Search Interviews:

Joe QuitoniJoe Quitoni is the Founder and CEO of Unify|Align, a consulting firm dedicated to transforming organizational culture and redefining the customer experience to drive growth. With a diverse portfolio that includes working with startups and Fortune 500 companies, Unify|Align thrives under Joe’s unique blend of creativity and structured thinking.

Before venturing into entrepreneurship, Joe had a storied 20-year career with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and served as Director of Human Resources and later as the Global Head of Delivery at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

Google Podcast
Amazon Music
Tune In
iHeart Radio

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • What drew Joe Quitoni to the hospitality industry?
  • Joe talks about the necessity of engaging with people on a personal level in the hospitality industry
  • The three-legged stool of business success
  • How Joe helps clients build a solid company culture
  • Creating culture through the hiring and onboarding process
  • Changes in culture expectations during the pandemic
  • How much should companies work on their culture?
  • Common red flags among companies that struggle with culture

In this episode…

Are you striving to create an outstanding company culture but aren’t sure how? Do you want to discover the secrets of creating culture from someone who’s mastered it in one of the most service-focused industries?

Crafting a strong, cohesive company culture is no easy feat, especially when your organization is growing and diversifying rapidly. Joe Quitoni’s journey transitioning from the renowned Ritz-Carlton to becoming a culture consultant for corporate giants is a story of mastering the art of building effective cultures in diverse environments. His insights on aligning team values and expectations offer invaluable lessons for those looking to foster a robust and sustainable organizational culture.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, host John Corcoran engages in a deep-dive conversation with Joe Quitoni, Founder and CEO of Unify|Align. Joe provides an inside look into his time at The Ritz-Carlton and how his experiences there laid the foundation for his current role as a corporate culture expert. He also talks about revitalizing core values, weaving cultural elements into daily operations, and the two main pitfalls hindering culture-building efforts.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.

We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.

What do you need to start a podcast?

When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.

The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.

We make distribution easy.

We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Co-founders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, FreshBooks, and many more.

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

Are you considering launching a podcast to acquire partnerships, clients, and referrals? Would you like to work with a podcast agency that wants you to win?

Contact us now at or book a call at

Rise25 Co-founders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:02  

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran  0:13  

Hi welcome everyone, John Corcoran here and the co host of this show, you know, check out some of our pack past interviews, we got some great episodes for you. I’m here with Joe Quitoni. And what we’re gonna be talking about is we’re gonna be talking about building a great culture and we’re at work and how that affects the customer experience. Those two are really related to one another, they’re integrated one another. And Joe has got 20 years of experience, including with some of the most amazing hotel chains in the world and hospitality and consulting world, helping companies to build out great culture. So we’re going to talk all about that here in this episode. Of course, this episode is brought to you by EO San Francisco, which is the Bay Area chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization, which is a global peer to peer network of more than 16,000 influential business owners 200 chapters 60 plus countries. And if you are the founder, co founder or owner or controlling shareholder of a company that generates over seven figures a year in revenue, you want to connect with other like minded successful entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, the EO San Francisco chapter is perfect for you and enables leading entrepreneurs in the Bay Area to learn grow and achieve greater success. You can go to, to learn about it and come out and experience a test drive so you can experience it for yourself. And I’m John Corcoran, I’m the co founder of Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships by helping them to run a podcast to generate a referral pipeline and ROI and I’ve been a member of EO, San Francisco, for going on three years now. It’s an amazing organization. And now let me introduce our guests. So his name is Joe Quitoni. He’s the founder and CEO of Unify|Align. It’s really kind of shaking up the industry with a unique blend of creative and structural talents throughout his year. His career, Joe has honed his skills and organizational transformation, creating game changing competitive advantages for some of the world’s biggest brands. Before starting unify in line, he put in 20 years at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, served as Director of Human Resources. We’re jumping over to the brands consulting firm, the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center, where he led the team as global head of delivery, helped to transform and evolve their approach and methodology while creating dramatic positive impact for clients and businesses. He also has a master’s in science in industrial and organizational psychology, which Joe so great to have you here today, that actually relates to why you got into the work that you do, you know, you were born and raised in New York, you observed that people would walk down the street, you know, with their head down, looking at their feet, same thing at work, people just didn’t seem happy at work. And so you knew that you were interested in that and wanted to figure out why that was that people were unhappy and how they could be happier at work before you tell me the answer to how you figure that out. I want to know, what was your worst job as a kid?

