Raise Up

How Much More with Greg Needham

July 31, 2020 Amanda LeFever Episode 17
Raise Up
How Much More with Greg Needham
Chapters
Raise Up
How Much More with Greg Needham
Jul 31, 2020 Episode 17
Amanda LeFever

“You want a raise?  This is simple. What were you hired to do?  Have you done that? Have you done more than that? Now show your boss how, and how much, more you delivered….”

My new friend and our Special Guest today is Greg Needham, a veteran of the Hospitality, Gaming, and Esports industries. He’s been a Board Member, COO CMO, and VP of strategy and brings experience in hospitality, casinos, the World Series of Poker, and now the fast-moving world of Esports. Greg has made a career out of concepting and producing human experiences that entertain.

In this episode, Greg points out the benefits of having clarity in your job expectations, and to prepare well to be challenged by Leadership when you start asking for more money. Train for your fight.  He also points out the need to to challenge your Leadership - it’s their responsibility to lead, set expectations, give feedback, and manage your professional development.



RAISE UP SHOWNOTES: https://www.raiseuppodcast.com/howmuchmore

RAISE UP INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/amandalefever/

RAISE UP FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/theraiseuppodcast



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Show Notes Transcript

“You want a raise?  This is simple. What were you hired to do?  Have you done that? Have you done more than that? Now show your boss how, and how much, more you delivered….”

My new friend and our Special Guest today is Greg Needham, a veteran of the Hospitality, Gaming, and Esports industries. He’s been a Board Member, COO CMO, and VP of strategy and brings experience in hospitality, casinos, the World Series of Poker, and now the fast-moving world of Esports. Greg has made a career out of concepting and producing human experiences that entertain.

In this episode, Greg points out the benefits of having clarity in your job expectations, and to prepare well to be challenged by Leadership when you start asking for more money. Train for your fight.  He also points out the need to to challenge your Leadership - it’s their responsibility to lead, set expectations, give feedback, and manage your professional development.



RAISE UP SHOWNOTES: https://www.raiseuppodcast.com/howmuchmore

RAISE UP INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/amandalefever/

RAISE UP FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/theraiseuppodcast



Love the show? These sponsors make it possible!

Mission Mobile Medical

Connecting Communities, Continuing the Mission

https://www.missionmobilemed.com/

Introduction:

Welcome to the Raise Up Podcast. The only podcast focused on how you can get a raise at work. Every week, we're dishing tips and tricks straight from the industry experts, CEOs, and HR Directors. So, you can finally get paid what you're worth. So buckle up buttercup, let's break it down. She's a little sassy, but a lot of fun. Here's your host, Amanda LeFever.

Amanda:

Hey, hey, welcome to the Raise Up Podcast. My name is Amanda LeFever, and I'm here to help you make more money at your job. We have an amazing guest today, and I'm very excited for this conversation. His name is Greg Needham, and he's a 20 year veteran of the hospitality, gaming, and Esports Industries. Greg has held executive positions with multiple companies serving as a Board Member, COO CMO, and VP of strategy. With a focus on marketing, sponsorship acquisition, and business development, Greg brings with him a wealth of professional experience and a deep roster of cross-industry contacts, and strategic partners. From sports bars to night clubs, casinos to poker, and Esports. Greg has made a career out of concepting and producing human experiences that both entertain and offer valuable engagement for both guests, communities, and sponsors alike. Greg, I am fascinated with what you do. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Greg:

My pleasure, Amanda. Thank you for having me.

Amanda:

Yeah. So how are you doing? COVID has been a pretty rough on a lot of companies. How's your team, and your family, and everybody coping?

