Sunil “Sunny” Tolani is an American social entrepreneur and the CEO of Prince Organization (America’s most honored hospitality company, famous for top-quality hotel brands like Intercontinental, Marriott, and Hilton.)
As Father’s Day is upon us, my second without my Dad, I remember his advice: “Son, don’t hate. Never be a victim and give in to anger.” His teaching gave me empathy, especially for those in uniform—police and military sworn to serve and protect. Growing up and now being a small business person of color has taught me it is a privilege to lead with higher responsibility, exercising compassion, respect, magnanimity, courage, and humility. I see my father’s important and positive role played in my upbringing, my sense of self, and my commitment to work hard and do my best to honor my father. My word today, like his, is a bond, and everyone knows it. “Let it go” instead of holding grudges and to be sure that my moral compass points north star and that I live my life as an “Exemplar of Rectitude.”
DAD—My HERO has influenced me in positive ways, teaching the importance of hard work, discipline, responsibility, independence, gratitude, believing in myself and sense of humor, treating people with love, and respect. He told me that if I live by the Golden Rule, everything else in life will usually work itself out, but if don’t, life probably will be very unhappy, without meaning.
To fully appreciate the philosophy behind Dad’s life, you need to know one thing about him: he lived a life with an Attitude of Gratitude. He raised us not to feel entitled to everything. We learned early on the subtle joys of appreciating the good in our lives with daily prayers of thanks. Gratitude initiates an upward spiral of positivity and helps identify important goals for the future helping us thrive.
Dad reminded everybody of a cool dad and grandfather everyone wished they could relate to and communicate freely with. He never expected us to do anything with our lives other than regret it. When other fathers were bragging about their wealth, their children’s grades, clothes, and success, Dad never berated, punished, or compared us. He said, “Be a good human being in life,” and that is all that will matter in the end.
Dad followed key principles in life: never settle for second best and always make a difference and improve people’s lives. Dad saw me continue my grandfather’s legacy, both men of great character, passion, and generosity. Our grandfather’s legacy of hope and help to all people of all faiths will last for the coming generations with their mantra, “Be bold. Dream it and do it.” Dada used to say “It’s not just about looking your best; it’s about becoming your best.” They lived honestly and simply valued affection and comradeship. Tarachand Israni and Ramkishindas Tolani, if alive today, would be 118 and 112 years old respectively,
From a young age, my father taught me a lot about toughness, perseverance, quality of life, respect, and especially love as a way of life and a spiritual pursuit. When I was at my worst in 2006, down to nothing, Dad said, “Son, you are at your very best when life is at its worst.” Dad’s moral support was my pillar of strength. Today I teach the same to my sons and the splendor of setting a good example will live in my children’s hearts.
It was wonderful to see him beaming with pride as he sees me to be an honest and honorable steward of the company. I have inherited his skills of a trailblazer and risk taker whose ambitions have known no geographic or aspirational bounds. Our hotels are cultivating admiration and respect for being good stewards of society, engaging our teams to follow the culture of values: dedication, integrity, respect, excellence, community, teamwork, and spirit.
My father has inspired me to be a man who spreads kindness, love, and who does not hold back but gives it all. Prince Organization would not be one of America’s most honored businesses and a prominent voice of ethical investing without his spirit, drive, energy, and vision.
I had pledged to my dad to put our success into social causes. Dad believed putting profit before principle is always bad business. His blessings give me the freedom and independence to build a legacy. I see it in our firm’s simple mission statement: “Serving others,” and paying it back to him through reinvestment in his ideals.
To Dad, family is everything, and he has gifted me an estate of incalculable value. He says, “Live Life Kingsize.” He also said, “Always let your conscience be your guide” and “The integrity of a person is the foundation of one’ life.” I can never thank him for the good things in our life.
We were blessed to see dad’s life journey to its fullest completion, and we believe dad was happy and comfortably thriving until the end. My Dad’s last living act is his undying gift to the rest of us: a gentle reminder that we, too, need to think about and plan for the end of our lives.
(Arjan Ramkishan Tolani, aka “Andy,” was in hospice care in the spring of 2019 and passed away peacefully on July 15, 2019. Sunny was right there, holding his hand while he took his last breath. Mom Kamala Tolani was next to him. Shabad Gurbani kirtan (prayers) was playing in the room.
The Tolani family prepared for his good end of life and made their father’s death as good as his life, making sure he died as a full human being. Spiritually cared for at home and surrounded by loving family, relatively free from pain and medical devices in the soulless ICU with enough time to say goodbyes and give final blessings providing a peaceful, empowered death.)