Smarter and Richer – I’m Listening

By Marsha Wilson Rappaport

We live in a strange new world. Cat memes go viral and major scientific discoveries dissolve into brief soundbites.  Training yourself to pay attention at the right times and tuning out noise has become a critical skill.

The book, “Shut Up and Listen” quickly shoots pass the background noise and provides insights that can inspire and serve as a real blueprint toward meeting personal and business goals.

Tilman Fertitta is a “wunderkind” billionaire. A native Texan and proud Galvestonian, he’s spent the past three decades building a highly profitable hospitality empire. Fertitta has the kind of personal imagination and business acumen that astounds even the most successful businessman.

The book collects the essence of his career and reflects the matter-of-fact style he displays in his public life. Some of the best bits include:

Know your numbers

It’s free to be nice

Keep your promises

Build in what “ifs” to help you follow-through on your commitments

The 95-5 rule – 95 percent of your business may be operating fine,  but seek out the 5 percent that ‘s wrong.

This book is filled with this type of pithy advice. But the presentation and follow-up is powerful enough to get to you do what he asks – listen. As you read this book, you will indeed stop and wonder what mistakes you might be making in your business affairs.

For example, Fertitta has a chapter on choosing partners with complimentary strengths. This chapter really resonated while I was present at his book signing event at the San Luis Resort – one of his properties in Galveston.  Part of the Fertitta “brand” is his image as a hard-hitting, businessman with a no-nonsense approach. You would therefore not expect a cadre of familiar faces on his staff in the room.  A man with his “brand” would be expected to use folks and move on to the next person that would perform at peak efficiency. Indeed, he has a host of employees that do perform to high standards. However, many have been with him for decades. For example, Paul Schultz, Vice President of Landry's Hospitality Division, has been there for decades. He is the epitome of Fertitta’s rule to treat everyone with respect. I am not one of the Fertitta’s rich guests at Mardi Gras or New Years, but I am Schultz has always made me feel like a queen. Michelle Beckwith  is responsible for setting up those lavish parties and has always been gracious. Fertitta also has his parents around. Vic and Joy Fertitta were even at the book signing.  

The value of loyalty has been diminished in our fast-food society. That level of loyalty toward employees and his inner circle isn’t a big part of his book. Moreover, although he is a genius, you need loyal folks who have your back to help you make billions of dollars. It says a great deal about the kind of person he is – regardless of his brand.

My personal favorite in this book filled with favorites is “If You Want to Lead – Listen First.” In world filled with endless mindless distractions and a news cycle filled with leaders who have forgotten how to listen to the public – words of wisdom we non-billionaires can use.


December 22, 2019

Shut Up and Listen!

By Tilman Fertitta


Shut Up and Listen!

By Tilman Fertitta

167 Pages. Harper Collins Leadership $24.99






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