Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Ever wonder how a CEO sets priorities?  Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., shared some perspective on that at a conference of CruiseOne/Cruises Inc. agents over the weekend, and for those that weren't there to hear it, here's what he said.

Donald was talking on stage with David Crooks, executive vice president for product and operations for World Travel Holdings, parent company of CruiseOne/Cruises Inc. Crooks asked Donald what his "core beliefs" were and how they affect his leadership. (The theme of the conference, held aboard the Carnival Vista, was "Believe").

Donald began by listing his core beliefs that don't have anything to do with business:  God, family, and America (this last one drew applause from the audience).

"But in business? I believe in listening," Donald said. "So I listen to our guests, I listen to you as our travel professional partners, I listen to my employees. The guests will tell me how we can exceed their expectations. And our employees will tell me how to deliver what their guests are asking for and what they need."

Next, Donald said, he believes in having fun.

"Life is a journey," he said. "It's about the journey, not the destination. I think you need to have fun all along the way. We're in the business of making fun. That's what cruise is." (More applause).

"And then I think you put that all together and I fundamentally believe in doing the right thing. The right thing for our guests, the right thing for you. The right thing for the communities we touch. The right thing for the environment, the right thing for my colleagues, my fellow employees, the Carnival Corporation family. I just believe in doing the right thing," Donald said.

"Sometimes that's not so obvious, but if you're committed to it, it will reveal itself," he added.

It struck me that Donald's boss, Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison, would not respond too differently from Donald were he asked the same question. Arison picked Donald as his successor in 2013 - when he was an unknown to most of the cruise industry - in part for his ability to be articulate in public and present the company's point of view in a convincing and winning way.

At the CruiseOne/Cruises Inc. conference, Donald did what he was hired to do and the audience loved it.

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