Bob Cashell is currently serving his second term as the Mayor of Reno, Nevada. Mayor Cashell previously served as the Chairman of the Nevada System Board of Regents and Lt. Governor of the State of Nevada. Outside of public service, Mayor Cashell serves as the Chairman of the Board of Cashell Enterprises, a management company that specializes in hotels, casinos, and resorts.
Mayor Cashell’s accomplishments and achievements speak volumes of his success in both private and public business arenas. I contacted Mayor Cashell with the following questions regarding commitment, work ethic, and communication. He was kind enough to donate his time in returning detailed answers.
Question 1) You have been very successful in creating and expanding your business. What role has commitment played throughout your career journey?
Mayor Cashell: I find that commitment is only one aspect of a more important quality: Keeping one’s word. With or without a signed contract, the people you do business with must know that when you say you will do something, they can count on it being done. Commitment is an important part of keeping one’s word; when undertaking a business venture you have to be ready to face challenges and setbacks. But you also have to understand that people are depending on you. Everyone from investors to employees to customers are counting on you to remain committed and see your vision through to the end. Without the ability to stay committed in the face of difficulty, a business man won’t get very far at all.
Question 2) You have served the State of Nevada as a University Regent, Lt. Governor, and Mayor of Reno. How have communication skills (networking, public speaking, writing, listening, managing first impressions, etc) aided you in public service?
Mayor Cashell: In public life, communication is everything. You need to be able to look constituents in the eye and tell them you’re working on their behalf. You need to be able to talk into a microphone to a room of 200 people and persuade at least some of them to agree with your position. You need to be able to listen carefully when people talk about their experiences or frustrations, so you can find the best solution to their problems. Of all those kinds of communication, though, I’d say listening is the most important. As Mayor, I listen very closely when residents tell me about their priorities for the City, then I listen carefully when the staff tells the City Council about what kind of money we have to deliver on those priorities. I have to understand what the public wants and needs before I can make informed decisions on the City budget, for example. Leading the City Council to make decisions everyone can live with also demands active listening to my fellow elected officials. Each City Council member represents different constituencies throughout Reno, and each brings a different set of experiences and expertise to the conversation. When I chair the City Council meetings it’s my challenge to bring all the different competing interests together and find a solution everyone can support. That requires listening very carefully to everyone who has a stake in the issue. You can’t help solve a problem until you really understand what caused it and what the options are, and that requires a lot of listening.
Question 3) Managing a career in both private business and public service requires, among other things, hard work. What advice can you give an entrepreneur or young professional about work ethic?
Mayor Cashell: My advice to anyone starting out a career is that if you want to enjoy success down the road, you have to work your butt off now. Over the years I’ve seen many young people who might have a good idea or a particular talent, but they seem to want to reap the rewards before they’ve put in the hard work, and that never works. I’ve found that you can usually predict who will succeed by noticing who’s not afraid to do a little heavy lifting. Demonstrating a strong work ethic impresses your boss, pleases your coworkers (the good ones, anyway) and creates loyalty in your customers.
There’s an old saying that actions become habits, habits become character, and character becomes destiny. That’s certainly true with a work ethic. If you get yourself into the habit of putting in a few more hours than your coworkers and not flinching at carrying an additional workload, you will develop a reputation inside and outside your company as a respectable man who pulls more than his own weight. Later in your career when the material rewards begin to flow, you’ll find that the real reward was available early on and always remains the same: the satisfaction you get from knowing you did the best job you could do.
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