Colin Hunter 0:07
Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of Leadership Tales Podcast. Delighted today to be joined by Peter Lederer. Peter is now Chairman of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He has been Chairman of Gleneagles, the luxury hotel in Scotland, that hosted the G8. And also the Ryder Cup, which we’ll talk about today. He’s also had an amazing career involving working for The Four Seasons Hotel when it was a smaller organization, that is now in Canada. And then coming back and working with Diageo, Visit Scotland, and a number of other areas. So we’re going to hear some stories today about Peter telling about his career. And it’s fascinating to listen to a number of things about his dyslexia, around his struggles with that, but also how he took on that challenge and actually made it something that is part of his humble nature, and his humility. But we’re also going to start to hear about what it’s like to run a luxury hotel. I think there are huge lessons for people who run normal businesses, I’m not involved in luxury to understand what it takes to meet the standards and the expectations of luxury guests paying a high price. So delighted and honoured that Peter has come on the Podcast today, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it.
Hi folks, and welcome to another episode of the leadership tales podcast, I couldn’t be more delighted to be recording this just after New Year with a friend from Edinburgh. And starting to think about 2022. Peter Lederer, our guest today, has joined us from Edinburgh. Peter and I go way back to a time when he was chairman of Gleneagles and we were working together with leading Hotels of the World and some board work we did there. And we’ve kept in contact since then. And many tales to tell today, Peter, but I’d love to just get you to introduce yourself to the listeners who you are and maybe a bit about your background. That’d be great. Welcome.
Peter Lederer 2:09
Yes, thank you. It’s so good to be with you. And yes, a bit of background to go over the many years. So, I was born in London, my father was a civil engineer. So actually, before school, I went to Australia and Jersey and places like that but ended up back in London for school. My time at school was not a good time, probably the worst time of my life. I’ll explain why later. But yeah, not a fun time. But eventually, I got into college, I went to Hotel School, I did a National Diploma in Hotel Keeping and Catering as it was called then, mainly because I could get in with the qualifications I had, which I’m not sure says something about the industry’s qualifications or we could go there later. Go there later. But by now it was a good cause for one particular reason. Because it was those days it was called a sandwich course. So we were in college for four or five months a year, but the rest of the year you are out in the industry. So the first year you did restaurants the second year you did the kitchen, the third year you did bars and cellars, and the fourth, you did front office and night audits. So it really worked well for me because it was practical, and it was hands-on. And again, we’ll talk about dyslexia later explaining my school life and how I learned much better hands-on and doing it rather than sitting in a classroom. When I finished that course, this is now 1972 in London, there was rubbish piled high on every street corner, you only got four hours of power, and then it went off for four hours. Everybody was on strike. The IMF was visiting London most weeks bailing us out as a country, it was a bit like living in Greece, I suppose a few years ago, but we were really the country was bankrupt. So as a 21-year-old or so, this is not a country where my future lies, I’d like to see other ways of doing things. I’d also worked for a company called Semesta, which was part of Hotel Corporation of America, and having worked there during my training with British companies, and then finally with an American company, the difference could not have been more clear. I mean, it was just unbelievable. So as I’ve got to experience this, so I applied to go to the States, and I applied to go to Canada. The states came back and said yes, you can come but you must understand you’re eligible for call up to go to Vietnam. I said let me think about that for a nanosecond or two I don’t mind going to war but war like that was not on my agenda.
So I ended up going to Canada which was say a long process because it was even then they had a point system and it was a classic catch 22, where you had to have a job that will get you enough points to get in, but you couldn’t get a job without your permit. So, I ended up…I convinced the Canadian government in London that I should go and accepted all the things that they asked of me. It took me about six months but eventually left to go to Canada and in 1972 with no job, nowhere to live nowhere to stay, didn’t know anybody. So landed in Toronto on the 22nd of November 1972. I started at immigration, and they said, Do you have anywhere to stay? And I said, No. And I said, Well, do you want to stay in the hotel we use? And I said, Well, if that’s if it was a very good deal, and I said yes. And then I got to the hotel and realised I was the only person coming in, all the other people in the hotel were being sent out. But so I then spent between that end of November and Christmas trying to find a job trumping up and down snow-covered streets up to my knees. Sometimes I’d arrive at an interview with trousers soaking wet below the knee, and steam coming off them!
Colin Hunter 6:06
Kind of the worst time to go to Canada….
