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September 2019

SAM Summit Series 2019 — Part 5: What Does the Future Hold?

Four mentors provide genuine—and sometimes pointed—answers to questions from mentees about our industry's future.

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At the root of it, the SAM Summit Series—a leadership development program where industry up-and-comers learn from respected resort leaders—is all about the future. It aims to create the connections and opportunities for learning that the next-gen will need to successfully lead our industry forward. And in this final conversation from year two of the Summit Series, our mentors and mentees tackled what the future holds.

This discussion included mentors Steve Wright, general manager of Jay Peak Resort; Kim Mayhew, president and CEO of Solitude Mountain Resort; Jay Scambio, general manager of Loon Mountain Resort; and Nadia Guerriero, who at the time of this conversation was president and general manager of Northstar California and is now president and COO of Beaver Creek Resort.

Olivia Rowan: This is our sixth and final call, and it's been a fun journey, for Sarah and I and I hope for everybody else, exploring all these different topics. And thanks to all the mentees for being there on every call the last six weeks, and I think there's been some great dialogue.

We can't wait to share in the pages of SAM these conversations and on PodSAM, and which will all kind of play out throughout the season and be a tremendous resource to the industry and helping that next gen of leaders get developed and help us in the future of our industry.

Which brings us to the topic today, which is the future of the industry. Where our industry is going from here, what are the challenges, both old and new, and what are the opportunities.

Our mentor's for the call today, we have Kim Mayhew who's the president CEO Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah. And we have Jay Scambio, president and general manager of Loon, New Hampshire. We have Nadia Guerrero, former vice president, general manager at Northstar California, now president and COO of Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado; and Steve Wright, general manager of Jay Peak, Vermont. The four of them are joining us today on the call to help lead with advice and wisdom on this topic, and take a bunch of questions from our mentees.

The focus of this call will be mostly roundtable and mostly questions from the mentees, and with that I will hand it off to our facilitator Paul Thallner to take us away on this final topic on the future of the industry.

Paul Thallner: Thanks so much, Olivia. This is going to be about the future and so we are gonna turn the microphone over to the future of the industry—the mentees, to lead us and ask the questions of our mentors today.

So we'll dive right in.

Colin Russell: Do you think the trend of acquisition and consolidation will continue in the industry and extend beyond North America? And then as a follow-up to that: what effect will this have on growth and creation of new skiers?

Kim Mayhew: OK. You know the trend and I think that it's going to have a huge effect on the growth and creation of some new skiers. Just kind of looking into the future, as many of you know, the 2022 Olympics will be held in China, and I think the focus having been on 1.4 billion people in terms of snowsport I think is to all of our advantage.

I think that you know the ski resorts in China are kind of up and coming they don't get tons of snow but you know there is a Asian pull and a lot of people from China may experience a Japanese ski experience, maybe a South Pacific ski experience like New Zealand and then perhaps even the United States.

So, I think acquisition and consolidation will continue and I think its effect will grow skier visits.

Nadia Guerriero: I wholeheartedly agree with Kim, I think acquisition and consolidation will continue even in the US where there are still some independent resorts and I do think yes, that the sort of the next frontier is Asia, Europe, Japan, etc. and I think our company, certainly Vail Resorts has some past partnership in both Japan and Europe. I’m not sure what that will look like in the future in terms of actual full on acquisitions and consolidation but there certainly has been a creation of a relationship between our company and these resorts at this point and I can imagine a future where that continues.

I think that will have a big effect on growth. I think the point about the Olympics is a big one. China is a large country with a lot a people and I've heard something about a mandate of some sort that is happening in China, which means that the population there is being asked to focus on skiing as a sport and learning to ski and I think that that's wonderful. I think it will have a big effect on the creation of new skiers, and therefore growth.

Steve Wright: I don't disagree with anything that's been said about the potential for those markets to open up eventually. I think there's a long tail over there, in terms of turning them from a casual day visitor into actual skiers, or actual snowboarders.

I think that, right now, the resort aggregators are more concerned with growing market share, which, as a for-profit business makes a lot of sense. But there's a law of diminishing returns that once you've bought all of those skier visits and stolen that share—which as a business is a smart thing to do—the only way to get more people is to create them. I think that that is going to take some coordination and probably a lot of review of what we are told to be doing as an industry.

If you look at what we are doing now to grow the sport, our coordinated learn to ski, learn to ride campaign is relegated to a learn to ski and snowboard day on January 11. That works great for the resorts who really don't want to give up primetime space to these sorts of programs, but probably doesn't do a lot to really showcase our sport in the right light. It'd be like offering a learn-to-golf program the first week of March at five o'clock. You're not showcasing things in the manner that you probably should be to attract new skiers and snowboarders. So, I think as an industry we have got to figure out a way to take a lot more seriously this notion of growing skiers organically than just taking them from one another, quite frankly.

Tess Hobbs: With all the focus around resorts that are included on these mega passes like Ikon and Epic, what do you think the feature holds for resorts that are not included on these offerings?

