Barry Lall’s Valuable Life Lessons for Budding Hospitality Entrepreneurs

Success and Life Lessons

The story of Barry Lall’s journey from family physician to hotel-enterprise magnate.

Dr. Barry Lall is the President and CEO of Pinnacle Hotels USA, a hotel and real estate holding company that currently owns 9 hotels in the states of California and Texas. And there’s much to learn behind the local touches and personalized services that Barry has instilled in this thriving hotel enterprise. Based on the experience of building a company of the scale of Pinnacle Barry is honored and humbled to be able to share his life lessons with up-and-coming hospitality entrepreneurs.

Here, Dr. Barry Lall shares insights into how his valuable experiences have shaped him into the business leader he is today.

The Seventies: College Years

As the first member of his family to attend college, Barry put himself under intense pressure to perform well academically. While studying medicine at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, he developed an extremely focussed and serious approach to the rigors of a 5-year medical school curriculum. Failure was not an option-this was too great an opportunity.

“My mission was to graduate from medical school, and I was not going to let anything or anyone distract me from my focus,” Barry says. “So, because of this huge self-imposed responsibility, I was comfortable with the “all work and no play” mindset..”

Barry reflects on the fact that he has since adapted to achieve a much healthier work-life balance – and that this balance has helped him grow Pinnacle Hotels over the years to what it is today..

The Eighties: Early Career

Once Barry had completed his medical degree, he relocated to San Diego, where he worked as a family physician. Despite his continued disciplined approach and desire to be the best professional that he could, Barry soon found himself in a situation where for him his family became the highest priority. Family first and business or profession second is something he still believes in today.

“Not only did I want to be a very good father, husband, and son, but I also wanted to be the best caretaker for my patients,” Barry explains.

During the mid 80’s, although Barry was working as a family physician in San Diego he had this strong desire to learn about investing in real estate and in particular wanted to own a hotel. Barry believes that this entrepreneurial spirit comes from his early teenage years in Zambia when he used to work in his father’s retail store selling men’s clothing. ..  He began to exercise his curiosity about real estate investing by developing his weekend pastime of reviewing real estate opportunities as advertised in the classified ads section of the local newspaper. He made various small investments in San Diego and through a classified ad was able to find an opportunity to acquire his first motel, a 12 room property on Coronado Island in November  1989. He was able to acquire this property with the assistance of one of his patients who provided the acquisition financing when no other banker would.

The Nineties and Noughties: Hotel Career

Barry spent the next two decades pouring his investment efforts into his hotel enterprise. During his working hours, he focused on developing his skills as an entrepreneur – learning accounting and experimenting with computer software. He also developed his managerial, public speaking, and communication skills, which became key to his role as the CEO of Pinnacle Hotels.

When he turned 50, Barry also made the shift to focus on his physical health. Not only did he take up Pilates and strength-training sessions, but he also integrated exercise with family time, embarking on long walks and a three-month wilderness training course with Hema.

Once Barry had grown Pinnacle Hotels until staff could operate without his direct supervision, he was able to adjust his work-life balance to spend even more time with his family. This was especially important to Barry, who hoped to enjoy more time with his son before he left for college. . They enjoyed traveling together, spending time on outdoor activities, and attending home games of their beloved Padres and Chargers.

The Twenty-Tens: Self-Care and Family Time

As Pinnacle Hotels continued to expand into the twenty-tens, Barry eventually found himself content with his achievements in the business world. He has realigned his work-life balance again over recent years, allocating more time to travel with Hema. They now enjoy wellness breaks, often travel internationally to watch cricket matches, and spend more time with their son, who is now married and has two children of his own.

Family time aside, Barry has also spent the last seventeen years working on self-care. He practices meditation, enjoys working out, and places a lot of emphasis on good nutrition..

“Hema and I are also enjoying spirituality and have begun to learn from the Isha Foundation and Sadhguru,” Barry adds.

Lessons Learned During Barry Lall’s Career

Barry explains that his work-life balance has changed as he’s grown as a business leader. This balance has shifted depending on the needs of his employees, business partners, and family. As a result, he encourages budding entrepreneurs to question the meaning of work and life when trying to balance the two. Instead of trying to separate work and life, it can be helpful to remember we can’t enjoy one without enjoying the other. Barry emphasizes that to find a healthy work-life balance, we should consider each person’s needs in our personal and work circles.

“If you are able to come through with this commitment, then the relevant individuals should all be happy,” Barry says.

Considering Success a State of Mind

Looking back on his varied career, Barry concludes that success is a relative term. He has always thought of himself as “successful” because he considers success a state of mind, not a milestone.

“Being content and satisfied is important, and if you have been sincerely committed to your responsibilities, I feel that you will have a sense of being successful,” Barry says.

Instead of measuring success in material terms, Barry advises entrepreneurs to think about the following factors when determining their success.

  1. How comfortable is your family life?
  2. How well do you raise your children and how, in turn, do they raise theirs?
  3. How happy your colleagues, partners, and/or employees are to work with you?
  4. How do you interact with others and how do you spread pleasantness?

Barry explains that these principles have put him in the best position to excel in his business. He adds that upholding a success mindset has helped him grow his company over the last three decades. He has always believed he can excel so long as he sticks to his core fundamentals. These 12 fundamentals include:

  1. Hard work and resilience
  2. Maintain gratitude
  3. Maintain focus
  4. Remain disciplined and responsible
  5. Not taking on too much work and letting commitments spiral out of control
  6. Take care of others
  7. Respecting everyone equally
  8. Being kind, compassionate, straightforward, and direct in communications
  9. Being honest even when conveying difficult messages
  10. Not letting complacency and apathy set in
  11. Emphasizing excellence and quality
  12. Conducting business with integrity

About Barry Lall

As the CEO of Pinnacle Hotels USA, Dr. Barry Lall oversees a network of 650 employees and manages property holdings worth over $250 million. and evolving his company to the high-quality company that it is today. Today, Barry is a well-established entrepreneur in the hospitality arena. Many of Pinnacle Hotels’ properties bear the names of nationally recognized brands, such as Marriott, Hyatt Regency, Sheraton, and DoubleTree by Hilton.

Since successfully growing his company, Barry has worked with his wife, Hema, – Pinnacle Hotels’ Executive Vice President – to launch the Lall Family Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship is available to eligible candidates at the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which is part of San Diego StateUniversity. Barry has given many guest lectures to hospitality students here. He now contributes funds to help underprivileged students access the education they need to flourish as entrepreneurs. Students can use the scholarship to fund several educational needs, such as attending premier national lodging conferences in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and New York.

Barry also offers internships at Pinnacle Hotels for students looking to break into the hospitality space. This way, students can learn the ins and outs of hotel operations first-hand.

Connect with Dr. Barry Lall on ThriveGlobal and Medium.


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