Peter Lederer 6:09
It was pretty tough. The best thing my mother did for me, was she insisted I take a good coat, and that I had a return ticket just in case, but I wasn’t going to use that. So I eventually got a job at Four Seasons. Now obviously a global company, but then only had about six hotels that just opened in London, and they had a hotel in Israel. But apart from that, they had four hotels in Canada. I was there for six years, I started out front desk, they sent me to Montreal to open a hotel in Montreal, they sent me to Ottawa, to take over a hotel that was being rebranded for Four Seasons, and I came back to Toronto’s Resident Manager in The Park, which is their flagship or their main hotel where the head office was, I was very happy until 1978 with them, and would have been General Manager kind of on in the on track for general management at that hotel, but realised that before I made that step, maybe I needed to do something else because once I’d made that step, it’s difficult to go sideways or step back from it. So I did my entrepreneurial bit. And with two other friends, we started a company that was consulting and designing, and construction in the hotel restaurant sector. This was the peak of discotheques.
Colin Hunter 7:33
Yes. So I can just imagine the outfits, Peter, you’re wearing? Yeah.
Peter Lederer 7:37
I have been to and opened more discotheques than most people in the world.
Colin Hunter 7:42
I love the fact you’re calling them discotheques. Yeah. Everybody’s like, what are they?
Peter Lederer 7:46
Exactly? Yes, I’ll have to explain what a discotheque is. But there’ll be back don’t worry. So I did that for a good time. And then was approached by a colleague who was the Legal Counsel to Izzy Sharp at the Four Seasons, he left and went to a company called Plaza Hotels, and I went back into hotels to be in a kind of hands-on role rather than being a consultant. And I learned a lot because of the entrepreneurial bit and the consultancy bit, but I just missed hands-on and getting things done, so I went back into the hotel industry, and then was approached to come home. But I’d vowed never to come back to the UK. By then I had married Madelyn a Canadian. My first son had just been born in 1983. And I was approached to come back and look at something called Gleneagles. And I knew Gleneagles from my training days because I got up to see a friend there. So met Peter Tyree in New York, who was the boss at the time. And he asked me to come to the Gleneagles to visit, I saw the hotel. And it goes back to your book on failure, but it’s more about risk-taking and doing things that have a high potential of failure. And I mean, everybody said why are you going to Scotland? Why are you taking over a hotel that’s only open seven months a year? Why are you going to take this risk and go into – effectively – a tired hotel that is seasonal? You know, how’s that going to work – why are you doing it?
Colin Hunter 9:20
I didn’t know that Gleneagles was seasonal.
Peter Lederer 9:22
Yes, it was seasonal till the 1980s. Well, the first winter in 1984 it opened all year round. And for the first five years, I was there everyone told me it wouldn’t work. You’ll be back to seasonal and all that. But then when I arrived a day after Boxing Day in 1983, to take the job, my father met me at Heathrow with a copy of the Financial Times announcing that Gleneagles had been approached by a takeover bid by Bells Whiskey. So I called the Chief Exec and said you still want me to come and said, Oh, yes, come on up. So we went to Gleneagles and met him that night, and then didn’t see him for three months because he was firefighting, this takeover bid, we never unpacked because the plan was to go to Gleneagles for five years, my oldest son was then one. He turned one on my first day at Gleneagles. And the plan was then to go back to Canada for school, and go to the States. That didn’t work.
Colin Hunter 10:22
Still trying to get back there!
Peter Lederer 10:25
Yes – 40 years later! It was a very exciting time. And then after Bells Whiskey, we were taken over by Guinness. So we never really unpacked because – in the first 20 months or so, I had three different owners. And so we thought, Oh, this is not going to last soon we’ll be out of here, somebody will throw us out and want to take it over again. But they didn’t. And we continue. Then Guinness proceeded to sell, as at this point they owned about 150 different companies – as a result of diversification during the 70s. And they were getting rid of some of them. My chairman at the time, I think sold 120 companies in his tenure. That’s quite a CV. So anyway, with that, I had 31 very happy years at Gleneagles, which included things like Ryder Cups, which we can talk about, and things like G8s, which were really amazing experiences. And we did a lot of development. What kept me there was the fact that was always something new to do. Diageo, Guinness, and most of the companies were always very supportive of development, as long as we could fund it ourselves. And there were two key lessons I learned from that. One is to generate your own cash and invest where you can. And the second one was don’t cost your owner any management time, especially when you’re a non-core asset. Because as a non-core asset, if you cost management time, then you should be sold. I would agree as a shareholder, you should be sold. Anyway. So we had very, very positive years, and the other thing is that Diageo was very good to me. I had a rule with Diageo that said, we have to meet every year to have a review, and I had a deal with them that said, if you think I’m past my sell-by date, you tell me. And if I’ve got up in the morning and haven’t got a new idea for the business, I’ll tell you. So we’ve had this discussion every year for 25 odd years, which was good. But it was a good discipline, actually. Because when you’ve been somewhere a long time, you’ve really got to be disciplined about knowing when you should go and just test that with other people. But yeah, they were also very good about letting me do non-executive things. They saw it as very positive for me and the business. So I did a number of things. I Chaired something called Tourism Training Scotland for the Government. Then I went on to Chair Visit Scotland, which was the Scottish Tourist Board. This is another example of taking you on something that everyone tells you you shouldn’t. This was a completely broken national organization, the Scottish Tourists Board, partly their own fault because they didn’t change and move. I have seen many organizations do that. But they also had to go through if you remember 2001, and 2000, they’d gone through Foot and Mouth, they’d gone through Mad Cow, and they’ve gone through 911. So as a tourist industry, that’s a pretty tough list to kind of get yourself through. So it was a broken organisation. So the government asked me to go in and as Chair blow it up and start again, and everyone told me not to do it. It was all downside risk. It was a reputational risk. If it had gone wrong, it’s it would have really damaged reputations. And I don’t know why I do these things. Why?
