Try to keep a good work/life balance. They are not going to inscribe your tombstone with how many deals you closed or how many hours your worked. So, in my opinion, give it 110%, but remember there is life outside of work.

As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cliff Risman, a veteran real estate lawyer at Foley Gardere who represents companies that develop, own, operate and finance hotels and resorts around the world.

Thank you for joining us. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was representing a client on the sale of a hotel in the far Northern part of the United States. It turned out that the hotel restaurant was known for mesquite grilled food. At the closing, it became apparent that the parties wanted to do a proration for the stockpiles of mesquite wood located in the rear of the hotel. The only issue was that it was 20 degrees below zero outside and the wood was covered by several feet of snow. We waited in a conference room for hours while several “lucky” people went outside to count and verify the quantity of mesquite wood on site.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I remember a client that owned many hotels but had several investors that were not very knowledgeable about hotels or real estate. The investors would call me incessantly to ask questions that I have never thought about. One example was: What happens if the surveyor makes a mistake? Does the surveyor have errors and omissions insurance? I had never thought about that issue and sort of ignored the questions. The investor was not happy and, consequently, my client was not happy. Long story short, I learned to try and be patient and polite with all parties involved in each transaction, whether experienced or novice.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The Foley Gardere hospitality industry team stands out because we “know the industry.” As we say in Texas, this isn’t our first rodeo. We also stand out because we provide over the top client service; we pride ourselves on responsiveness.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Try to keep a good work/life balance. They are not going to inscribe your tombstone with how many deals you closed or how many hours your worked. So, in my opinion, give it 110%, but remember there is life outside of work.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I had two fabulous mentors in my early years. One was the managing partner of my first law firm and the second was our chairmen. They both taught me a lot; primarily about client service and business generation. I will always remember the pride I felt in the confidence they placed in me as a young lawyer. I will also say that as my career progressed, I have had a number of good clients that via referrals and recommendations helped me obtain other clients; not to mention the fact they have become great friends.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

One of my pet peeves is sentences, provisions and documents that are just too long and complicated. Our team endeavors to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible under the circumstances.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

I think lawyers and law firms get a bad reputation for over complicating things. If you can protect your client and allow them to achieve their business objectives with shorter, simpler and less complicated documents and structures, you should do it.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

I think a lot of lawyers tend to pull the last deal off the shelf and use those documents even if they are unnecessarily complicated or contain unneeded provisions. In some cases it is almost as though they believe they are being paid by the word. The same goes for comments made when negotiating and speaking. I think, and I believe our clients think, that it is refreshing when a lawyer “listens” and then only responds when necessary and does so clearly and succinctly without pontificating.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

On this issue, I know every hotelier is trying to upgrade technology and make the experience of a hotel stay more user friendly for what they believe to be an ever increasingly technology savvy customer base. I hope they do not forget the human aspects of the industry and the meaning of the term “hospitality.”

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Not sure that it is a direct correlation, but my occupational success has enabled me to get to know a lot of people from all walks of life, many of whom I would never have imagined meeting. I try very hard to use these relationships to help people. I really enjoy networking and connecting people; whether introducing clients who eventually do a deal together, or helping someone find their next opportunity.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


The Future Of Travel, with Cliff Risman and Candice Georgiadis was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.