How a Little Rose Built a Billion Dollar Empire, and the Secret to Successful Gift Giving From Conrad Hilton

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I am reading, “Be My Guest,” Conrad Hilton’s autobiograhy, and it is brilliant. I literally have dozens of pages folded over and saved and I am not even half way through… Here is one golden nugget that could very well have been the secret to his success building a Massive Hotel Empire.

During Conrad’s early hotel success (he was making $6000 a month from his share in 3 hotels he owned with partners and investors, he bought a very flashy diamond Brooch for his very conservative Mother and gave it to her when he went to visit her. Upon receiving the gift, she stormed out of the room crying.

Determined to find out if his mother was crying out of happiness or sadness, he asked her if she liked the gift, her response was brilliant, insightful and riveting. She said, “Connie, I Like It… Better than anything that has ever happened to me. I’ll always cherish it. I MAY NOT WEAR IT THOUGH CONNIE. It’s a little…well, outstanding, for a women of my age.

In Conrad’s words, ” There it was. She cherished it for twenty-six years. And never wore it once. And it didn’t take me long to figure out what she meant…

The Thought Was RIGHT. She Cherished That. The Gift Was WRONG. I had picked something that pleased me… and not something to please HER!”

It must have cost her a lot to tell me the truth and I was hurt, but I’ve been grateful since, because I’ve always liked giving gifts and she set me straight on it in the Beginning.

From That Time On, I began Collecting and Storing Away little preferences which would make me a better Gift-Giver, both personally and professionally.

It is not sound procedure to send baskets of fruits to friends and colleagues who are allergic, or a bottle of scotch to someone in AA.”

Conrad Continues, ” I know that when the late and wondrous Gertrude Lawrence was a guest at our Los Angeles Hotel some years later, I was tickled that I had overhead her at a theatrical party tell a friend that the tiny white roses in her corsage were her favorite flower. And that gift, Thoughtful rather than expensive, made such a warm impression on her that she recommended that same hotel to her close friend Noel Coward. I knew he was interested in the bizarre plants from tropical countries. So we put a living, odd type, green and brown orchid tree in his sitting room during his stay.”

Such Brilliant Words and Insight… As we approach the holiday season especially, but really for any time, Collecting and Storing away little preferences about your friends, family and colleagues will go a very long way, and as Conrad demonstrated will drive referrals and that careful thoughtfulness may very well be the secret to building the Hilton Empire, especially in an industry like Hospitality.

Personally, I know both as a married man, and an entrepreneur that a little extra effort paying attention to the little preferences of others, will go a very long way in giving meaningful gifts, that are, “Pleasing to the receiver, not to you.”

On a side note, My own mother has a magnet on her fridge that proudly proclaims, “May We Be Quick to Remember the Gifts of Others, and Quick To Forget the Gifts we give to others.”

Ultimately, people want to connect, they want to be appreciated, and they want to feel important. Just keeping your eyes open and paying attention, with a sprinkle of thoughtfulness about the small things that matter to your clients, customers, friends, and family, and soon enough you might be the Next Hilton Empire.



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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.


  1. […] For example, I met a very interesting fellow today at Authority Intensive 2014 who is a management consultant for hotels and the hospitality industry. Conrad Hilton’s book, “Be My Guest” is the perfect book for him to read. Here is my biggest takeaway from the brilliant journey of Conrad Hilton. […]

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