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Use your Eyes! 5 ideas about Eye Contact

You are in Player Development and Casino Marketing so you already ‘Use Your Eyes’. This morning, I read a short article on Why Meeting Another’s Gaze is So Powerful. I always enjoy reading the research/theories behind what we intuitively know about how to interact with others.

1. We can use eye contact to convey a warm welcome to players, and our appreciation to our fellow employees.

2. If we avoid, or forget, to make eye contact with the Front Desk or Slot Attendant, then they can judge us aloof.

3. We have to hold our gaze for the ‘right amount’ of time to be not be creepy (3 secs max).

4. We can look in the mirror at ourselves and practice dilating our pupils for differing effects.

5. Finally, we all know how to ‘read’ other peoples eyes so your guests can intuitively read your emotions; which takes us back to the need in PD to sincerely enjoy others and want to make their day just that little better because of You.

John Fournier, Senior Executive Host at Harrah’s New Orleans, posted an excellent piece on Linked In this morning suggesting that if you are feeling bruised from an interaction with a difficult/demanding guest, then pick a random un-hosted player and go and give them some unsolicited attention. You will feel their appreciation and it will restore your faith in human interaction!

So, today, ‘Use Your Eyes for the Greater Good’. Even when you are rushing from one place to another, you can keep your head up, your heart open, and use your eyes to make contact and share the love!

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Holiday Tips!

Tips for the Holidays!

It is time for the Holiday Season and you are really really really busy!

But it is not too late to make plans for adding some Wow for your players!

  • Cards! We have talked about this before. Go buy some cards, pre-sign them, and have them ready to hand out. You can often buy small ‘gift tag’ size cards that are cute.
  • Write your Gift list! Who are your top 5 players that deserve a personal gift from you? I am not talking about a marketing program; I am talking about you reaching into your own pocket. It doesn’t have to be expensive: a Starbucks card, a deluxe cookie, or a bonsai tree. If you know something about them, and you should!, then pick out something appropriate like a Yankee candle. Or a bonsai tree!
  • Chocolate Always Wins! Go to Walmart or your local Dollar Store and pick up mini-red bags and fill them with Hershey’s Kisses in red and green. Or buy up those bags of Chocolate Coins!
  • Plan to Call! You should always be looking for reasons to call the people who have not played, and the people that you have not spoken to. It can be embarrassing to make a cold call to an Inactive player but this is a great time to reach out with an easy excuse. You can call and wish them Happy Holidays or you can remind them of what is going on at Casino over the New Year. You don’t have to sell anything or book a trip – just express good will. So pull a list of 40 people and make a plan to call 8 a day for the next 5 days.
  • Yes it’s the Holiday Season and not just Christmas! This is the perfect opportunity for you to include all of your players. You don’t have to risk profiling people, making mistakes, and being offensive. But, educate yourself on the Holidays and rituals that are not your own. Set aside 30 minutes to google ‘all the holidays in December’ so you will pick up on what your guests are referring to, and be ready with your responses.
  • Focus on the New Year. In every culture, this is the time of year when we anticipate the end of Winter and the opportunity for new life in the New Year. If you are in a multi-cultural market then focus on the similarities across all cultures and pick out cards and small gifts that focus on gratitude, joy, and hope. That’s why the chocolate coins work! They express a hope for bounty and they express your thanks.
  • Be The Show! The Casino experience is all about Entertainment. Embrace the season, let your guard down a little, and have some fun. Let your guests see your lighter side.
  • Did I mention that you should Plan to Call! The Holidays are infamous for being a lonely time for many, and stressful for others. So make a list of Inactives and commit to calling them… it will build loyalty and drive some trips in January to get you started on your 2019 goals!

Happy Holidays, Jackie P.

6 Key Steps to Getting Your Way!

How hard it is to change a policy at your Property? Here are 6 Key Steps to persuade executive management to accept your ideas!

A couple of weeks ago, I threw you the challenge of getting policies changed if they are getting in the way of guest satisfaction. And one of you came back with the question, “How do I get the policy changed when no-one listens”…

We had a long conversation via Linked In messaging and here are the gist of my recommendations. What else have you tried?

