Key Takeaways

  • It is the responsibility of the leaders at Mohegan to emphasize and reinforce the workplace culture, and the board holds them accountable for that.
  • Management should evaluate both individual and departmental performance, and reward those who are performing exceptionally well.
  • The employees who struggle to perform at optimal levels should be provided with mentorship by the management team.
  • Employees who are open to constructive feedback and want to improve themselves and the organization are an asset to the concerned organization.
  • Maintaining an open-door approach in an organization can help team members feel comfortable about sharing their ideas and feedback, thereby leading to the company’s success.

Executive Summary

Hi folks! Welcome back to another episode of The Leader Show With Lou Carter. Joining us today is Ray Pineault, the CEO of Mohegan. Mohegan has over two decades of experience creating singular entertainment destinations; they are experts at facilitating positive customer experiences and their core focus is on building relationships. So, without any further ado, let’s delve deep into the insights Ray shares on today’s episode and what makes it a Most Loved Workplace®.   

Leaders Should Be Passionate About Their Company Culture

Lou kicks off today’s conversation by asking Ray how he encourages a strong work culture at his company Mohegan, which helped them gain the Most Loved Workplace® certification. In response, Pineault credits his company’s human resources team, as they were the driving force behind the company getting certified. 

Ray then describes the culture of Mohegan as very family-oriented, which is a result of it being a family business. The owners are passionate about their culture and want to bring it wherever they go, so they ensure that it is being reflected by their team members every day. Ray strongly feels that it is the responsibility of the leaders at Mohegan to emphasize and reinforce the culture, and the management board holds them accountable for that. 

Overall, they want their team members to believe in the culture and see that it is truly believed and practiced by everyone in the company, not just paid lip service to. 

Hiring The Right People Is Crucial For Any Company That Wants To Succeed In The Long Run

Ray believes that hiring the right people is crucial for the success of the company. He has a unique hiring process involving multiple people interviewing candidates to better understand their suitability for the job. Since the company is in the service industry, providing excellent service is essential to its performance. 

They measure guest service and strive to improve it constantly, ensuring they exceed their guests’ expectations. Furthermore, Ray encourages his team to challenge the status quo and not settle for “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” He believes that listening to the team members who are delivering the services daily can help identify the failures in service and delivery, and how they can be improved upon.

Regular Evaluations Are Important To Prevent A Dip In Performance 

Moving on, the CEO of Mohegan highlights that all his employees are dedicated to their work. He conducts quarterly evaluations to monitor team members’ efforts, guest service scores, and recognition from guests and team members. 

Additionally, he looks for constant improvement by measuring individual and departmental performance and rewarding those who perform exceptionally well. Ray also mentions that they not only reward those who perform well, but also help those who may not be performing at the same level by providing mentorship and identifying positive deviants who can teach others how to perform better.

Ray believes holding people accountable for their duties is important, especially in the service industry where delivering a positive customer experience is crucial. He recognizes that everyone can have a bad day, but he takes action when there is consistent poor performance.

Qualities Ray Looks For While Recruiting A Candidate 

Based on Ray’s statements, he looks for the following qualities in potential employees:

1. Natural Guest Service Skills: 

Ray wants people to be themselves and deliver guest service in a natural manner, rather than in a scripted way.

2. Interpersonal Skills: 

He wants people who want to interact with and help others, including their team members. This involves being able to work together and communicate effectively to identify and address problems.

3. Willingness To Improve: 

Ray values employees who are open to constructive feedback and want to improve themselves and the organization. He encourages an open-door policy and expects employees to identify areas where the organization can improve.

Overall, Ray looks for individuals who are natural at providing great guest service, possess strong interpersonal skills, and are committed to improving themselves and the organization.

A CEO Should Always Be Honest With Team Members About Their Organization’s Culture

Next, Ray emphasizes the importance of being honest with team members about the organization’s culture. 