Colin Hunter 13:54
We could probably spend a couple of days talking about that!
Peter Lederer 13:57
I think it probably does go back to my school life. And the whole dyslexia thing, it’s about I mean, I think I invented impostor syndrome, or I suffer from impostor syndrome before impostor syndrome was invented, but because I, you know, at school, nobody told me I was an idiot or anything but you were made to feel like an idiot. You just read your reports every term.
Colin Hunter 14:23
And hopefully, your parents don’t read them.
Peter Lederer 14:25
Well, that’s right. And they were very good. I mean, but you know, they’re disappointed even though they read them and say, Well, you know, you’ve done your best, all those good things. you know, they’re disappointed and you know, they’re worried. So anyway, you have kind of been trying to prove yourself ever since and I have been, I always do it to this day, I drive my wife crazy, because I’ll do things, but I’ll always think somebody else could have done it better. If I could have done it that well, then somebody else could have done it better. Yeah. And still, I do it to this day. So just shows you how important those formative years are, however also, in my case, fortunately, I was going to supportive parents and there was a determination that I always had, you do find other ways to do things, which has always been, I suppose one of the things I’ve always been kind of quite innovative and just thinking about things differently. And that’s dyslexics tend to do that, they see and look at things differently. Yeah. Partly because they have to, and partly just because that’s how their brain works. It’s just wired slightly differently.
Colin Hunter 15:29
There’s something nice about that Peter, we can discuss it further. There’s a piece in my mind that sticks out. I meet so many people who’ve had adversity, but use it. And they come from a humble place. And they have humility, which is that I’m not worthy, or I mean, I’m not capable, I’ve got to get better. But actually, for me, fundamentally, that is Leadership. It is about creating the conditions for people better than me to come in and do great work. So –
Peter Lederer 15:55
Absolutely. Right. Yeah, one of the things we did at Gleneagles that I think we’ve talked about a lot, was when we turned the organization upside down, I mean, when I did that, people thought I had gone completely mad, but what was I doing – and finally, the management did, the teams didn’t, because they got it. But you know, when you got the traditional hierarchy, the pyramid with its notional leader at the top and the customer at the bottom, especially in a service business. You know that production and service are often simultaneous, you can’t put service into stock. And in the hotel business in my life, always, we only get 24 hours to sell your product. And then you start again. You’ve only got three hours to sell lunch. And that’s it. It’s gone. Yeah. And the most perishable product that I’ve, nobody’s challenged me yet, I think I’ve managed the most perishable product known is a golf tee time it lasts 10 minutes.
Colin Hunter 17:02
I love that. Yeah, it is. So it’s the ultimate.
Peter Lederer 17:05
Yes even more so so than a newspaper, print newspapers, that’s 24 hours, but so you live in an environment where you’ve got to sell it now and you’ve got to be good every time. Yeah, all the time. Everything is very visible. So when we did the organisation change, people thought it was completely mad. But when they saw how the customer is the most important person. Yeah, the next most important people are the people who are dealing with the customer eight hours a day. Yeah. Those people who normally organizations tell them to take their brains out and put them with their clothes in the locker before they come to work, and then come to work. In fact, they run a very good life outside and but busy organizations think they don’t know anything and can’t do anything anyway. And then suddenly, you’ve freed up these people, we gave them complete freedom, trying to get managers to understand their only job was to support what is now an unstable pyramid because it’s on his point. And it falls over if you don’t manage it very well. And you look after it very well. They asked us for a limit. So I said, Okay, well, it’s 500 pounds. And we said you’ve got anybody in the organization has authority over 500 pounds to fix a problem and make sure the customer doesn’t leave with that problem. But it’s been sorted. Yeah, and surprise, surprise, it wasn’t often used, because it was just sorted without doing that. But it gave everybody authority. And it’s this, this whole thing about purpose, accountability, clarity, and empowerment. You’ve got those four things, it depends, things tend to move xcquite quickly. And if people are genuinely empowered, then say the results are enormous.
