This week's featured service industry professional is Mr. Vinicius Viana, who has an extraordinary resume that includes tenure at some of the world's most exotic destinations working with heads of state, billionaires , and royalty.
He is considered to be an extraordinary butler.
Inside working with billionaires
You’ve had a really amazing career in the private service industry working with ultra-high net worth individuals and royal families. What gave you the idea to start a career in hospitality?
I am an orphan. I lost my mom when I was three years old. And, tragically, I never had the opportunity to know my father, either. I was raised by my beloved grandma, along with my aunt and three cousins.
I felt alone as a child. From this, I developed an emotional magnetism with some charities in Brazil. I was really interested in helping and understanding people. It wasn't about just giving bread to the poor. Above all, I wanted to make them feel special and valued.
Hospitality has always been in my heart. It’s about helping people in need. Serving and understanding others is what matters most to me.
When I look at a person, I see a “person” -- not a rank, a class, or a title.
Working with royal families
Working for a royal family must have been an experience of a lifetime. Could you summarize what you did for them?
Being a butler or personal assistant for UHNW individuals is a dream job for most people. However, it requires a lot of stamina and resilience to make things happen. The one thing that a client wants most is more time. With that in mind, quality service counts when on the job.
When working for royal families, the day-to-day workings are vastly different from one job to another. One day you could be at an estate in the Middle East, then suddenly you could be preparing for a big trip to Europe -- all on a moment's notice.
There is nothing "routine" about working for a royal family. Butlers and assistants have to know about food and beverage services, preparing for events, hosting VIPs, knowing about private yachts, and even antiques... It’s a vast field and many unique skills are required.
Working with ultra-high net worth families
If someone wants to work with an ultra-high net worth family, what are three key pieces of advice that you would give them?
My three main foundations have always been: diplomacy, discretion, and having the right frame of mind.
To survive in this industry, you have to understand that "time is money." Ultra-high net worth individuals do not like waiting. Your mindset and skill set must be as precise as a surgeon’s hands.
You will be challenged every day to meet the standards. Lifestyle management never stops. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends. The more you know about your boss, the better you will be able to perform in your job.
When working for the super-rich, you have to know what your boss wants before they ask for it.
Perhaps “wisdom” is understanding that I am one part of the VIP's operation, and I enjoy learning from my boss every day.
The pros and cons of the private service industry
You have worked in 5-star hotels, the airline industry, and with the Saudi Royal Family. What are the pros and cons of each situation?
Luxury hotels, the airline industry, and royals are virtually one in the same: unparalleled service and unique experiences are what it's all about.
I’ve learned that success comes in a very prickly package. Whether you choose to accept it is up to you. Surrounding yourself with the right people is important to success on the job.
Follow people that are better than you, and that way you will learn more every day.
Dedicating your life to make other people happy can sometimes be exhausting, but it's also very rewarding. Sometimes it feels like it's never enough, but you have to keep pushing yourself. That's how you get to the next level.
Facing challenges in private service
Without giving any specific names, could you tell us the most challenging experience you have ever faced?
The challenge is to understand when and where you can cross personal boundaries.
If someone that you are working for asks for something immoral or even illegal, you have to find a polite way to say no.
The wealthiest people on Earth don't always accept the word no, so learn to rebound gracefully and provide a second or third alternative to their request.
For me, the job is about accepting challenges along the way, and savoring the journey while doing the best possible job.
Written for assistants and estate managers working for celebrities, CEOs, UHNW families, billionaires and royalty