Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

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“You can’t have everything you want, but you can have the things that really matter to you.” —Marissa Mayer, former president and CEO of Yahoo.

My career has been really important to me. And I’ve loved what I’ve been doing. But sometimes, to the detriment of the things that really matter. Kind of like punching myself in the face. For no good reason.

I’ve spent a large part of my career both travelling or being away from my (growing) family. I’ve missed birthdays & days out & sickness and all the ups & downs that go with the greatest adventure of them all – bringing up a family.

The bulk of my experience has been in an industry that is currently going through seismic changes. Consolidation, large M&A’s, re-organisations and regulators banging at the door, like never before.

My plan was to leave the Stars Group and move into a Marketing leadership role in a (new to me) large blue-chip organisation. My leaving was accelerated by the business I was helping run, being folded into another part of the (Stars) Group – but the new job was offered, I met the people I’d be working with, plans put in place, and a window of a couple of months before the right structure put in place – to bring me on board. Happy days.

But sometimes, time off can do funny things.

For the first time in years, I was at home in Dublin for 7 days a week, taking on my share of the ups & downs and really appreciating the amazing job my wife has done, in doing the toughest job of them all – bringing up healthy, happy, well-balanced kids.

During this very recent period, the right house, in the right place in Dublin became available. “NO – we won’t buy it because I’m going to be working overseas again, and we need to make other plans…” – was my first reaction. And it was the wrong reaction.

It was typical of someone who was more focused on their own tunnel vision needs & wants around work & career – and less about making what should be the right long-term decision around the most important job of all. Being the best Dad & husband possible.

So – fast forward 3 months, we’ve sold one house, bought a new dream house in an area where my kids have already spent more time in old-school, outside water fight, ‘don’t come in until we have to send out a search party’ play – than ever before. I’m at home. We are together. And my wife is….content.

Me? I feel…brand new. And it’s great.

Great, because I’ve got clarity in terms of what’s important. Great because my health is good, & great because instead of repeating the same pattern and disappearing out of Ireland again – I’m clear that this is where I want to stay.

Being brand new sometimes means looking back, and making sure that you understand why you are, where you are.

The gambling industry has given me a great living, I’ve worked with a lot of people a lot smarter than me, and learnt from them – and its given me the opportunity to travel all around the world. But – it’s currently facing into it’s most challenging period since it’s inception.

The core challenge is clear – how do you operate a business that that has historically turned a blind eye to unhealthy behaviours that impact negatively on people’s lives? It may be a small % of customers / people – but that small % has historically over-indexed in terms of profits delivered.

In an earlier part of my life, I had direct lived experience of the challenges of addiction. I’ve seen the damage that it can do – and I’ve seen good people familiar to me, losing a battle against life being unmanageable – and struggling to have the courage (or support) to change the things they could.

I mention this, because this experience has probably given me a deeper insight into the more human side of the enterprise challenge, that is the online gambling industry attempting to change it’s own historical behaviours and genuinely put in place the right type of (both) internal attitude, and external safeguards – to protect the small % of people that are vulnerable to what the online gambling industry sells.

The challenge (for the gambling industry) is not about designing & devising high-profile, media friendly, player facing support programs – but a deeper one. In my opinion, it’s about taking a value and human trait that’s been sorely missing – and making it core to every activity.

The value and trait? Empathy.

I’m not going to lecture on empathy. People and businesses have to be honest with themselves as to whether it’s a value that’s important to them. It’s difficult to prove or show, as it operates on many different levels – but it’s trait that I think that all businesses (particularly those with a heavy marketing focus) and gambling, in particular – need to ask themselves “is this core to our DNA?”. If not – you’re not putting your customers needs – truly at the heart of what you do.

Empathy is something that I personally took my eye off the ball with, in terms of my own life – and I’m just working hard to reapply it to what’s important. If you keep it front and centre – you make more of an effort to understand (both) what’s important to other people and you do your best to serve their needs before your own. For example, for me, if I look at the needs of the most important people around me – it’s about staying close to home, as much as I can – but balancing it with the type of work that gives me purpose and focus – so I can, personally, be happy – and spread that happiness around.

I’m still a work in progress. I’m still working it all out – but I am proud of the work that I’ve done, with the companies I’ve done it with. I want to use that experience (and empathy) to help other people.

I’m available for consultancy based out of Dublin, happy to travel but with some limits. Betting, gaming, ecommerce, brand, performance & growth marketing.

Contact me here.

Or Whatsapp / call on +353 87 1234 371.

You get the empathy and experience at no extra charge.



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