With the exception of the late Steve Jobs, being a corporate executive and being famous is not a desirable combination in the 21st century. So the limelight is not a place my colleagues or I seek to be. Having said that, there is a certain amount of notoriety that comes with being President & CEO of Royal Caribbean. I have to be prepared for that and so do several executives on my leadership team. The phenomenon of being recognized can produce some humorous moments. It often results in an outpouring of compliments regarding a recent cruise. And, once in a while, it leads to a diatribe about a cruise gone wrong.
It has been seven years since my appearance on Oprah so I no longer encounter any “Didn’t I see you on…?” questions. A couple of years ago I did find out that the mother of one of my elementary school friends was patiently waiting to ask me what being on the show was like.
Obviously when I am onboard our ships there is little chance I can walk from bow to stern without one or more of our loyal Crown & Anchor Society members stopping me. One thing I’ve realized over the years is that I am much less reserved in the persona of Royal Caribbean President & CEO than I am as ordinary Adam Goldstein.
Airports and airplanes are a two edged sword. If I’m traveling when cruisers are arriving for their cruises or departing from their cruises, it’s often like being onboard the ship. Once at Ft. Lauderdale airport I was in a pretty long security line to fly across the state at the same time as the Oasis of the Seas customers were in line to fly home. I wonder what the TSA people were thinking when multiple travelers in the security line started asking me to pose for pictures with them. On the other hand, after almost 25 years of observing cruisers in airports and on airplanes, I don’t need much of a clue to figure out who is coming from or going to which cruise. I’m sure they wonder sometimes “how did he know?”
One of my colleagues recently was on a plane sitting next to someone who said “You really look like so and so. I know you’re not her but you sure look like her.” My colleague patiently explained that in fact it was her, not a lookalike.
The part of recognition I like the best is when our crew recognize me when I’m traveling. It’s such a pleasure to spend a few minutes with them, finding out if they’re beginning or ending a contract, switching ships or staying with the same ship, hearing about their responsibilities onboard. Usually they ask for a picture as well, which I take as a positive sign of how they feel about the company.
I can’t say I trained for these encounters but I will say I have experienced even stranger recognitions in the past because of my resemblance to my late father. For example, once I was walking up the steps at a college football game that did not involve my school. Suddenly out of the crowd a hand extended and grabbed me hard by the arm. The voice connected to this hand said “You’re Bill Goldstein’s son, aren’t you?” Worse yet, when I was only 24 I was greeting friends and relatives arriving early to my grandmother’s surprise 80th birthday party. One of the friends exclaimed “Billy! You haven’t changed at all!” Compared to that, I can handle any recognition I receive these days.