Hotel Online Special Report

Sheldon G. Adelson Shares Wisdom of 56 years of 
Business Experience with Class of 
Boston University MBA Students
BOSTON - Nov. 21, 2000 - On the invitation of a friend and Boston University student, entrepreneur Sheldon G. Adelson shared the wisdom of 56 years of business experience with a class of Boston University MBA students.

Adelson, who prefers the simple title, entrepreneur, has been conquering the business world since he bought and sold “Boston Globe newspaper corners” as a poor 12 year old growing up in the Dorchester section of Boston. On Tuesday (Nov. 21, 2000), he made another conquest — the hearts of his audience of more than 30 MBA students of Boston University School of Management.
Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Inc., parent company of The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas, and one of the 400 wealthiest Americans, according to FORBES magazine, earned a standing ovation from the student audience.

Addressing the course “Class of Entrepreneurship,” Adelson drew a picture of his impoverished youth. With repeated examples, he showed that the values expressed by his immigrant parents, despite their poverty, provided most of the lessons he has applied to 

Sheldon G. Adelson
Chairman of the Board
Las Vegas Sands, Inc.
more than 50 businesses he had owned, beginning with his first. That, he said, began when he was 12 years old. Tiring of sharing the proceeds of the newspapers he peddled — he bought — and later sold, “the rights” to sell papers on a specific Boston street corner from the youth who had been garnering the larger share of Adelson’s earnings. To accomplish that end, he borrowed $200 from his uncle, who in turn borrowed the money from his credit union, with the requirement that his nephew make principal and interest payments “every Tuesday night at 6 p.m.,” said Adelson. When he needed to borrow again to control a second corner, his uncle praised him for paying his debt and lent him money again.

“Keeping your word,” Adelson said, is of paramount importance in business.
Another value-based commitment, he said, is to charity. He learned this value from his father, a Boston cab driver, who, though living in deprivation, kept a box on the family’s kitchen table where, said the father, “I am putting money for the poor people. Listen, son, you have to do this,” Adelson quoted his father, “because there are always people who are poorer than you are.”

Adelson said he is honoring the lessons taught him in his youth by supporting a number of charitable organizations, none more important than free drug rehabilitation clinics in this country and Israel that are run by his wife, Miriam, an Israeli-born physician.

Applying these and other lessons “learned as a kid,” Adelson graduated from pre-teen newspaper hawking to larger and more complex enterprises. In 1998, he said, he sold his creation COMDEX, a computer and communications trade show and the world’s largest business exposition, for $862 million, a sum made possible, he was told by his financial advisors, “because no other business except franchising could produce a 70 percent return on investment.”

Sheldon disagrees with those who believe “entrepreneurs are born, not made.” Instead, he said, “They are like an actor on stage. He performs, listens to the applause, which then dies down. He, then, needs more applause, so he performs again. And, I’ve done it over 50 times and, only once or twice, did I go into the same business.”

Speaking directly to students in his audience, Adelson offered additional lessons:

  • “The goal of entrepreneurship should be satisfaction, not money.”
  • “Challenge the status quo.” 
  •  “The best business is one in which the owner is protected by a patent or by market share, because the product or service is so good that it is better than all the others.” 
  • “Be willing to take a risk. If there is no risk, there is no gain.”
  • Accept “the honor, not the obligation, of sharing.”
  • “Promote employees on seniority, but first on merit.”
His 3,036-suite Venetian Resort, Adelson said, resulted from following his own advice. He challenged the Las Vegas hotel operating practice of using the casino as the sole profit center while discounting room and other services in order to attract gamblers. As a result, he said, by next year, we will be operating the most profitable hotel in Las Vegas’ history.

In October, he said, his organization set a record for the most successful hotel month in history with 99.32 percent occupancy, a $205 average room rate (as compared to $55 for other hotels), and more than $200 million projected for the year.

Unlike other hotel operators in the city, he said, 60 percent of his organization’s profit derives from hotel, resort and conference operations, while just 40 percent stems from gaming. Other so-called Las Vegas “Strip” hotels, he said, rely on their casinos for 50 percent of profits.

The Venetian offers guests 3,036 hotel suites (each standard suite measures 700 square feet), 120,000 square feet of gaming floor, 500,000 square feet of retail space at The Grand Canal Shoppes, the luxurious 65,000 square-foot Canyon Ranch SpaClub, 500,000 square feet of meeting space at The Venetian Congress Center and a direct link to the 1.2 million-square-foot Sands Expo and Convention Center.

The Venetian
Las Vegas
Kurt Ouchida

Also See The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino to Raise Awareness and Funds To Preserve and Revitalize the Venice Lagoon / Oct 1999 
The Venetian Operated at 96% Occupancy and ADR of $169 During Third Quarter of 2000 / Oct 2000 

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