Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Best Magazine Reads: How I can relate to one man's vision for the perfect ski resort

All new employees at my workplace take an Emergenetics test so that all team members can be on the same page by playing off each other's talents. In my profile, I have a ton of red and yellow, which means I'm heavy on sociable and creative traits and less advanced on analytic and structural ones.

Maybe that's why I thought that an article in the April issue of Men's Journal, King of the Hill: How Vail Resorts Conquered the Ski Industry, is so intriguing. Rob Katz has built Aspen Resorts into a ski-resort behemoth, buying up resorts throughout North America and watching the company's stock become a darling of Wall Street.

Katz gives all new employees a similar personality test, and his personal traits are a lot like mine: red for "drive," while not being so strong at the analytical. That has smartly led him to focus on building incredible reams of data about his customers so he can channel that drive and emotion into the correct directions, directions he may not instinctively understand without that data.

Men's Journal notes that "the data is Vail's secret weapon, and not just because it helps people avoid lift lines." The company has an Epic Pass that allows Vail to know which runs skiers are taking, with whom, and can then market to them accordingly with, for example, pictures of aggressive skiers or moms and kids on the slope.

Despite the very uncertain future of the sport, even melting snows and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are not keeping Katz and Vail from doing everything as right and enjoyable, from a business standpoint, as they possibly can. Even if it's a potentially short-term future.

That's the kind of venture I've always liked being a part of - having passionate leadership to do one small industry or corner of the world as absolutely as well as possible. It's a pretty inspiring magazine read.

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