The Things That Matter Most

The Things That Matter Most 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

This weekend, Texans watched as wild fires, fueled by the drought, scorched across Central Texas. Homes were evacuated in Bastrop, Leander, Austin and right in our own backyard in Stone Oak and Selma. I couldn’t imagine having to pack up a few essential items and leave my home with my wife and son without knowing the outcome.

Would our house still be standing where we left it or would we have to start over with nothing but the clothes on our backs? As I said my prayers for the families affected by the wild fires, I selfishly thought to myself – what would I do in the same situation? All of my thoughts led me to think about what is important in life. I realized that my wife and son and those few essentials would be all I really needed. Luxury and leisure items are definitely welcomed, but there are a few things in this world that are irreplaceable, and those things are what matter most.

This week as you go through your day to day routine, think and remember about what’s important in your life. Pray for the families affected, if that’s your thing; volunteer if you can. If you can’t volunteer your time, the Red Cross and other cause-worthy organizations are taking donations as small as a cup of coffee or a new pair of pants. It’s our duty as a community to take care of one another in times of need. Most of all, tell your family you love them and live your life appreciating everything you have, you never know what tomorrow could bring.

Feeling the Tech Crunch

Feeling the Tech Crunch 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

In our technology-crazed lives, it seems as though we have virtually every bit of information we could ever need right at our finger tips. It’s a pretty powerful position to be in but at the same time, extremely distracting and can often make us lose sight of what’s currently important. I noticed the other night while drafting an e-mail on my computer, checking scores for my fantasy football team on my iPad and texting my wife on my phone, that I needed an intervention. Technology is great, and I am a complete proponent of using all the resources we have, but there comes a time when I need to focus on one thing at a time. Here are some tips on not letting yourself get bogged down by technological distractions.

Discriminate so you can learn to concentrate – The goal to this one is when faced with a task, ask yourself, “Can it wait?” If the answer is yes, finish the task-at-hand and then get to it. Keeping yourself focused on one task will not only keep you on schedule and productive, but it will give you some time to work on the new task with more dedication.

Don’t let your email control your schedule – It may seem like a luxury that your computer automatically alerts you when someone emails you, but it’s actually very distracting and can make it easy to start a new task without completing the first. I discovered that I can disable the feature so that I can check my email when I am ready.

Protect yourself with a password – Most social networking sites allow you to check and un-check the “remember me” box so that every time you close the browser to one of these sites, it will still keep you logged in. To avoid the temptation of checking your Facebook notifications or Twitter mentions, always keep the box unchecked so that you have to physically type in your password every time you want to get on. You’ll instantly feel annoyed by the monotony of typing your password so many times that the temptation will decrease, and you’ll want to stay away from these sites and the distractions that come with them.

One is enough – If you’re like me, chances are you have or want to own every piece of technology known to man, but just because you own all of the gadgets that this world has to offer, doesn’t mean you need to be glued to all at the same time. If you are at the office, the computer is enough: Put your cell phone, tablet, MP3 player, CD player, Walkman or anything else that could potentially distract you in a drawer, briefcase or if you’re a woman (or a well-styled man) in your purse. Out of sight, out of mind.

Hopefully with these tips, you’ll find it easier to concentrate at work and not let technology run your schedule and more importantly, your life. Sometimes, it’s best to put all of the devices away and engage in actual human interaction. Try it, it’s not so bad.

Remembering Where You Came From

Remembering Where You Came From 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

Richard Bach said, “Remember where you came from, where you’re going, and why you created this mess you got yourself into in the first place.”

I think once we all grow up and start to take ourselves too seriously, we forget where we came from and the journey that got us to the place we’re at. In some aspects, our backgrounds truly shape our motivation and drive.

When I was younger, my parents pushed me and wanted me to reach my full potential. They knew that I could be great someday. Without that initial push, I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t push myself today. I can still hear my mother in the back of my mind asking, “Was that your best? Don’t you think you can do better?” I ask myself the same things whenever I’m working on a project or task.

I’m thankful for the friends I grew up with. Even in elementary and middle school we all would challenge each other. If my friends got a good grade on an assignment, I knew that I could get that good grade too. Our friendly competition helped us all grow into professional young adults that sought out that same competition in college. There, I met some of my best friends and fostered lifetime relationships.

During my time in college, I also met some of my most valuable mentors, especially the professors who would sit down with me, tell the truth and genuinely wanted me to be successful. I remember one professor in particular who I just knew was out to get me. She didn’t like any of my papers. I didn’t want to hear it. I just wanted to take the course for the semester, get my credit and graduate. It wasn’t until much later in the semester that I realized why she pushed me so hard. She believed in me. She knew my potential and wanted to make sure I worked toward it. If we have someone who tells us how great we are and simply agrees with us all the time, there’s no room for improvement and as they say, “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” The humbling experience helped me become a well-rounded person as I learned to accept and learn from criticism.

