Get feedback: always seek feedback from your customers and team members and covert that feedback into measurable takeaways. If you are not able to turn the feedback into measurable goals and action, you are not asking the right questions.
Asa part of my series about “Lessons from Inspirational Women Leaders in Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brooke Fiumara, a marketing maven that leads the vision, evolution and overall operations for OPTX. She brings a wealth of industry experience and leadership to OPTX, having shaped and defined the casino marketing success for a wide range of notable hospitality and resort properties across the country.
Prior to co-founding OPTX, Brooke served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Warner Gaming overseeing all marketing operations for Warner Gaming’s managed and owned properties, from Four-Diamond destinations to local gaming and tribal properties. Brooke also served as the Director of Marketing for Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch Resorts, the premier off-strip, luxury hotel, spa and casino properties in Las Vegas.
Brooke is a proud alumnus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and uses her vast knowledge and expertise of casino communications to master all components of marketing including: advertising, entertainment, public relations, casino marketing, player development, promotions and events, direct mail, planning and analysis, players’ clubs and loyalty program development.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Alittle history will help paint the picture of how I ended up in tech. While attending college, I helped pay the bills by working as a lifeguard. Once I graduated college, I spent the next five years working my way through the ranks for one of the largest gaming operators in the U.S., from marketing coordinator to marketing director for their two luxury resorts. When I left that company, my primary goal was to work for an operator that would expose me to other markets and other types of gaming/hospitality operations. During that time, I was also overseeing the business intelligence team, and we started to develop software, and that journey propelled me into a full entrepreneur/technology role.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
When we started OPTX, we were prepared to spend time educating operators on the immediate and long-term value of implementing a platform built on a modern tech. stack. It has been really interesting to see how many operators out there already understand the importance and want to adopt innovation at their properties.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We moved into our office space in the middle of Las Vegas summer; I was so focused on getting the basics up and running. We had power, water, internet, and lots of coffee. A few months later, when the weather began to cool down, I went to turn on the heat, and it wasn’t working. At the time, it was three other guys in the office and me. We spent an hour talking about how and why it’s broken, and the earliest appointment I could get was a few days away, so the guys brought in blankets, and we purchased space heaters for the office. At lunch, with a friend, I was laughing about all the “things” you don’t think about having to deal with when you are running an office like a broken heater, and he said, “it’s not like you didn’t turn on the gas or something” I immediately knew he was right. I NEVER TURNED ON THE GAS! The lesson turned out to be a great one. I was so deep in the weeds, focused on so many different things I missed the obvious. It’s always a great reminder to take a step back and logically ask the questions when assessing a problem; I was convinced it was broken before asking the basic questions.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
During my entire professional career in operational marketing, I have always challenged my team productively and had confidence in doing so. When I made the jump to tech. I found myself in a position where I no longer felt confident in the management style I had built over the previous decade. I was leading a team in a world I didn’t technically know a lot about. When I’m challenged that’s when I tend to work the hardest. I shifted my perspective and focused on internal and external learning. I had hired smart people, I let them teach me, and the great thing is I didn’t have to change my management style; I am still able to be productively challenging WHILE learning from my team. Together we are all growing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am beyond blessed to have been surrounded by some incredible mentors, friends, and leaders throughout the years. Seriously I can write a novel about the men and women who have helped shape me into the leader I am today, but I’d like to share a situation I am grateful for. There was a point in my career where I worked 60+ hours a week, nights, holidays, and weekends. I had no work-life balance; I was personally unhappy but professionally excelling. Albeit young for my position, I earned it. I was in a role where my counterparts were all Vice Presidents, and when my boss pulled me into my office to tell me I was being promoted to a Vice President (I’m fairly confident that would have made me the youngest VP in the history of the company) I was beyond excited and genuinely proud of myself, that is not a title this company just hands out. That night after writing my own company announcement memo, I received a phone call that I was not being promoted to Vice President. That was a pivotal moment for me professionally and personally, and without it, I would not be where I am today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Don’t GO through life, GROW through life.
Through the good, the bad, and the ugly this quote helps keep every situation in perspective. What can I learn, how can I become a better person?
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?
Working with all different size companies and operational teams, I realized they all have one thing in common — people are spending more time compiling the data then actually acting or finding the opportunity in the data. OPTX is a tool to help casino operators understand their players and their property to drive an increase in revenue, profitability, and guest satisfaction.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Casinos no longer have to choose between a high-tech product built for the mass market that is not built for gaming and low-tech archaic products that are built for gaming.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
As a new platform, we are continually evolving the features and functionality. Ultimately, these features and functionality will help operators work more efficiently and create a better guest experience.
