and it, for me, it's like a, it's a frequency that I tune to and it, it, it, it gives
Shannon Seay: me energy.
Yeah. I absolutely feel that. I think. , I, I've been fortunate in my lifetime to see the development of you would work for free to, let's make sure everybody gets well compensated equally. But also, how phenomenal is it if you also really, truly care about what you're doing. Um, prior to working in hospitality, I feel like I was the queen of odd jobs.
I did everything [00:43:00] and I sat back maybe last year and I thought to myself, what is the common thread between. Being a nanny and a camp counselor and a resident assistant and a horseback riding instructor, and I. Go back and look at it all. The common thread is at the end of the day, I'm doing something to help and assist other people.
And I think project management in the hospitality space and owner's representation is this really professional version of that, right? I'm there to help the entire team succeed in a theoretical world if every partner or every player on one of our teams did their job perfect. , I'd have almost nothing to do, um, devastatingly.
I haven't had that. Nothing to do project just yet, but that is so much of, of what it is. And anyone who sat through my weekly OAC calls with me, knows that. I ask every single person on the team, do you need anything? Are you not getting those RFIs and submittals back? Did you not get the budget on time?
How can I help you do that? Right? And I just become this person in between to help everyone get from where they [00:44:00] are, to where they're going. It's, it's been a really cool journey that I didn't, I just didn't know existed and that's kind
Dan Ryan: of fun. I love that. Um, okay, so this journey, again, you're on it, you're surfing, you're riding the wave.
Um, I see. What lights you up about the future, if you were to go back to that high school, junior, senior, wherever you were, where your drafting teacher. Showed you how to shot, put or throw a discus. Um, but if you're standing in front of your younger self, right there, where was that by the
Shannon Seay: way? Like, so I grew up in, um, Southern Chester County in Pennsylvania, kind of right over the line where Delaware meets Pennsylvania.
Got it. Yep. Pretty rural horse and cow country.
Dan Ryan: Yeah. Is that, is that like Amish
Shannon Seay: country? We're, we're a little east of that, but a little east. Yeah. If you are, I'm kind of smacked out in the middle between Amish country and Philly. Got
Dan Ryan: it. Okay. So. You're, you're out there in the farmland, [00:45:00] you're, you're throwing chop puts and bales of hay, right?
Yeah. Sounds about right. Um, but you, the, the Shannon I'm speaking to right now appear in front of your younger self. What advice do you give yourself?
Shannon Seay: You know, I think this would be a quote, hot take. I would tell myself not to work so hard. I would, because I think everybody gets where they're going. if you want to keep trying, but I will say I was the person through high school, college, grad school, and up until fairly the last few years where I was going a million miles an hour, I was always working two to three jobs, playing multiple sports, doing all sorts of activities.
If something interested me, I shot. I thought, sure. I'd try that. We'll do acapella and then debate team and then the musical and then basketball. That sounds like a really normal mix. I think. I wish I had enjoyed the ride a little bit more, which requires that time for rest and rejuvenation. So I think my current passion for wellness holistically and [00:46:00] finding fulfillment in all sectors of life is coming from a respect for making the space to enjoy the ride.
Dan Ryan: Yeah. And. Again, it's that idea of balance, right? Rejuvenation, balance, opening a project, getting teams to work in some kind of symphonic harmony. It's all about
Shannon Seay: balance. Everything whittles down to balance. If you're unbalanced, you can't be successful regardless of what your definition is.
Dan Ryan: Wow. Yeah, I, I completely agree.
Hey, if people wanted to learn more about you or hcpm, where do they go? How do they do it?
Shannon Seay: Reach out anytime. Um, I think LinkedIn is probably the best place to start. You can find my email there and I would, I would love if people reach out. I love talking to people clearly. I love mentorship. I haven't stopped talking about it this entire session, so talk to me and building community.
Building community. Let's go for a coffee. It's my love language. And go from there. Yeah.
Dan Ryan: And yeah, it's like a, [00:47:00] it's like fight club community. I like.
Shannon Seay: The go. I mean, doesn't everyone wanna be in fight club minus the pain? Yes. Just a little.
Dan Ryan: Totally. Um, well Shannon, I just wanna say thank you so much for your time.
Thank you for walking a couple blocks to come
Shannon Seay: here. , thank you so much for having me. This has been a pleasure. Um,
Dan Ryan: you're very welcome and I would love to have you back at some point as well to see how your journey is going. Hopefully
Shannon Seay: with lots of new adventures to share.
Dan Ryan: We'll get round two in. And I also want to thank our listeners.
I do this every single time. Um, if you're a new listener, please follow us, like us subscribe, whatever all that stuff is you do on the interweb. Um, but really this show and the audience keeps growing. It's really struck a nerve. So if it's made you think a little bit differently about hospitality, please pass it on to someone, um, who you think could gain from it.
And thank you all and we'll catch you next.