I’ve just got back from 2 weeks away in Florida, I took my first trip to the States of 2012 to be part of the “Front End Design Conference” in Tampa. This was one of my favourite conferences of 2010 and I was thrilled and honoured to be invited back for 2012. I piggybacked my Summer holiday/vacation on the back of the conference and took a drive down to Miami for 10 days to relax my mind, and chillout after a busy year of work.

We stayed at the Mondrian on South Beach, if you like listening in on poolside conversation – this was the hotel to do it at, your earwigging would be rewarded with tales of debauchery, insider celebrity gossip or in my husbands case, an invite to an “all night session with a 20 strong bachelorette party”. It was certainly an eye opener. I digress…

The type of clientele the Mondrian attracts are celebrities, the wannabe-wealthy and models – the famous Wilhelmina model agency is on the third floor of the hotel itself. The staff are trained in discretion and catering to the every whim of the guests, which I can imagine would be fairly exhausting if you had diva demands on a daily basis however, just sitting, watching and taking in everything going on around me I witnessed some of the most genuine customer service I’ve ever seen.

When you reached the pool everyday, various “attendants” would be walking around, there was this particular attendant called David. From what I could understand of these attendants, their sole job was to get you a towel for your lounger and a towel for drying off after the pool. While they were putting these on your lounger, they would talk to you about what your plans were for the day , what you did the night before and give you tips on the best places to eat. I realise America is the tipping nation but I closely watched each day and no one was really tipping these guys, that’s not to say we didn’t but regardless of whether you did or didn’t, the service remained the same.

David would greet us each day with a cheerful “Happy (enter day of the week here)” and would remember small details about us from the day before, gradually building up a picture of why we were there, and what we were like. His passion for his job shone through, I heard on more than one occasion other hotel guests saying to him what a pleasure he was to have around and he cheerfully replied “I just really enjoy my job, they treat me well here”.

His sole job is to put towels on loungers and talk to guests, and sometimes, I imagine, in quite a demanding environment. Even though he only has a short job description, he makes it his mission to be the best he can be, and it works. I started to realise that my day has been diluted with lots of small tasks that zap the life out of me, mainly administration based and that I needed to get back to where I once was – I haven’t lost any passion for my job at all, but David made me realise I could be doing better.

Passion is perhaps a strong word to describe a feel for what we do, often mocked as it’s overused in many opening paragraphs of many web design agencies websites – the love of what we do and how it drives us counts for so much, but is completely underestimated. It can’t be learnt, it can’t even be drummed into you it’s got to come from within. Skillset, I would say, counts for about 50% of what we do, with 25% going to communication skills and 25% your drive, determination and personality. We’re all so quick to learn new skills, but rarely do we look inside ourselves and see how we can become better at the other part, the customer facing side of freelancing or business. I had an idea on the plane home for a side project on how to help with that 50% that isn’t attributed to skillset. Watch this space.