#1 Find out who has the authority to approve the change. If the approval goes all the way to the gaming commission then that is a lot of work. If the approval is the GM, or a VP of the department, then you have less work do to, to lobby for change. Either way, think beyond your immediate manager and find out who will be making the Final Decision.

#2 Get real! When a manager hears you talking about ‘we must improve service’, they think to themselves, well, we are doing something right because we are making money. And why spend more money on ‘better service’ just to make the same amount of money?

#3 Once you find out who has to approve the change, then think about it from their perspective. Does the change save money or help to make money? Nothing else matters.

You are probably thinking in terms of ‘improving guest satisfaction” or ‘reducing busy work for Hosts” or a vague sense that ‘this will get the guest to play more”. In order to push for change, you have to think like a GM and identify how this will save money or make money.

For example:

  • If you can improve ‘guest satisfaction’ then will they play up? Make more trips? Spend more F&B? These outcomes will all make extra money.
  • If the guest is happier, will it stop them from going to the competition? Then the change will save money because it will save the property from losing money.
  • If the change will make Hosts more efficient then the Hosts will be freed up to make more outbound calls and drive trips and make money.

Don’t focus on explaining your change, focus on highlighting the difference it will make to the Bottom Line i.e. revenue = income – expense.

#4 Take a stab at the dollars involved! You have to stick your neck out and try to estimate the dollars that will be made or saved.

  • E.g. this efficiency change will save 60 minutes per day per host which means 6 extra outbound calls per day which could drive 6*400 ADT trips = $2400 per day per host which is $X per year.
  • E.g. this policy change will keep guests playing at the slots for an additional ten minutes per day per guest which is 365 days * 200 guests * $x in Theo.
  • E.g. With this Gift Incentive program, we expect each Host to drive an additional $4,000 in Theo per month by adding a 400+ ADT trip from each of 10 guests, in return for an investment in a $50 gift. We invest $500 per Host and we make $3500 profit per Host. This is $X per year!

Change your pitch to “We could make $X thousand dollars a year by changing this policy in this way” and you have a good chance of getting some attention!

#5 Don’t be scared of putting numbers out there. If you create a model then they can change the numbers. E.g. If this policy change encouraged 5% of our 400 ADT players to make one extra trip per month then that increases revenue by 5% x number of 400+ x 400 x 12 months = $X.

If the manager says I think 5% is too high then fine they can change the number and see the result because you have done the hard part, which is to think about your idea in dollars and cents. You won’t get anywhere with management until it is a financial recommendation.

#6 Remember you are creating extra work for the manager if they take on your suggestion. They have to build a business case, arrange meetings to present the idea, and expend some political capital in making the case. If the change is approved, they have the additional work to rewrite the policy and explain it to staff. So, even if you have a great idea with some interesting dollar returns, the manager is still going to be reluctant to take on the extra work.

When you bring something forward, you need to do as much as you can to make it as painless as you can! Yes, create a Powerpoint that highlights the financial savings and return. Write a modified policy with your new wording. Include a slide that explains how the policy would be rolled out… Do as much of the work as possible and offer it up to the person as something they can take and run with. Plus emphasize that you are there to help.

Finally, if you feel really passionate about this change, then demonstrate your Persistence! You will learn a lot about the management mindset by trying to put this together. Use your PD skills, listen hard to what they tell you, go back with a revised approach, and don’t give up! PD them!

Feel free to message me on Linked In if you want to talk about a particular idea and how to go about it!
Jackie P

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For more practical advise on how to improve your professional skills as a Casino Host or Player Development Executive, take a look at this book with advice from professionals across the US. The Strategic Casino Host is available from Amazon

When is New, really New?

Lots of discussions in the past week about what constitutes a ‘New’ player and when to assign them to a Host…

… It makes sense to me that a valuable new player should receive a phone call within 24 hours if they had a large ‘enough’ Theo on the day that they enrolled. These top players expect personal recognition and to feel special; it isn’t good enough to wait for the Direct Mail program to catch up with them.

This is especially true if the new valuable player lives in a local market. If they live locally, have just enrolled, and played high then they are either new to the area (and you want to grab them) or they are mad/bored with the competition and they are checking out your property (and you want to grab them!)

