The Cage Dweller: Karl Hoagland of Larkspur Hotels
I started Larkspur Hotels in 1996, and for years, I was all over the map, operating at both 30,000 feet and 1 inch. I would get directly involved in whatever I thought was a priority on that day or at that moment. We have 23 hotels, and I used to approve the hourly wages of every housekeeper. At the same time, I was constantly coming up with these big, revolutionary ideas. I couldn't stop myself.
So I put myself in a cage. In 2007, I named a new CEO -- Dennis Markus -- and I became chairman. It was the only way I could stop being a distraction. Now Dennis is my only direct report, and 99 percent of my substantive conversations about the business are with him. I monitor our performance statistics daily, but Dennis is the only one who gets my feedback. The only way this works is if you have a No. 2 who shares your values and whom you can trust.
Karl Hoagland is founder of Larkspur Hotels and Restaurants, in Larkspur, California. It recorded $20 million in sales in 2009.