John Filippe

Entertaining Reinvention

When I wrote “This Old House,” I talked primarily about updating yourself so you don’t look like an out-of-date candidate. This article addresses the same issue, but from a currently working executive position and our constant battle to stay relevant and new.

Recently I heard Nikki Glaser say on her show that entertainers who last a long time in the entertainment business must constantly reinvent themselves to match the changing world. I realized it’s not just entertainers. The audience for them may be larger, but the truth is that we all must reinvent ourselves to match the world. Our goal must be a constant reinvention of our methods and attitudes.

When I wrote “This Old House,” I talked primarily about updating yourself so you don’t look like an out-of-date candidate. This article addresses the same issue, but from a currently working executive position and our constant battle to stay relevant and new.

Recently I heard Nikki Glaser say on her show that entertainers who last a long time in the entertainment business must constantly reinvent themselves to match the changing world. I realized it’s not just entertainers. The audience for them may be larger, but the truth is that we all must reinvent ourselves to match the world. Our goal must be a constant reinvention of our methods and attitudes. What worked for me 20 years ago will not work for me now. Hell, it would be hard for me to use methods I used five years ago! Five years ago, LGBT was just that – LGBT. Now it has expanded to LGBTQQIP2AA. (I think I have that right, and I apologize if I do not.) And service animals were used for very specific needs – not for everything up to and including comfort and anxiety. No matter your belief or your history, you are required to embrace these changes in our society and incorporate them into our structure.

Onlookers can now constantly scrutinize every action we take. It’s just the world we live in – a world where anyone who has any influence over any other person lives nowadays. Is it fair? In my opinion it is. When you have influence over other people you must hold yourself to a higher standard. That is something we all have had to learn over the course of our careers – some more painfully than others. That is why the entertainment world is such a macrocosm of executive management these days. You almost need to take your queue from entertainers who constantly must change to match society or perish into obsolescence.

As executive managers, or as I like to call it, talent agents, we are all in the entertainment business, and we have an obligation to our fans/employees to do what is expected of us! As my teams like to say when I mention this, “Dance monkey dance!” And they are right. Like every entertainer, I am required to provide service to the people – all of them – up, down, left and right. You cannot be all things to all people, but you can be open to all things from all people. You have to be because everything changes too fast to be anything different. If you try to stand firmly on an ever-changing script you will continue to fail, so you must learn to be accepting of all changes as they come at you and play your part as a leader with influence.

Now, since you must get up every morning and put on your entertainer hat and go meet your adoring public (hopefully), you need to start your daily sale of gaming and technology. And the only thing that is changing faster than social standards is gaming technology. And you, my friends, are required to alter your perspective on this constantly. What happened to the days when PC and Mac didn’t coexist, and you only had to embrace Mac when forced to by your graphic designers!? And who would have thought two years ago that we would be in a mad scramble to add sports betting technology to our casinos outside of Nevada?

Nowadays, you are not allowed to be a single-minded individual in the technology or gaming world. You must constantly embrace every new opportunity with open eyes and open hearts and allow yourself to be reinvented with every new device out there. It seems the IoT (Internet of Things) has become our greatest ally as well as our Achilles heel! Like the entertainer who has had to embrace social networks like Twitter and Facebook, while also facing the slings and arrows of public opinion over every societal change, we get to face the same slings and arrows on a smaller scale while trying to embrace gaming and technological changes that make our old scripts obsolete.

This is where we look at our relevance and try to apply our knowledge – knowledge that used to be considered brilliant, but now just looks old and tired. You must always remember that this is an entertainment job, where you need people to like you, and the only way to do that is to make yourself likable and relevant. The best way to get people to like you is to accept change as a fact and embrace the community around you. And the best way to remain relevant is to listen to everyone around you and learn from his or her experience, no matter how limited that experience may seem. Because the audience that we get is no different from any entertainer who takes a job, sometimes it is a great audience, and sometimes not so much. We just have to continue to reinvent ourselves to match every audience, condition or change. From a technology change to a gaming change, we have to reinvent absolutely everything we do and believe…constantly.

