Some love It, some hate it yet guess what, I learned many things from this city that can help you for your career.
What are these things?
- Do what needs to be done: Las Vegas has no natural resources. It lies in the middle of the desert and 100 years ago, the population was 800 people (today, 2 million people live here). The Las Vegas approach was always more pragmatic than sentimental (I guess this is how you survive in the desert) and the city seized opportunities at the right moment. Make this strategy yours. Peter Drucker says: “Successful leaders (this goes for other knowledge workers) don’t ask ‘What do I want to do?’ They ask, ‘What needs to be done?’ Then they ask, ‘Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?’ They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at.” Focus on things that bring you forward and to not lose time on those you cannot change or that jeopardize your success.
- Put yourself in question and reinvent yourself if needed: Las Vegas’ fame was built in the 1940s by Bugsy Siegel, a mobster who was sent here to make money. 10 years later, almost all casinos were run by the mob and this continued until the end of the 1970s. Since the 1950s, Las Vegas was home to the fanciest shows and biggest entertainers of it’s time. Beginning in the 1980s, the city saw a downturn until the theme hotels came in the 1990s with the aim to change it’s reputation from “sin city” to “entertainment city”. Also, Las Vegas has become the biggest convention city in the USA. The focus of this city changed many times in its’ history. Do the same and regularly ask yourself if a decision or direction you took one year ago is still good for you. Correct if needed.
- Don’t lose the contact to the bottom-line: Las Vegas lost speed in the 1980s. It no longer had the monopoly of legal gambling and cities like Atlanta, much more accessible, took its rang. With its’ downturn, world stars could not longer be attracted and the shows became second class. Make sure you remain first class, watch your competitiveness and keep a sexy profile. Most candidates I meet that start further education do so because they want to change job. 10 years nothing and all of sudden a big chunk – this is not very credible and does not qualify you as someone who is in the driving seat of his/ her career. Always ask yourself if you would hire yourself tomorrow. Read your own CV as you would read the one from a candidate. Look for benchmarks. Seek advice if you need on how to upgrade your profile.
- “If you do not cannibalize yourself, your competitors will do” (Peter Drucker): What brought you where you stand today might not be good enough to bring you where you want to be tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to let go successful strategies. In Las Vegas, all the big hotels that represented it’s original glitz and glamour are gone. The Sands, The Dunes, the Stardust no longer exist and made place to the new theme hotels. What seemed a bold decision at the time (blow up the hallmarks of the city!!), proved to be the right one and founded Las Vegas’ revival since the 1990s until today.
- Always present yourself in the best possible way: Yes, Las Vegas has the highest criminality and unemployed rate in the states and is hit harder by a crisis than other economies. However, as a tourist, you will probably only see the strip and maybe downtown (my tip if you want to see the original Vegas). If the rest of the city vanished, 95% of the tourists would not notice and on the strip, you do not see the ugly parts of this city. In your career, focus on the things that set you apart positively and do not talk too much about what you are not good at. Learn to sell yourself. Many candidates (mainly from Finance or IT) tell me that the have problems with that. Learn it as you will need it for both getting a new job and having a promotion. Being good is not good enough, you must have the skills to show that you are good in a humble yet convincing and clear way.
- Be close to the power: I am currently staying in a non-casino hotel that belongs to a major luxury hotel group. One of their casinos has an average spend of half a million USD (right, this is the average) and the respective hotel is sold out all week-ends of the year. Some of the wealthiest people in the world come here to gamble. What does this mean to you? Be close to powerful people and find a mentor who is highly ranked in your organization.
- Have successful people around you: Las Vegas was able to attract talent for most of the time. The Rat Pack, Howard Hughes, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones or David Copperfield – they were all here. When they went away (e.g. by the end of the 1970s to the end 80s), Las Vegas’ stumbled into a downturn. Make sure you work in winning teams and are surrounded by people you can learn from. When key players leave the company and when many do so, find out the reasons and ask yourself if this is the right place for you and your career.
Do what has to be done, always be good and stay sharp, don’t bother too much what people think about you, remain competitive, look at the quality of the people around you, see the easy side of life and the next years of your career look bright.