Let’s zoom out a bit and talk in more broad terms. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
I read that women lead only 8% of technology start-ups, and I wasn’t surprised. At a young age, I don’t think most girls are encouraged to participate in STEM programs. There are many great organizations around the world dedicated to shifting the paradigm. I would encourage everyone to get involved in those programs as changing the future starts today, with us. I also believe that businesses should focus on expertise and knowledge to help break the gender bias in today’s current workforce.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
In my opinion, there is an inherent gender bias that women face making it more difficult to achieve technical credibility and addressing this starts with creating a culture of equality in all companies, big and small. Ensuring that everyone on your team understands that people are promoted, and jobs are filled based on expertise and knowledge will help women progress in the workplace.
What would you advise to another tech leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?
Ebbs and flows are entirely normal in any business. Taking a step back and asking yourself a couple of questions can help you gain a new perspective and perhaps help point you towards a unique growth opportunity. The two questions I always ask are 1. Am I focused on my competitors or my customers, what are THEY saying? 2. What is my team saying about or lack of growth, what are their ideas.
Do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?
There are so many great tools, training, and content for sales executives. Find them and use them! One tool we love is ZoomInfo; it’s a great way to find accurate contact information for leads, and they offer a ton of best practices and training content for sales teams.
In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?
Networking and relationships are everything. It is a small industry and finding key influencers that support and believe in your product goals is vital. This has forced me to get outside of my comfort zone, asking friends for introductions, attending networking events, and cold outreach to prospects with great reputations in the industry does not come naturally to me.
Based on your experience, can you share 3 or 4 strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?
This is one that is easy to overthink, but I think the answers are quite simple.
- What gets talked about gets done, set measurable goals around user experience and customer service and talk about them every single day.
- Create accountability for each of these areas, clearly define who is responsible for the measurement and reporting of goals.
- Conduct regular qualitative and quantitative studies with your customers to understand how you are doing in both of these areas from their perspective.
As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?
The first step to reducing customer churn is to measure it by ensuring you have the proper tools to track at-risk and defecting customers. There are best practices to prevent churn, such as asking for regular feedback, measuring your customer service, and segmenting your customer base into a customer lifecycle. The retention strategies should be different for each customer segment.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful tech company? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Know the gaps between your product and competing products: understanding where your product fits into the market, the problems it solves, and how it compares to all competitors is how you will stand apart from others in the marketing.
- Sell solutions: there a lot of products on the market that differentiate yours by focusing on the solution you solve when talking to a customer. Take them through a journey, relate to their challenges, and demonstrate how your product makes their life a little bit easier.
- Hire the right people: I spend a lot of my time recruiting team members, and I have learned do not settle, ever. It will only hurt in the long run.
- Perfect your demo: I have learned this the hard way, never take any demo for granted. Block out preparation time for every single demo. Do pre calls, research your attendees, role play with your team members, record your demos, watch them back, learn, and repeat.
- Get feedback: always seek feedback from your customers and team members and covert that feedback into measurable takeaways. If you are not able to turn the feedback into measurable goals and action, you are not asking the right questions.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As a society but especially women, we are forgetting that health encompasses both the mind and the body. I would like to eradicate a culture that is centered on a social stigma that beauty and health are related to a certain body type. As our minds grow with so much information about what is and isn’t healthy it’s more important now than ever to maintain perspective that being healthy is a lifestyle overhaul that includes balance. We must go back to our roots and learn to understand the fundamentals of health. Having the knowledge that being outside more, breathing fresh air, drinking clean water, eating more things from the ground that are nutrient-dense, and unplugging from the social rat race to look or achieve a certain way of life. Mental health is the first step to loving and accepting yourself in the first place. Self-love is more than massages, vacation, or posting a selfie. It’s about setting boundaries and doing things for yourself and showing up for yourself. You can only give 100% to other things in your life like work, family, and friends when you MAKE the time to give 100% to yourself and the more you learn these fundamentals and put them into practice, the more you can grow.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I have always admired Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway. She created an entirely new vertical in the fashion industry and used logistics and technology to bring it to life. She has had many setbacks throughout her career and has always come out stronger. It’s truly inspiring.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!