01 Sep CRUISE CAREER COACH: INTERVIEW WITH VP OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, PHILIP STEIN – MIGUEL MARTINEZ
He may only be 36 years old and yet he’s already snagged a job as vice president of business development with Philip Stein, a designer and manufacturer of watches and accessories.
Miguel Martinez credits his years onboard cruise ships—with Onboard Media up until earlier this year—that led him to where he is today. As a shopping host onboard a cruise ship, working very intense 24- and 48-hour cycles, he became a top-performing sales representative.
While Philip Stein has an office in Switzerland, Martinez controls domestic and Caribbean business from its Miami office. In some ways it mirrors the autonomy he experienced as a shopping host. “Our job simply was to generate interest in shopping and exploration but we were very independent,” he says. “In one year I became one of the best in the world (in sales revenue). I was very fortunate to have some pre-existing skill sets—my ability to connect with people proved a valuable asset.”
You began your cruise industry career as a Shopping Host onboard cruise ships. Can you describe why a strong work ethic was required in order to excel in that role?
It’s not like your typical 9-to-5 job. It is 24 hours a day. If you don’t do your job, you lose millions of dollars in revenue. Your work ethic is all that’s going to stand in the way when you miss family and the holidays.
You can’t be there 50 percent. You have to be there 100 percent. When those 12 hours (in port) are over, we get back on the ship, shower and change into our uniforms. If you’re not very committed and strategic you will not survive. It will become too overwhelming to you. As shopping hosts, we never really have a day off. We worked as an ambassador and the person passengers go to for guidance, even when the ship docks in port. We’re required to be in the port so when the guest needs help purchasing a diamond, watch or other interests, we can be available. We know the prices. We are the experts. Passengers love that.
Relationships die on ships. But relationships are also formed on ships. If you do not have a strong work ethic, you either develop one or find the experience is not for you.
How would you define your personal work ethic?
It can be a gift or a curse: I’m an overachiever. I believe you can never push yourself enough. If you are not consistently setting a new goal, how can you become a better you? I personally challenged myself to be the next best Miguel.
The moment that I super exceed a goal, I immediately begin to dissect what I did to achieve that goal and to figure out what I did not do. I’ve been with Philip Stein since March and I’m already trying to figure out what’s necessary to achieve the next level. Whether that’s President, CEO or an opportunity undiscovered, I’m not sure. There’s a great saying I live by, “if your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.”
How important is discipline and teamwork when building a personal work ethic?
Many people who I’ve been mentored by in this business have said to be careful of the strategic-revenue groups on board. This is wrong. I believe that if we embrace each other the guest spends more. I connected with the shop managers, the cruise director, and all these moving parts that are part of the larger picture. I created this amazing teamwork environment on board. Onboard revenue increased as a result. When Princess Cruises asked how I achieved this, rather than be selfish, I was selfless. I created a video and allowed the people that I worked with to speak from their perspectives, and to share their unique experiences of how working together was better for us all.
If we all focus on the guests and don’t be so competitive with each other, but more or less competitive with ourselves, we’ll all be very successful.
What drives you to succeed in your business and personal ambitions?
Now that I’m a father of two, I can’t just say ‘Miguel, the decisions you make only affect you.” My father said, ‘Every decision you make should be in the best interests of your great-grandchildren.’ You’re thinking 20 years down the line. What drives me to be great is that it’s a challenge to do that in this day. We have so many distractions. You have to work aggressively toward a better you. Within three years, I worked on a cruise ship, rose up in the ranks, built the right relationships, did right by the people I worked for and besides, generated millions of dollars and used that experience to move further into the position I hold today. I’m very proud of that.
When faced with challenges in your day-to-day work, what steps do you take to resolve those challenges and turn them into positive outcomes?
I would rather invest my energy into thinking about the challenge and finding a solution, versus thinking about the challenge and indulging in the challenge and being frustrated. Most people in my business are very frustrated and say to me on a regular basis, ‘What do you take to seem so calm?’ Many years ago, my father and I had a conversation. He said, ‘Listen, Miguel, I noticed you used the word ‘um’ 13 times in your interview. You should slow down, think about what you want to say, and then speak.’ In business I’ve always used that wisdom.
In my current job, I deal with the CEO’s, the CFOs, the lawyers and distributors, you name it. I’m consistently developing the business and searching for the invisible door. One of the keys is to always maintain control. When you lose control you get flustered, and when you get flustered you make emotional decisions. I’m a chess player in real life. I think of the moves with an abstract view, not the next move, but many moves ahead.
As Vice President of Business Development for Philip Stein, your most recent professional accomplishment was securing a contract to be the official luxury timepiece of the New York Yankees What factors from your personal work ethic contributed to the success of that deal?
I don’t usually take no for an answer. I was assertive—but also understanding and respectful in my approach. I used my ability to be very honest and throw business protocol off the table and to just be a human being. Many are not prepared for that angle. It’s refreshing. There are many brands out there and this partnership was a surprise to many. Nonetheless, never underestimate the underdog.
The true success of this deal is not so much about me, but a true testament to the belief that Will and Rina Stein exhibited in me. It can be difficult to allow someone to make decisions and run a business on your behalf when you’ve spent so many years nursing it into what it has become. However, sometimes that can be rewarding. In this case, it proved just that for us.