“Sorry, she’s a writer,” Amy forewarned the unsuspecting guy in the middle seat.
Hot damn — what luck to be seated next to a friendly Nevada Air National Guardsman on our short one-hour flight from Reno to Las Vegas for the annual G2E convention (the largest casino gaming trade-show).
Amy, my co-worker, has seen me in action before … she knows nothing pleases me more than to meet new people, especially from a different industry.
Everyone has a story and she knows I’ll pull and pry until I get it out of them. Sometimes I blog about my unofficial interviews. I can tell you, I’m always left with the gift of appreciating my own circumstances better or motivating me to look out from my own little world.
This guy Ryan was headed down to San Diego for specialized training; he’d been in the Nevada Air National Guard for over four years (after losing his position in advertising sales for a newspaper … go figure, right?) and had already done three tours, twice to Afghanistan and once to Kuwait. He answered all of my questions, including what it feels like to bank a C130, those lumbering albatrosses we often see floating in the skies above Reno.
I asked him if the equipment they got in Reno was adequate to protect their men or secondhand (remember Iraq?). He told me how hard it was to assimilate after a tour and just go to a grocery store after being months in the desert. What he gave me was a real face. A reminder that the folks representing us in foreign lands are no different from those of us with office, casino or construction jobs. They don’t process loss or pain any differently than we do, or chose to serve because somehow they are inferior or wired differently.
That lucky meeting with Ryan served as a portent to what I’d experience over the next four days at the show.
During the last thirteen years, my boss Dennis often asks after the show, “So, who was the best contact that you made?” or “What did you personally do to drive more business for Raving?”
I admit it. Some years, all I come home with are sore feet and being bloated from too much restaurant food and cocktails.
This year, and maybe it was the energy I was putting out, the stories were about people in transition. And I’m not sure if it is because so many people have experienced financial hardships firsthand since the economy has gone to crap, that they are now evaluating just how much they are willing to give up for a paycheck? These conversations made me THINK about this industry and INSPIRE me. I didn’t have my reporter’s pad with me, but here are just some of my recollections:
GET SOME BALLS: At the Global Gaming Women’s Breakfast, one female executive at our table said, “Most women convince themselves out of applying for the next level of job, saying that they don’t have enough experience … while a man will apply, being confident that he’ll be able to fake it until he figures it out.”
WE’RE ALL PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER: Victor Rocha, on receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award at an AGA Luncheon, was talking about how the casino business has long been perceived negatively by the public — “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in this industry. We need to remember that gaming, both Tribal and Commercial, has given something back to all of our communities: it has provided us with jobs for our families.”
DO YOU THINK THIS IS A SIGN? A young GM, who had just gone through unexpected and major heart surgery, told me that, “I was thinking back over the last ten years, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I had fun in this industry …”
WHY DO THESE CRAPPY PEOPLE KEEP POPPING UP? “The GM was always trying to catch us making a mistake, instead of catching us doing something right. And then he’d make examples of us in front of our peers. That’s just one of the reasons why he’s gone.”
THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS: “We have a good time at our company. You won’t see us with fancy cars or big boats. Fifty percent of our profits go to charity; we want to improve the communities we work in.”
THERE IS LIFE OUT THERE: After leaving a long-time, secure position and taking a chance on something totally new, this executive told me, “I forgot what it was like to work with someone you actually liked and respected. I’m having fun again.”
HMMM … ARE WE BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL? On switching from one-dimensional product flyers to iPads, the recently hired executive said, “I told the CEO, ‘let me give our salespeople the tools they need to be successful.’ And already it is making a difference.”
SUPPORT FOR THE FRONT LINE: A guy is next to me as we are waiting at the bar in the Vegas airport. He complains loudly to no one in particular about how he’s been waiting for twenty minutes for a beer. The guy next to him says, “Give the lady a break, ASSHOLE; she’s working as hard as she can.” All of a sudden, I wasn’t in a hurry anymore and I gave a larger tip.
WHAT’S HAPPENED TO US? In a conversation with a client who is expanding their business, “We do have criteria for hiring people. They MUST BE truly passionate about the job. And you’d be amazed how hard that is to find.”
WE’RE NOT SURE IF THIS JUSTIFIES THE HIGH COST OF EXHIBITING, BUT … Executive hanging out with us, “The Raving booth is like a barber shop. If you stay long enough, you’re bound to meet someone interesting.”
THIS FORTY-SOMETHIN’ WILL TAKE THAT INAPPROPRIATE COMPLIMENT: Me to a male client visiting the booth who was eyeballing the backsides of two sexy models going down the aisle. Me, “I see you checking them out.” Him, “You don’t know that I’ve been admiring your behind when you weren’t looking.”
From all these conversations and “stories,” I know I came home feeling part of something bigger than my role here at Raving. That my successes and failures, as a woman, chip away a path for other females in gaming, in marketing, in life. That all industries need leaders with integrity — and part of my job is to always demand that. That every one of us owes it to ourselves to follow our passion, or we are really not giving our best.
No matter what industry you are in – let me ask you … are you motivated? Are you still passionate? Do work for a shitty boss because of that paycheck? What can you do to change that?
Originally published by Raving Consulting