As a part of their orientation process, he talks about the workplace culture and expectations. If these core values do not align with those of the new hire’s, then they are not the right fit for his organization as it is essential to hire individuals who fit the organization’s culture. It is better to be without a person in a particular spot than to hire someone who does not live the culture. 

The management at Mohegan protects its culture by finding individuals who can naturally align themselves with the company’s culture. Pineault believes that different cultures fit different people, and it is incumbent upon the team members to find the culture that works for them. 

An Open-Door Approach Is An Absolute Must For A Company’s Growth 

Next, Ray discusses the challenges of bringing their organization’s culture to South Korea, which has its own distinct norms and traditions. Despite these challenges, Ray emphasizes the importance of maintaining an open-door approach, which allows team members to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and feedback.

He also notes that many of the best ideas for improvement within the organization come from the frontline team members, who have a firsthand understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the industry. By encouraging team members to share their ideas and feedback, Ray hopes to foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation within the organization.

While The CEO acknowledges that they cannot witness everything that their team members experience on a daily basis, they recognize the value of listening to their team members and leveraging their insights to drive positive changes. Overall, Ray’s approach highlights the importance of building strong, collaborative relationships with team members and fostering a culture of open communication and feedback.

Spirit Of Aquai As A Guiding Light

Last but not least, Mr. Pineault discusses the Spirit Of Aquai at Mohegan Sun, which he feels is his guiding light in his daily work as a CEO. The Spirit of Aquai encompasses values that Ray deeply believes in, such as being welcoming, cooperative, and having mutual respect.

Ray believes that these values give the organization a competitive advantage, which leads to growth as well as repeat guests. Additionally, the culture of the Mohegan Tribe, which is over a century old, has helped create an amazing organizational culture that has earned the Most Loved Workplace® certification.

Ray and Lou discuss a lot more on this episode of The Leader Show. Share your thoughts with us at [email protected].


Lou Carter : Hey, everybody! Welcome to the Most Loved Workplace show on Newsweek. I'm Lou Carter, founder and CEO of Most Loved Workplace. We're here today with Ray Pineault , CEO of Mohegan. It's really cool to talk with him today.  I actually grew up in Connecticut, know a lot of people in that area, I've known them for years. Wanted to let you know if you wanna become a most loved workplace, we have a certification process at  Go ahead, join us today and sign up for your certification. Great process, and I know Ray will talk about today, how it's been a great process for Mohegan as well. Ray, welcome!

Ray Pineault : Lou. Thanks for having me on. Really appreciate it. We had a few technical difficulties, but I appreciate your patience so we could work through those.

LC : Oh, it's great to have you on Ray. So can't wait to hear more today about Mohegan and the Most Loved Workplace culture. You went through the certification process, you've been through this process. So tell us all about how it's gone for you and what it is that you do as a CEO to really encourage, enable that kind of culture so more people can learn about how to do it themselves.

How Ray Encourages And Promotes A Strong Work Culture [1:32]

RP : Yeah. You know, Lou, you know I wanna give a shout out to our human resources team who were really the ones that were the driving forces and, and getting us engaged in the Most Loved Workplaces. And really we're interested in, you know, making an effort to try to become a most loved workplace. It's not it's a, it's an honor and it's a privilege to to be recognized as such. Um, and, you know, it's a testament to our great team.

And it's feedback from our team on how much they appreciate the organization and working for the organization, and how much we appreciate them and how we work together as a unit, as all together as one.

LC : Absolutely! And Mohegan always has been like that. It's been very much of a family, as I've seen, you know, the culture's very strong. I've known that since I was a kid, you know, grew up near New London. And, and even just the, the community feel for Mohegan. How have you enabled that culture throughout so many years? And because it's, it's palpable at Mohegan, it's a real part of who you are. How does that continue?

How do you ensure that it continues throughout time on the decades?

RP : You know, it is a family business. And, and, you know, the one advantage that we have is that it, it's always a family that's running this business. They're very passionate about their culture. They're very passionate about their leaders, talking about their culture. They're very passionate about their leaders, their culture. You know, we've expanded since we started here in Connecticut more than 25 years ago into other jurisdictions.