Greg:

Well, you know, starting with the family, obviously we went through the end of the school year prior to the summer, which was a little bit of a challenge. I think most people are familiar with the bandwidth issues that you'll have in the home. Fortunately for me , we're a gaming family. I work in the gaming industry so, we've got plenty of bandwidth. Otherwise, we'd never received any of our emails while my son is gaming. But you know, we went through a few challenges with that, but, luckily I have a daughter in college, a son in high school. My wife works for the elementary school here in town as well. So, we were able to kind of carve out our own space in the home. So, that was good. And then, you know, professionally , I'm lucky enough to be in what we'll call the digital world. The company , currently has a variety of different verticals, not only in the digital space but also in gaming. We worked with brands to cross them over into Esports and competitive gaming as well. So, all those things kind of still kept moving as I'm sure you've seen , there's plenty of data out there that shows that people were watching and playing a lot of games. And no question that we were in the middle of all that. So, we were fortunate enough to really take that time to excel and take some steps up and our viewership has increased immensely. So , that's helped us in many forms. So, it's been good for us in that sense, although I can say that not being in the office and engaging with people personally has been a little bit of a challenge, as opposed to some other industries and some other types of businesses, we've been able to convert that rather well because we're already securely positioned in that space. So, it's good.

Amanda:

That's amazing. That's good news. Yeah, plus the viewership and everything is up. That's awesome. Has it been challenging for your teams or you guys like meeting virtually as well?

Greg:

Yeah. You know, we, again, as I said, we were really digitally engaged already. Even though we were basically in offices next to each other, I mean, we certainly had the in-person meetings, but then our communication tools were always either via Slack, Discord and then, of course, you know the old school email. But much of what we've done over the course of the COVID separation time, a nd quarantine h as been picked up rather quickly with what we do in discord, which is something that's more of a gaming type of a platform. But, you know, it's been something that everybody was engaged with already. So, what we had to do i s switch and create a few offices, and a few tables, and a variety of things. So, we have that virtual kind of office space w here y ou c an actually go in and sit at a table, right? You have different tables, so one for Esports, one for our digital, another one for our marketing and so on. And so, you can move from those different tables, if you just want to hang out and talk and have a conversation while you're working. And then we have the conference rooms that are separate for those independent meetings that we would rather, you knock in the form before you come inside. So, it's been kind of virtual office space and i t's served well for us.

Amanda:

That's good. That's really interesting and awesome that you guys have that infrastructure. A lot of people have had to pivot and try to figure out how to be digital at this point and go online. So, as you know, our show is all about someone improving their financial situation. So, getting a raise at their job, if a friend came to you and said, I feel like I've earned a raise at work, what would you, what would you say to them?

Greg:

Well, I think, you know, number one, and I've kind of touched on this a little bit in my dissertation here during our conversation is that you really have to be aware of the culture in the office. And I think when you look at different industries and you look at different relationships, I mean, people manage differently, right? There's a variety of conversations that always come back to the same thing, you have to manage individuals. You have to work with individuals, you have to engage with individuals, which means they always have different , let's say buttons to push. I mean, certain people need a little bit more tender care if you will, when you're trying to motivate them. And others need to really just kind of be , you know, smacked to get going. And, you know, what's interesting about that is that I think the reverse of that conversation of how you manage people from a management position is also true. When you're trying to go in and talk to your supervisors or your boss, and of course following protocols and everything. But the first thing that I would say is, really define for yourself where you fit in the culture of that office, and where you fit in the culture of the business, and how everybody interacts together. And I think if you sit down and you, you start to write down a variety of different things, certainly there's the basic things that you'll, you know, that you want to represent. How you've contributed, and the things that you've excelled in and everything else. But I think more than anything is, is really that preparing yourself for a conversation starts in where you fit in the culture, that that is the everyday activation in the office space. So, I would suggest that they start there , evaluate for themselves not only how they fit in, you know, are they somebody who is supportive? Are they somebody who people go to? How is the exchange with individuals within the office? Is there a crossover between departments? You know, cause you always have these people that are the cheerleaders of the people that are all about the team, and when you're having those meetings, those are the people that you rely on to kind of bind everybody together. But then you also have the analytical people, and you have a variety, and you gotta kind of have an understanding personally, how you engage with all of those individuals. And I think that's the best place to start because that's something that hopefully , your supervisor or your boss is aware of. Because those are the types of things that they're looking for with their team. And I think many times people overlook that, and so, that would be the first place that I would suggest that somebody looks at, if they're considering opportunities to go in, and position themselves better for a raise .

Amanda:

So, kind of doing a brutally honest evaluation of yourself and your people skills?

