According to the English philosopher Alan Watts “sensible people get paid for doing what they enjoy doing.” Essentially, if the goal in life is to experience as much richness and fulfillment as possible it is perfectly reasonable to seek out a way to make money that will put you on that path. However, for those who have experienced income scarcity and the hardships that accompany it, selecting a career simply because you have a passion for it seems like one of the least pragmatic things that can be done. Why would you risk everything to pursue something you love when you have the ability to achieve security in a stable career?
This was the mindset of Barry Lall’s parents, who worked hard throughout their lives to ensure he had more opportunities than they had been afforded. After emigrating from India to Africa shortly before Dr. Barry Lall was born, his father worked as an elementary school teacher and later ran a clothing store to provide for his family while his wife stayed home to raise their children, and they impressed upon Lall that a career in an established field such as medicine, law or engineering would secure his bright future. Lall eventually went on to attend university in England and then medical school in Scotland before moving to America for his medical internship, bringing his family along with him. Soon, Lall had achieved his parents’ vision of the American dream: he was a successful doctor with a family and a beautiful house overlooking the coast of California.
However, despite his achievements he often found himself feeling mentally and physically drained. He enjoyed that he was taking care of others, but felt a pull toward entrepreneurship that had been within him since helping his father with his clothing shop as a teenager. This pull was only heightened when he moved to America, where he became energized with the culture of opportunity that had never existed where he was raised. The idea that he could even study business in school had never crossed his mind, and from the moment he stepped off of the plane into the country for the first time, a seed was planted for his own American dream: to own and operate his own business.
Dr. Barry Lall has said that while he has big dreams, he would not call himself a dreamer – rather than gaze off wistfully and wish he takes decisive action to make things happen. It is said that the American dream cannot be achieved without risk-taking and sacrifice, and with deciding that he wanted to leave medicine and pursue entrepreneurship Lall also accepted the inevitably of the two. He soon secured a loan and purchased his first property, a dilapidated 12-room motor lodge that was priced to sell but in need of serious upgrades and repair. Lall went from working in a hospital to scrubbing toilets and making beds, a complete fish out of water but happier than he had ever been as he was finally working toward achieving his dream.
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Although his parents and family were initially wary about his decision to leave his comfortable career in medicine to purchase and run hotels, upon realizing how passionately Lall was about fulfilling his dream they soon came around to backing him fully. Thanks to their support, he was able to quickly flip the run-down motel into a successful business and used this to fund new opportunities, forming a hotel company with two of his friends in which each focused on purchasing distressed hotels in different regions. Although it was this career move that eventually aided him in forming his own hotel company, it wasn’t without sacrifices as he moved his family from their beautiful home along the beach to three small hotel rooms in a recently purchased hotel in Tucson so that he could devote himself entirely to managing the property and ensuring it’s financial success. Today, Lall’s business Pinnacle Hotels USA manages nine properties under sevennational brands, totaling nearly 1,800 keys and employing over 650 people.
When asked what habit has made him more productive as an entrepreneur, Lall has said that time management has unequivocally been one of the most important skills he has relied on to succeed. Leading an organization that you built from the ground up often means that your attention will constantly be needed across a wide number of areas, but according to Lall you cannot let this pull your focus in a million different directions as a result. Although Lall believes that the ability to multitask is vital, he says one needs to beextremely disciplined with time management, opportunity management and resource allocation, but you also need to learn to say no and understand where your business should be focused. Although in earlier iterations of Dr.Lall’s business he sought to grow the amount of properties he managed as much as possible, he soon realized that he could run a better business by honing in on fewer properties that had the highest potential for returns.
When it comes to business strategy, Lall has found that a balance between aggressive action and incremental change are key to a successful company. He subscribes to the contrarian approach to investing, using economic down cycles as an opportunity to take calculated risks rather than bunkering down and riding out the storm as many other businesses do. Lall is a staunch believer that there is no room for timidity or second-guessing in decision-making, but when it comes to long-term growth for a company taking small steps forward and then reflecting can be the most enlightening.
Above all, Dr. Barry Lall has said that the biggest factor in achieving his American dream was his refusal to compromise his values. From the beginning he was aware that as an entrepreneur his business and every hotel under it were essentially an extension of himself, and as a result should always reflect his beliefs and values. In hotel ownership, that has meant for Lall that he ensures that not only his guests are taken care of, but also those employed at the hotel and the property itself, recognizing that each is vital to the functioning and growth of the business. It is only through the balance of all three of these factors that a hotel is able to have success, whereas compromising values for a larger profit can cause an imbalance that will inevitably cause detrimental problems to the business as a whole. For Lall, no matter what form of entrepreneurship you pursue, you must discover what your values are and stick to them earnestly in order to find success.
Dr. Barry Lall may not be leading the life his parents first envisioned for him, but in forging his own path to success he was able to achieve far more than ever was even conceivable while practicing medicine. If sensible people get paid to do what they enjoy doing, Lall is certainly one of the most practical people out there, having worked hard, taken risks and made sacrifices to achieve his own American dream.