Three For Thursday – Felix Laboy

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I first got to know Felix over 20 years ago when I had the pleasure of assisting him as he coached both his son and mine in youth baseball. It wasn’t Felix’s knowledge of baseball that impressed me during that time, but his way of interacting with people. The boys, of course, but the parents, too. Felix has an intuitive understanding of what makes people tick that he’s used to great advantage both personally and professionally. 

On the professional side, Felix has over 30 years of experience across a wide portfolio of leadership positions in the hotel and travel technology industry. Currently he is serving as Chairman of NextGuest Technologies, a hotel technology company. Earlier in his career, in 1999, Felix co-founded E-site Marketing, one of the first Internet hospitality marketing companies in the world. E-site Marketing was started with no outside funding, and over the next 10 years Felix established strategic direction and oversaw company performance, growth, and operations. E-site Marketing was acquired by Sabre Holdings in 2007.

In addition to his professional endeavors, Felix has served as Executive in Residence and taught a course titled “Hospitality Marketing- Emerging Media” at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

Felix enjoys traveling, hiking, and triathlons and has visited all seven continents, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and is an Ironman triathlete.

Felix’s Three For Thursday follow.

Stretching
There is a quote that I like: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I’ve always stretched myself. I know I’m not the greatest athlete, yet I played football in high school and did pretty well. I played center even though I weighed all of 155 lbs. I made myself the best lineman I possibly could by working incredibly hard. I got to the limit of what I thought was possible, then kept going.  I consistently asked the coaches or older players for extra guidance because I didn’t have the physical attributes that others did.

As an adult, I became an Ironman triathlete. I knew that I had to learn how to swim much better to make the time cutoffs. It was almost too daunting to think about, but I knew from experience that if I put in the effort I could get there. Training often consisted of riding 100 miles on my bike, swimming two miles (often in open water) or running 20 miles at a pop. I stretched to my limits to become an Ironman.

I have stretched professionally, as well. I can’t troubleshoot or fix technology issues, but I’ve been the CEO of tech companies for 20 years.

Some might think it’s a matter of outworking others vs. my concept of stretching. To me, stretching is overcoming fear. The fear of taking on something you aren’t 100% sure of is why some people never succeed. Don’t let what you don’t know stop you, you can figure it out!

Family
I know, I know, it’s a cliché. But, family is the most important thing in my life. I do everything based on how it impacts and helps the family nucleus. I am more than happy to make sacrifices for the greater good of my family. My father was an alcoholic who left our family when I was 12. As a result, I always wanted to create a healthy and loving environment for my spouse and kids. That’s what gives me perspective and keeps me grounded. It’s also about teamwork. My wife, Paula, was in law school when we married. I had to work two jobs so we could make ends meet. Then, when I started my own business, she was our legal counsel and first accountant and fully supportive of taking the risk of starting a new business.

Helping Others
I feel very strongly about helping others, whether it’s people who are less fortunate or just younger people seeking career advice. When my father left, we had friends and family who helped us and that made a huge impression on me. I have sometimes lent a hand financially, sometimes through mentoring, or sometimes just through being available to help others avoid mistakes.  I do it because I firmly believe it’s the right thing to do. I also try to be nice to everyone at all levels. We’re all the same at the end of the day.

One For the Road …Travel! It’s so broadening to see other cultures and other parts of the world. Experience the grandeur of the world, it’s truly life changing. I’ve been to all seven continents and my kids have practiced what I preach and have each been to five continents and they are still in their twenties!  I understand that not everyone can afford to travel extensively. But, many of us can afford to take a road trip to the amazing National Parks that we have in the US. Get out and see as much as you can.

How about you? What are your Three For Thursday? I’m looking for people who are willing to share their life wisdom.  Please email me at bob@epi.coach if you’d like to be interviewed for a future Three For Thursday blog.

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