But does it have to be a Host? Why can’t someone in the Players Club reach out, with a script, and thank the new player for enrolling, and ask them how they liked the Property?

My point in these discussions all week has been that there is a big difference between making sure that a new valuable players receives a warm welcome, and assigning the player to Host with the expectation that the Host can groom the new player and ensure their loyalty. We don’t really know from just one day of play whether the guest has got high potential and will become loyal. It takes two or three trips to see what is happening.

I think we have to watch them for the weekend, or for a week, and see how they play over a few days. Do they make two 200+ ADT trips, or one 400+ trip, in the course of five days? If so, they have are showing a pattern that makes them worth assigning to a Host. (These numbers depend on your situation of course)

In fact! If we just focus on the Theo on the day of enrollment then we can miss someone!

Let’s say I show up at your Resort Casino late on Friday. I enroll, play a little, grab something to eat, and go to bed. My Theo on my enrollment day will be too low to warrant a phone call. I get up on Saturday morning and play like crazy on Saturday and Sunday before I leave for my 3 hour drive home. If your casino is only focused on the enrollment day, then I will slip through the net.

Do I deserve a phone call on the Sunday morning, you bet I do! Before I even leave the Property, before I even stop playing, it would be great to get a call. ‘Jackie, I want to welcome you to the Sandy Palace Resort Casino. I hope you are enjoying yourself?

This phone call could be made by the Players Club team using a pretty straight forward report from IT that spots me (unless you are using PowerHost, which definitely will!)

Do I deserve a Host? Can I be groomed? Well, that is a different question.

If I live halfway between you and your competition, it is probably worth assigning a Host to see if I can be tempted away from the competition. If I am just a random individual with a 2 hour drive time then no, it’s probably not worth it. I can be kept interested by the Direct Mail program if it is finely tuned to retain new players.

Is there a right answer? Of course not, these are all just strategies that we experiment with and see how they work. But! We do have to have PD strategies and not just rely on the Direct Mail program to scoop these people up.

Does your Resort Casino have a strategic approach to New players? Take a look at Casino Host Goals; a strategic approach to Player Development.

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Are you Getting Fried by your Phone?

I have made a lot of changes over the last year, to live a healthier and happier life. I was feeling pretty smug but then I went for a walk with my Natural teacher, Betty Sue O’Brian, and she was horrified to see my ‘unprotected’ iPhone.

My iphone needs protection?

“Dear Jackie, I just want to tell you something you may not know about your phone.

  • Your phone emits radiation and the Government measures this.
  • Whether it is on or not, your phone is always emitting radiation because it is always communicating with a cell tower.
  • You should pretend that your head is the size of a basketball, and the phone should never enter the ball area. Don’t sleep with the phone near your head.
  • Turn off celiular data when not using it.
  • Do not sleep with your phone or ipad charging in your room! You’ll get a better night’s sleep and avoid over exposure.  Charge it during the day and keep it at arms length during the night.
  • Get protection especially if you have an iphone”

Turns out that you can find out the SARS (Specific Absorption Rate) rating of your phone. My iphone is much worse than the Samsung phones. .

SAR is a measure of the RF (radiofrequency) energy absorbed into your body from the phone. The US legal limit is 1.6 and the iPhone is right up there whereas Samsung is half as much.(Check your phone at https://www.rfsafe.com/sar-rating-comparison/)

It also turns out that you can buy protective cases as well as better headsets. Again, take a look at www.rfsafe.com

I decided to share this with you, and please forward, because in PD we have a phone glued to our body at all times, 24×7. This is not wooh-wooh made-up stuff, it is measured and regulated by the FFC. You might want to check it out and, meantime, keep that iphone at arms length whenever you can.

There is something new to learn every day! Perhaps you already knew this, and I am just behind the curve?

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Everyone is different; or are they?

As a player development professional, you know that everyone is different and yet so many people seem to fall into certain ‘types’.

From your practical experience dealing with guests, you know that some people need excruciating details why they cannot have an upgrade and other people are happy with your simple ‘No’. Some types of people get very emotional with you about the change to the Buffet, and other people will tell you in a flat monotone voice that they have just lost a loved one.

As you go through your shift, you adjust to the different personality types and clearly see how they adjust and react to the world around them. It is not about how you see the situation, it is about how they see the situation.

