Every Friday, CasinoBeats is thinking out loud

THE chief executive of a publicly listed company of more than 10,000 employees once told CB that “success in business is all about personal relationships”.

When that (non-gaming) company was formed in 1973, the CEO in question was one of just three founding members of staff. He oversaw growth to first 10, then a 100 employees. Before numbers reached a thousand, he’d taken the company public. Then things really got exciting.

After around 15 years spent dodging the vultures seeking to snaffle up his fledgling business for a song, his newly listed company became the predator. In fact, it had matured into one of that sector’s alphas. Soon the organisation grew to a two thousand workers, then five.

By the time the chief bestowed his advice upon a green-eared CB, the company he founded numbered more than 10,000 staff with offices in over 10 countries. Turnover was more than £1bn.

Point is, when he said that business success was strongly linked to personal relationships, one was well advised to listen. And the adage still holds, of course. What is LinkedIn if it is not first and foremost about personal connections?

Online gaming in particular remains a young industry. Coin-op and arcade gaming can offer its own version of nostalgia but the early, pioneering days of online are barely over. Our wise chief exec, back in the seventies, formed a handful of tight business friendships that continue to this day and that saw him through some pretty risky manoeuvres. “You need people you can trust and that can trust you,” was something else he would offer hungry graduates. “Never let a good person pass by your door,” was another tidbit.

He ran a hugely successful operation, envied by many and admired by more. And he attributed a large chunk of this success to the people he knew rather than what he knew.

Nothing new there, of course. “It’s not what you know but who you know,” as many a seasoned professional would gleefully tell an eager apprentice.

But that didn’t go far enough for our chief executive. Let’s call him Chris, because that in fact is his name. “It is who you know,” Chris would concur, “but even more important than that, it’s who you don’t know”.

Chris’ philosophy was that the boundaries of what your business could achieve were ultimately best defined by the people out there that were useful to you (and you to them) and with whom you had, as yet, made no connection. Because your competitors will know those people. They are there – at your event, at that conference, in the hospitality suite – for a reason.

Yes, they may have simply fancied an expenses-paid trip to the British Grand Prix, or a round of golf or a beer, but these people – these business-critical prospects – still chose to go. They still elected to hang out with people they know through work instead of spend their evening at home, watching Love Island in their pants.

Chris’ take was that it was always worth putting yourself in the best position available to start successful new relationships. This didn’t mean that, in the early days, he would attend every event but he, even as CEO, continued to keep a keen eye on attendee lists and was across the networking agenda right through his career. If someone he thought could be worth getting to know was going to be somewhere, he’d go. That, for him, mattered more than the actual occasion. He’d pass up an invite to the state opening of parliament in favour of a low-key networking breakfast if he knew there’d be someone of interest at the latter.

“You see, it’s not about being in the right place at the right time, it’s about being in the right place all the time.” That wasn’t a quote from Chris but from arch goal-poacher Gary Lineker. It nonetheless rings true.

So where are you going to be? Out looking for new or consolidated business contacts, or at home, watching the opening game of the World Cup in your PJs?

If you’re in the Isle of Man next Thursday, June 14 – when Russia 2018 begins – you could do a lot worse than watch the host nation kick off its campaign against Saudi Arabia at the Railway in Douglas.

CB will be there, as will a host of key individuals from the island’s casino gaming community. Will you be there? Or do you have a state opening of parliament to attend?

Our chief exec Chris won’t be coming. It’s not his sector and, in any case, he’s retired now. Although he still keeps in touch – because you never know, right?

The SBC Isle of Man Social: 3.30pm to 7.30pm, Thursday June 14, at The Railway in Douglas https://sbcevents.com/sbc-iom-social/