23 Lessons I Learned From Being A Beach Boy

Don’t call me a beach boy. Call me a ‘recreation concierge’. That has a better ring to it.

I applied at the ripe age of 18 to my first hotel. My manager said I had “the worst interview he ever took”, but for some reason I still got the job. I’m glad they took the chance because it changed my life completely.

The following are some of the countless lessons I learned from working in the pool and beach department for the best hotels in Miami Beach, Florida.

1. Attention to detail

Detail, detail detail.

As a beach attendant at a five star hotel, it’s the detail that makes the difference.

Every single lounge chair is placed in the same direction. Every chair aligned perfectly. Every single piece of trash picked up. Every small spec of bird shit was noticed.

Day after day I would actively walk the property seeking perfection.

Without realizing it, I was building up this external awareness muscle. Now, I’m able to walk in everywhere and not just look, but observe.

Noticing the details, what’s right and what’s wrong has become one my biggest strengths to date.

2. How to tip

Quarters and nickels to thousand dollar checks and everything in between.

I’ve been tipped in every way possible.

In regards to tipping correctly, don’t do the following:

  1. Be afraid to show the money. Some people would crinkle a dollar bill into 46 squares in order to hide to exchange of money.
  2. Don’t loudly proclaim you giving them money so their friends and everyone around will hear it.
  3. Don’t promise to tip and not keep your word.

3. Be wary of big tips

There was one particular baller that the entire service industry in South Beach had heard about.

He was known for extravagant tips and his ruthless demeanor.

Being the manager at the hotel he frequented it, I quickly became his go-to man with him writing me a $1,500 check just for refilling his water.

Having not witnessed the ‘ruthless demeanor’ aspect of his personality I quickly realized that this $1,500 check had it’s price.

When someone tips you well above the average amount, many times there are strings attached. An invisible umbilical cord that bonds both of you.

In this particular case, due to something outside of my control. He ended up threatening to sue me and almost got me fired because of his connections.

Be wary of big tips, be wary of extreme favors people give you. Don’t be surprised when they come back asking for more.

4. Befriend the chef

Hotel food is rarely something to brag about. After working in hundred degree weather, sweating and hustling hard. There are few things more enjoyable than a freshly grilled burger from the poolside restaurant.

I learned the guiding principle that veterans in the hospitality industry all know: befriend the chef.

5. How to hustle

Somedays us beach attendants needed more money than others. Maybe it was an upcoming bill or to go to some party in the evening.

Those days you came in with a certain type of energy.

The energy of the hustler.

Boom. A bigger smile. A more enthusiastic greeting.

There were many little actions that could be embellished. An extra loud grunt to give the perception that the umbrella was way heavier then expected. Maybe it was a water pitcher with lemons, oranges, limes, extra cups and extra ice. Maybe it was taking the time to learn their entire life history.

The hustle gene was born inside of me and has persisted ever since.

6. Do what you hate first

The job required tons of physical effort. Most of my team members at the time would hate closing the beach.

Moving all of the chairs back into hiding. All umbrellas back into storage. Picking up all the trash.

This was the best time for the slackers to purposefully ‘disappear’ to the bathroom or immediately start picking up the plastic tables (lightest and easiest workload).

Not me.

I quickly learned that the only way to leave out on time was to do what I hated, first.

That meant doing the most difficult and physically draining work.

Once it was done, there was always an immediate relief.

The rest was easy! Call it eat the frog, but the principle has been applied to my every single day routine with remarkable effects.

7. Add meaning to the mundane

When I was promoted to manager, I had a lot more to be responsible for.

I spent every day off reading leadership books and applying it immediately once I came back to work.

There was one action that I just couldn’t find a way to motivate and inspire my team members.

Cleaning the bird shit off the cushions.

Multiple times a day, these seagulls would commit target practice defecating all over the place.

Being the manager at this luxury hotel, our team had the privilege of cleaning this.