Have you ever taken a personality test? Myers Briggs is a widely used example. Not that any one of these personality models is absolute but you will learn more about how different people absorb information in different ways and react in different ways. Follow the link down below to see a lovely illustration of the 16 personality types in the Myers Briggs model.

Why would you care? Well, for two reasons. As a player development professional, you specialize in influencing human behavior (which we call ‘sales’) and so you need to study people with a passion. And a business professional, you have to interact with your manager, and with your peers. If you know yourself, and you realize that not everyone sees the world the same way, then you will be more open to others and experience less stress.

We often think of a personality test as describing the person but we are really exploring how they perceive the world and make decisions. In player development, we need to know how people perceive their world and make decisions on where to play, what to play, how long to play, and why to play.

The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator classifies people in four dimensions. For example, I am classified as an INTJ. Here is what this means to you, if I am your coded player:

I – Introversion. INTJ expend energy interacting with people in social situations (whereas extroverts gain energy). In the Casino, I don’t want to spend a lot of time with you. I am happily alone at the slots trying to recharge from a day of dealing with others. Say Hi but don’t hang around. (You might not relate! You are probably an Extrovert.)

N – Intuition preferred to sensing: INTJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities. This means that I ‘get it’ when you say No.

T – Thinking preferred to feeling: INTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference or sentiment. When making decisions they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations. So I won’t get all emotional with you. I won’t take your Comp decisions personally if they ‘make sense’ to me.

J – Judgment preferred to perceiving. INTJs tend to approach life in a structured way, planning and organizing their world to achieve their goals. This means I want to know how to get what I want; tell me how to get to Platinum.

As an INTJ, I am considered ‘the architect’. It costs $46 to take the official Myers Briggs test but you can try one for free at the same site https://www.16personalities.com

So, go online and take a test and see if you agree with what it says about you! I place a bet that you are an ES-something: a Consul, Entertainer, or an Entrepreneur. But if you are an I-something then you might be in the wrong profession because people will wear you down as an introvert! Here is the link to see the 16 personality types. Enjoy.

Building your Emotional Bank Account

Just like a good golf swing, we should always follow through to the end!

When I was interviewing PD Managers for my latest book, The Strategic Host, I was struck by how often the PD managers emphasized this point.

Here’s a typical example of a quote:

“As a player’s host, you are his ‘inside man.’ You should be able to get him a room or dinner reservations or show tickets or registration for a tournament or other event without him having to do more than ask you to take care of it. Afterward, relentless follow-up is required. Always return a guest’s call as soon as humanly possible and always do what you say you will do. If you’re making reservations, call back with a confirmation that the task is complete, no matter whether the reservation is for today or in three weeks.”

You might enjoy reading the book Seven Habits of Effective People. The author, Stephen Covey, uses the metaphor of an Emotional Bank Account to describe “the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship”.

Simply put, if I do five favors for my neighbors then I have made five deposits in my emotional bank account with them. If I mess up and reverse into their mailbox, I have to make a large withdrawal! But, if I had never done any favors then I would have gone over-drawn. If you are consistent with your follow-through then your guest will forgive you if you make a mistake.

(The same applies with your manager and your peers. Keep making deposits in those emotional bank accounts and you will have a cushion in your favor for when you make mistakes.)

Follow through! It reduces stress as well because there is never anything left undone for you to worry about.

Picking up the pieces from the DM Program

Nick Ippolito initiated a conversation on Linked In about the Direct Mail program and how a Host can get stuck with a guest that is unhappy with their offers.

It is not easy to craft a direct marketing strategy that meets the goal of driving more trips without having bad side effects on some guests. Have you heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences?

In our imaginary world, the Sandy Palace Casino has a simplistic approach and bases offers on ADT (average daily theo) over the last 3 months.

The Consistent Player. Colleen plays every Friday night because that is how she relaxes at the end of her stressful week. She has a budget in mind and plays consistently. Each Friday, her Theo is around 300 so her ADT = 300. The Direct Mail team sends her an offer in hope that she will add an additional trip at 300+. In reality, she takes that free play and uses it next Friday. She won’t ever add a trip.

