I enjoin you to be ever alert to the pitfalls of too much authority. Beware that you do not fall in the category of the little man with a little job, with a big head. In essence, be considerate, treat your subordinates right, and they will literally die for you.
—Major General Melvin Zais, U.S. Army
Pay a visit to the Concierge Lounge in the Marriott Gateway hotel adjacent to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and you will likely meet Joyce Folk, concierge. Each weekday morning, beginning at 6:30, Joyce hosts several dozen of Marriott’s most regular guests from all over the world. Many of them stumble in for their morning coffee, breakfast, and maybe a meeting in various states of alertness, dress, and grumpiness. Within seconds of entering the room, Joyce will warmly welcome you.
As a New York native, Joyce’s “good morning” doesn’t come with the Southern syrup that one might expect in Atlanta, but it’s authentic, and that’s what counts. And you don’t just meet Joyce; she meets you, and gets to know everything about you—your name, where you’re from, and as much of your story as you’re comfortable relinquishing at that time of day—pretty quickly. And one thing that’s certain is that you will never again be a stranger in her lounge. She makes it a point to connect with people, by noticing and then quietly accommodating their habits, preferences, and foibles. One of the more striking observations ...