In previous articles I've often written about how leadership qualities that are required in today's business environment are, to a large degree, very similar to those that traditional entrepreneurs had during industrialization. Even today there are still entrepreneurs who can look back at very long careers, but from whom we can learn an awful lot about agile entrepreneurship and how to deal with employees. Steve Wynn, 73, Casino tycoon and influential entrepreneur from Las Vegas, is such a businessman. His keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo 2014 is replete with remarkable statements. Statements that we actually more readily expect from young entrepreneurs. I've chosen a few.
Detailed, and not without a certain pride and joy, Wynn describes how he and his team invested gigantic sums during the last 15 years. For better understanding it's important to know that Wynn, who comes from a modest background, made a name for himself in Las Vegas between 1980 and 2000 through a series of deals and small investments. Ultimately, his big coup was the sale of Mirage Resorts ((Mirage, Treasure Islands, Bellagio) to MGM. The deal netted Steve Wynn 500 million dollars. At a time (at 58, financially secure) when most of today's leaders think about early retirement, Steve Wynn really got started and began to invest heavily: 2.7 billion in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (2005), 0.8 billion in the Wynn Macau (China, 2006), 2.3 billion in the Encore Las Vegas (2008), 2.5 billion in the Wynn Palace (China, 2012) and 1.6 billion in the Wynn Everett Casino (2014). Of course Wynn, with his track record, can readily raise capital. But every single investment could have backfired and thus marked the end of his corporate endeavors. His investments and entrepreneurial activities were associated with enormous risks. And all of this at what was widely considered to be the most difficult, worst possible period in recent memory - immediately after 9-11 and amidst the real estate- / financial crisis. Wynn simply continued and, contrary to other casino owners, didn't release employees on a large scale.
In his talk, as well as during other opportunities, Wynn makes fun of digitization and, especially, consultants. When asked why he doesn't want to invest in Internet gaming (which is not yet legal anyway), he answered that he doesn't see a business case. However, his companies are among the vanguard of the digital industry.