Joe Quitoni  3:04  

Oh, boy. Well, John, first and foremost, thanks so much for having me, I really appreciate the opportunity. My worst job as a kid was probably a telephone sales order. You know, the orders come in, it’s repetitive, it’s very transactional customers were just the number there was no opportunity to engage with people it was you get them in and you get them out. And that was the mentality that we were told to kind of have with the customers that were coming. So it was just, you know, nine to five transactional, and there was really no engagement level to it, which is something that I certainly am passionate about.

John Corcoran  3:34  

I mean, knowing just the little bit that I do about your personality, having heard you speak you came and spoke to our EO San Francisco chapter retreat a couple of weeks ago did an amazing job just blew everyone away with your your knowledge. I bet it would be miserable for you to have that kind of job, right. Where you were, you’re stuck head down just kind of a number puncher.

Joe Quitoni  3:54  

Absolutely. So I’m from New York. So I wanted to get my hands around. I mean, I was in a cubby, I couldn’t do anything a technique contained. And, you know, there was just this lack of engagement. And I love people. It’s something that drives me, networks and connections drive me to and to be somewhere where we were almost forced to do everything. But that made me realize real quick that this was not the right job for me.

John Corcoran  4:16  

Man, I had a few I’ll spare you the stories, but I had a few experiences like that as well. And it’s amazing. Really, sometimes I say to young people now having a bad job can be as good as having a good job because it helps you get clarity around what you don’t want and get clarity around what you do want to move towards and you end up in actually go and get your master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology, which is kind of the study of how and why people are happy at work.

Joe Quitoni  4:43  

Yeah, it is. It’s a really fancy word for human behavior at work. You know, I like to categorize it as it’s the study of what motivates people kind of like up here from the head to kind of take that knowledge but to deliver the experiences from here to the heart. And ultimately what that does is it creates connections connect Since build trust, trust builds relationships and relationships lead to the health and wealth of any organization. So it’s a large stretch. But it’s about making that mindset shift from I’m just a to i am V and what I do matters. So creating that pride in that purpose and that sense of well being, which ultimately comes down to the culture that organizations create for their for their employees.

John Corcoran  5:20  

Now, what drew you specifically to the hospitality industry?

Joe Quitoni  5:26  

You know, it’s a great story, I graduated and while at will, right before graduation, I was doing my thesis and I had to meet with an HR professional. And just by way of connections, a friend of a brother, sisters boyfriends sister, put me in contact with the Director of Human Resources at one of the hotels with the Ritz Carlton Hotel hotel company. So you know, what started out as a 15 minute informational interview, eventually led to a job offer. And I started with the company realized that hospitality was an industry that suited me well. And the Ritz Carlton was a phenomenal brand to work for. So it was a happy marriage.

John Corcoran  5:57  

Yeah, and hospitality. So I waited tables when I was in high school in college. And what’s amazing about that is it is so face to face, there’s no hiding at all, it is eye contact, it is engaging with people and hospitality, kind of the same thing. We’ve all stayed at some property where people don’t look you in the eye, they avoid you, you’re trying to get their attention, that kind of thing to talk a bit about kind of the necessities of of working hospitality and how you need to be able to engage with people on a personal level.

Joe Quitoni  6:32  

I think it comes down to just a genuine will to want to serve, you know, and that’s one of the things that are not teachable, are trainable. And you know, I tell a lot of clients, you know, if you’re looking for, say, a hospitality mindset within your industry, you have to find people who genuinely want to be around people and want to serve people. And like I said, you have to hire for that you really do. And there’s the right questions that you have to ask, you know, thinking about asking questions to be undertaken, able to understand what someone has done in the past, and how that would attribute to success. And if it’s aligned with your culture, so you could train the eye contact, there’s a rule, right? It’s 15 feet, you make eye contact five feet, you acknowledge, but at the end of the day, if that’s not lead with the heart, and it doesn’t feel genuine, that’s exactly what customers will feel that it’s just transactional. And you’re doing it to check the box.

