Hospitality Financial Leadership - Neil Young

Neil is a Canadian and so am I. His music and persona have always appealed to me. I have lots of his music, have seen him in concert, have read his autobiography and enjoy his occasional rants with the media on the environment.

While living in San Francisco a few years ago, my brother Chris came to visit. He had just been nicely released from his job at a large hotel brand, so he was staying for a week!

One of the things he said almost immediately, “We need to go visit Neil Young’s ranch.” I had heard that Neil had a ranch around San Francisco. He has written songs about it including “Old Man,” and he talked about it in his book as well. Chris, not long after arrival, showed me on his IPad exactly where— according to Google Earth—Neil lived. Well, my brother is a bit of dog with a bone once he gets his mind set on something. It was not very long until were bombing around the Santa Cruz Mountains looking for Neil Young’s ranch.

We found it. It is an amazing piece of land and the drive down the county road to his property and gate are well worth the search. It is like stepping into a different world and it is 20 miles from San Francisco – amazing. Once we arrived at the gate we got out to take some pictures and all of a sudden the gate started to open! Thirty seconds later a very nice 1960s Ford truck pulls through the gate with two “older gentlemen” in the cab wearing sunglasses, longish hair and ball caps! Could this be Neil Young?

Well, they pulled through the gate and kept on truckin’ right up the hill and out of sight. Chris still insists we saw Neil Young, me, I am not so sure. I think it was a couple of Neil’s friends or ranch workers heading home. Either way – we had fun finding the place and our chance encounter.

Neil Young’s Ranch Gate

Now I was bitten by the Neil Young bug. The drive to his place was a great escape and I would often take friends who were visiting on the drive to Neil’s ranch. My wife said I was stalking Neil which was kind of true based on the number of trips I made.

On the 10th or 11th trip something incredible happened. I literally ran into Neil Young. I was at the bottom of the hill at the gate this time and like the several times before no Neil Young. My friend Andy was with me and he was quite taken by the drive and the splendid scenery and the possible chance to meet Neil Young. Well, it was not going to happen today. We got back in the car and headed up the hill. We turned the first corner and coming straight at us on the incredibly narrow road was a massive 1955ish Bel Air. Both cars had to stop and back up, pull sharply to the shoulder and then we proceeded to pass each other. So, who do you think was driving that car…? It was none other than Neil himself. We stopped window to window and exchanged some pleasantries.

The point of this story is we can have what we want in life if we stay in action. It was a bit of a game for me, just fun and a nice drive, but it proved something to me. We get what we go after in life. In your leadership, you are going to need to work to get what you want to create. It will not happen the first time, it will take persistence. Be prepared to fail and fail again until you meet your Neil Young.

That’s how it works, there is no other way.

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