Colin Hunter 18:50
I think it’s also amplified in the luxury world, because you’re talking about people who have paid, you know, £1000, £2000, £3000 pounds for a suite. And therefore when you’re talking about £500 pounds for an organization where the room might be £108 is different. But now you’re talking about people who are spending serious money and expecting this to be a real experience. So that pace is very, very important for solving things quickly. Yeah.
Peter Lederer 19:13
There are two parts, one is your right, and what and also those expectations are always moving up. Yeah. So if you had a good experience last time, you want to know what’s new this time in the luxury market? And also what changed in my time, is that, you know, if you go back to when I started, people were comparing with other British places. Yeah. Now people compare, you know, when I was in Thailand, and I had this experience, I was in Mauritius and I had this experience, why can’t I have that here? You know, so it’s, that they’re comparing on a very different global scale, the quality of your product. The other thing that was important, and a really important lesson is that if you expect people to sell a luxury product, they have to understand the luxury product. And one of the things I couldn’t understand – why we weren’t selling suites. So I went to the team and said, Why aren’t we selling suites? And they said, Well, these days, you know, they’re 600 pounds a night. And you knew these people aren’t making 600 pounds a month. So, you know, they’ve never experienced it. So why? Why are you going to sell something you’ve never experienced? So he said to everybody, right, everybody, you’re going to stay in the hotel at night, and you’re going to stay in a nice room, you’re going to have breakfast, you can have a nice dinner. And then surprise surprise, sales went storming ahead, because they understood the value of the why it was 600 pounds. Yeah. So it’s, it’s on both sides, the natural experience of the customer’s expectation, but also got to understand that the people providing the luxury have got to understand and feel it and understand what the customer is actually buying.
Colin Hunter 20:54
And what I love about that also is and we’re going to some of the detail here is, is luxury is in the eye of the beholder. So you know, I always remember a debate about coffee, and the price of a coffee, you know, in a Hotel In Paris, it would be something like 12 euros for a coffee and therefore you expect suddenly, whereas you go to McDonald’s or something, you get it cheap coffee, but it brought to life to me that there’s a service around whatever you’re offering. So just giving somebody a room or a suite is nothing compared to the entrance. I mean, I remember our time when we were in Dubai at a hotel and you know, the petals that line the corridor to take us into the room, there was this, there was a service, which for a lot of people was exceptional or excessive in some ways. But that’s the true essence of luxury is when necessity ends.
Peter Lederer 21:41
Yeah, no, that’s right. And luxury is the whole experience. So it’s a very special relationship. You have a customer, I always said that the ultimate to me was if every customer left Gleneagles and as they walked out of the door, they said, I paid more than I thought I was going to pay. I spent more money than I thought I was going to spend, but it was worth every penny. And I can’t wait to do it again. Because we’ve done a good enough sales job to make you spend more than you thought you were going to spend. That’s good. So we’ve done our sales bit. And we’ve done it in a way that you said that was fantastic was worth every penny. And I can’t wait to do it again and tell my friends. And I said to my team if everybody says that as they walk out the door, we can retire. We’ve done it.
Colin Hunter 22:31
And it also I just I think there’s something in there about you. You once said to me that when we were working with Leading Hotels, because we were talking about, you know, the lifestyle and this there’s some people in the luxury who work in the luxury industry who get carried away, you’re in your world with the lifestyle, and you had to keep yourself grounded. I can’t remember the exact words but something you said about being smoke and mirrors and how you keep yourself grounded. Yeah,
Peter Lederer 22:53
Yes certainly the hotel is a luxury in general, but certainly, the hotel business is theatre. Yeah, so you’ve got customers arriving. So they’re not being their true selves. So they are going to play golf in this hotel, to do this, and they come to this luxury spa and completely escaped. You know, it’s complete escapism, and you’ve got staff, they’re not themselves either they’re providing/ creating this space and experience for you, the customer. So nobody’s really being themselves if you like. So you’ve got to step up. And it’s very easy. And I learned early on at Four Seasons. I worked for somebody who was very senior at Four Seasons, and he knew more about food and beverage than anybody I’ve met since then and he was just outstanding, but he drank and gambled himself to death. So I never forgot that. It was his outstanding talent. And it was a time in those days when you did every did go to the bar and you had a martini glass of wine with lunch and this is the management team and I mean those days are long but everybody had a glass of wine and you went after work you’d go to the bar and have drinks together and then you go to the disco. You’ll be there till three in the morning and then back at work the next day so they were different days but it did teach me that you’ve got to be very to have a very private life and you’ve got to have your family to keep you really grounded. I was fortunate that my wife said she wasn’t in the business. We kept us separate from the business. Which was good because that meant when I came home it was all about can you take your younger son because he’s been terrible all day. That brings you back down to earth.
