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Stoked Lifestyle Podcast

May 16, 2018

"Being a fearless leader is about getting into someone else's head and seeing things from their perspective, let go of your ego and instead help move things forward in a big way"

-Ryan Bukstein

VP of Ace Hotel Group, Ryan Bukstein's journey began with an email from the company "Never Stop". Never Stop was an experiential marketing agency, and they were looking for an intern. Ryan looked the company up online and saw that they had started a chain of businesses which included the first Ace Hotel, nightclubs, a concert venue, and even a barbershop.

As a musician, Ryan was excited about the opportunity to gain connections and responded to their inquiry quickly, letting Never Stop know of his interest, but also informing them that he was slated to be working in Japan for the next six months. Surprisingly, the head of the company, Alex Calderwood, personally responded to the email, telling Alex how he actually had an interest in launching an Ace Hotel in Japan and "could he please start his internship by researching the best way for him to go about that?"

After finishing his time in Japan and flying back to Seattle, Ryan continued working multiple odd jobs for Never Stop. After some time, he started to feel the need to take some time off and re-focus himself.  However, he continued to keep in close contact with Alex and looked up to him as a mentor.

Two years later, Alex and his team were opening up another Ace Hotel branch in Portland. He requested that Ryan handle the PR and marketing. Ready to get back to work, Ryan accepted the position and hit the ground running.


As a mentor, Alex's advice to Ryan was this, "You have to put in the hours, trust your instincts, and then perfect your craft". He taught Ryan how to take the first fearless step and not to worry so much about failure. Instead, trust himself to figure things out. Part of being a fearless leader is to keep moving forward.


It's a challenge moving from good to great, especially when you're trying to scale a business. To inspire people within a business to go from good to great, they have to be welcome to the idea of opening themselves up to a "certain sense of urgency". Sometimes, letting people go with their instincts instead of taking the time to overthink, can lead to greatness. 


At Ace, the main purpose is to have conversations. The business and the transactions are a means to an end. Ace employs people that are curious and interested and want to have conversations centered around that curiosity. 


At Ace, they try not to hold on too tightly to a concrete vision. Instead, they focus more on the important elements of learning what's involved in that vision. To get people on the same page as you, having a certain openness as to how the vision manifests itself is critical. If you hold too tightly onto your personal view of how something should be executed, creativity gets stifled. Instead, breaking a vision down into what the actual goals of the said vision are, while then putting more responsibility on individual people to achieve those goals in their own way, leads to creativity and greatness.