Interview: A Ken-Do Attitude and How Change Can Lead to Success

first_img“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice…” Interview By: Joanie Ogg, co-founder and Editor – Travel Professional NEWS®Interviewing: Ken Muskat,CEO – SkySea Cruise Line  While at the recent CruiseWorld event in Fort Lauderdale, Andy and I had the opportunity to sit down with Travel Industry veteran Ken Muskat, CEO of SkySea Cruise Line. I have known Ken for many years and have always thought he was one of the most amazing young men in our industry. I have to share that personally, I was excited to introduce my son, Andy Ogg to this industry leader who has just returned from nearly two years in China as CEO of SkySea Cruise Line. First and foremost, our sincere thanks to Ken for making the time to chat with us and share his experience and insights into his career changes and challenges. As we head into 2019, his message of the realities he experienced during his recent years in Shanghai and how he overcame any obstacles that might have come his way is inspiring. Get ready for a very insightful and meaningful message shared by Ken. Joanie: Ken, can you share with our readers your industry experiences and how they brought you to your role with SkySea? Ken: I have been in the cruise industry for my entire career. I started right out of college and took a position with Royal Caribbean that fit my studies in advertising and communications. I gladly took the job fresh out of college and while at Royal Caribbean for 18 years, I pretty much had my try at everything from entertainment, strategic planning, product marketing and development and sales. My last position was heading up onboard revenue for the Royal Caribbean International brand. I was offered a position at MSC Cruises and was there for 3 ½ years. I was ready for that new challenge and change. They were, at that time, as they still are, very focused on growing their presence in North America. It was a great opportunity to work with a private smaller company after working for a public established company such as Royal Caribbean. Being as well funded as MSC was, allowed them to expand very quickly in this market. I held a number of different positions at MSC with a focus on the sales and marketing side of things. It was great to be a part of their rapid expansion. Joanie: How did the opportunity with SkySea avail itself to you? Ken: SkySea approached me to interview for the position as CEO of their company based in China. The timing felt right for me as my time at Royal Caribbean and MSC had provided me with a wide variety of different experiences. My role would be to run the only smart contemporary local cruise line established for the Chinese market and oversee everything from a major reorganization, strategic planning, operations, marketing and sales. The only things I did not have previous experience in were being responsible for the full P&L and marine operations which ended up being a large and critical part of my new role with SkySea. Joanie: Can you tell us a bit more about SkySea and it’s place in the Chinese market? Ken: Royal Caribbean and had a joint venture to create the only local true Chinese brand for the Chinese market. Celebrity’s former Celebrity Century was refitted and taken over to China and that became SkySea Golden Era, the flagship for SkySea Cruise Line. It was only a one ship fleet, but it gave me the opportunity to run a brand. We reorganized, hired new executive leadership, and set a strategy in place to be successful. The market became very competitive in a short time as other lines decided to enter this growing market with their newest and biggest hardware. The ship was 20 years old so we had to restructure and create a brand that could differentiate from the competition. Spending money on board was never a focus for the Chinese guest, so that became a focus for this ship becoming the brand for MICE business which attracted a younger clientele who came back with their families and friends. We also decided to create a deployment strategy that moved us away from the competition in Shanghai and deployed the ship along the coast of China from different home ports to allow this brand to be unique to the market. Joanie: I would think the language would be a bit of a challenge. Did you speak Mandarin or did you need to learn the