Greg:

Yeah, and where do you align, and where do you fit in, in that whole hierarchy, and just really in the engagement? I think the other thing too, by the way, Amanda, is that if I was to pick three different things, I would say, you know, what's your contribution? What was the expectation or what is the expectation of your job? And then the culture, as I mentioned. And I think as long as you're looking at what those three elements are, as far as who you are and what you do within the business, and within your relationships with all of your coworkers and so on. You're going to find a variety of things that you can see right away that you either are very good at, or things that you've done differently, or things that you are maybe a little bit more adept , and maybe practice better than some other individuals. And it's not necessarily measuring yourself against others, but literally, the thing I always come back to with friends of mine is what were you hired to do? What was the expectation when you had that position? And when I say expectation, I mean, not only what the business and your boss, and everybody expects from you to deliver, but also what did you expect from it? What were you from the day that you started, what were you hired to do? What were the expectations? Hopefully, through that process, you had a little bit of a job description, those types of things. So, if you actually take the time to look at those things, and kind of develop an understanding of how others see you , you can also blend that with how you see yourself. And I think that's a good place for you to be able to feel confident about who you are and you definitely need to in order to have those conversations with a supervisor.

Amanda:

Yeah, for sure. So, you also need to be pretty confident when you go in there, do you think? Or do you think you have to prepare well for your performance reviews? Do you think it's a confidence thing?

Greg:

Well, I think it's a combination, right? No question, I think you do need to be confident. I think you absolutely have to go in understanding that you're coming in trying to show somebody that you deserve raise. And deserving a raise is, you know, the core principles of that are going to be alright, well, what are they going to ask and what are they going to evaluate me on? I think the confidence factor, number one, is something much like you do in a sales presentation, right? I mean, and I work with a lot of people that are in sales and sponsorship acquisition and everything else. And you certainly have to have at least the confidence in yourself and show that you know the reason why you're in there, and you believe the reason why you're there, and having those conversations is because you deserve it. But again , to comment about preparation, you definitely need to be prepared. Because you're not, well, you can't be completely sure how the conversation is going to go. So, you need to be prepared with your argument. You need to be prepared with how you're going to position yourself within again, the culture and how you react with different people, and those things. But you also have to be prepared to be challenged , because anytime you're asking or having an open conversation, I think many times supervisors, and managers, and bosses, and whatever title you want to give them. Sometimes revert back to the, okay, well, I have to tell them what they're doing well, and then I also have to challenge them on what they're not doing so well. So , not so much like a formal review, but you do have to look at it that way. That you need to be prepared to have an open conversation about what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Amanda:

Absolutely. So, it sounds like you have a lot of experience? You've been in many businesses, executive type roles. What do you think has kind of contributed to your success?

Greg:

Well, I do think number one , I've always been somebody who works with the team. And I think what's been a big part of my career advancement and things that have gone on, and it's not always been advancement . We've all had our ups and downs in life , is that I try to manage people the same way , and work with them , and have a respect for them. I mean, people always ask the question , you know, would you rather be loved or hated? Well, I want to be both, right? That's how the answer always comes out. But to be honest, I find that I get a lot more done with my team, and people that I work with, if I'm just honest, open, respectful, and give them as much as they give me. There isn't anything that I'm going to ask someone to do that I wouldn't do myself. And in many times I feel it's necessary to show that , you gotta get your hands dirty sometimes. Sometimes you got to get out and you gotta work. And the other, I think attributing factor to all of that is just that you have to have a relationship. Again, when we're talking about going in for a raise and we're talking about even somebody who's having to give raises, I mean, many times in a management position, you've got 10 people that you have to do annual reviews for. And of course, everybody gets to that point where all boy I'd been putting this off way too long, and it becomes too much of a function of paperwork. And that's the last thing that you want that to be. You want it to be all about nurturing people and helping them move along. And , I think for me, what I really enjoy the most is having people that have worked with me, people that have worked technically under me , and watching them grow and take on positions, whether with our company or with other companies. I think that for me has always been something that I've focused on, that I've been in those in that position. I am in that position. I have bosses, I have supervisors, but it's always about making sure that you're having communication, which is, you know, quite frankly very challenging in these times. So , I think that's attributed to, to most of what I've done and to tell you the truth, Amanda, I just really feel it's important for me to feel , that that's who I am. I don't want to give up who I am because of what I'm necessarily supposed to do, based on what the requirements of the job are. I would rather have the requirements of the job and all of the goals and initiatives reached in a fashion that I feel most comfortable with because I think I'll be most effective. And I think the people that I work with will be most effective that way. And I think that's, that's been helpful for me in my career.