I have nothing but appreciation for the people who have led me to where I am today. For my parents who pushed me, friends who challenged me and professors who believed in me, I thank you; life wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Small in size but HUGE in hospitality!

Small in size but HUGE in hospitality! 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

I came across an article while browsing mySA.com noting a few area hotels that were named among Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” list, one of which was The Mokara Hotel & Spa (formerly the Watermark Hotel) in downtown San Antonio, ranked fourth among top small city hotels in the U.S. and Canada. While it’s great to hear San Antonio mentioned on a national platform, what struck me the most was a comment left on the bottom of the article.

The hotel accolades are great, but I bet the mayor and others hate that designation of “small city hotels.” They keep touting that San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the U.S. But that is within the city limits, and anyone with any sense knows it’s the metropolitan area population that is truly meaningful.

While we may be small in what some may identify as “stature,” we are most certainly large in personality! Here are some fun facts about the Alamo City that I found while researching the history of the city on MySA.com:

-More than 26 million people visit San Antonio each year.

-One of the American West’s oldest cities settled in 1731 by sixteen Spanish families from the Canary Islands. San Antonio’s rich history surfaces in its architecture, neighborhoods, food, culture and traditions.

-The King William neighborhood is one of the oldest historical districts in Texas.

-San Antonio boasts sixty eight miles of urban hike and bike trails and more than 11,000 acres of urban parks.

-The U.S.’s second oldest park, San Pedro Park, is in San Antonio.

-There are three hundred days of sunshine annually and an average temperature of 70 degrees (though I would tend to argue it feels like it’s closer to 100).

-The River City is the most affordable city in America, for both those who live here and those who visit.

-San Antonio is one of the top 25 cities in the country for the arts, according to American Style magazine.

-Travel Smart magazine ranks San Antonio as one of the most culturally fascinating cities in the U.S.

-SeaWorld® San Antonio is the world’s largest marine life adventure park and Six Flags® Fiesta Texas® is one of the most visited attractions in the state.

-Travel + Leisure named San Antonio as one of America’s favorite cities.

-San Antonio has some of the state’s most visited attractions and festivals: The Alamo (1), The River Walk (2), SeaWorld® San Antonio (4), Six Flags® Fiesta Texas® (13); San Antonio Zoo (14); Fiesta San Antonio (23).

-Tapatio Springs Golf Resort has ranked as a Texas top ten spot for over a decade. Toughest golf shot: Pecan Valley golf Course, No. 18, Par 4, 18 yards.

-The San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Championship in 2007, 2005, 2003, and 1999. (And hopefully in 2012 if we have a season!)

-The San Antonio Zoo is the third largest zoo in the U.S. with over 3,500 animals and also shelters more than 230 endangered species.

-San Antonio’s El Mercado shopping district is the largest Mexican market outside Mexico.

The fact is: numbers are numbers. We’re the 7th largest, and I think most of us would argue we’re tops when it comes to personality, culture and people!

Attitude Makes the Difference

Attitude Makes the Difference 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

When I was growing up, my high school principal used to close the morning announcements with a quote, “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.” I always heard this mantra and thought it was cheesy, and in the morning, I was definitely not thinking about how I was going to make my day great.

As I got older, I realized that the attitude we choose at the start of each day truly does make a difference. If I woke up every morning and thought, “Alright, here I go again, same ol’ thing,” my day would start out with instant negativity. When I’m speaking to guests, I know that they would prefer to hear a fresh and upbeat voice rather than a reluctant and sour one. I want them to know that I am excited about their project or event, and all it takes is a little positivity. Although it’s tough, I have to wake up and say to myself, “Today is going to be a good day.”

Here are some tips on creating and maintaining a positive attitude:

Waking up early – One of the easiest ways for most people to start their day off right is to wake up earlier than normal. If we give ourselves plenty of time for a healthy breakfast and ample time to get ready, there’s no feeling of being rushed.

Exercising – While you’re up early, engaging in a little light cardio gives your body that extra kick to get it going in the morning.

Listening to positive music – On your way to work, play your favorite dance album, or anything that gets your body moving. You can also listen to podcasts of inspirational speakers for a mini pep-talk in the morning.

Make lists – It sounds daunting, but if you make a list of all the things that need to be accomplished for the week will not only get you more organized but the feeling of accomplishment after crossing a task off your list just can’t be beat.

Be thankful – Last but certainly not least, be thankful for all the things you do have. Surround yourself with the positive people in your life and appreciate them for their friendship. The very act of focusing on what you are thankful for will help you maintain your positive attitude

So get out there, start your day with an early morning workout, listen to your favorite album, check things off your list of to-dos (and actually do them) and be thankful for everything you have. Maybe my principal was right, making each day a great day is my choice.

Thanks, Mom!

Thanks, Mom! 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

Have you ever noticed that when an athlete or unsuspecting person is captured on TV, the response is usually a wave and “Hi, Mom!”?