And you know, our owners, the tribe, are very passionate about making sure that they bring that culture to wherever they go. And they want that to be a part of who they are. They want people, when they walk into any of our facilities to say, yeah, that's the Mohegan culture. We recognize it, we can feel it. And it, and it's all about our team members delivering that each and every day.

But it starts at the top and it starts with all of our leaders each and every day, making sure that we emphasize it. And we reinforce it every day, that we don't deviate it from it. And our management board holds us accountable if our culture is, if they feel our, our culture is deviating, or any of our leaders are deviating from that culture.

So, you know, it's incumbent upon us to make sure that we talk about it. It's incumbent upon us to make sure that we live it every day, and it's incumbent upon us to make sure that we demonstrate that to our team members. Uh, so they don't just think that it's you know, we're giving it lip service, that we actually believe it, we breathe it, we believe it and they're gonna believe it.

LC : Yes. A lot of HR and business owners worry that their culture will erode and their people aren't That they're, they're unhappy and as they should be, because it has such an impact on business, such an impact on the frontline and on how customers perceive the company and want to keep coming back and experiencing your culture.

And you talk about tribe, this is an actual tribe. You know, some companies tried to create just tribe in and of itself, a community of people. This is an actual tribe. What can we learn from Mohegan tribe, from the Mohegan family of their own behaviors, competency skills that enable them to create this kind of tribal culture for everyone who works for Mohegan?

What Can We Learn From The Mohegan Tribe [4:31]

RP : You know, and, you know, you said it from the very g get-go. It's a family business. They treat it like a family business. Um, you know, and they have 2,000 family members, but they consider themselves a family of 12,000 people, which is our entire team. And when they, one of the things that they make sure that we think about every day and any decision that we make, you know, there's often companies out there that are worried about their next stock report and how it's gonna look.

This tribe is taking a 13 generational view, and in doing so, they wanna make sure that all 12,000 team members that we have are all working together. And every decision we make, you know, obviously the bottom line is always one of the considerations, but what's the impact on the team?

What's the consideration of the team? How is this gonna impact how we treat our guests and how our team member feels? So before we pass, go on any decision, you know, the team is one of the, one of the considerations that we have to take into account. And if it's gonna be bottom line performance, but is gonna impact the team members, well, let's reconsider that. And there's another way to do it or not do it at all, because that's gonna have a long-term impact on the organization and not what's gonna happen in the next quarter.

LC : What are some of the things that you've found that impact your team the most? And what have you done to bring in sort of a better mindset or better way for them to get their job done in a positive mindset, and also to allow your guests to want to keep going back again and again?

Ray Talks About The Things That Impacts His Team The Most [6:04]

RP : Lou, you know, it's actually, you know, goes back to the service profit chain. It starts with hiring the right people. We use a very unique hiring process with group hiring process where there's multiple people. It's not multiple people being interviewed by a person that's multiple, that's multiple people interviewing someone and trying to get a sense for how they are.

We're a service industry, right? We're based on providing service, and that's how we perform. And we're, we're, we're based on repeat guests and, and loyal guests. We measure a guest service. We don't Bs are not good enough. And how do we make those Bs As, and, you know, if we have a failure, how do we make sure that we recover from that failure and bring that guest back?

So, we're always looking to how we improve upon ourselves. You know, I tell our team every day, if I ask about why something is happening this way and a team member's given us a recommendation and someone responds, well, that's the way we've always done it. That means you're not challenging it, you're not looking at it. How do we get better? How do we improve upon ourselves? And let's listen to our team members who are, who are each and every day delivering that service. And they see where the service failures are, the delivery failures are, and how can we make it better?