Colin Hunter 24:49
A good grounding? Yeah, no, I love that. I also love the fact that some hotels now have a family feel to them. So even if they’re luxury, I always remember the Plaza talking about family but not over-familiar but the world of luxury is changing. And in some cases, the luxury is to feel like you’re in a home, but be served in a way that is exceptional. So I think it is moving that but I think it is that I love seeing the back ends of properties to see what you know, the dining room is like the staff rooms are like the back end because it’s a very different world to the front.
Peter Lederer 25:25
That’s always a test for me, because, you know, I learned early on when you do the upside-down organization. One of the things you learn is that the quality of external customer service is an I would argue never better than the quality of internal customer service between those teams if that service is not good to each other, like the Chef and the Waiter. Yeah. Well, when we did this change in the organization, there was this classic screaming and shouting between workplaces. And so I said to the Chef, who do you see as your customer? So of course, they get well, customers sitting at the table, and we’ve got to make sure they’re ok. All the waiters just screwed up. Okay, how about any other customers? No. But how about the waiter is your customer? What do you mean, the waiters? If you don’t give him or her the service and the opportunity to be good? Yeah, your products never going to be right at the table. Yeah. Agreed. The light bulb? Yeah. So suddenly, the Chef’s realised, oh, geez, we really got to look after the waiters, because they’re the way that our product gets delivered. And if it’s wrong, if we don’t look after them, the customer is going to suffer. Yeah. So suddenly, you had all these internal conversations going on, that dramatically improved external customer service, because the backup house was really working for each other. But equally, the look and feel of the back of the house have got to be the same. I never understood why you expect somebody to put on a uniform go and give five-star service if they can’t get a decent uniform if they can’t get a meal when they serve a nice meal in a nice restaurant if you expect them to get five-star service, but you treat them the same. Yeah. And it comes down to what we’re seeing today in that businesses in the current climate, which with shortage, the shortage of staff and COVID, everything’s going on. And we come on to talk about but is that those businesses that look after their people? Surprise, surprise, not having as much of a problem. And those who kind of made everyone redundant on the first day of COVID. And a surprise, surprise now they can’t hire people back? Yeah, I hope the industry is not sure they will. But I hope the industry learns from this, that if you really do. You can’t get away with paying people minimum wages not looking after not giving them a decent meal, not looking after their mental health and just their general wellbeing, and expect them then to give five-star service. This just doesn’t work. I would agree.
Colin Hunter 28:11
Well, let’s do three things I would love to dip into one is the current state of the industry, because I’m with you on that. And I think there’s there are some really bright spots out there are people who are really treating their people well, despite everything going on. And then the downside. I’d love to talk about the Ryder Cup. But I’d love to talk about the G8 because that was that if we start there, and let’s end with you know, the where we are now the G8 talked about that, because that is some undertaking to host that. Yeah,
Peter Lederer 28:42
Yeah, it was huge. I mean, it’s the biggest event anybody probably ever does. I mean that even something like the Olympics, you’re just kind of one hotel in among many looking after the Olympics. But the difficulty of both the Ryder Cup and the G8 were focused on one property and one group of people to deliver. So that was fascinating. Yes, I mean, huge undertaking huge planning. And in the middle of it. We had the London bombings the same week. So, Blair, Tony Blair was running up down to London. So it was a really difficult week the planning that goes into it in terms of for our team and obviously everybody else but you know, for nine people to meet because the commissioner, the European Commission, President attends as well. So it’s the G8 Plus thing for them to meet. We had 3000 journalists to look after, in the press tents an impressive facility and 10,000 Police. Unbelievable. So you’re asked as a Policeman on the corner and kind of drive my car out this way. And he showed you the badge on his shoulder said West Mercia Police, because he had no idea whether you know which road goes where? But yeah, so it was a huge honour in many ways, but very satisfying in terms of just seeing how those things work and it’s fascinating. It’s just Tony Blair wants to talk to Putin. And suddenly they want a private room and they want a meeting and suddenly.
Colin Hunter 30:40
Let’s suppose the planning is the big thing for me is we’re going to talk about the Ryder Cup as well. The planning to do these events plus run a property effectively in the moment as you were talking about before you know, the tea times and everything else and gathering even getting the course prepared but keeping T times and everything it must have been mental.
Peter Lederer 31:01
Yeah, it’s yes, it is like all in the planning. If the planning is good, events will be fine. But everything you’ve forgotten about will be will come back and haunt you to put both those events fortunately there is a track record of how they’ve done them in the past and what’s worked and what hasn’t and the Government and in this case, the Palace had very clear ideas because the Queen came to the dinner. They both have very clear ways they want to do things and then that’s always interested who takes precedence.