Amanda:

Yeah. And it sounds a lot like you value people, like you care about your teams and the people that you're working with. And I think sometimes we're missing that component. I know when I first started out in business , I was working really hard and I found out that one is too small of a number to really accomplish much. So do you think that that's kind of a perspective shift, like a mindset that we need to work on that it's all about teamwork really?

Greg:

You know, I do, I think many times, especially , you know, entrepreneurs , and I've worked with a lot of startups and a lot of great people that have, you know, unbelievable energy and have a skill set that, you know, that you would , well, let's just put it this way. It takes a certain kind of person to start a business, right? I mean, the person at the top, they always say , it's the loneliest place to be in everything else. But what I see more often is that the businesses that are successful and the people that are really going to make a difference and are going to continue and get through hard times like this is , is to have that open, that open communication and that conversation. I don't think anybody who's kind of put out in a silo and kind of separated from people , even again, during this whole quarantine , it's even more important that you make a special effort to reach out. So, I would say this much, that your team effort is certainly , something that I think is important. But I also think we , you know, you have to have protocols and direct reports and all those other things, but as long as you have the systems and infrastructure in place , you can really maximize that. And , you know, I've been in sports all my life, things of that nature. And I think Esports, by the way, is a sport. It has all the similar types of teamwork elements to it. And , you know, I'll have those conversations when necessary. But it's something that I think again , you really cannot get things done on your own, but too many times, you'll see people that are aggressive and very entrepreneurial. They won't give up some of those things. They want to do it all, and they haven't done all their way and everything else. And then you lose different perspectives and, you know, you want to make sure that you've got input from all your different team members cause otherwise, you know , why are they there and why did you hire them? You hired them for their skill set , their experience, and what they can contribute to the development of your business. And, you know, it can't all be done in a vacuum and it can't all be done at one desk.

Amanda:

Absolutely. So, one of the things we're trying to do with this podcast is combat the idea that you have to change your job to get ahead or advance your career. What advice can you give a professional, professionals about talking to management when they're feeling a little bit undervalued, or that their voice isn't being heard? That they want to make a difference they're striving for more and it's just not happening?

Greg:

Well, I think exactly that, I think you have to be open now, again, going back to the culture, right? You have to understand what your relationship is and how that works with either your direct supervisor and what their relationship is with their direct supervisor . You know, who's the ultimate, you know, who sets the tone for the communication in the business. I do think again, there are certain things that you can do because it goes back to the confidence issue, right? You want to be able to have an open conversation , but you also have to be strategic about it. There are certainly times when you probably shouldn't be talking about , why you deserve a raise, and there are challenging times all the time, but you also have to be aware of those and you also have to take stock in, how did I get through that? What did I do to work with the team to excel? How do we all get to the other side of this and what were the rewards and what were the successes? But then, the flip side is you also have to look at what your challenges are. I mean, again, we always use the phrase, you don't celebrate the successes but look at our opportunities. What are the other things that we can do? So, I think many times when you're starting the process , I think it really takes a mindset for how you're going to approach it strategically, when are the right times, and then how you're properly prepared for that conversation. And many times, I think people are a little bit, let's just call it, shy or under-serving themselves in a sense because they're not aggressive about it. I think as long as you're in the meetings, you're participating, you're having your voice heard, it's something where you're active, you've got ideas, you've got concepts. All these kinds of things, the more engaging that you are, the more familiar they'll be with you in the end, and the more they'll listen to the conversation. And I think that's the best way for us to look at it. But then we can also look outside and say, well, you know, again, you can look on the internet and find out what the average salary is for a similar position with another company. Those kinds of things, certainly you can, you can utilize. But it is true also to look out there and see, how many other jobs are there in your space , go to wherever you'd like to research that. You know, to talk to other people in the industry, things of that nature. It's not necessarily that you have to come in and say, well, I'm looking for another job, you don't want to go in there and have that conversation. But you're right, I think it's important to express that y ou're aware of what's going on outside of your four walls as well. Because it's important that everyone understands that, you know, you are an individual, who's looking to be a bigger part of the team, be a bigger part of the success, a nd you really need to be rewarded for that. And, you know, I've had those instances where you've had those conversations and you've g one o n, I've written over it and over it and over it. And it's like, well, okay, well now I'm g oing t o have to come in there and say, I've been offered another job. I don't want to get there. But as long as you're doing everything t hat you can to avoid that it's really g oing t o come down to, y ou k now, whether they've effectively made you feel appreciated and compensated you in t hat fashion that you feel comfortable with where you're at. And quite frankly, that you still have some growth potential with the company as well. C ause nobody wants to be kind o f stuck in a position where they don't feel that they can excel or get a better job within the company.