LC : Absolutely. Think of the get better philosophy that is in Most Loved Workplace itself about we're not just good enough. We can always get better, and there is a gap that we can identify and say, these are the things we can do to get better every single day. With that one goal of repeat guests, happy guests, right? That's what we're talking about. And the group hiring and knowing what to do, to keep that process going. Tell me more about, you know, we have HR processes, you have your own goals as a CEO. Tell me about you and how you came to be a CEO. What got you into, to your role, what you love about your role the most, tell me about you. I wanna know more about Ray, the leader Ray. Ray as a leader.

Ray’s Professional Journey [7:48]

RP : So, Lou, I am a Connecticut resident of my entire life. I've actually worked in Manhattan, I've worked in Rhode Island, I've worked in Massachusetts, but I've always lived even when I was on tho in those various states, I lived on the fringe of Connecticut. So for my entire life, I've lived in Connecticut and I actually grew up in Norwich, Connecticut, right down the road from New London. I'm a local boy. Um, you know, I moved away. I I went to college in Connecticut, I went to Yukon.

You know, I'm married with three children, older children, now they're grown. I started with this organization 21 years ago now. I have a law degree. Hopefully people don't hold that against me cuz I know all the jokes they like to make about lawyers. But I went to Quinnipiac Law School again here in Connecticut and graduated from law school.

RP : I came here initially and worked for the tribe and the legal department. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity by the tribe to work on transactions like their bond transactions, their financing transactions. I was fortunate enough to work on the purchase of the WNBA professional women's basketball team that we have here. Um, after a little over four years of working for the tribe, they asked me to move down to the resort operations and oversee legal and supply chain management over the proceeding 16 years. I held various positions throughout the Mohegan Sun Organization here in Connecticut, progressively moving up till I was actually the general manager of the Connecticut Sun property, the Mohegan Sun property for about four and a half, almost five years.

After five years of doing that, they asked me to move into a COO role as we had expanded into Pennsylvania and Niagara and some other properties. And they asked me to oversee multiple properties. And then very fortunate that the tribe asked me to take on this position a little over let's see. It's God, time flies. I think it's a little over two years ago now.

LC : Well, that's, it's good to hear this. I, you know, first of all, being a Connecticut person, I certainly know, it's like, it sounds like you went to Norwich Free Academy as well, I would assume so.

RP : That’s correct!

LC : Versus the The Williams School, you know, down there too, which I went to for six years. Love that. A lot of friends who went to NFA, it's such a great culture in Connecticut. It  really is. People don't realize, I think, in southeastern Connecticut how amazing it really is. It's just how family oriented it is. And we had a family business insurance worked with Mohegans son, very open, caring culture. We always loved it. Always loved it. And so that was a big deal. I'm here with Ray Pinault today on The Leader Show for Ray is the CEO of Mohegan Sun, Mohegan.

And geez, we have, we're learning so much from Ray today. So what we'd love to do is in the comments section, we're live today. So go ahead, ask your questions, give some observations, whatever you'd like me to ask, Ray. We're here for that today. So here with Rayo, CEO of Mohegan today. So we talk a lot about repeat or loyal customers. Talk about a lot about your own being a CEO, you having a JD. Not to make any jokes about that. I have a few in my pocket, I'll leave 'em alone today. 

So what I wanted, a lot of what CEOs, great CEOs do you know, is strategy and risk management. But in addition to risk management, it's about understanding, seeing around corners and having people around you who you really trust and expanding that to the whole company so you know exactly what's happening, right?

And now the other thing that's happening these days, we hear quiet quitting and quiet hiring, right- so there's people quiet quitting today who- this has happened for decades, it's not new and it's not being replaced by quiet hiring necessarily. It's real People! 

Social loaf. They stay and they give their worst performance. And we know they exist inside of ecosystems everywhere where none of us are exempt from this. So the question is, you know, even in, you know, being a lawyer yourself you know, and knowing the opportunity cost that exists with an employee or employees who, who just aren't into it, right? They're just there what I call the George Costanza effect in the Pensky files, right? They're just there, they're checking out the file. 

What is it that you do uh, actively or a CEO or other other people who are aspiring to be in the Most Loved Workplace may do actively to ensure that everyone is really into the work and cares about what they do on a daily basis and for repeat and loyal customers.