As a Host, you are unlikely to hear from Colleen about her offers because they are consistent.

The Penalized Player. Robin plays on Fridays and Saturdays with her best friends. She also has a budget in mind and her Theo varies from 300 to 350, so her ADT would be 325, similar to Colleen. However, Robin decides to take her free play offers and her F&B coupons and make an extra trip on Monday and Wednesday evenings on her way home from work. She eats for free, doesn’t play for long because she has to get home and maybe puts an additional $25 into the slots after she has burned through her free play. Robin is now penalized by her behavior because she has dragged down her ADT from 325 to (300+350+25+25) / 4 = 175. In January, she just plays weekends and receives February offers for 300+ ADT. In February, she adds her small trips on Monday and Wednesdays, and her March offers drop because they are based on 175+ ADT.

As a Host, you will hear complaints from Robin because her offers will vary based on her behavior from month to month. As an ethical Host, keeping the casino’s business objectives in mind, should you really coach Robin on how to play ‘to beat the system’?

The Disappointed New Player. Bill is unhappy with the competition and he comes over to try the Sandy Palace. You are assigned to groom Bill because he is a 300+ player. Bill plays for a few weekends and he is pretty happy with his offers based on 300+ ADT. You keep working on building a relationship with Bill and he decides to move his play from the competition to the Sandy Palace. Overall, Bill now brings a lot more total Theo. But, unfortunately, like Robin, this means he is also bringing some smaller trips to your Property and suddenly his offers drop in value and he is mad and threatens to go back to the competition. Especially as the competition now considers Bill to be a ‘fader’ and they will bump their offers up to lure him back.

I believe your role is to share what you hear about specific players so the strategy can be improved but do not present your feedback in a critical way. The relationship between Direct Marketing and Player Development needs to be a constructive give and take.

That said, you can talk to your manager about what you see as the adverse side effects of the program and empower them to speak to the Marketing manager with detailed examples. We are all in this together!

8 Tips for Cold Calling

Part of your job is to cold-call players. There is a big difference between engaging a person with your eyes and smile, and placing an outbound call to someone who might not want to hear from your right now. The trick is to mentally climb down inside that phone and stand right in front of them!

In a recent post, we talked about 7 Reasons to Make a Call. Now, let’s explore 8 Tips on how to make those bound calls:

Make a Plan. Be clear in your mind about your Reason To Call, and the outcome you want to achieve. Are you calling to touch base, to get information, or to close their commitment to an Event? What are you going to say if they decline? How will you respond if they are irritated at the interruption?

Be Ready For Voicemail. Decide ahead of time whether you are going to hang up or leave a voicemail. If you are going to leave a voicemail, then plan what you are going to say so you are not recording any ‘Ums’. Write this message down so you are ready to roll when you are dropped into voicemail.

Rev Yourself Up! You don’t want to get into the phone with over-the-top crazy enthusiasm! But your voice and words had better convey some passion about what you are describing. Literally standing up is a good idea because your voice has more energy if you are not slumped in a chair. Plus, you will tend to walk about and be more animated.

It’s Not About You. Put yourself in a mindset that begins and ends with the player’s best interests at heart. If you can focus on how you are trying to help them, they will hear that tone in your voice and respond well. Even if they are not interested in your information, they will be grateful that you cared. For example, they may say, ‘I am not interested in this concert but please keep me in mind next time.’

Compare these two approaches…

“Kim, we are having a great Fireworks event and I would love to book you in….” (all about you)

“Kim, I am calling because I think you would really enjoy this Fireworks Event. I know you get a lot of mail and I didn’t want you to miss this offer. Are you going to join us on Saturday for the fun and excitement?” (all about Kim)

Grab Their Attention. Don’t start with a tentative ‘Am I interrupting you?’ because they will think Yes! Even if they don’t say so. Use their name and quickly get to what you hope will interest them. Practice your opening line and hook them with something interesting. ‘Kim, this is Sam, I have something really cool to tell you…’

Make Them Feel Special. Use their name, mention the names of their family and friends if you have those Notes, ask open questions and listen hard, and be sure to thank them for their time. “Kim, before I go, what happened with the car problems. is everything taken care of now?”

