Kai Weller has worked in the luxury Hospitality industry his whole life, starting out by running multi-award-winning Bars & Restaurants and then moving into consultancy where he has been involved in the openings of some of the top 5* Hotels and fine-dining venues in both the UK and abroad. After focusing on the hospitality recruitment sector he moved up the ranks in various well-known agencies, carving out new luxury divisions in each of them, before launching his own company FIND Talent Group in early 2021.
FIND has expanded rapidly with offices in London and Dubai focusing on the UK and the Middle East but with projects now reaching globally across the luxury hospitality industry and working in partnership with some of the biggest names in the business.
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Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Kai Weller: I developed a passion for the hospitality industry at a very young when I would spend time in my Father’s bars and restaurants as they were being built, often trying to get involved as much as possible from the age of 5.
From there I started working as a bartender in one of his venues, as soon as I was legally allowed to at 17, and was taken under the wing of the General Manager who I then went on to work with for a further 10 years across the world on various projects.
Was there somebody in your life that inspired you to take that specific journey with your business?
Kai Weller: Henry Besant was the person that really inspired me as he took me under his wing at the age of 17 and we went on, along with his business partner Dre Masso, to open a number of venues and deliver a world-class hospitality programme to hundreds of students in multiple different countries.
It was the two of them that taught me about the joy of hospitality and the ability it gives you to create unforgettable experiences for people all over the world. They both instilled in me their own passion and genuine love for what they do and it is fair to say that I definitely learned from the best!
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Kai Weller: One of the most common mistakes I see is that people will try to grow too quickly and focus on the end result, rather than looking at what makes them and their business and values unique and really stand out above the rest.
In Recruitment, in particular, there is a big focus on trying to work with as many clients as possible, often through pushy sales techniques. I choose to work well with fewer select businesses and really deliver to them instead by getting to know how they operate on a much deeper level.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Kai Weller: Resilience is absolutely key in our industry. There are so many variables involved and ultimately we are dealing with people at every level so anything can change on a minute-by-minute basis.
Remaining resilient is crucial when handling situations that you may have little control over, as is constantly evaluating your own approach and looking to consistently improve on how you operate on a daily basis.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Kai Weller: FIND stands out as we live and breathe the industry we recruit for and are true experts in our field. I have personally worked in a lot of the positions I now recruit for and have an expansive network built up over 20 years in the exact sector I now operate in. This means that the vast majority of our clients and candidates are usually known personally and not just a CV taken from a database.
We don’t have KPIs and targets to hit but instead focus on what our Client’s needs are and really get to know their businesses from the inside out, working with fewer people but in a much closer way. We eat in their restaurants, we meet in their bars and we stay in their hotels. This allows us the see the company from the inside out and get a true understanding of the culture and energy of the place rather than just what is written on a job description.
Our main focus is very simply to help exceptional businesses find exceptional people.
What do you consider are your strengths when dealing with staff workers, colleagues, senior management, and customers?
Kai Weller: I feel that my main strengths lie in bringing positive energy to any situation and being an activator for those around me. I don’t believe in telling people how they should do things but rather inspire enthusiasm in my team and then get out of their way to allow them to approach it in their own individual way.
Everyone knows themselves better than you do and often I feel bosses can enforce their own methods/ideas onto their teams which can sometimes hold them back or demotivate them. I feel there is a lot more power in letting a person figure something out for themselves and offering encouragement when it works out or more guidance when it doesn’t
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Kai Weller: Personal branding is a crucial part of letting people know exactly what you and your business stand for and can offer. I received some great advice early on working with Hishem Azzouz at Recruitment Mentors and more recently with Mick Todd at 2b Limitless.
For me, branding is more about knowing what your own strengths are and highlighting key areas where you can add real value to other people’s businesses. The most important part of this is to be truthful and honest about what your skills and values are rather than relying on buzzwords that may not resonate with you. Real people relate to real people, and it is important for me that my personality comes across more than a more formal, generic, and corporate persona.
How would you define “leadership”?
Kai Weller: Leadership is about building and developing teams that complement and challenge each other to achieve the best possible outcomes.
When hiring for FIND Talent Group I will always look at people that I don’t necessarily see as the same as me, I want people to challenge my decisions/way of thinking and also compliment me in areas that aren’t my strongest. You can’t achieve your best results if everyone is agreeing with each other and approaches everything in the same way.
The key to this is first being conscious of where your own strengths and weaknesses lie so that you can then surround yourself with the right people that will benefit from your strengths and support you in your weaknesses.
A great quote that I like to go by is ‘Great leaders are not well-rounded, but great teams are’…
What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Kai Weller: I started my business in the middle of a pandemic which was also a very challenging time for my particular sector as many businesses were closing and a large number of employees were being made redundant. At the same time, I saw this as an opportunity to reach out more and try to help others where I could and to use my time productively during a period where a lot of people had understandably started to reach out less.
This gave me an opportunity to build relationships with people at all levels across the industry and start laying the foundations for when the hospitality sector would inevitably bounce back. I spent months on the phone with people all over the world, sometimes being able to help but most of the time just listening and offering any advice I could until the sector started to open up again sometime later.
People valued this at the time and as our industry started to bounce back to life I already had these relationships in place. Starting the business at the time that I did allow me to lay the solid foundations that we have today and also allowed me to show my core values of ‘doing the right thing’ even when it doesn’t necessarily benefit you at the time.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Kai Weller: One of my favorite quotes that I implement in my day-to-day life is ‘Be prepared to let go of the good, to allow for the great’.
To me, that is really about making sure you are pushing yourself each day and not just remaining safely in your comfort zone. Just because something is going well doesn’t mean you should keep doing it the same way. I always look for different avenues to challenge myself and my thinking and strongly believe that this is crucial for growth.
Self-development is a very important factor to me and I constantly strive to surround myself with exceptional people that will encourage me to grow and challenge myself more each and every day.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Kai Weller for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Kai Weller or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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