Colin Hunter 31:35
Is that still the same nowadays Peter?
Peter Lederer 31:39
I think it is. But so yeah, there’s that so that that whole planning process is fascinating. The police aspect, security aspect, in particular, is quite amazing.
Colin Hunter 31:52
The area that was secured there, its nuts, is it something like 35 miles?
Peter Lederer 31:58
Yeah, I think the fence around the property was five miles from memory. I think it was the immediate fix. But yes, and when you think that you know, every drain gets checked every manhole cover, even stories like the dogs come in to sweep all the rooms. And just to show you how good the dogs are. I was in the office and one of my team came down and said the police have found something in suite 1020 the dogs have gone crazy. Yeah. And it turns out that just before we close the hotel Jackie Stewart had been with us and he cleaned his gun and minute traces under the table. That’s what the dogs picked up. That is incredibly the rooms clean but it’s not clean enough for the dog still sniffing.
Colin Hunter 32:54
Jackie Stewart was a regular with you wasn’t he – because that’s his passion was shooting?
Peter Lederer 33:00
Jackie. I mean, I know Jackie since when he was racing in the late 60s, and early 70s When he was a champion. He built and ran the Shooting School for us when we were opening year-round business. We think what are the activities that we can do in winter. It’s not weather dependent and shooting was the first one equestrianism was the second one. And then we did falconry and off-road driving, all of which was to develop winter business. But obviously, it works year-round, but it was all to build that winter business. So you had a sustainable 12-month model.
Colin Hunter 33:34
Amazing. Amazing. So let’s talk about the Ryder Cup because that was 25 years you hosted the Ryder Cup?
Peter Lederer 33:40
Yeah, the Ryder Cup was I mean, in these days of all of us how we think short term the Ryder Cup from the first conversation I had with Jack Nicklaus at the memorial event in 1989. About whether you thought a Scotland instead of the US, PGA support Scotland would they like to they see that as a positive and they did and Jack Nicklaus, who later designed a golf course for us. That was part of that separate conversation. But that conversation was in 1989, the event was finally played in 2014. We won the bid in 2001. It was then because of 911, it was pushed forward a year so would have been in 2013 and went the way Wales got it four years before. So yes, it was 25 years from the first conversation to actually playing it. So it’s kind of long-term thinking and strategy plus that course. I mean those all the preparations again because like G8 is a huge planning exercise on how that happens comes quite late because the Captain has a big say in how he wants the course prepared. Okay, so The European captain wants to make the announcement, then he gets involved with what both courses are called, of course, preparation and how he wants the team looked after and etc. But again, it’s similar. There’s a similar process. Again, there’s quite a lot of expertise around having done this many times on both sides of the Atlantic, that helps that process. But every venue is different. And every team is different. So but again, the thing there for me was, we won the bid, Patrick Ellesmere, who you all know as my successor, who took over the management of the hotel in 2007/2008, got excited about actually running it my real win, the buzz for me was actually winning the bid. Yeah. Because you’re up against other countries, and you’re up against other venues in the country.
Colin Hunter 35:50
I want to use the Patrick pitch because we’re coming back to where the industry is at the moment, but one of the real successes, and you know, the way you treated me when we first met the relationship we’ve had, but also, when I sat with you in Edinburgh recently, and the way that people have a respect for you, a lot of what you do is based on people the relationship and the longer-term relationship, and you and Patrick have a long term relationship around that. So just talk to me about that first and then talk about where we are as an industry in terms of what we’re going through at the moment. Yeah.