John Corcoran  7:18  

It kind of sounds like it’s either they have it or they don’t. So if you’re if you’re coming into a situation where there are people in in a role, or you’re consulting with a, one of your clients these days, and you see people that are not engaging, is it something? In other words, is it something that can be trained or not?

Joe Quitoni  7:38  

I’d like to say it could. But I think reality tells us that it is innate, you know, it’s something that I think you could attempt to bring out of somebody. But at the end of the day, it’s it’s a genuine ability to want to help and be around people. And I don’t know that that is trainable. I’d like to say it could be developed, but I don’t know trained.

John Corcoran  7:57  

Yeah. Now, do you get pushback when a client comes to you? And they say, you know, what, we need a better customer experience, you know, we’re not doing a good enough job of the customers, we want them to be happier. We want higher approval ratings as far as the customer is concerned. And then you say, Great, let’s talk about your employees, employees need to have a sense of belonging? Do you get pushback on that? And they say, What are you talking about? I don’t care about that. I want to focus on the customer experience.

Joe Quitoni  8:23  

At first, of course, it’s quite common, I think then I go through like, I call it the three legged stool of any organization success, you know, those clients who come to us and say, Hey, we want to elevate our customer experience. I said, You highlighted important word experience. And when we think about that word, experience can be defined as the sum of service, which is providing counsel or service to somebody, but you marry that you layer that in with a level of engagement. And that engagement comes by way of people. So if your people are not engaged, how could you expect for them to engage with your customers and deliver an elevated experience? So I like to say we have to take a holistic view to this employee engagement creates customer engagement, and that drives profitability and organizational success.

John Corcoran  9:06  

And so some of the things that I know that you focused on is kind of helping companies to reimagine, reimagine their culture, develop purpose statements, that sort of thing. It’s such a big topic, how, what is the process that you would take a company through? Let’s say that you’re talking to me, and I’m thinking our culture? We haven’t really put enough thought into it? Where do we even start with that conversation?

Joe Quitoni  9:30  

I oftentimes like to start high. And while a vision statement I respect a vision statement is often goal oriented. And I believe that culture should be behavior oriented. So I would say leave your vision for your strategic plan and focus on that and make it happen year over year, but create a purpose statement. A purpose statement creates a sense of belonging, a purpose statement should ideally never be achieved. And that’s the beauty about it is that it drives continuous improvement and innovation. So we start with the purpose statement under Standing, why does this organization and this industry exist? What value do you bring to the people that you serve. And then after that, we would create a commitment, which is the watch. So our purpose is the why well then create a commitment statement that can unify your business. And we would insert behaviors within that so that any employee at any law, any level within the business, will understand what they need to do today, to drive your purpose forward tomorrow. And then last, but not least, we look at your values. And I think a lot of organizations have organizational values. However, if you don’t define your perspective of that value, and you don’t create safe behaviors, and characteristics that can then become habits, those values are going to be open to interpretation. And there’s going to be a lack of connectivity to those who are expected to bring it to life. So through a long process, I would work with a group of employees, not the CEO, not the C suite, there’ll be part of the purpose statement. But then after that, I say, please step aside, I want to involve your people in this planning, because it’s ultimately them that we need to buy in and ownership from, and when we engage them in that process. That’s when we make that stick.

John Corcoran  11:04  

So can you give me some, like examples of purpose statements and ones that work? Well, or ones that don’t work? Well?

Joe Quitoni  11:12  

Yeah, I think, you know, a purpose statement that is very far reaching, you know, a purpose statement that says, We want to be the best in this space that we occupy, it’s not going to fly. And in fact, I would say, you know, that’s probably what your competition is setting as well are sitting as well. You know, when you look at a purpose statement that says something along the lines of, we want to empower everybody to be to, I don’t know, it’s we want to empower the world to be more sustainable with efficiency or something of that nature, right? You know, like, it’s something that’s far reaching, you know, that it likely can’t be achieved in this lifetime. But that’s what drives people. Every day, we come back to work, we know our purpose, we have a sense of belonging, and we want to rally cry behind something that can be so far reaching and create an ultimate positive change in the world.
[Continue to Page 2]