Noah Brodsky, Leadership and Business Expert, Talks Workplace Stress and Mindful Communication

“The best communication begins with eye contact.”

Courtesy of Noah Brodsky
Courtesy of Noah Brodsky

As a business leader, Noah Brodsky has an exceptionally busy schedule. Still, despite his busy schedule as Chief Brand Officer at Wyndham, Brodsky makes sure to prioritize quality time with his family. And with over 12 years of executive leadership experience in the hospitality industry, he’s learned what it means to both be an enthusiastic and productive leader, and how to care for yourself while you’re at it.

Brodsky shared some of this expertise with Thrive. Read on for his insight on successful goal-setting, managing workplace stress, and the importance of active listening and communication.

Thrive Global: What is your morning routine? 

Noah Brodsky: I have a 6 a.m. alarm, and go straight into a 20-minute, high-intensity workout. I like finding new trainers on YouTube, sticking with them for a few months, and then switching it up so my workout is always engaging and challenging. Then, I have breakfast with my son and head to work.  In the office, the first thing I do is walk the floor and say good morning to all the fellow early-risers.

TG: What is your company’s culture like? 

NB: As a hospitality company, first and foremost, we’re hospitable: Everyone’s nice, everyone’s fun, and we love to talk about vacations. And we balance that with a focus on getting the job done.  After all, our mission is to put the world on vacation. Ask anyone on my team, and they’ll tell you that the motto for the year is: “delivery, delivery, delivery.” 

TG: How do you practice mindful communication at work? What are some ways managers can practice better communication?

NB: The best communication begins with eye contact.  As a leader, it’s also good to try to get out of your office for meetings – new spaces will open your mind to new ideas.   

TG: What small steps do you use to accomplish your ultimate goal? How do you stay on track? 

NB: I publicly share each team’s annual plan-on-a-page in a consolidated deck that we hand out three times a year at our town hall. Each leader gets five minutes to highlight the most important things they’re working on and their biggest accomplishments. This not only helps the team stay aligned, but also shows everyone how their work fits into the big picture. 

TG: What is one small habit that has improved your life significantly?

NB: At home, the TV is off during meals. In the past, dinner was a fun time to catch up on a few shows, and breakfast was for emails. Now that we have a son, the kitchen table is all about catching up with each other. It’s important to unplug! 

TG: How do you approach workplace stress?  

NB: Smile and spend more time thinking about the future than the past.

TG: What are three things that help you thrive outside the office? What about inside?

NB: Outside: exercising outdoors, family vacations, and riding roller coasters – I love the thrill!

Inside: keeping my door open, eating lunch with my team, and not overbooking my day 

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course-correct?

NB: I cancel the lowest priority thing on my calendar; 15 or 30 minutes of free time can make a huge difference in the day and my outlook. 

TG: What is one key piece of advice for someone newly entering a management role? 

NB: Listen to your people, they know more than you.

TG: Can you share one story of when you went from surviving to thriving? 

NB: One of my first jobs was as a waiter; I was responsible for five out of the 20 tables at my restaurant. When I got promoted to shift manager, my first inclination was to keep waiting tables… but now I was trying to keep track of all 20 and was drowning. The a-ha moment was when my boss told me to “stop waiting on the customers and start waiting on your team.” That was the mental shift I needed, and since then, I’ve kept focusing more on making my team successful than trying to do their job.  

TG: What type of work environment do you thrive in? Why?

NB: I always loved working in restaurants: that fast-paced, service-oriented environment with a slightly-crazy mash-up of different skills, cultures, and backgrounds. Hospitality is all about making life better for our customers, and that mentality drives company culture and priorities.

TG: What are your travel tips for staying on track during long trips? 

NB: Three things drain me on a long trip:  dehydration, not enough exercise, and heavy meals. So my three personal rules are: chug water on airplanes, never skip a workout, and order the fish at steakhouses.  

On long trips I also love to take my family along for at least a weekend. “Bleisure travel” is still a big trend – but make sure you’ve booked a place with plenty of space for everyone to spread out. A crowded hotel room without a chance for a quiet moment will wipe out my productivity – a condo with separate bedrooms, living room, and a kitchen to prepare my own healthy meals and snacks keeps me on-task and the family happy.  

TG: With so many distractions and interruptions coming at us throughout the day, what are your tips to stay focused?

NB: My cellphone is always on silent — no buzzes or beeps! 

TG: What is your favorite hobby? Do you have a certain tool or trick that helps you allocate time for your out of office interests?

NB: It’s no accident that I live in the theme park capital of the world… I love theme parks!  We get out to the parks at least twice a week… sometimes just for a single coaster ride. Sneaking away to experience some magic, even if just for a few minutes, helps clear away the stress of the day.

TG: What is your relationship with feedback? Do you ever struggle to give or receive feedback? 

NB: I believe in always bundling negatives with positives… I think this helps people listen and be more receptive and makes the process more of a conversation.

TG: What are three things that make a successful meeting? 

NB: Have an agenda. Identify the decision makers. Finish with restating the outcome.  

TG: How do you handle your inbox? 

NB: My inbox is my to-do list; emails stay there till they’re done.  

TG: What is your evening routine? How do you wind down after a long day? 

NB: Bedtime stories with my three year-old are the best part of my day. Then an hour or two of emails before going to bed; I sleep better knowing my inbox is below 50. And I usually fall asleep feeling excited for tomorrow.

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