Issue 19 - August 3rd, 2018
We're Not Bad - We're Just Drawn That Way
I wrote last month in celebration of the past good year with hopes for a successful one to follow, which started July 1. Let's be honest, that was largely a nod to the good folks that work in sales and marketing and the revenue success of the past year. But I went to law school; such skills are not in my set of crayons, not even the big box with the sharpener. My training is as a member of the Sales Prevention Team.
I started my lottery pilgrimage as a lottery general counsel. I was often referred to as the Chief of the Sales Prevention Team - or known even more simply as "Dr. No." Yup, that was me and my name for seven years as chief lawyer for the Massachusetts Lottery. I swear the sales and marketing folks would wait until I was on vacation to proceed with initiatives that they knew I would shoot down.
We were actually a team; there was the chief auditor, the head of information technologies, and me - the chief lawyer. I think the sales and marketing folks (or as we referred to them, arts and crafts) had voodoo dolls of us and a dart board. So allow me a moment to defend the Sales Prevention Team members in your various shops. Sometimes they wield too much authority, sometimes not enough, but their fundamental goal - their nature - is to protect; to insure in the broadest sense of the word and to make sure everything works like it's supposed to work. So give them a bit of a break.
I'll give you an example of what I mean. Vendor A comes in with a licensed property for a casino in Las Vegas. (I use this example because a bunch of companies offer these, and I'm protecting certain folks that I'm fond of.) They make their presentation and the sales folks love it, because lottery players love Vegas trips. I know, shocking, lottery players like to gamble. But I ask, as a Sales Prevention Team member must, "Can an 18-year-old check into a Las Vegas casino, and specifically this casino? You know, because 18-year-olds can buy lottery tickets." "Of course," was the response. "Not a problem, they can absolutely check in."
So in the conference room, with the vendor there, I pick up a phone, call the hotel and ask, "I'm an 18-year-old guest, can I check in?" "No, you must be 21." Typical lawyer, trust but verify...
Was it pleasant? Nope, not even close; but was it way better than having players fly to Nevada from Boston and then be denied a room? So very much way better. We worked on a cash value for the dozen or so players under 21 that ended up winning. The ticket sold well, lots of folks had a great trip and a dozen or so under-21s got a check for the value of the trip. Nothing to see here folks, move along. I often said my best work was the train wrecks I stopped from even leaving the station.
So then I became a director of a lottery. My first instincts were to go back to my training and run a risk averse shop, which works great until you realize that we actually have to make money (as in last month's column). So we have a number of department heads here, all with incredible skills, but ultimately different wiring. I don't ask our very talented marketing director to do high end accounting; I don't ask the chief financial officer to come up with promotions. It's up to the director to try and meld the differences into a coherent framework so that everyone is rowing in the same direction. Sounds easy; it's really not. Everyone comes with different wiring - different DNA - and all have to be respected. I tell each member of my senior team that they have the God-given right to walk into my office and tell me how stupid I am. They not only have the right, I demand they exercise it if the need arises.
My sincere wishes for a great end to the summer - until next month...
Charlie McIntyre (recovering attorney)
PS: I would have included a photo of Jessica Rabbit, who uttered the line that forms the title of this piece, but my HR director and my lawyer wouldn't let me!