Mr. George Dfouni began his career when he left his native Lebanon to resume his studies in England, where he earned a master’s degree in hotel management and catering. Fluent in English, French, Arabic, and Italian, Mr. Dfouni joined the Sheraton Corporation.
As Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Dfouni oversaw all aspects of Amsterdam Hospitality Group, which consisted of eleven existing boutique hotels, two residential properties in New York City, one residential property in Miami, and one commercial property in Tampa, Fl.
In this position, Mr. Dfouni was involved in every step of the design and construction process of all properties, staff development, service programs, and operations.
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Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
My name is George Dfouni, I discovered my passion for hotels as a child when I frequently accompanied my mother on trips to Europe and the Middle East. It was soon thereafter that I realized that I would have a lifelong career in the hospitality industry doing what I enjoy most- catering to the needs of the discerning traveler.
I began my career when I left Lebanon to study in London., I earned a master’s degree in hotel management and catering. Fluent in English, French, Arabic, and Italian.
After an extensive career in hospitality, in 2015 I decided to form my own hospitality and real estate consulting and management firm. On another note, in 2009, I decided to take my hobby as a singer and turn it into a professional hobby.
My passion for music has always been there. I produced 73 songs, many of which were hits in the Middle East. I produced 11 music videos and directed most of them myself. Every song of mine has a personal message behind it. In 2018 I wrote and published a memoir. Hard Lessons.
Where did the idea for Independent Hospitality Group come from?
Independent Hospitality Group, the name speaks for itself. The idea behind this is that I cater to independent hotel owners or real estate developers.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in your life?
Oh, that’s interesting, I made numerous tough decisions in my personal life, but on a professional level, one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make was choosing between two strong team members for a promotion.
I personally liked one person better than the other, but I had to pick the person I liked less because they were more qualified to succeed in the new role.
In a situation like this, I try to ensure that the person who I don’t choose gets the training or help they need in order to one day move forward.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
Plan for the future and never take things for granted. Make sure you budget for everything in life. Whether it’s personal or professional. Learn excel and use it. It will be your best friend forever.
What is one piece of advice you still remember that has practically changed your life?
A very good friend once told me that I trust people too easily and I really should not. He was right. I have been credulous at times, and this has backfired on me in a very bad way.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
Well, that’s a loaded question, and I would need hours to answer it. In the short version, I wish I could go back to 1996 and hit stop.
I should have gone with my gut feeling and I did not. It was a very costly mistake. To learn more simply pick up my memoir and read all about it.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
On top of my game again. I have accomplished so many things in my life. There were many ups and downs, but I am not done yet.
Build my consulting and management company and bring it to a new level or simply join a team, teach them, learn from them and help them reach their goals. The sky is the limit.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Well besides Hard Lessons, I recommend reading memoirs and autobiographies in general.
I prefer nonfiction books and picking one is really tough, but one book I highly recommend your readers to pick up is Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
Does George Dfouni see himself as a successful Hotelier and Real Estate executive or as a famous Lebanese American artist?
Well, I view myself as both, this is where my slogan comes from, The Art of Balancing Profession and Passion. Both fields require you to be a people person. Hotels and Real Estate are in my blood. I am so in touch with those industries, it comes so naturally to me.
It’s my livelihood. I am an extremely motivated and result-driven person and I know how to make a business successful on the other hand Music is my passion, I have no professional experience in it, it started as a hobby and I was successful at it and today I treat it as a professional hobby.
All proceeds from my music career go to charity. I use my music to get the message out. My success in both fields should be credited to the great team and the people around me.
You seem to shy away from discussing the legal situation you faced back in 2018, what’s the reason?
It’s really not a matter of shying away from it, I wrote a book on it, but the entire ordeal was so negative I chose to keep any negativity away from me. In summary, I trusted the wrong people.
It was a horrible judgment call on my part. I owned up to it. I paid the price, learned from it, and moved on.
From a legal point of view If you look up the information about guilty pleas, you will find that a very large percentage of people that plead guilty will sign anything to get away from dealing with the costs both monetary, emotional, and physical that are involved with not pleading guilty.
Most people plead guilty because they cannot afford the costs of fighting the claims, investigations, indictments, threats, or whatever they are facing. I will leave it up to your readers to read between the lines.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
First and foremost, get to know who you really are. Don’t allow your insecurities to get the best of you. Surround yourself with people that can nourish your knowledge.
Look up and study successful people, you can learn from their mistakes. Remain focused and true to yourself and finally be tech-savvy.
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