I’ve spent the last several days in Las Vegas. I am typically there 3-5 times per year on business. On this trip, several things happened in the first couple days that are lessons for us as people and leaders. So let me share each of these moments with you – and what we can all learn from them. Don’t worry the moments and lessons are all G rated – no Hangover movie-worthy moments here!
In the Indy Airport
I drew the lucky card and had random screening at security. As the TSA Agent swiped my hands to see if I had been handling explosives, he asked where I was going. I said, “Las Vegas, on business.” He said, “No one goes to Vegas for business.”
Insight: People have preconceived beliefs, and while those beliefs aren’t always stated like his was, those beliefs will impact our ability to persuade them.
Lesson: There was no (easy) way for me to convince this man I was going for business – his mental picture precludes that idea. If I want to influence people to a new perspective, I must first understand their current perspective or paradigm so I can help them shift it; otherwise it will be a long tough road.
In the Airplane
I was reading the April 29 issue of FORTUNE Magazine and noticed a quote from Steve Wynn – owner of two big destination resort casinos in Vegas (and two more in Macau). The quote reads, “All the razzmatazz we hear about facilities doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It’s the customer experience.”
Insight: Vegas seems to be all about the razzmatazz, yet even a long term veteran, who has created his share of razzmatazz himself, knows that it is ultimately about something else, something more personal.
Lesson: As a leader are you focusing your people on creating experiences for Customers? Are you providing people with the tools and resources to create moments that will make the Customer want more or tell others? Your answers to these questions will make a big difference in your results.
In the Cab
Coming from the Client’s office back to my hotel, I asked the cab driver a question, as I often do. It led to a conversation. He was fun, courteous, and pleasant. I asked for his card. I called and he picked me up the next afternoon to take me back to my hotel again. As we talked he told me to consider him my personal cab driver.
Insight: Lots of people drive a cab. Few look for ways to create long term Customers.
Lesson: When you engage other people, good things can happen – for everyone. There are lessons for me and for Marlon, my personal cab driver – lessons about communication, seizing opportunity and more. Are you opening yourself up for opportunities, and are you noticing them when they are near you?
At The Show
Cirque du Soleil is one of our Clients (and why I am in Vegas for this trip). Their newest show is opening soon at the Mandalay Bay resort. It is called Michael Jackson One – it is a show based on Michael Jackson and his music. I went to a preview showing (the Gala opening is June 29 – get details and tickets here). At the end of the show as people are standing and applauding, the young woman beside me said, “I love you, Michael!”
Insight: As human beings, we are emotional beings. When emotion is evoked, powerful results can occur.
Lesson: You likely aren’t creating show or performing on stage, yet you do have the need to influence others. Are you evoking emotion to inspire and persuade, or are you scared of that thought, thinking emotion has no place in business? If you want to be more influential, you must invite your – and other people’s – emotions to the table.
At the Restaurant
Before the show, I needed a quick bite and so I went to the Burger Bar at Mandalay Place Shops. One of the burgers on the menu is $60. (I didn’t have one). There are more expensive burgers in Vegas, but have you ever had a $60 burger? And yes, they sell them.
Insight: Not everyone thinks about things in the same way, or is motivated by the same things.
Lesson: Rather than moving immediately to judgment (“who would pay $60 for a hamburger?!”), focus first on observation (“I wonder why people choose to pay $60 for a hamburger?”) When we judge, we close down our curiosity and won’t communicate as effectively anyway. Make your focus be observation and curiosity.
These are relatively random events, and yet I hope at least one of the insights or lessons is exactly what you needed to read now. The biggest lesson though, is the last one – it applies to all of us, all of the time – if we allow it to.
When You Look
My days in Vegas were largely sleep, work and eat – but in less than 2 days, all of these small events became the source of leadership learning for me. How did that happen? It isn’t about Vegas itself, or even the events themselves. It is about the fact that I was looking for lessons.
There are opportunities to learn everywhere and every day, if you stop and look. I hope you gain value and insight from my experiences. More than that I hope I have inspired to you to look around for the leadership lessons that are waiting for you.