No-one willingly would want this part, and I tried everything. We would pick two new people every day so it was a rotation. I would join them in cleaning it. There was rewards such as going to lunch first etc, etc.

Nothing stuck until I learned how to truly inspire people.

During this time of devouring leadership books, I was reading the Steve Jobs biography (highly recommended). Steve had a habit of going on walking meetings with his team.

I decided to apply this and ended up walking all of my team members to the locker room (five minute walk) to talk about their day, what went well etc.

As I started to get closer to each individual, they would talk to me about their dreams and future career goals (no-one wants to be a beach attendant for the rest of their life).

A month into this process, the idea hit me.

I began to connect all the small ‘bullshit’ things we had to do every day to the grand picture.

Cleaning bird shit was no longer cleaning bird shit. It was building your attention to detail to help you become a better CEO.

Every small action was connected to their future vision. This changed everyone's relationship with cleaning bird shit, that even surprised the seagulls themselves.

8. Creating alliances

If someone is young and in a very high position in a company. This usually means that they had help.

I’m not saying that they don’t deserve the job, I’m saying that they actively sought out alliances to help propel them to their current status.

During my tenure as beach attendant → manager in multiple hotels I created alliances with other ambitious hard working people.

No matter how good I became at my job, without these friendships I wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to receive the opportunities I had.

9. How to separate yourself from the pack

Being a beach attendant doesn’t require talent. It required hard work and attention to detail.

Everyone could do the bare requirements for this job, so the only way to seperate myself from everyone else was two things:

  1. Consistency
  2. The ‘extra’

The majority of everyone that I worked with just did the bare minimum. I would always go a little extra, every single time.

My name became synonymous for ‘job well done’ and you could count on me for holding it down no matter what.

Managers and future directors after I got promoted loved this about me. It made THEIR job easier. They didn’t have to worry about the quality of my work.

I learned that doing more than the bare minimum and being consistent (in every part of my life) has lasting benefits.

10. Be honest

Everyone fucks up.

Everyone makes a mistake.

Sometimes that mistake get’s people fired.

I witnessed many people get fired for mistakes, but every now and then there was this rare person even if they knew that telling the truth would get them fired, would fess up.

Many times that ability to be honest actually kept them in the job, brought more honor to themselves and had the entire company respect them even more.

Being honest when it’s the hardest is so crucial. It might have some short term pain, but there is always long term gain.

11. Make it happen

One of the most valuable mindsets I learned was that of ‘make it happen’.

Just make it happen no matter what.

I would become a master technician. An expert builder.

WHATEVER was needed in order to make it happen. If a guest needed a table and we were out, I would run to another hotel and take their table and tip someone and run back.

When you have this type of mindset of making it happen no matter what. You stop looking for why you can’t do something and find ways you can.

12. Consistency is key

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” — Dwayne Johnson

Many of my team members would excell one day, then take the next day off. Some would do great work for a week then have a bad week. I saw it all.

I contrasted this behavior with the most successful people in the company in realized immediately that the people that are making the most money, having the greatest impact where showing up powerfully every single day.

Consistency is key.

13. You are only as good as your weakest link

Another one of my key lessons while reading Steve Job’s biography was the idea of working with A-players.

When I first got promoted to assistant manager, a lot of team members didn’t like me (if not most) because I was determined to only work with A players.

Many people quit, but the people that stayed ended up loving it because being an A-player surrounded by A-players is a rare opportunity.

14. World vs. the American attitude

The company I worked with and numerous hotels were using the J1 Visa (hiring people from Bali/Slovakia and other countries) to come for a summer internship.

I was truly blessed to meet some of the most inspiring, hardest working people I have ever been around in my life.

These people worked tirelessly, were grateful and just a joy to be around. I realized that a lot of people that were born in America didn’t have the same work ethic and hustle as immigrants.

Rudi, Putu, Widi, Stanley, Svetlana, Simona, Odik, and me.

15. Whatever problem you are dealing with is funny a couple years from now

When I was being about to be sued by the millionaire from #3, I couldn’t think of anything else.

