Monday, July 12, 2010

Harnessing Tenacity

I need to look no further then my 5 year old to point out one of the most important traits in business and life: tenacity. Using the word in a sentence, he asked what it meant and I explained its essence being, “never giving up on something you want or believe in.”

A glazed look, followed by an, “ok daddy,” saw him off to get dressed for a picnic. At the event, kids had an opportunity to win a goldfish by bouncing a ping-pong ball in a bowl. My son was determined to win. In the hot sun, 15 times my son tried, missed, headed to the back of the line and undeterred, tried again. On the 16th try, the ball entered the bowl and he leaped for joy, embraced me and proclaimed, “Daddy, I have it!” “The goldfish” I responded?

“No, I have tenacity!”

Sure, the fish and the win meant something, but he reminded me that the pursuit, the understanding of lessons learned in the journey and an unwavering resolute, were where the magic lied. With each execution, my son was gleaning important lessons he would incorporate in the following attempts. If whenever during that process he allowed my attempts at imposing my will, with suggestions this challenge was out of his reach or we had exhausted our attempts, the final outcome would be entirely different and I would have robbed him and myself of a key life lesson.

Far too often in business and in life, those in leadership positions fail to recognize there is more than one way to get to a final outcome, not to mention the importance of never giving up. Classrooms are the worst example of this and why we must encourage real world learning as a complement. Scholastics and many organizations profess there is only one environment to learn, one correct answer and one process to achieve results. Wrong, Wrong and Wrong! This destroys our exploration, creativity and steadfastness.

At STIR-Communications and our other businesses, I always hire on attitude and enthusiasm and not experience. My philosophy is you can teach someone almost any skill but you cannot teach them passion. I do highly value IQ (intelligence quotient) but not nearly as much as I value EQ (emotional quotient). I strongly believe to achieve great success, knowing how to identify, assess, assimilate, manage and control one’s self emotions is a key to survival and desired results. School, books, teachers and organizations cannot teach you this. Less and less, important work is done in an office. It’s the real world that teaches survival and it is why we push people out the door.

I spent some time this past week with Izzy Havenick of Magic City Casino. He and his family have a long, illustrious and tenacious business and philanthropic history. This past year they received their gaming license and are poised to operate one of Florida’s most significant attractions owned by a tax paying organization. I am no stranger to the gaming industry as I have helped orchestrate the openings of New York New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Harrah's Casino’s outdoor pavilion in Las Vegas and have created several events for Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Never during that time did I have a warm and fuzzy feeling for a gaming operator or ever felt they were sympathetic figures or even role models, until now. Izzy and his family spent decades battling significant hurdles trying to make their family dream come true. They would try, they would lose, they would be undeterred and they would try again, each time with a slightly different approach but never once with any less passion and belief. As we strolled across the floors, bells dinging, lights flashing and hundreds of people excitedly parting with their money, I suggested to Izzy that he must be proud. Without missing a beat he said, “I am proud for my mother and father (who died during the process) and my family who refused to walk away.” He led me to an area in the casino where a row of all the slot machines would provide a portion of the proceeds to various charities. Izzy explained, “My mother is most proud of this area -- to be able to give to those in need and who never give up hope.”

What a wonderful way of exemplifying and rewarding tenacity.

How do you instill, recognize and reward tenacity at work and in life? Who has shown you great examples of tenacious behavior?

All my best,


Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

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