Amanda:

Yeah, or a flat line , wherever they're that, that's going to be so frustrating? So, that's kind of a good segue, cause we typically will ask people to share kind of their war stories of getting a raise. Do you have any stories in your memory bank of times that maybe you asked for a raise or that, you know, someone that did and it didn't go well or it went fantastic? We love all those.

Greg:

I mean , I guess trying to pick the ones that are most appropriate to talk about. Working in the hospitality industry for as long as I have or did. There are a lot of things, of course, that go on with nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and there's management changes and there's things that happen . I was working at the corporate level. So, I had a lot of engagement with a variety of properties around the country, a variety of different regional managers and then salespeople and marketing people under them. I guess the biggest example that I could use as something that's somewhat unique, at least in my experience , for me , was going in to have a discussion about a raise and have a discussion about opportunities to grow with the company into a better position. I was a regional director, there was a vice president position available, and there were a couple of other conversations that were going on for development. And as the company was growing, and essentially what I found out was that they were shopping for a variety of other people outside. And I got wind of what the compensation was going to be. So, I was fortunate enough to go in and have the conversation about, okay , you know what , let's step into this and talk about how I really want to be a part of this. Here's what I've been doing with the company and gotten us to this point. And I definitely think that I can help us grow even more in these other positions. So, what happened was we got down to the conversation of the raise and I just started with, well, I understand you're looking at so and so, and so and so, and their compensation is at this level. And I just like to know why I, number one, don't have a chance, and number two, why I don't have an opportunity for that type of pay, because I'm already doing the job that you're going to hire them for it . Suddenly a little bit of a risk, right? But I had, again, like I said, I had a good relationship with those individuals. I was speaking to people that would understand. So , I guess to get to the point I was offered an amount of money that was, that was less than what they were offering or looking to hire the other people for. So , not that we want to leave it on this note, but I did actually go out and find another job opportunity with the competitor. Of which , they allowed me to go, and two weeks into my new position with my competitor, they called me back and said, all right, we made a mistake, I'd really like to have you come back. And so, I was fortunate enough in that position to say, well, then this is what I would like to come back. So, then I was given the salary that they were looking to pay some other individuals that they were going to hire for the position. So, it worked out well for me was a little scary, but I, you know, again, I managed it well. And like I said, I don't think I would have had that conversation with somebody that I didn't have that type of relationship with. But by the same token, that individual who was directly above me and then his boss had to communicate that to the president of the company. And then that's how it all came back. And I actually got a call from the president of the company that straightened it all out. So that was good. And I was very happy to come back and be a part of that team and, and make things happen from there.

Amanda:

Nice. That's a great story. Success!

Greg:

You only get so many times in your life where you can actually make something work, and I was prepared for what was going to come. But yeah, I was very happy that they called and asked me to come back.

Amanda:

That's awesome. Well, thanks for sharing that story. So, quick question, what's going on with Wisdom? Can you tell us a little bit about what you guys got going on in the future?

Greg:

I'll try and give you the elevator pitch here. What's interesting about Wisdom gaming group is that we're in gaming, and I think what's unique for most people who don't necessarily understand the space is there's Esports and there's competitive gaming, and then there's casual gaming, right? E-sports is the professional level, everybody likes that word cause it's all very flashy. Oh my God, you're involved in Esports cause you know, and that's great, but again, not all gaming is Esports, but obviously Esports is part of gaming. So, our company really focuses on competitive gaming, and casual gaming, and then extending that into Esports. So, in brief, we have several different verticals of which we work w ith a n agency concept. We work with brands and bring them into the space to bring them in authentically, have them positioned with the right language. We always talk about they're given permission to be in this space because gamers are very fickle. If you come in and are labeled as an opposer, you're going to go through a lot of struggles. And in fact, you can invest a lot of money in this space and then have them crucify you on Twitter, which isn't a good thing. But long story short is that we help brands come in and make that transition. And then not only have the authentic introduction, an entry point to give them longevity in this space, you have to bring value and you have to be there. And we also do events and activations. We do many of those types of things , along with our partners. But the two major verticals that we're working on right now, post COVID, that of course, we've pivoted somewhat is our media and our content division. We produce a variety of different shows for Twitch and YouTube of which we work with influencers all over the world. We've been doing remote broadcasts in that fashion for many years. So, the shift to doing that, we were already in that space. So, it allowed us to bring in a lot of other clients, we work with Blizzard, we work with Riot. We work with Valve all the major publishers. And recently we just acquired another brand called Gold Rush , which is a beloved , Rocket League community brand that we're extending additional content and producing shows for that. And last but not least , we've also launched Esports Org, which is roughly the ownership of competitive teams in the sports space. It's called Alpine Esports, and our first team is in the Rocket League competition. So, it's the RLCs, the Rocket League Championship series. So, we've got a lot of things going on and it all kind of works together holistically. And so, that's really what our company is all about is maximizing the opportunities in the gaming space, not deviating too far off the path. We have our core competencies, but we work together with all of the different verticals holistically , and we've found some great success in the space, especially during the COVID era. And , that's really kind of in a nutshell, quite a bit big nutshell, but that's it.

Amanda:

Yeah, that's awesome. And it sounds like you guys were very equipped for all of the changes that have happened. So, I'm glad that it's been kind of a successful transition more or less.

Greg:

Yeah. We're in a good industry for it. So, that's a good thing.

Amanda:

That's awesome. And I would imagine that it's kind of booming now that everybody's hanging out at home, and things like that?

Greg:

No question, everybody's turning to not only competitive gaming for themselves but also viewing it quite often. And , it's getting into linear TV, and all the other things I'm sure you saw with the NASCAR productions for a while . They were doing their SIM racing with iRacing. And so, ENASCAR's actually something I was involved with my previous business as well. So anyway, it's all kind of coming full circle and we think we're going to have a chance to really excel in the space and do a lot more and become a little bit more mainstream by the way. It's always been insulated quite a bit with the gaming culture and everything, and that's fine, but I think the core gamers are now being, let's just say, a little bit more accepting of mainstream being a part of the everyday viewership. And in fact , supporting that as long as everything is still valuable and still brought in with the right message. So, yeah , it's good timing for it and we're enjoying it.

Amanda:

That's wesome. So, how can people connect with you if they want to, after the show?

Greg:

Connect with me? Wow.

Amanda:

I know, right? Feel fancy?

Greg:

Well, certainly they can reach out to me on LinkedIn, Greg Needham. You can look me up with Wisdom gaming group. I think , for me, that's really my go-to space. I spend an awful lot of time engaging with people on LinkedIn , but otherwise , simple contact with an email is GregN @wisdom.gg , those who are not familiar, .GG is the go to URL for gaming , translates to good game. But anyway, a lot of times when people are looking to be authentic, they go with that GG, but , they can get ahold of me there , GregN @wisdom.gg , otherwise , please check me out on LinkedIn and send me a request. I am , nothing, if not accepting, and open, and look forward to collaborations with people in lots of different industries. So look forward that.

Amanda:

I believe that too, you're very authentic and it's been incredible kind of hearing your wisdom and your advice and your stories have been fabulous. And thank you so much for being on the show.

Greg:

My pleasure. Thanks for asking me, Amanda. I had a good time.

Amanda:

Yeah, absolutely. I'll talk to you soon. Okay, take care, bye.

Outtro:

Thanks for listening to the Raise Up Podcast. If you want a raise, head to www.raiseuppodcast.com and download our step by step roadmap. Where we've taken all the expert advice we've collected and put it into a simple PDF ebook called you guessed it, How to ask for a raise. Before you join us again, make sure to subscribe, share it with your friends. You can click the share button, take a screenshot and share it on your social stories and tag, @AmandaLeFever. See you again soon.