Editor's Note: Around the Water Cooler is an ongoing series in which U.S. News talks with company executives to get their career advice for employees and managers.
Ask Royal Caribbean International CEO Adam Goldstein for travel recommendations, and he won't stop talking about the scenic coast of Istanbul, friendly people in Sydney or exotic nature of the Galápagos. While he says China is more of an acquired taste, Hong Kong is worth a visit to "experience where the energy of the world is."
"Having said all that, I try to go to Maine as much as possible … I don't think there's anything like it," he says.
The world (and United States) traveler can rattle off sights to see, but the leader of 35,000 employees and a $7 billion company can also spew decades worth of career advice. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Goldstein joined Royal Caribbean in 1988 and cruised steadily to the top of the company. After holding titles ranging from senior vice president of total guest satisfaction to vice president of marketing, he was named Royal Caribbean president in 2005 and earned the top job as CEO two years later.
As president and CEO, Goldstein, 53, oversees the sales, marketing and operations for Royal Caribbean's fleet of 21, going on 25, ships across the globe. While he resides in Miami with his wife and two kids, on any given day, he may be in Shanghai or Australia, meeting with travel agents, government representatives or his crew of employees.
Despite feeling a little jet lag from a trip to Asia, Goldstein spoke to U.S. News to share his thoughts on how managers should handle crisis situations (think on the scale of cruiseships being stranded at sea) and when it's not a great idea to include "Finnish speaking skills" on a résumé. His responses have been edited.
If you took a foreign language in college, but can't speak it fluently, should you put it on your résumé?
I like it when people distinguish their level of fluency. We look at a lot of résumés that are globally oriented, so it's not unusual to see something like "native tongue German," "business fluent English," "working knowledge Spanish, French." And I appreciate the honesty because if somebody says "working knowledge," I'm not thinking that I'm going to throw them into a business situation where we're expecting them to speak fluent French – just as I know French, but I would not be comfortable to do business exclusively in French. So I wouldn't hide it. I just would be careful to give the proper guidance of your capability. If you know a few words, like I can count to three in Finnish – yksi, kaksi, kolme – and that is the total extent of my knowledge of Finnish, I wouldn't put that on a résumé.
What is the best way for an employee to stand out if he or she works somewhere with hundreds or thousands of employees?
You need to be confident and assertive in how you speak and present yourselves to peers and supervisors. You need to motivate people to want to help you. What I try to tell people in different parts of the company is every single person that you're going to deal with has more to do than they have time with which to do it. Every single person without exception is rationing their time somehow, consciously or subconsciously, and you want to be the person with which they give their time and attention to. You need to build relationships that will pay off in the moments that count. You can't wait until there's a moment that counts to start to build a relationship. It's too late by then.
For employees who are away from their families for a long period of time because of work, do you have any tips for avoiding homesickness?
Obviously with email today, and everybody having a cellphone at all times and with texting, there are a lot more ways to keep in touch than when I was traveling like a mad person in the 1990s. So the ability to interact is at such an advanced level today compared to what we knew in the past. It's really not that hard. I mean, you do have to be careful. Even with a lot of the of modern technology that we have it still gets very expensive, very fast if you're constantly texting or constantly calling. I just finished eight days in Australia, Hong Kong and China, and I was able to keep in touch with my family at some level once or twice a day. It's not like when I used to go to Asia in the early '90s, and I tell ya, there wasn't a lot of interaction.