language to enable communications while there? Ken: No, I did not know it, nor did I actually ever get the chance to learn it. I really wanted to and had planned to, but realized I was sadly too busy to spend time learning the language. I had to focus on the brand and luckily the majority of my employees spoke English very well. I learned to use Google Translate and translators when needed. It never became an obstacle to success, however, I still wish I could have taken the time to learn it. Joanie: So the SkySea Board of Directors approached you for the role and how long did you have to think about it, interview and accept the position? Ken: The whole process of going over for the interview was amazing. I was on the plane longer then I was in China for the interview itself. I received a call a couple days later and I recall accepting it immediately. I was going to have the chance to bring my years of North American cruise expertise to the China market. It was just a great opportunity and I could not pass up the amazing experience that I would be a part of. I think the whole process happened in 4 weeks and I found myself in Shanghai ready to take it on. Joanie: What was the most challenging piece for you? Ken: The most challenging element was the initial change of relocating, starting in a new company and not knowing where to do the basic things. Where to get groceries, where to get my hair cut, where to go if I hurt myself. It was like having to relearn so many things all at once. My biggest challenge was all of the above along with running a new brand. People told me it would take 5 or 6 months to really adjust to my new reality. Luckily it happened for me in about 4 months, but I admit I was very homesick. I was there alone and did not really have a network of friends and family, so it was a new feeling for me. Joanie: Adapting to change is not always easy and actually rarely is easy at all. Additionally, evolving with change to succeed at what we take on is paramount to success. Travel Professionals are continually faced with market changes, technology, new product and the list goes on. Others may decide to change direction and focus on a new product or niche. All of this is change and can be challenging. How do you embrace big changes and challenges as you did moving to China? What advice would you give our readers about change and turning that change into personal and professional success? Ken: One of the things I wish had existed for me before I went there was some sort of preparation for the impact this would have on me both professionally and personally. I would have loved to see a presenter address this topic. People need to realize it will be scary. It is going to take time to find your groove and direction. No matter how long it takes and how often you doubt your decision, you will make it work. I had two choices – either stick it out and make it work or quit. Quitting wasn’t an option. Now two years later I can look back with pure satisfaction and a major sense of accomplishment. People deal with these big life changes everyday, and when you take it on as an opportunity to grow yourself both personally and professionally, you see it is well worth it. Joanie: Was there a “Ah Ha” moment for you? Ken: Yes. I woke up on March 23, 2017 and I wrote myself a note. It was the first day I said to myself that I’ve got this and I could do this thing and I wanted to remember the exact date. Throughout my life, personally and professionally, I had never doubted myself until the first few months of this overseas experience, and on that date, I felt that I had found peace with my decision and I was feeling so great about it. From that point on I woke up everyday and said “it’s showtime”. Amazing how those simple words helped. Then of course the results starting coming in strong and there was no stopping us. Joanie: Thank you so much for this look into your career and your successes. Is there a final message you would like to share with our readers? Ken: Be patient, stay strong and know that being scared and doubting your decisions is par for the course. You will have that moment when you will get that sale or that successful moment for your business, when you know you made the right decision and you simply won’t look back! To hear more from Ken, follow him on twitter @KenMuskatlast_img read more

