Updated: Apr 15
BY JOHN LABSAN - DIRECTOR CORPORATE SALES - INTERCONTINENTAL SF
My humble beginnings started with our migration to America in 1971. My parents grew up in the Philippines in suburban provincial towns: father was from Castellejos, Zambales and mother from San Narcisco, Zambales. They were considered a middle-class couple with a home, cars, farmland and maids to assist with my mother's day-to-day life. My father joined the United States Navy and made a career in the military, while my mother stayed home and took care of the family of 2 girls and 3 boys, I am the youngest. My parents wanted their children to have a better life then they did so we migrated to the United States in 1971 and settled in Oakland. While we attended American schools we were raised in a Filipino home, where we learned never to question elders or older people and always conduct yourself in a polite fashion. Filipinos place a strong cultural value on respect for age and for the elderly. Young people are expected to show respect to the elderly as well as older members without questions of authority or questioning their request. As a young child my parents would always provide us with hands-on experiences, with the finances, cooking, cleaning,managing our schedules, having chores, goals, and tell us repeatedly to give 100% at what you do with enthusiasm. Looking back now it explains how we were all inspired to be the very best we are today. My career started in the hospitality industry by accident. I started out as a busboy at Holiday Inn while going to college. Shortly after starting I was having a great time, enjoying meeting a variety of people in the restaurant and thought to myself, “ what a great opportunity to be in this field.” I really enjoyed talking to the customers and listening to their life experiences but understanding and applying what I learned from them in my daily life. Shortly my career was going well as I was promoted to Room Service and Food Server and making great money in tips while working 16 hours a week. I was only in my 20’s and life was sweet. But then the inevitable happened. Successful people cannot remain invisible in the hospitality industry. Soon the General Manager noticed how well I was doing and ready to help me get into another path to further my career. She made me ask myself, “Do I still want to be working for tips in my 40s?” At a young age my parents would always tell us to do well in school, get a good education as that was the only thing they could provide. They told us that regardless of what we decided to do, we should get a job that will make us happy and provide for our family with a caveat that we would take care of our parents when they get old. A career of tips was not going to do it. My General Manager provided a path that took me from a food server, cashier host, Dining Room supervisor, Assistant Restaurant Manager to Restaurants Manager - my career took off within a year of that conversation and remained as a Restaurants Manager for 5 years. However, time flies and life changes. I got married and understood that life was no longer my own but also had responsibilities with my wife who wanted me to spend more time with the family. So, I decided to change my career and go into sales and started on an introductory level as a Sales Manager handling the Secretaires program in the corporate market segment, quickly moving my way through various sales promotions. Time flies and life changes, again. I got divorced and raised my kids alone for many years. Wanting to spend more time with them, I decided to quit my job and start my own company. My life was so full - it wasn't a chore to get up as I truly enjoyed meeting new people every day, providing solutions in a consultative approach and creating lifetime friendships and being this amazing parent. Nevertheless, I returned to the hospitality industry - once it's in your blood you never leave. Today, I work for an amazing company, with a supportive Director who inspires me to be more than what I am, to challenge me so that I can be my best. Through my 30 plus years in the hospitality industry, I have had many mentors who have provided my path in my career and in return I have continued to provide that same encouragement, wisdom, and support in providing growth, stability and success to individuals who are inspired. Just remember every day you are learning and absorbing something new. The day that you stop learning is the day that you become extinct.
John Labsan is the Director of Sales for the InterContental San Francisco and a member of the SVBTA Cares committee.
He is a skilled online marketer as well as
a highly talented, resourceful and diligent coach with experience in solidifying a variety of groups and transient business.