I am turning 65 this month and yes, I am retiring.
Just not quite right away.
My company, Raving Consulting, recently put out a press release announcing Deana Scott as the new CEO. And yes, she is assuming my role. Deana is a terrifically talented gaming executive who has held senior level positions with the Coquille Tribe in Oregon, the Yurok Tribe in California and with John Acres at Acres 4.0. For the past several months, she has been a Raving Partner, specializing in Executive Leadership and Marketing.
For the next year, my wife Becky and I will continue to own the company. If all goes accordingly to plan, Deana and her husband, Brady, a business leader with the Coquille Tribe, will be Raving’s new owners, and I will become a part-time (and very picky) consultant under the Raving banner, who will work on retainer with no more than three gaming clients who value my perspective and are eager to have my assistance.
I have been wondering how to market myself in “semi-retirement.” It seems when you are going to work “part-time,” prospective clients might think your heart isn’t in it. Well, that’s not true. I’m just as passionate today as I was 40 years ago about helping build a casino experience that has real value – for our customers, our employees, our communities and our shareholders.
It also seems that limiting myself to only three clients runs the risk of being seen as “snobbish” (what, you are not willing to work for us???) as well as being inefficient. After all, consultants are supposed to take projects when the demand is there to counter-balance the lulls and the vagaries of the times when it is not.
There there’s the issue after being in this business for nearly 43 years, of “long in the tooth syndrome,” or “how is an old guy like you going to give us any new ideas?” I’ll take that as a branding and communication challenge.
Truthfully, there likely is an optimal strategy for transitioning from a “President and Chief Strategist” to a part-time consultant. Likewise, for a casino property that is adding a significant number of amenities to become more than just a “locals gambling joint.” Or a “me too” casino that wants to transition to one that provides uncommon value to real players (now there’s a strong proposition!).
I’m not exactly sure what that optimal strategy is, but this is the approach I’m going to take. I’m going to continue to speak and write in various gaming forums, both Raving forums and others that want me to share my experience and ideas.
I’m going to introduce our new CEO, Deana, to all of our Raving clients and my personal longtime friends and tell them how wonderful and talented she is, much more so than me.
I’m going to take all the time I can to share with Deana my thoughts on what makes for a great consulting practice, the history of Raving and what’s worked and what hasn’t, the lessons learned from doing a few hundred gaming conferences and seminars, and much, much more.
I am going to get even more involved with Raving’s charity partner, the Notah Begay III Foundation and its work addressing the health of Native American children. The good work that any business does to support worthy community organizations is as important as the most detailed strategic marketing plan it follows. I am going to expand my efforts to learn from other non–gaming experts and innovative non-gaming companies so that Raving can continue to absorb “best thinking” and “best practices” from other industries. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from.
I will continue to offer mentoring to those young, promising executives who feel that they could benefit from it, and that I have something to offer them. I’m sure all of my mentors would want me to “pay it forward.”
I am sure I will spend more personal time with my wife, Becky, visiting places we’ve both wanted to visit, doing some of the things we’ve each wanted to do, and spending more time with each of our families.
No doubt, I will continue to dream about some of the “big ideas” I’ve had over the years and how I could still make them happen. You know, like the “Raving Management” concept as the ultimate in value creation by extreme focus on the casino guest and team member experience. Or the “Raving Certified Dealer” concept, where the best croupiers are inspired to not be “transaction jockeys” but “memory makers.”
To all of my faithful readers of this column over the last 20 years (I know there must be at least one of you!), thank you for listening to all of my notions on how we could make the casino experience just a little bit better, each and every day for EVERYONE.
I’ll still be writing for Casino Journal, maybe a little less often, but also sharing new authors and new ideas as well. It’s all part of the “transition to retirement” for me.
And then I may actually retire. But that’s hard to do when you love this crazy industry so much.