New Highland Village Program Visits Area Schools

first_imgAn innovative school visit program by Nova Scotia’s Highland Village will introduce students to the language, history and culture of Gaelic Nova Scotia. The program called Sgadan is Buntàta or Herring and Potatoes, is named after a well-known food fare in the Maritimes. Herring and Potatoes tells the story of the Gaelic people in Nova Scotia by bringing Highland Village Museum to the classroom. The school visit is a special Gaelic Awareness Month promotion, targeted for schools in the Strait Regional and Cape Breton-Victoria school board districts during the month of May. The program aims to deliver, through costumed animators, artifacts and power point presentation, an educative classroom experience in the history, culture and language of Gaelic Nova Scotia. Designed to accommodate the learning levels of students from Primary to Grade 12, Highland Village will respond to classroom needs with presentations tailored to requested subject areas of information. Formats can include demonstrations of traditional crafts such as cloth production, cultural expressions in the form of dance, singing and storytelling, along with the history and life style of the Gaels in rural Nova Scotia. For more information on the Sgadan is Buntàta in-class visits, contact Highland Village at 902-725-2272, or visit our website at read more

Boston Marathon bombing suspects Rolling Stone cover prompts anger questions over photo

Boston Marathon bombing suspect’s Rolling Stone cover prompts anger, questions over photo AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Leanne Italie, The Associated Press Posted Jul 17, 2013 5:19 pm MDT NEW YORK, N.Y. – Sultry eyes burn into the camera lens from behind tousled curls. A scruff of sexy beard and loose T-shirt are bathed in soft, yellow light.The close-up of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone to hit shelves Friday looks more like a young Bob Dylan or Jim Morrison than the 19-year-old who pleaded not guilty a little more than a week ago in the Boston Marathon bombing, his arm in a cast and his face swollen in court.Has the magazine, with its roundly condemned cover, offered the world its first rock star of an alleged Islamic terrorist?The same image of Tsarnaev was widely circulated and used by newspapers and magazines before, but in this context it took on new criticism and accusations that Rolling Stone turned the bombing defendant into something more appealing.“I can’t think of another instance in which one has glamorized the image of an alleged terrorist. This is the image of a rock star. This is the image of someone who is admired, of someone who has a fan base, of someone we are critiquing as art,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor and the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.Public outrage was swift, including hard words from the Boston mayor, bombing survivors and the governor of Massachusetts. At least five retailers with strong New England ties — CVS, Tedeschi Food Stores and the grocery chain the Roche Bros. — said they would not sell the issue that features an in-depth look into how a charming, well-liked teen took a dark turn toward radical Islam. Stop & Shop and Walgreens followed suit.Tsarnaev is not referred to as Tsarnaev in the article. The magazine uses his playful diminutive instead in a headline: “Jahar’s World.” With cover teasers for other stories on Willie Nelson, Jay-Z and Robin Thicke, it declares for the Tsarnaev story: “The Bomber. How a Popular, Promising Student was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster.”Rolling Stone did not address whether the photo was edited or filtered in any way in a brief statement offering condolences to bombing survivors and the loved ones of the dead.“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens,” the statement said.That’s little consolation for James “Bim” Costello, 30, of Malden, Mass., who needed pig skin grafts on most of his right arm and right leg after the bombing. His body was pebbled with shrapnel, including nails he pulled out of his stomach himself. Three of his close friends lost legs that day and others suffered serious burns and shrapnel injuries.“I think whoever wrote the article should have their legs blown off by someone,” struggle through treatment “and then see who they would choose to put on the cover. “The accompanying story, he said, “just seems like a cry for attention” from Rolling Stone.Lauren Gabler had finished her fourth Boston Marathon and was two blocks from the finish line explosions that April day. At first she thought the Rolling Stone photo, released on the magazine’s website and Facebook page, was of a model or a rock star.“All of a sudden you realize that’s the Boston bomber,” said Gabler, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area. “The cover almost tricks you into what you’re looking at. I haven’t read the article yet, and I know it will probably be quite in-depth, but my initial reaction is that the photo that’s being used almost makes him look like a good guy.”Rolling Stone said the cover story was part of its “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.” And the magazine has had plenty of covers featuring people outside the realm of entertainment, from President Obama to Charles Manson.Putting criminals and alleged criminals on the covers of major magazines is justified if they are major news figures, said Samir Husni, a journalism professor who heads the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. It’s digitally manipulating a photo that never is, said Husni, reached by phone on vacation in his native Lebanon.“They’ll probably regret it later,” he said of Rolling Stone’s handling of its cover. “Even if it wasn’t doctored it’s going to bring those negative reactions.”Hundreds of Facebook and Twitter commenters condemned the magazine. Many cursed. Others expressed sadness and still more vowed never to read or purchase the magazine again.Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino spoke for them in a letter he dashed off to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner accusing the magazine of offering Tsarnaev “celebrity treatment” and calling the cover “ill-conceived, at best,” in that it supports the “terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their ’causes.’”The letter goes on to call the cover an obvious marketing strategy and concludes: “The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.”What does the controversy say about the culture today? It’s a culture that has already produced an online fandom for the attractive young bombing suspect, including young girls calling him “hot” and promising to help clear his name. At his hearing last week, a dozen or so girls wore T-shirts and stickers bearing his face.Jamieson had this to say on that score:“If you took that picture and you walked into an audience three months before the bombing and you said, ‘Here, this is a cover of Rolling Stone,’ what would people say? They’d say, ‘Ah, a new artist emerges on the national stage and Rolling Stone is doing a cover. What is his name? Well I guess it’s Bomber.’”___AP writers Cara Rubinsky, Steve LeBlanc and Bridget Murphy contributed to this report from Boston. David R. Martin contributed from New York.___Follow Leanne Italie on twitter: read more