This is not a sprint—brace for the marathon.
Steve Farzam is a hospitality expert with experience at every level of hotel management, from conceptualization and design all the way to day-to-day operations. He currently serves as the chief operating officer (COO) of the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica, California, where he applies his passion for service to deliver unforgettable experiences to guests and to ensure that every detail at the hotel goes off without a hitch. A stalwart advocate for sustainability, Steve Farzam works fervently to minimize the Shore Hotel’s environmental impact and to constantly introduce new eco-friendly practices.
Before he entered the family business—his father, an Iranian immigrant, owned and operated several motels in Southern California—Steve earned a B.A. in sociology from California State University, Northridge in 2003. At the time, Steve Farzam’s zeal to serve others motivated him to obtain his paramedic’s certification and save lives. He became certified in 2007 and soon began working as a flight paramedic as well as an instructor and professor of emergency medicine at several California colleges.
In 2008, while off-duty, Steve saved the life of an unconscious person trapped inside a burning car. For this act of heroism, which he considers to be his crowning achievement, Steve received the Medal of Valor from the Burn Institute and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
When the Farzam family decided to renovate a beachfront motel across the street from Santa Monica’s famous pier into a premier eco-friendly hotel—the Shore Hotel—Steve signed on as COO. He managed the facility’s LEED Gold design and construction, its grand opening, and today, he oversees all operations. Each day, Steve Farzam channels his profound passion for service into a constant effort to provide guests with an incredible experience. He credits much of his success to his perspective which allows him to approach situations as both a manager and a rank-and-file employee.
In fact, thanks to his work, the Shore Hotel has become one of the world’s most acclaimed hotels. It regularly holds the number-one ranking on TripAdvisor out of 40 hotels in the city, and Conde Naste Traveler rated it fourth out of the top 50 luxury hotels in the world.
Furthermore, Steve Farzam is also dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint and impact that the Shore Hotel has on the environment. He has spearheaded a number of groundbreaking green initiatives that have earned awards and accolades. Thanks to Steve’s leadership, for example, the Shore Hotel became the first property in the state of California to successfully deploy a fully-automated “Auto Demand Response” system; this allows Southern California Edison to transmit a signal during periods of peak electrical use that reduces 50% of power consumption at the hotel without compromising operations or amenities on-site.
Beyond his professional life, Steve Farzam supports a number of philanthropic initiatives, like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Los Angeles, the American Red Cross, Scripps Hospital, and others. He lives in Santa Monica, California.
Where did the idea for Shore Hotel come from?
My family has a long history in the hospitality industry; I practically grew up in it. So, nearly 15 years ago, the family decided to develop an existing motel site we owned into a better, more sustainable product for our community.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
In the hotel industry, most days vary since no two guests are alike. Each guest, and even each team member, requires a personalized level of service. My days are typically very productive, as I take a task-oriented approach with deadlines to items that are before me. Moreover, I regularly rely on my fellow team members to help me execute initiatives.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I typically bounce them off of a few trusted mentors in the industry. Thereafter, I share them with our executive leadership team and get their input before the ideas are brought to fruition.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
As seen at the Consumer Electronics Show this year in Las Vegas, I am very excited to watch artificial intelligence as it makes its way into the hospitality arena.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I still maintain my paramedic habits, with one of the key items being the art of delegation. The ability to delegate has made me very productive as an entrepreneur; after all, at the end of the day, I am only as good as my team.
What advice would you give your younger self?
“This is not a sprint—brace for the marathon.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Every single one of us has a responsibility in green stewardship and sustainable living!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be honest, and always proceed with integrity and mutual respect.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Remaining entrenched in the day-to-day operations has helped grow our business since I was always able to see the operations from a line-level employee’s perspective.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I lost a team member who I valued to another hotel. Prior to the separation I was not mindful of his workload. Upon his exit interview, I asked for honest and direct feedback. His words weighed heavy on my heart and allowed me to self-reflect and become a better boss.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Go green! Although the initial investment is, on average, 20% higher, your employees and customers will feel much better about their involvement. Moreover, it’s the right thing to do for our communities.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A wifi-controlled door lock that can be unlocked from anywhere in the world.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Microsoft Outlook—particularly the calendar and tasks. I assign a level of priority to items before me with strict deadlines that I adhere to.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl. This book helped me understand that happiness is truly a choice in my daily life.
What is your favorite quote?
“Never explain—your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.” Elbert Hubbard
Steve Farzam on LinkedIn:
Steve Farzam on Twitter:https://twitter.com/stevefarzam
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.