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and it is a big deal. Florists will be busy, the post office will be handling millions of greeting cards, phone lines will be buzzing, and children everywhere will be serving their moms breakfast in bed. Mom will love the burned toast and runny eggs – and won’t say a word about the mess in the kitchen.

I am so grateful for my Mom, Sue Pedrotti – who continues to be an inspiration to our family and all whose lives she touches. When you come to Pedrotti’s for a special occasion, your experience is memorable because of what Sue Pedrotti does. Ever behind the scenes, she is the one who makes sure everything is perfect – right down to washing and ironing the linens herself to make sure that every crease is correct.

Moms teach us valuable lessons that stay with us throughout our life. Moms are the conduits by which family traditions and values are passed from generation to generation. They give us our life and their influence stays with us for the rest of our years.

For all you have done and for all you do — thanks, Mom!

Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten

Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

Thursday, April 21, 2011 is National Kindergarten Recognition Day. Robert Fulghum wrote the famous poem, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” and in honor of this special holiday, I’ve taken the liberty of gleaning some of his advice and applying it to the hospitality business.

“Share everything.” — In the hospitality business, sharing is what it’s all about: sharing our venue, sharing our food, sharing opportunities to create memories with family and friends. Think about sharing in your business as you would at home. And, don’t forget to share with your employees!

“Play fair.” This means that the product and service that guests receive should exceed their expectations. No hidden charges – no surprises.

“Put things back where you found them.” Guests should feel as if they are the only people to have ever used our venue. The site should be clean and ready for their event, and their experience should be a memory of a lifetime for them.

“Wash your hands before you eat.” Goes without saying, but perfect scores from the health department should be the rule. Make sure the restrooms are pristine. It’s all part of the atmosphere.

And, finally… “Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.” Nothing speaks to hospitality better than a fine meal…and an even better dessert.

Why try harder?

Why try harder? 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

Many basketball brackets were busted last week – who would have thought a first-round team like Virginia Commonwealth University would make it to the venerable Final Four? I read somewhere that at the beginning of the season, VCU’s odds of making it that far were 2500 to 1.

There’s something to be said for being the “underdog.” In fact, companies like Avis Rent-a-Car made it a marketing pitch – they were #2, so they “tried harder.” And throughout history, underdogs have even prevailed: David downed Goliath, Susan Boyle wowed Simon Cowell and the Giants beat the previously undefeated Patriots. The desire to pull for the underdog seems to be part of our psyche. Some people, with no team allegiances, will automatically pull for the underdog simply because they’re the underdog.


I believe it’s because Americans are the most charitable people on the planet and they appreciate rags-to-riches stories because they’ve been weaned on the “American Dream.” If you believe it, you can achieve it. Try harder, and you’ll succeed. And, if Cinderella turns into a pumpkin, you can always heed the mantra of long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans…”there’s always next year!”

Southern Hospitality

Southern Hospitality 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

Ever think that you should have been a cowboy? Maybe we should take some tips out of their handbook.  While waiting for a friend to meet me for lunch the other day I realized that often times reminding people about that southern hospitality that Texas is known for can make a world of difference on their perception of a place, and it doesn’t cost a dime to win over the hearts of your customers.

It was a simple act; the hostess would greet people by opening the door for them and directing them to another young lady who would then take them to their seat with a sincere and welcoming smile. My surprise was in the delight on the faces of guests coming in. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but it pleased the customers so much. It takes no time out of your day, but in today’s fast-paced business world, many people overlook tasks like this and forget that the small steps are what take you that extra mile.

I spent the rest of my day making it a point to hold the door open for someone behind me, and the appreciation on the faces of those people was a reward in and of itself. We open the door for people coming into our house, so why would we not extend that courtesy coming into our business, or our home away from home? Giving customers that individual attention will only improve your company’s reputation in the eyes of a community.

Open that door with a big Texas hello and remind people of that southern charm.

Rest & Relaxation

Rest & Relaxation 150 150 Pedrotti's Ranch

The other day, as I hurried from one appointment to the next, I felt this strong throbbing in my head, it felt like a headache but it persisted when I stood up to walk around and then would subside when I sat. After a short session of self-diagnosing, I discovered that my headache may have been caused by something as simple as stress. With deadlines to meet and clients to please, our brains don’t realize that all this running around is doing a number on our bodies.  

Encountering stress on a day-to-day basis can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system and speed up the aging process. How does one combat all this stress? We owe it to ourselves to take some time each day and just relax.

Set aside some time every day, or for some, every week to dedicate to relaxing. It doesn’t need to be anything that takes up too much time or expense, just take a little time for yourself. Spend just 15-20 minutes outside in the fresh air. Try not to think about anything that’s going on. Some find it easier to imagine a calming place like the beach or some other favorite vacation spot. Leave the office and go for a drive around your part of town.

When you get home, leave your work and obligations at the office and spend time with those who mean the most to you.

Chances are, you’re already a superman or woman, give yourself a break, even heroes need to relax.