Managing not to Conform

Managing not to Conform Joe Ho General Manager of the Grand Millenium Beijing 1 of 12

Think “Hotel General Manager” and the image of Joe Ho probably won’t come to mind. In Beijing, most general managers of international brand five star hotels are plump European men invariably wearing a boring black suit and sometimes even square toed loafers. The more stylish ones might don an Hermès tie, gifted by the wife. Most surprisingly, Joe is the GM of the Grand Millennium Fortune Plaza Apartments rather than the chicest boutique hotel in town.

Joe Ho,日文名须古家航,中文名何家航,现任北京财富中心千禧公寓总经理,中日混血,早年在美国成长,从事酒店业工作30多年,非常喜好时尚,有设计师般敏锐的流行感知。

Joe Ho is not only Beijing’s most fashionable hotel GM: he might even be the most stylish man over forty in town – not that there is much competition in that age bracket. Half-Japanese, half-Chinese, Joe was born in Japan and grew up in the States. He has been in the hotel industry for over thirty years and in China for nearly ten. Quite the creative himself, he has designed new uniforms, stationary, and menus for his property. This is just the beginning. I chatted with Joe a bit recently.

NF: Why do you dress so differently from other general managers? What does your style represent? How does this make your hotel different from theirs?
JH: For one thing, I am really into fashion. Beyond that, when I work I am fully in work mode, but when I get off I like to take off the mask and be myself without any pretenses or airs. I suppose the fact that I come from a mixed background also makes me more welcoming to a variety of influences. In general I tend to reject routine and focus on the human side of work. My management style is also very individualized.

NF: Is the hotel industry stylish enough? What about the design of hotels?
JH: Oh, not really. It is a very traditional industry from the international brands on down to local companies, everything is a bit unimaginative. Perhaps just recently some boutique hotels have started to be more innovative.

NF: From what age did you start being a clothes horse?
JH: I was into clothes from the very earliest years when I was growing up in Japan. At three, I had my first full cowboy outfit. My mother actually had a big impact on my aesthetic sense.

Managing not to Conform Joe Ho General Manager of the Grand Millenium Beijing 1 of 111

NF: How have your wives and girlfriends reacted to your intense interest in fashion?
JH: They say that they have never met a man with so much clothing. I think they envy me (laughter).

NF: What sort of design do you enjoy? Where does your inspiration come from?
JH: I enjoy designing all sorts of things though the starting point is graphic design. I have created everything from umbrellas, to print ads, employee uniforms, souvenirs. I just get inspiration from walking around the city.

NF: U.S. and Chinese men – who is worse dressed? I know Japanese men must be the best.
JH: Americans are pretty good at casual but they can rarely manage to look elegant; generally Chinese men need to work on all areas; and comparatively – you’re right – Japanese men do look better most of the time.

NF: Any style advice for Beijing man?
JH: Expose yourself to more styles, learn more about how to dress and focus on color matching.

NF: Alright, just to conclude, we would like to know where in the city a stylish guy like goes to shop, eat, drink, etc.?
JH: Well, for clothing I must confess that I sometimes use Taobao, but for accessories (watches, shoes, bag), you have to go to the big brand names stores. As for restaurants, I’m very keen on spicy food like at Feiteng Yuxiang. For Japanese, I like Tori Tei. I also like Maison Boulud for Western food and 1949 for a drink.

NF: Alright, well, I hope to come by the Grand Millennium some time in the near future to try one of those extra-smooth Sakes you have.

Managing not to Conform Joe Ho General Manager of the Grand Millenium Beijing 1 of 1 21

NF: 为什么你穿得跟其它的酒店总经理不一样?你认为这个代表什么?这个让你自己的酒店跟他们的有区别吗?
JH: 个人对时尚的爱好与坚持,上班是GM,下班是时尚达人,不想以工作模式延续至下班,生活中要有自己的个性。融入普通人的生活,没有面具,没有架子,随行,做真实的自己;还可能因为我是混血,受诸国文化的影响,所以对时尚的包容性很强。
NF: 酒店行业足够时尚吗?酒店的设计足够吸引人吗?
JH: 不够,是个传统的行业,从国际品牌到本地企业都较为死板。只有部分精品酒店现在刚刚起步,酒店设计还有很大的发展空间。
NF: 你从几岁开始喜欢买衣服/穿得比较特别?
JH: 从小在日本的时候父母就很注重我的穿着,3岁的时候我就有自己的全套西部牛仔装扮。母亲对我审美的影响很大。
NF: 你得妻子和以前的女朋友对你比她们更注重穿有什么反应?
JH: 说我是她们见过的衣服最多的异性,嫉妒又羡慕,哈哈哈
NF: 你也喜欢设计 – 你喜欢设计什么东西?你的灵感从哪里来?
JH: 平面设计,包括雨伞,平面广告,员工制服,纪念品等等应该是种天赋,加上来自生活中的点滴,很多时候看到某个东西,就会联想到很多,大家都说我的思维异常跳跃。
NF: 美国和中国男人 – 哪个穿得更糟糕?日本男人穿得更好吧?
JH: 美国人在休闲方面打扮的比较好,但是很难呈现高雅的风格;普遍中国男性在穿着方面都需要很大程度上的开发;相较而言,日本男人比较全面。
NF: 在穿着方面有没有什么建议想给北京男人?
JH: 对时尚多些包容性,多看,多学,注重色彩的搭配。
NF: 你在北京最喜欢哪几个商店,餐厅,酒吧,画廊,等等?
JH: 商店:服装喜欢去小店里淘宝,但是配饰(手表、鞋、包)一定去大牌专卖店购买。餐厅:非常喜欢吃辣,鸟亭,沸腾鱼乡,前门23号(布鲁宫法餐)酒吧:1949

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