How Ray Ensures All His Employees Are Dedicated To Work [12:24]

You know, Lou, that's a great question, right? Because, you know, one bad apple can ruin the apple cart. And I think that our team members recognize when someone's not putting in their best effort and, and that can in fact infect how they perform their duties.

I think the most important thing you can do is accountability. We do not only annual evaluations, but in many departments we do quarterly evaluations and we're looking at team members' efforts and what they're giving back and how they're doing in their guest service scores and how they're getting recognized by their guest coming in and by their team members.

So, it's important to hold people accountable for performing their duties. And, you know, as I said before, we are a service industry and we are based upon delivering that guest service.

RP : And I can tell you, I couldn't be prouder of the team last year in Connecticut. Uh, they increased their guest service scores by more than last year than they ever have in the history of the organization. And we always look for that in a constant improvement going forward. And we measure it by department. We measure it by individuals and how they're performing. We look at people's guest service, how many remarks they're getting back from guest service, how many commendations they're getting, or how many you know, negative comments they're getting.

And, you know, that's part of your evaluation. If we're hearing from guests that someone's not delivering that guest service, you know, everybody can have a bad day. So, we don't hold, you know, we don't hold it against you if you have one bad day or one bad guest experience. And sometimes guests, you know, are very difficult to satisfy. And, and it may be an interaction thing, but if it's a constant if it's a constant reminder of, of constant poor performance or, you know, we want to make sure we're holding that person up accountable and we wanna make recognize, most importantly, those that are performing exceptionally well and making sure that we're rewarding them and we're moving those people forward and advancing them and helping others who may be not performing at the same level.

LC : That helping others is big. Because, you know, we in OD, organization development, call it positive deviance, people who are doing things really well and teach others, it actually came from a tribal concept of where the there was an individual and a tribe who would do something better than other people or the best and actually, and then teach others how to do it really well. And so that, that's very cool that you're doing that as well as the mentoring approach and the identification of who that individual is and helping that individual teach others.

Cuz obviously you've done it right? You not just became a Most Loved Workplace, increased, your scores became, but you also have increased your customer service scores. So something's going right. What, what have you found? Is that perfect? Uh, that, no, I say perfect, that better or best profile of an employee. What does it look like if even if I apply to Mohegan, what are you looking for?

What Ray Looks For In An Employee Before Recruiting Them [15:07]

RP : You know, it's a really great, great question. And, you know, one thing is you can deliver service in a scripted way where you have to say the guest's name three times and you have to welcome, you know, we are what we consider natural. We want people to be themselves. Um, but people need to be themselves and, and delivering great guest service.

And I can tell you that delivering great guest service, that's just not in everybody's DNA and that's okay. And that just means this organization's not for you, but not every organization is for everybody. And it's identifying that person that wants to interact with people, that wants to help people, that wants to go out of their way to not only help people, but help their team members, right? So, you know, we don't want silos here.

RP : We want everybody working together. If you see something that doesn't look right in another area or another department you know, bring it up. Let's talk about it. Let's talk about why it is that way. Um, I have a very open door policy. I can tell you when I ran Mohegan Sun for five years, I'd have team members just walk right in my office and, you know, say, Hey, I think this is a problem. Can we talk about it?

And I'd sit down and talk to 'em. It's having that open air that, that inviting atmosphere that says, okay, how do we make ourselves better? The current GM has a program now that talks about how to identify things that make us better today than we were yesterday. So, each department has to come up with ideas on, okay, what areas where can we focus on that makes us better as an organization, makes us better at people, makes us better at our guest service, makes us better at our job.

And we all do that. We focus on that every day.

LC : You know, you said your GM and what he's doing now with sort of his own training ecosystem, which is great. He is doing that. And when you move from Mohegan Sun, which is one property to being all of Mohegan, which is more than just one property, now we're talking about Vegas, we're talking about across the world, you're global and you're national. Tell me about, because other people, I know, other CEOs, other HR people wanna know this, which is you've made that transition with growth and with growth means that you have to scale this local operation to a much larger national and and global scale.