Peter Lederer 36:25
Well, Patrick is an outstanding hotelier, he joined me when I started in 84. He joined in 86, as the food and beverage director joined us from Mandarin. And then I say he was very written beverage director, then he actually left which is good is it there’s a something there about and I’ve always believed this about, I never mind people leaving because quite often, they learn a lot. And sometimes they come back even better. In Patrick’s case, he went off to South Africa, he went he ran the old course at St. Andrews. And I managed to get him back as when I started to think about how long I’d been doing it. I started to think about succession. So I’ve got Patrick back. And my promise to him was that, you know, I would hand over the general manager role. And Ned later managing director altar to him eventually, subject his performance, which is fine, obviously. But that was part of succession thinking as well as a relationship. So in 2017, I, when I ran almost 25 years running till that point, I said to the Azure in the meeting, as talked about earlier, the annual, I said, Listen, I think I’ve been it’s coming up 25 years, you know, I am coming to a point where I need to, I’ve got a great successor. We’ve got the Ryder Cup in seven years’ time. He’s really excited about the build-up and developing that and developing the team. And I think a fresh approach would be good and let him get his freedom. And I think it’s probably time to hand it over to him. They said, Fine, that so we like Patrick, he’s a good successor, that’s fine, but you’re not going anywhere. So will you become Chairman? And just obviously you’ve got the ratio, Patrick. And that will work. I think we think and where you do some other work for us in Scotland is at this time Diageo were there was there several things going on like the closure of the Kilmarnock plant, so quite difficult political and public things going on? Yeah. So I worked as Chairman of Gleneagles from 2008, I think till 2014. I left at the end of 14 after the Ryder Cup. And between those years, I was also kind of Director to Scotland for Diageo and did a number of things for looking after various public affairs in Scotland, which again, was another challenge, very exciting and completely different from me to look after and manage
Colin Hunter 38:56
Let’s talk about that. Because you’re Chairman of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Yes, you’ve got several non-execs that you hold. But I think one of the key things I’d like to talk about is just your support of hoteliers, and the industry throughout this pandemic, because it is unprecedented. I think, even with 911 and Everything else we had.
Peter Lederer 39:20
I’ve never, I mean, I was a bit torn in some ways you want to get back in and help and stuck in other ways. I’m glad I’m not running Gleneagles at the moment. Challenging. And so I spent a lot of 2020 in particular, you know, phoning people and saying, Sure, just how are you and as you remember, you get different responses. Some people were okay and some people weren’t. And then we also are one of the jobs I Chair a company called Taste communications, which is own communications business in the food and drink sector. And we’ve got a lot of hotels and strong Chefs, and food suppliers as clients, and we quickly started a weekly call for everybody to get on that call. And we had dinner at the end of last year just reminiscing about those calls. And it was quite emotional people said, you know, there are some weeks where if I hadn’t had that call, you know, I’d have I’m not sure I’d have made it through. And we had tears on the call. And we had just a really difficult call people just saying, but we’ll be conditioned on the position they were in. But it really helped. I think it really helped people just to talk about things and have somebody find them a resource and say, Tell me how you are, and is there anything I can do? That’s where I think the industry and the industry are good at that. We are a people industry, and people tend to look after each other and support each other Chefs are a good example of that very good at looking after each other and taking care of worrying about each other. And then the other thing is just getting out there and supporting businesses if you can get out there to have a coffee or a lunch or just support them, and do whatever you can and get as many people as you can to get out and about and support the industry through it. I mean, it’s going to be difficult, not everyone is going to survive through it, it’s going to be there will be a shakeup, I think this winter is going to be difficult. It’s the third winter now, and a lot of businesses are going through the banks have been very good to date, very good. But they’ve got shareholders too, they can’t go on forever. But again, the industry is incredible in terms of it. It’s just constant reinvents, and you lose one business and another one pops up. And you think well, where does that come from? What a great idea. So I think that’s that that will continue. And that will the industry is very good at that. And it will express itself in new ways.
Colin Hunter 41:50
And I think sometimes you know, that we don’t want to wish these times on industries, restaurants and other places. But as you say, there are lessons and learning about how we treat people. And there’s almost the inner leadership side, I want to end with just if you had to pick three things in the leadership side that you think have been essential through what you talked about from the piles of rubbish on the streets, through to 911 through, what are the three principles you’ve always held, in your mind around leadership that have helped you?
Peter Lederer 42:20
Well, I’ve always tried to separate leadership and management, somebody told me early to management is about doing things right. leadership’s about doing the right things. Another one was that management is about kind of leading the way up the ladder of success. Leadership is about making sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall. But leadership, I mean, for me, it’s the time to think. And so many managers or leaders, particularly as they’re running around full-on saying they’re leading and I say well, can you be a leader if you’re not taking the time to think and don’t feel guilty about it, you know, and I used to go for a walk, or just the best thinking I always did was on flights. That taught me a lesson because you’re in a closed space, you can’t go anywhere. That’s it, you just put the headphones in or whatever. And just think, and it was great thinking time just traveling was a great space for that. And then I think we talked earlier about the purpose, accountability, clarity, and empowerment. And the 30 odd years is all about the people, I never understand why people don’t get the fact that nothing happens without people. And if you can’t, if you’re not recruiting, looking for the best people and training them all the time and developing them and giving them opportunities, and, you know, actually making them leave because they’re ready to go somewhere else. Like Patrick, they will come back we have a lot of examples. Allen Hill left us as well and came back in a bigger role. But he’d learned a huge amount in the meantime. So that’s the piece the one piece that I think is still the industry is not good enough. And if I look at, I mean Diageo was a good example about looking at a company in a different sector, with a very different product and how they did things it was, it was great for us, because we learned a lot from they learn from us too because they weren’t face to face with their customers. The average customer of a Johnnie Walker bottle they never see and never meet. Whereas we’re meeting all that customers every single minute of every day.
