These interviews are aimed at trying to tease out insight into what makes particular people outperform their peers and stand out as Ultimate Performers. It’s an opportunity to learn from their way of life and philosophy of excellence. This blog interviews top local businessman Winston J Zahra.


Full Name (for the record)

Winston J. (John) Zahra. Many people think that the J. Is for Junior ! In fact my second name is John !
First things first. What is your PURPOSE?

To live a happy life and ensure that my loved ones and those around me are also happy.

How does your day job fit into that?

As CEO of Island Hotels Group, together with the rest of the team, we do our utmost to live our core family values in every decision that we take. This is perfectly aligned to my overall purpose. To be honest, if it wasn’t what would be the point of working hard every day. It simply wouldn’t make sense.

You’ve become an avid runner. How does running help you move closer to your purpose?

Sport is a crucial part of my life. I have always done some form of sport in my life but more recently – the past year and a half – I have taken up running more seriously. This happened as a result of having to train for a 51K run in aid of the Ladybird foundation. Once I had reached that level of fitness I thought it would be a waste not to continue and during the past year and a half I have run practically every day. Some runs are shorter 5k runs while others are around the 20k mark. Running not only keeps me in good physical shape but it also keeps my mind alive and sharp. To be honest on the odd day that I don’t go for a run I feel sluggish and am fully aware that something is missing.

In my view you are an Ultimate Performer, not only because of your achievements but because of your approach to performance (in business and life). Can you describe this ‘philosophy’?

I think it becomes a way of life. Ultimately there is very little between doing something for the sake of doing it and doing something properly. I personally do not enjoy doing something if I am not doing my utmost to get the best result.

Is ‘good enough’ ever OK in your book?

It’s what I hate hearing most. Good enough is never OK. The moment we get anywhere near ‘good’ we tend to shift the winning post a bit further away to get that much better. You have to constantly raise the bar to improve your performance in whatever you do. Otherwise performance becomes mundane and mediocre. And that’s no fun !

In business and life you have overcome adversity. Part might be through expertise and experience, but probably equally as much because of a mindset. What is your advice to others to achieve this ability to overcome?

A positive outlook is the most important aspect from my experience. I have seen people with a negative attitude turn something great into a mess and other people with a positive attitude turn a real challenging matter into a great result. I am not a person that likes giving advice; however, what I have learnt from my own experience is that when you approach any challenge or opportunity with a positive mindset then you have a much better chance of getting the best out of the situation.

Do you compromise (e.g. work-life balance, for example) or maximise?

I always do my best to maximise but the reality is that sometimes you have to prioritise and this does entail a level of compromise. However the latter tends to be on choosing not to do something at all, rather than to do something half heartedly or not to the best of my ability.

You recently set up a foundation to raise awareness about a particular cause. What does this mean to you? Why so driven?

The foundation is very close to my heart for obvious reasons. I have seen our family, and most especially my uncle, devastated by the loss of my cousin in a way that should never had happened. The more I looked into the facts the more I realised that the system is letting our children and our families down. There are simply too many flaws in the process that ultimately is supposed to safeguard our children’s welfare. I felt the need and the responsibility to do something about it and try and bring about changes that will help prevent anything similar from happening to any other child in the future. We are not setting out to change the world but I think with what we have planned and with the type of support we have seen so far we will make significant inroads.

Parting words of wisdom?

Live life to the full and help others with a smile 🙂


Thank you Winston. Readers please visit And LIKE for more information about the Foundation and how to get involved.