What's that like for you making that change? And it's a lot of transactional changes cuz there's compliance issues and global issues that are at stake. What's it like for you on a culture level to create that kind of more large scale, Most Loved Workplace culture?

Being Honest With Team Members [17:27]

RP : Yeah, so you know, first of all, it started with, we’ve been very fortunate in the organizations that we've bought into like Niagara. They had a very strong culture to bring with, to begin with. But we brought our hiring program up to them. So, you know, we said, this is how we hire people and this is what we wanna look for. And we kind of look for similar traits. Um, we've brought our cultural training. So, you know, as part of our orientation, we talk about our culture, we talk about what our expectations are.

You know, when I used to do orientation at Mohegan Sun, you know, I was, you know, fairly honest with our new team members that we are about guest service, we are about our culture. I believe in it and I believe it to my core. And you know, not everybody does, but if you don't, then this just isn't the right organization for you.

And, you know, we gotta be honest with team members. You're gonna spend a lot of your life working and if you're not in the right organization, find the right organization cuz you spend so much time doing it. And now we're going into career and, you know, we have our first, you know, 75 plus team members hired there.

I've been out there four times, and every time I'm there, I talk to the leadership about you need to talk about the culture. And I, and when we hired that leadership team, I wanted to make sure that each and every one of 'em had in them the culture that we were looking for. That kind of, you know, humility, right? This isn't about any one person. This is about an organization. This is about a team.

We wanted to make sure that they had that guest service spirit in them, that they wanted to, you know, service guests and they wanted to service our team members and, and create it all together. So it starts with that leadership. And I've asked the leadership, when I go out there each and every day, you need to be talking about this. You need to be talking about the culture.

And when you're hiring people, you're better off being without a person in a particular spot. I know as painful as that it can be for some people at a time than hiring someone that's not gonna live the culture, because then other people start thinking it's just lip service and we don't really believe it.

LC : That's what comes along really with expanding, is that you, you open up your family to many people and that initial sort of culture really must be protected. And when you're, you're protecting it by saying, it's okay if you don't want to be part of our culture, or if you don't want to commit to giving this level of excellence, that's all right. We prefer to find those who do so they can be part of our family.

RP : That's exactly right. You know, there's, there's all kinds of cultures throughout the world and, and, and I even assure you that, and your list of most loved workplaces, there's different cultures and different cultures fit different people and people, because we work so much in our lives and it's just, you know, obviously we have to maintain our lifestyles, it's incumbent upon, I find that culture that works for you.

And if it's not a fit for you, it's not a fit for us either. So, you know, why put yourself through it or the organization through it. Let's identify that early on and let's find the people that fit our culture. And, and, and I think that when you find those right people, you know, I'm proud. One of the proudest things I can say about as organization is the number of people that we've had here since day 1, 26 years.

So, you know, we started as you know, you grew up in New London. We started as a relatively small casino and have grown since. Um, but the, the number of what they call themselves, day one employees, we have we have a wall of day one employees, and I'm very proud to walk by that wall every day and see the number of people that have been with us, that they believe in the culture, they live the culture, and, you know, they're proud of having worked for the tribe and work with the leadership that's here.

LC : They're the ones really to look to for that, that perfect profile of these are the people who've been here for so long. I wanna say again we are Ray Pineault, CEO of Mohegan here with us today. And just to remind everybody, if you'd like to become a Most Loved Workplace like Ray at Mohegan you could start the process today here at

And so Ray, one of the other things I want to get into for, you know, sort of moving in that culture and thinking more about Mohegan is when, when, once you've made that change, right? Right. And once you've decided this is our culture, because we have this conversation all the time with people, we say, Tesla's not the evil culture. It's not the evil culture. Everyone say, oh, Elon Musk is evil. He, it's not about Elon Musk or, or Tesla being an evil culture at all.

