There's a reason the hotel and real estate magnate was known as the Queen of Mean. After marrying her husband Harry in 1972, Helmsley, already a real estate powerhouse in her own right, helped him run his hotel empire, worth about $5 billion. The two lived a life of seeming marital bliss, but the employees of Helmsley hotels saw a totally different side of Helmsley. She became president of the company in 1980 and overlooked no detail when it came to making the hotels top-notch. A perfectionist, she was known for surprise inspections, harsh criticism and little patience. When describing her technique in dealing with employees, she once said, "If something is wrong, the first time, I ask them to change it. The second time, I ask an octave higher. The third time, I ask the person if they want me to do it. The fourth time, if things aren't absolutely right, they're fired."
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