EXPO 2022 | Aug 14-17 | Bally's Las Vegas

How I Built My Winning Team

EXPO 2014 Management Training Seminar

2014 EXPO 04173The final “management” training seminar at EXPO 2014—”How I Built My Winning Team”—featured two very successful club executives. Micheal Ocello, President of the VCG/PT’s Showclubs chain and Dennis DeGori, managing partner with E11EVEN Miami, each tapped into their 60-plus years of collective industry experience to reflect the theme of the EXPO by offering tips on how they’ve built their winning teams.

Ocello began his comments by stating that while building a winning team means having a common vision and a common focus, it is often difficult to communicate that common vision and focus to others in a way that they understand.
“There are times where I talk to the people I work with and I wonder if we’re speaking the same language,” said Ocello. “But I recently came across a study done several years ago by Elizabeth Newton, a  PhD from Stamford University. The study was called ‘tappers and listeners,’ and was based on tapping simple songs that we all know, such as ‘happy birthday.’ She asked people ahead of time, ‘what percentage of people do you think will understand the song you’re tapping?’ 50% said yes, they’ll get it. But only 2.3% actually got (the song that was being tapped).
“Thus, she theorized that this is the ‘curse of knowledge,’ and we all have it,” Ocello continued. “At this year’s EXPO, you’ll hear a bunch of great speakers on a number of topics, and you’ll go back to your club bubbling over with great information that you want to share with everyone at your club. But when you try to explain what you’ve learned, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to ‘hear’ or understand what you’re saying.”
The trick, Ocello said, is to get people to understand where you’re coming from. To do that, “we have to make a greater effort to see things from the other person’s perspective,” no matter what age or gender they are, no matter what their background may be.
“If you’re going to be a team, you have to have a mission, and everyone needs to know what the mission is—the goal of the mission—and know that anything that you do that doesn’t meet the mission goals needs to be (omitted),” said Ocello. “Each decision has to reflect the common goal.  For example, our motto is, ‘we make people happier than when we met them.’ That’s our mission statement, and everyone in our organization knows that.”
2014 EXPO 04278Reaching the youngest generation of club employees, as Ocello explained, is a challenge that many club operators around the country face on a regular basis. To this end, Ocello recommends that owners remember the acronym WIFM: What’s in it for me.
“Your staff may like you, but for them to be on your team, you have to find out how to reach and motivate each individual,” said Ocello. “Money is rarely ever the number-one prioroty that motivates employees; a lot of other factors that come into play.”
He referenced books by author Jason Ryan Dorsey, including ‘My Reality Check Bounced,’ which touched on cultural differences in the work force for 20-somethings.
“Our company goes from 18-72—do you think they’re all the same?” he said. “When I was young, when the boss left me alone, i loved it; it meant they trusted me. But with the new generation, they don’t like it. They think, ‘why don’t you talk to me? What have I done wrong?’ They want constant attention and motivation. What is going to be the button you push to get them motivated and on your team?”
2014 EXPO 04291Dennis DeGori initiated his presentation by noting that, to build a winning team, you need three things above all else: Vision, accountability and leadership.
“I’ve always been 100% accountable with everything I do, and I have respect for every person I work with,” said DeGori. “Leadership means you’re willing to do the hard things, the toughest jobs. You not only have to do the right things, you have to do things right.”
And as DeGori pointed out, it’s not always what you say that makes you great leader and team builder, it’s what you don’t say.
“There’s true intelligence in listening, and there’s a lot of truth in silence,” said DeGori. “You have to be willing to listen to other people; you can’t just focus on yourself. You have to focus on other people and understand what they’re thinking, what motivates them, and look at the world through other people’s eyes.”
He also noted that he lets his managers fail, allowing them to learn from their mistakes rather than firing them because of those mistakes. As long as everyone at the club understands the collective vision, while some mistakes may be made, if everyone is pointed in the same direction then the club and its staff will achieve that vision.
“It’s kind of like the running of the bulls,” said DeGori. “I  know where we’re trying to go. If you give your staff some passion and leadership, they’ll charge. They might go this way into this wall, knock into a few people, but as long as they’re running in the right direction they’ll all be okay.”
DeGori concluded his presentation by offering a warning: no matter how successful your club may be, there is always room for improvement, and the worst thing you can do is to remain stagnant.
“Dont’ believe your own bullshit and your own press releases,” said DeGori. “You have to have an open mind, live in the moment, and be willing to recreate yourself and your club’s identity.”


To listen to the entire seminar, click here!


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