Try not to fall into the trap of continuing to rehash the same plan because it worked so well on your last gig. Life is a journey my friend, and during that journey we have more and more course corrections that will wear you down if you fight them. So please go and embrace your inner entertainer and open your mind to the constant reinvention of yourself and your ideas so you can continue to accept the Academy Award for being at the top of your field for many years to come.

What worked for me 20 years ago will not work for me now. Hell, it would be hard for me to use methods I used five years ago! Five years ago, LGBT was just that – LGBT. Now it has expanded to LGBTQQIP2AA. (I think I have that right, and I apologize if I do not.) And service animals were used for very specific needs – not for everything up to and including comfort and anxiety. No matter your belief or your history, you are required to embrace these changes in our society and incorporate them into our structure.

Onlookers can now constantly scrutinize every action we take. It’s just the world we live in – a world where anyone who has any influence over any other person lives nowadays. Is it fair? In my opinion it is. When you have influence over other people you must hold yourself to a higher standard. That is something we all have had to learn over the course of our careers – some more painfully than others. That is why the entertainment world is such a macrocosm of executive management these days. You almost need to take your queue from entertainers who constantly must change to match society or perish into obsolescence.

As executive managers, or as I like to call it, talent agents, we are all in the entertainment business, and we have an obligation to our fans/employees to do what is expected of us! As my teams like to say when I mention this, “Dance monkey dance!” And they are right. Like every entertainer, I am required to provide service to the people – all of them – up, down, left and right. You cannot be all things to all people, but you can be open to all things from all people. You have to be because everything changes too fast to be anything different. If you try to stand firmly on an ever-changing script you will continue to fail, so you must learn to be accepting of all changes as they come at you and play your part as a leader with influence.

Now, since you must get up every morning and put on your entertainer hat and go meet your adoring public (hopefully), you need to start your daily sale of gaming and technology. And the only thing that is changing faster than social standards is gaming technology. And you, my friends, are required to alter your perspective on this constantly. What happened to the days when PC and Mac didn’t coexist, and you only had to embrace Mac when forced to by your graphic designers!? And who would have thought two years ago that we would be in a mad scramble to add sports betting technology to our casinos outside of Nevada?

Nowadays, you are not allowed to be a single-minded individual in the technology or gaming world. You must constantly embrace every new opportunity with open eyes and open hearts and allow yourself to be reinvented with every new device out there. It seems the IoT (Internet of Things) has become our greatest ally as well as our Achilles heel! Like the entertainer who has had to embrace social networks like Twitter and Facebook, while also facing the slings and arrows of public opinion over every societal change, we get to face the same slings and arrows on a smaller scale while trying to embrace gaming and technological changes that make our old scripts obsolete.

This is where we look at our relevance and try to apply our knowledge – knowledge that used to be considered brilliant, but now just looks old and tired. You must always remember that this is an entertainment job, where you need people to like you, and the only way to do that is to make yourself likable and relevant. The best way to get people to like you is to accept change as a fact and embrace the community around you. And the best way to remain relevant is to listen to everyone around you and learn from his or her experience, no matter how limited that experience may seem. Because the audience that we get is no different from any entertainer who takes a job, sometimes it is a great audience, and sometimes not so much. We just have to continue to reinvent ourselves to match every audience, condition or change. From a technology change to a gaming change, we have to reinvent absolutely everything we do and believe…constantly.

Try not to fall into the trap of continuing to rehash the same plan because it worked so well on your last gig. Life is a journey my friend, and during that journey we have more and more course corrections that will wear you down if you fight them. So please go and embrace your inner entertainer and open your mind to the constant reinvention of yourself and your ideas so you can continue to accept the Academy Award for being at the top of your field for many years to come.

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.