Pace Yourself It is exhausting to make a lot of calls plus you will start to be bored with repeating your ‘pitch’ so be realistic about how many calls you can make in a row. Pace yourself and make 5 a day for 5 days instead of 25 calls on one day.

Stay hydrated (with water not caffeine), eat a light lunch, stretch, stand up to call, walk around the outside of the building at lunchtime, take the stairs for extra exercise, and breathe deeply before you call to focus yourself. All of these techniques will convey healthy energy in the quality of your voice.

And finally, practice practice practice. The drive to work is a great opportunity to talk out loud and imagine that you are making calls! Who cares what the other drivers think of your crazy antics.

8 Ways to define a strong Work Ethic?

This morning, I was listening to Gary Vee talk about having a strong work ethic, and that all successful people have, to quote Gary, worked their face off‘.

I was thinking about that. I don’t want to work my face off, if that means working 18 hours a day, every day.

I want to have time away from work, I want to enjoy all aspects of my life, and I want to be healthy physically, emotionally, and socially.

But I’m not lazy. I do have a strong work ethic.

So what do I mean when I say that I have a strong work ethic? What is my definition?

  1.  Each day, I complete whatever has to be truly done that day. This means that I have to be very clear about ‘importance’. (If I tried to finish everything on my ToDo list then I would never stop working; just like the washing up, those new Todos pile up as quickly as I put the old ones away.) So I am brutal about deciding what has to be done that day and I will work late into the night if necessary.
  2. Each day includes the weekends and holidays. We work with Player Development teams across the three time-zones. And Casino Hosts work on weekends and holidays; they don’t all take off on July 4th, or Dec 25th, or Dec 31st. So my work ethic does include being available to our support team, and to our clients, when they truly need me, 24 x 7. Notice the word truly!
  3. I do everything that I don’t want to do. There are many things, large and small, that I don’t want to do. Like a toddler! I don’t want to! But I have learned to recognize that feeling, let myself be unhappy, and then buckle down and get them done. If I procrastinate and put them off, then they are living in the back of my mind and making me miserable. If I step up and get them finished, then they are gone. (I didn’t expect so many positive aspects of Yoga. I think the regular practice of Yoga trains the mind to understand the emotion, and then move beyond it.)
  4. I am fearless. Part of a strong work ethic, is to be able to ‘do what needs to be done’ regardless of one’s fear. Back in my 20’s and 30’s, I used to live with a lot of  fear, and I made a mess of so many situations. But now I live by the rule ‘Challenge your limits, don’t limit your challenges‘. If I fail at something then it doesn’t matter because certain people still love me. And, of course, if I make a mistake then I will say so, and own it, because integrity is key in business.
  5. I am disciplined. Four months ago, I decided to start writing articles and books, and sharing much of what I have learned from working with some fabulous Player Development professionals over the years. I decided to write one article a week; and here I am writing this. I don’t always “want to” but I do it, because that is my weekly discipline. And I managed to write my first book, Casino Host Goals: a Strategic Approach to Player Development, by carving out one hour a day for what seemed like forever!
  6. I am organized. I maintain three Todo lists. One is for my personal life, one is for Harvest Trends now, and one is for Harvest Trends future. Each morning, I review each list (and yes, these are hand-written on paper, using my Dad’s Parker Pen and real ink. People are often amazed that I don’t use a software tool but, because I knock these things out, they don’t grow into long lists.) I pick 3 items to be completed today; that way, there is plenty of room for the other tasks that pop up during the day and must be knocked back. I think of incoming tasks/emails as if they were ping-pong balls, and I am an Ace table tennis player! I want to knock those little white balls back over the net as they arrive, and not have them all land on the floor around my desk.
  7. I am constantly reading, listening and learning. To me, part of having a strong work ethic, is to work on myself as much as my ‘job’. I multi-task this into my life. For example, I listen to motivational speeches while I am getting ready in the morning, or if I am working on a task that does not require much mental attention. And I am always, always, always thinking. I will see an article on a completely different industry and I will be thinking about what it means to Player Development. So, yes, I am a little obsessed in that way!
  8. I work a lot of hours. And yes, I do work a lot of hours. Ha ha! But I don’t work my face off so I won’t become a billionaire and that’s just fine.