LC : It's actually quite efficient. And there's others that are very open and more that in ways they say, well, we'll help you become part of it. And that's good too. That's probably fine. Others that are more random, some are more closed. So there's different types of systems out there in cultures, and we do find this throughout most of the lower place. All are relevant and awesome in their own ways at, in Most Loved Workplaces.

So, that's what I wanna ask you about today is this, this understanding of radical acceptance. Radical acceptance for who you are inside your culture and your employees accepting and creating this kind of culture that we are awesome, who we are. Let's be ourselves, let's work really hard and let's achieve these great numbers every year.

What's the ways, you know, you know, Mohegan throughout, in all different cultures that happens, is there a way of making that universal in whether it's out overseas, Vegas or whatever of your cultures? Do you see them changing by culture, by location? Do you see them being the same? What are you, what are you experiencing or seeing?

Understanding Team Members Better By Keeping An Open Door Approach [22:42]

RP : There's always local nuances and, and traditions and cultures. I will, you know, the biggest lessons we're learning is, is going into Korea, right? Korea has, in South Korea, they have their own culture, their own traditions, their own history. Um, they're fairly hierarchical society. We are not, we're we're more of a flat organization, you know, approachable open door. And we are still with sensitivity to the cultural norms of Korea are still gonna bring our culture to career with the open door society, providing feedback.

Don't be afraid to approach your manager or their manager with ideas that you have. I can tell you that the number of ideas that we've had for improvement in the organization more often than not come from the frontline team members to say, Hey, I saw this. If we did it this way, maybe it got better.

Or here's where I saw where we might be failing and we can do better. Or here's where we do good, but we could do even better. And that comes from our frontline team members and we wanna bring that to all the places that we go, right? They recognize that they live it day in and day out. And, and, you know, on a regular basis, do I try and get out and meet with our team members, but do I see what they're going through each and every day? No, I don't. I can't witness everything that they witness. And the best source of ideas is them because they know what it is. They're living it.

LC : Yeah. You brought up a great point. Uh, you know, Mohegan is in South Korea. Uh, they're also Middle Eastern in Las Vegas. And what an incredible difference. There may, there must be out, out in from South Korea to the Middle East to Vegas. Are you, so are you, and you said, am I seeing them every day? And that acknowledgement is a great thing. Acknowledge that things are different, and yet I will try and I will do my level best to understand and help give resources, get, get to that better place, right? That everybody's asking for, that everybody has as the, as the predominant culture.

Just as of interest for the flow of the conversation, I wanted to hear more about how that movement globally for you as a leader what has it meant for you knowing, you know, this Connecticut's your hometown, it's where you, you are and where you've been and your and your leadership has been local. What, how has that experience been for you to stretch beyond just this locality as a leader?

Being Respectful Of People’s Culture In Order To Scale [24:57]

RP : You know, it's a tremendous experience. And I really love it. You know, I've been over to Korea, South Korea several times. I just wanna clarify, we're not in the Middle East, at least not yet.

LC : Okay. Yeah!

RP : But we're in Canada. We're in multiple places in the United States and we are going to be opening in South Korea this year. Um, I will tell you, you know, even the cultures here in Pennsylvania, where we are out in the Wilkes Bear area, there's differences than there are in Connecticut. And how do you need to be respectful. I mean, one of our, one of our tenants of the spirit of Aqua is you know, mutual respect. And we need to be respectful of people's cultures, of their traditions, of, of who they are as individuals.

And that's why, you know, we don't go with scripted guest service delivery. We want you to be who you are, you know, do it in a natural way. And I think people recognize when you deliver guest service in a natural way, who you are, but you want, you have to be guest service oriented. And that's, I think, the most important thing that we can, we can find how you or I may individually provide guest service may be completely different, but as long as it's great guest service, it doesn't matter that we're different. We can, we can accept those differences, those norms even those cultural differences, but do it in a great guest service way.