Many times in my career there was a huge problem and I couldn’t get my mind off of it. It consumed me and caused a lot of stress.

In hindsight I realize now that everything will pass. I am bigger than my problems and so are you.

16.Hiring friends rarely works

Hiring friends rarely works, when it does it really does.

However, if you take your career or job seriously. Hiring friends is risk.

I witnessed first hand how it ruins friendships and forces people to make extremely tough decisions.

Would you fire your best friend?

17. Perception is reality

I remember having a team member who just worked extremely hard.

This was one of the busiest days of the year and this man came in early, chose to do the hardest workout of all the tasks. Spent extra time on the opening process instead of just focusing on money. Offered to go to lunch last. You name it, but he was just the MVP by a mile.

Half way into his shift, his watch broke so he went inside the poolside restaurant (employee section) and checked his phone for half a moment to see the time. Just as he took out the phone, the GM at the time walked by and noticed it.

Perception is reality. The GM doesn’t know what actually happened. He percieved something and that is the reality for him until proven otherwise.

One of my greatest lessons was witnessing this.

18. Looks matter

Time and time again I witnessed ‘attractive’ people get promotions, and more opportunities.

Yeah. It’s true.

And we can complain about how it’s not fair yada yada yada but that won’t solve anything.

The only thing that everyone MUST do is to utilize the halo effect.

Wearing fitting clean clothes. Putting on a suit, dress shirt. Nice shoes. A fresh haircut. A trimmed and styled beard.

All of this gives you the power and opportunities that others won’t have.

19. Don’t fuck your employees

It’s so simple.

There are so many women out there. And for you women, there are more than enough men.

I saw countless managers fuck their employees and get fired, suspended or just ruin their future career growth.

It’s not worth it.

I know, especially if you are in a position of power, it’s so easy to do it. Don’t!

20. Storytelling

When I was first promoted, we would hold a 10 minute morning meeting discussing the occupancy, VIP guests etc.

I realized the power of storytelling during this time.

Instead of me telling a team member to make more sales.

I would tell someone the story of Colonel Sander and how he got rejected 1009 times before the 1010th gave him a chance to create the empire it is today.

Storytelling are immensely more persuasive than just speaking plainly.

21. How to instantly connect

As a proud introvert, it was extremely tough for a couple months.

Every single day having to greet and talk to hundreds of people. Coming home drained and dreading the fact that I would have to do it all over again tomorrow.

It took me thousands of conversations, but revealed one of my greatest gifts:

The ability to connect with anyone.

22. Be high status

While studying all the millionaires, entrepreneurs, celebrities I had first hand experience on what being high status looks like.

It’s no mistake that people in positions of power are high status.

It’s not some random error.

It’s absolutely CRUCIAL for you to study and learn to be as high status as possible so you will make more money, have better relationships and the best career opportunities.

Read here to learn 39 ways to be higher status.

23. My love of training

I thought it was my purpose to be a leader.

I was devouring every single book I could on the topic and loving that I had an opportunity to apply my knowledge the very next day.

After two years of management I realized that it wasn’t the leadership.

It wasn’t being a manager.

It wasn’t the power.

It was coaching and training people. Helping others become all they can possibly be.

It’s why I quit hospitality and now coach professional athletes, entrepreneurs and introverted men.

I would never have had that realization if it wasn’t for hospitality.

In Conclusion…

I am truly blessed to have met incredible friends, mentors and brothers for life.

I have hundreds of other lessons and stories from my days as a beach boy all the way to part of the management team of 50 people.

The intention was to inspire you to look at your past or your current job,and be grateful for all the lessons of what to do and what not to do it’s giving you.

Write a comment telling me what are some of your favorite takeaways.


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Daniel Karan is an expert at helping clients develop the courage required to live extraordinary lives. He is the founder of the Bold Wolves Project for High-Performing Introverts. His main disciplines have been a cocktail of personality, social and behavioral psychology. His big picture is to inspire 100,000 humans to sing their song…loudly.