Colin Hunter 44:39
Yeah, so I want to link it back to the humility piece because I think there are people who naturally get it through their style, but there are people who naturally get it because of something like dyslexia or impostor syndrome. And, but there are also people who get it through going through an experience like we’re going through at the moment realising where your friends are the people who really care Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I think it’s important. Yeah. So I want to come back to the final bit for you now, which is you’re now in different roles. You’re not stopping. Yeah, you’re carrying on, you’re doing various things. What is next for you?
Peter Lederer 45:16
I love just different challenges and different businesses, I suppose. Mainly, you get to come up with my color hair. It’s about younger people trying to help young people who if you can speed up their development and help them and coach and guide them that I get a real buzz out of that and always have had and will always do. The companies I’m involved with are fascinating got very different ones are in a retail business, the Tattoo you know, the events and tourism business, Hamilton, which is silver and watches retail business, Baxter’s food, it’s a 500 million pound business on both sides of the Atlantic. So they’ve all got completely different strategic issues. But when it all comes down to it, the same problems and the same issues mainly come back to people again, where are the people who are going to lead it where the people are going to manage it, where the people are going to do the work? How are we going to make them productive? How are we going to make sure they enjoy what they’re doing, and they’re building as much value as possible. And then I’m on the Board of Dyslexia, Scotland, full loop. So I’m trying to make sure that we help as many people, as many young kids as possible, but I didn’t know I was dyslexic till I was 42. My oldest son was assessed because he was stuck and started to struggle at school. And my clever wife took him to an educational psychologist and had him assessed, and I came home from work one day, never forget it. and Marylyn said to me, Oh, Matt Matthews assessments arrived in the post, it’s on the, on the cycle. And I never forget it, I sat down and read that, and was just stopped me in my tracks because I changed the name at the top, which was my school life. Yeah, is exactly the same. And my youngest son is more dyslexic than Matthews. And my wife, who with three Dyslexics in the House said, You can’t beat them join them. So she went back to university and taught for 12 years, I think young people just develop strategies to cope with it very successfully. And that all taught me about how different people learn and how you don’t, some people need to hear it, and some people need to do it physically with their hands. Some people could just read it in a book, and they’ve learned it. But we all learn differently, our brains are not the same. The education system still has struggle with that, that individuals learn differently.
Colin Hunter 47:44
As we go into 22, and we’ve just read defined our strategies amplifying the human and leadership, there’s a prime example the individual, my wife’s teacher, and she’s looking after kids unless the parents are forcing the system to get them to be diagnosed and then supported, then there’s a lot missing in the system at the moment to support that.
Peter Lederer 48:05
Think not even in a non Dyslexics, too, because there’s thought that you can still sheep dip, kids and just all dip them in and they’re all gonna learn something is it’s not true, that’s not human beings are not built like that. Our brains are wired differently. But it’s it makes it more difficult for teachers, I understand that. But if we’re going to get the best out of people, we’ve got to rethink how we educate young people, and how we do it differently to get the best out of them and give them the best chance of success.
Colin Hunter 48:34
Peter, we’re gonna kick in Th500. In the new year, we’re going to be talking I’d love to get you back on to talk about that specific point because that’s one of the areas that we’re going to be looking at in the new year with Peter Lederer, as a friend, as a mentor to me, you’ve changed a lot of my thinking. And I’ve enjoyed our time together today and all the years that we’ve known each other – good luck for 22. And if anybody wants to find you find out more about you. How could they get in contact?
Peter Lederer 49:00
On LinkedIn? Probably through that. That’s probably the easiest way. Yep. Yeah.
Colin Hunter 49:03
Brilliant. I’ll put the link in the show notes. If people want to get in contact, but it’s been a joy, sir. It was only supposed to be 45 minutes, but wow, it’s gone even longer. So it’s you know, it’s brilliant. Thank you. And looking forward to catching up soon, Peter, thanks again.
Peter Lederer 49:18
Thank you very much.
Colin Hunter 49:27
Hey, folks what an episode I could talk to Peter all day, about his career, his history, and his point of view. But you can see from that, that you get a sense of his background, his care for people, the succession planning he had in place his planning goals, but also the care he had through the COVID pandemic for the community around restaurants hospitality, and that is part of his makeup. It’s how he treated me when he first met me. And I was working with the Leading Hotels of the World – right the way through to the relationships he’s always been a well-respected leader in the luxury and leadership and hospitality community globally and delighted that he was here with us today. So I hope you enjoyed that. If you look forward to joining us for some more episodes as we hear more leaders telling their tales