LC : Right on. Cuz it does, you know, everybody has their own way of serving in specific cultures not in the Middle East. We're talking about here. We're talking about South Korea and Vegas and locations like that. Uh, and, and so y you know, I like how you had mentioned that you have a love of traveling and of those cultures because without that appreciation for those cultures, it's really hard to lead inside these cultures.

RP : That's right.

LC : And so they have to feel that gratitude, you know, first, and you have to have it genuinely. And I can't think of a better place than Mohegan to have that gratitude for other cultures. I always found that about Mohegan is that, you know, when you, when, when, even with the leadership there that we, we've known for years it's really gratitude-driven.

It truly is. There's an, a gratitude, a culture, a culture of gratitude and understanding that you know, even though you know, we may be different inside a microcosm inside of a hole, right? We're all the same.

RP : Yep

LC : And we can respect each other as human beings. And that's really what matters. What matters the most. This is great. Today we have Ray Panino, CEO of Mohegan. It's been awesome having you here today. You said it all, Ray, is there anything else that you've, you've missed today that you wanna share with us, that you want to talk about? A thing that, that you've missed, I've missed that you've, like, you'd like to hear? Tell me more.

RP : No, Lou, I think you know, you covered it fairly comprehensively. You know, we believe very strongly in our culture, we believe very strongly in the spirit of Aquai- the tribe holds us very accountable for making sure we maintain that. It's about finding the right people. And it's about supporting those people. It's about, you know, continuing to advance those people.

And one of the advantages that we've gotten from expanding our organizations is the opportunity to expand the opportunities for our team members. You know, when we were a single entity, you know, at some point in time you cap out cuz there's not much further you can go and there's only so much you can grow. And now that we've expanded, we're expanding the opportunities that we've provided for people and, you know, I now am very proud of the fact that we have line level team members who have gone on to become directors, managers and vice presidents and general managers at other properties within our organization.

And I love to see that growth and that advancement in seeing our team members continue to move their careers forward.

LC : I'm glad you mentioned the Spirit of Aquai. Aquai, you know, this is, and you, you speak a little bit more about it, but it's this guiding philosophy with the four key principles, you know, this warm, welcoming atmosphere, passionate, dedicated employees, outstanding service that goes above and beyond sort of these productive long-term relationships that, that you, that you create.

And that's really what is really connected with us. How does the spirit of Aquai guide you in your daily work as CEO?

How Does The Spirit Of Aquai Guides Ray In His Daily Work As A CEO [29:07]

RP : You know, having been here 21 years and, and one of the reasons that kept me 21 years as the organization it's a great organization to work for. It's a great management board to work for and, and my guiding light is the spirit of Aquai. It is being welcome and it is being cooperative. It is being, having mutual respect. It is being welcome. I believe it to my core.

And I think people who meet me recognize that I believe it's to my core. And, and you know, it's not acceptable to me to have team members particularly in our leadership that don't believe it. And, and I will tell 'em this just isn't the right organization for them because it is what I believe. I believe what the tribe believes. And I  think it, it's what gives us competitive advantage, which gives us repeat guests, which allows us to continue to grow and, and creates a 13 generational survivability for the tribe and its org and its and its entities

LC : Absolutely. 13 generations. Unbelievable. Someone asks how do the, how long it take, Most Loved Workplace, about a six to eight month process you can apply and you go ahead and go through our use our survey our team helps you through it. It takes about six to eight months or so, Ray achieved it. Uh, you know, Ray, it's great having you here today, especially learning about the spirit Aquai directly from you, which is really exciting. Um, the fact that there's this just amazing tribe in, in Connecticut that's done so much for the world and it just created this amazing organizational culture based upon you know, a, a century old tradition. It's so cool to hear from that.

RP : Well, thank you Lou. It's been a pleasure. And you know, I, I really am honored to have the opportunity to really talk about the tribe's culture that, you know, I hope I can continue for every day that I'm here, continue to expand and grow upon and impress upon our team and our guests.

LC : Awesome. Thanks Ray. Appreciate you being out with us today.

RP : My pleasure. Thanks Lou.