John Filippe

The Crossroads

My mother once told me, “Cash, luck is the crossroads where opportunity and preparedness meet, and we are all just the sum of our decisions that get us to those crossroads.” (Yes, my middle name is Cash.) As a teenager, I didn’t quite get that, and as an adult I understand it, but like most people, I have tried to wrap the results of my decisions into cloaks of fate and luck hoping that my education and experience has helped to tip the odds in my favor with every decision.

A lot like an advantaged player can bend the odds to get a slightly better outcome than the person next to them, I try to repeatedly become that really advantaged player by studying every nuance of my job, the psychology of the team, the politics of the moment, and I can tell you that I have failed miserably. Oh, I have succeeded as well, and I have done so in glorious fashion, but I have failed in the same glorious fashion! And with every success or failure of epic size and proportion, it usually can be tracked back to one or two good or bad decisions that have led me to that crossroads.

I have often looked at some executives and tried to figure out how they made it to the top of that huge organization, what separated them, and why are they progressing faster than I am? They must just be lucky, or at the right place at the right time, but I honestly don’t believe that. It has its part to play of course, but if luck is the crossroads of opportunity and preparedness, then one of those acts of being prepared has to do with making the correct decision at the correct time.

There is no “secret sauce” that gets us to the crossroads, but there are a couple of methods that sometimes help with the decision-making process. For me, I try to always look at my decision through the eyes of someone else. I find that when I make a bad decision I am always looking through my own eyes, which brings a great deal of history, peppered with every emotion I have ever felt. When I look at a decision through the eyes of another person, I am able to see the clear course a lot better, and I can start to make decisions based more on facts than on my own fiction.

A large part of staying in the fact column and outside of our own fiction is always challenging our own experience and how well it keeps up with ever-changing trends. So, we must have a way to challenge our own experience in order to make decisions using that experience, while also keeping up with the trends of the moment, thus looking through another person’s eyes or perspective. Or, we end up making decisions that have been influenced by our history. The old line, “Nobody gets fired for buying Cisco,” comes to mind. There are many decisions we make that are based clearly on our comfort level – comfort with a product or product line, comfort or trust with a person. None of this is bad, or wrong, but does it look the same if you see it from another viewpoint? I have found that the importance I place on my experience is equal to the need to peel away that experience and review my decision from another perspective.

Next, we must act upon that decision. This is the hardest part. If you are asking why it’s hard, you are probably in perfect shape and have a spectacular career and I envy you greatly! But the rest of us “botched and bungled” (to quote Nietzsche) tend to have weaknesses that play upon us at every decision point and can cause us to not follow a decision that we know is correct. A good example of this is I did not do 10 pushups this morning. I know that if I did 10 pushups every morning I would be stronger and healthier. I didn’t act on a decision I know is the right decision, and now my body will pay interest on that small debt, and I will be weaker and possibly not get into shape that I know I need to be in to prolong my life. I know it is a simple analogy, but that type of willfully bad decision can be traced through a thousand decisions that we all make on a day to day basis.

“It is in your moments of decision
that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

Acting on a decision is inevitable. If you don’t act, the indecision becomes the decision. So the story goes. Actions are now based in timing as well, which makes your choice of when to act on a decision paramount. So, I add it to my calendar – yes, my calendar – and mark it private. Or I put in a daily task list called decision timing, or something along those lines. But how do I come up with the timing? By doing what I do with the decision: look at it from another person’s perspective and it is easy to time your decisions. You won’t become an excited kid too eager to wait for Christmas morning, or an adult who puts off the medical exam for later. You see it for what it is and the facts that surround it. Then when you schedule it, all those emotional burdens disappear. Well, until you need them.

It is my opinion that the ability to make more good decisions than poor decisions is what separates good leaders from exceptional leaders. I’m not going to say that it is the only thing, but I will say that it is the root of what gets us in a position where we are standing at the crossroads of preparedness and opportunity. You know, that place where everyone says, “Wow, how did you get so lucky?”

John Filippe is an accomplished Casino Executive with over 20 years of Casino IT experience. He has worked nationally and internationally for several properties, and across many types of gaming from commercial, tribal, and riverboat entertainment facilities. He was a vendor with Bally Gaming and Systems in the late 90’s, and worked with the large expansion of tribal gaming during that time. His unique style of IT management was featured in the book “The Tech Buzzkill: How Top IT Leaders Fend Off the Tech “Buzz” to Focus on the Business” by Gerry Robinson and Manish Sharma. He is currently the Executive Director of MIS for Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Washington state. Contact John.