The 4th Option Junto
#57—Horst Schulze: Insights into Creating a Winning Culture from a Leading Hotelier

#57—Horst Schulze: Insights into Creating a Winning Culture from a Leading Hotelier

A legend and leader in the hotel world, Horst Schulze's teachings and vision have reshaped the concepts of service and hospitality across industries.

Horst’s professional life began more than 65 years ago as a server's assistant in a German resort town. He has worked for both Hilton Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming one of the founding members of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in 1983, where he created the operating and service standards that have become world famous.

Horst served as President and COO, responsible for the $2 billion operations worldwide. It was under his leadership that The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company became the first service-based company to be awarded the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—twice.

In 1991, Horst was recognized as "corporate hotelier of the world" by HOTELS magazine. In 1999, Johnson & Wales University gave him an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree in Hospitality Management. Most recently, Horst was honored with the “Legacy of Innovation and Inspiration Award” by Historic Hotels of America.

Horst went on to found The Capella Hotel Group. This luxury hotel company managed some of the most elite properties worldwide, and gave Horst the opportunity to further define the luxury hotel industry, receiving countless awards and recognitions.

Today, Horst serves as Expert in Residence at Arch + Tower, a boutique, organizational strategy consulting firm, and recently completed his first book, titled Excellence Wins.

In this podcast, he shares:

  • How he built the culture behind the top rated luxury hotel chain in the world, Ritz-Carlton, and later Capella

  • Several immediately actionable practices you can put in place to directly shape and manage your organization's culture

  • Why he believes you can transform culture within just a year and the first steps to take along that path


"An overwhelming issue for me, relative to leaders of companies, is to accept your role." Accept that [your employees are] human beings that you deal with to be fulfilled in life. Human beings need to belong and need to have purpose. Why wouldn't we give them purpose that the vision or why wouldn't we do this as organization?"

-Horst Schulze


  • Episode Timeline:

    00:00—Introducing Horst + The topic of today’s episode

    2:53—If you really know me, you know that...

    3:26—What is your definition of strategy?

    6:25—How do you know if the purpose or "why" of your company is authentic?

    7:39—How do you define customer-centricity?

    11:12—How do you help every employee understand the company's intent when it comes to customers?

    14:03—Could you explain your meeting structures and mechanisms in which you share messages with your team?

    17:14—How long does it take to have a lasting culture change?

    18:20—Is there anything we missed you'd like to share?

    20:22—Where can people follow you and your work?


Additional Resources:

Personal page:

Recent book



The 4th Option Junto
The Outthinkers podcast is a growth strategy podcast hosted by Kaihan Krippendorff. Each week, Kaihan talks with forward-looking strategists and innovators that are challenging the status quo, leading the future of business, and shaping our world.