There are many books, articles, and references available in the field of entrepreneurship that offer advice from “professionals” who have successfully made their way. Many of these books recommend that young entrepreneurs gain experience before setting up a business. Others will tell the new businessman to remain in control and keep his “personal self” separate from his “business self.” Chip Conley is an award-winning entrepreneur who discarded the rules book and created his own books. Conley founded “Joie de Vivre,” or Joy of Life. He is well-known for his unconventional ways of doing business…and life. He started his hotel chain at 26 against the advice of those closest to him. It exploded quickly into a $350-million business.
Chip Conley’s Rebellious Side on Social Media
CBS’s 2009 story reveals how rebellious Chip Conley can be. Conley, the CEO of a large company, attended a one-week festival called “The Burning Man,” where anyone could participate. Conley had been the CEO of a large company for 22 years, and Joie de Vivre was still growing. Conley was able to remain himself, despite having a PR team that was there to manage his social image. However, he refused to put on an “image” for the public. His Twitter and Facebook accounts were also a reflection of him, as he shared bits of himself and let the world see Chip.
Chip posted photos of himself after attending the festival on his Facebook page. The photos showed Chip in different types of clothing, including a tutu. Chip told CBS that despite Chip’s PR team having put up a photo of him wearing a blazer for his Facebook profile photo, and he changed it to show him at the festival in a shirtless photo. Chip’s younger staff made some complaints about the image and others taken at the festival. Chip’s younger staff members had always looked up to him and were shocked to see images of the CEO. Chip was able to understand their concern, but he refused the photos down and maintained that his business was not in danger. These stories are likely to have contributed to Chip’s books “The Rebel Rules” and “Dancing to Be Yourself in Business.” Chip is also the author of “Of PEAK”: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow,” “Emotional Equations, Simple Truths for Creating Happiness and Success,” and “Marketing that Matters: 10 Practices To Profit Your Business and Change The World.”
From Seedy Motel to $350M Chain of Hotels
Chip Conley, 26, was a fresh graduate of Stanford in 1987 with an MBA and no previous experience in the hospitality business. Despite being advised against it by many, Chip decided to purchase the seedy Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco. Although the location was terrible, Chip had no money and no experience. However, Chip managed to obtain $1M to buy it. He transformed the space into a restaurant/hotel that attracted stars like Johnny Depp and Nirvana. Chip opened the restaurant as “Miss Pearl’s Jam House” and promised free massages for tour managers.
Chip took his idea and purchased many other low-budget motels in order to transform them into luxury spas and hotels. Each location was unique and could cater to many lifestyles, including luxury camping, romance novels, men’s health, and luxury camping. Soon, the chain was worth $350M, and 3000 employees were employed. Conley was appointed Strategic Adviser after the chain merged in 2010 with Thompson Hotels. Conley still holds an equity share in the company. He received the highest award for American hospitality, the ISHC Pioneer Award. In addition, he was named “Most Innovative Chief Executive Officer” by ‘The San Francisco Business Times.” His charities have raised millions of dollars for the inner-city children in the same neighborhood where he opened his first restaurant.
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