Jay Scambio: That's a great question, and I don't think that that's anything to be scared of, not being included in one of the large mega passes. I think that the future for a resort that is in that boat is the focus on what they do.

Think about how you are going to adjust your market offerings and capitalize on the things that you do really well. What are your strong suits? What are the things that drive people to your resort or your community? The things that make you really standout.

Also look at are you, and there are some of these and some people hate to use the term, but are you a feeder resort? And if you are, what should be really pushing? You should be focusing on conversion and introducing people into the sport and really showcasing that beginner experience that you can offer. Does it mean you have to compete with what Epic might be doing for a season pass offering? It doesn't, necessarily.

To me it's about focusing on what you can provide and what you can do really well as a resort property and what products you have that could be unique to your location.

Steve: There are always opportunities when an entire industry—or any kind of a trend, really—sorta heads in one direction by looking and focusing the other way.

I mean you look at even your marketing and the stuff that you guys have done there, it's certainly a means of getting attention by virtue of doing things in a different way than anybody else is and you sort of automatically get exposure to the audience by getting their attention that way. I think that as resorts, like Jay said, continue to figure out what their strategy is, it may be that we're gonna market ourselves as “we are not them.” I think the trick with that is, can you make enough money to keep investing in the resort via that model? Because as the market starts to see these bigger more developed resorts, its expectations elevate, too, and it makes it hard, quite frankly, for smaller resorts to be able to deliver against that.

To answer your question directly, ten years from now there'll be 15 percent less ski resorts. I think it's a combination of climate and a lack of business, and if we don't focus on it, a lack of new people coming in is going to make it very difficult for that mega small, like Jay said, feeder resort to stay in business. And for those middle of the road resorts that aren't connected to a bigger holding company that has access to capital, it puts a real onus on them to be very honest with themselves about who they are, what they can deliver, and what they can bring to guests—and then coming up with a really good plan to bring that about.

Greg Valerio: What are some areas of resort operations you feel are particularly overlooked and may create challenges in the future?

Kim: It's hard to identify what other area resort’s operations might be overlooked, but the question you pose is really good because I think it focuses on the fact that as a resort operator, you're not the expert on everything that should be happening at your resort.

So, take lodging, for instance. I'm not an expert in lodging, but as a mountain person, I know that I need to hire somebody really good at directing our lodging operation. I think it comes down to hiring the best, and making sure you cover all your bases with good people.

Steve: It is a good question. I saw this before, and I thought about it a little bit and I didn't come up with anything particularly compelling, but I would say you want to focus on the shoulder season, creating shoulder season amenities.

The problem becomes that that happens during a time where you lose a wide section of your staff, your resources dry up, and nobody wants to spend any money in the shoulder seasons. But there's an investment peak there you have to sorta force yourself into, because it can help stave off those losses that you have in the season.

So, it's not necessarily a department that doesn't get focused on, but maybe a strategy that doesn't get enough focus is trying to figure out ways to plug those shoulder seasons with activities and amenities that help make your loss a little bit more palatable.

Jay: I agree with Kim and Steve. As Kim was talking, I started thinking a little differently about that question. When I first heard it from Greg, I got all bottled up thinking about operations. It's easy to look at my own resort at this time and think about our aging workforce from an operations standpoint, and the wealth of knowledge that exists right now in, say, in our electricians that we have on staff who are getting older, or lift mechanics, or our snowmaking team, and even something that I think is overlooked a lot, and that’s our grounds and property maintenance team. What they have in their heads that isn't necessarily in anybody else’s, well, it's unquantifiable, really.

But as I listen to Kim especially, you start to think about the fact that it's really every facet of the property. I could actually point out, our product and ticketing people who are setting up everything in RTP for us, there's just a small handful of them here and they're invaluable to what we do and how we set up products in order to track long term.

So it's really about your entire property. And I think for us we're starting to document everything that everybody knows and trying to pass that down to the team that we're kind of mentoring into some of those roles and then getting into a mindset of continuing to document what we do and where things are.

You can think pretty simply about this, like where are these high-voltage cables and if we’re running a project in the future are we going to cross those cables. Knowing that in advance could save us thousands of dollars. But it can be a lot simpler than that, too, like how RTP products are set up in our system.

So, it's an interesting problem, but it's one that I think you continue to work on every day and you make it a point with your team to make sure they know that operationally everybody is valuable. Especially when we get into a business where we lose a lot of help seasonally. In some cases, we hope they came back. And if they do come back, great! We're good for another season. We really need to bottle that stuff up and pass it down.

Nadia: I think that that is part of it, but I think that that also exposes the kind of the challenge that I am sure we're all experiencing, that challenge of just hiring and finding people to work in general. I think season is critical because then you can create more year-round jobs, so that's a piece of it.

But I think that hiring and finding good people and finding people to replace some of these longer-term employees is just getting more and more difficult. The value proposition for our employees in our industry has changed over the years. So for us, as resort operators, we need to figure out what that value proposition is for employees. What is important to these newer generations that have different values and are motivated differently?

So once we've got all that historical knowledge and institutional knowledge documented, we've got to have people to pass it down to.

How do we solve the problem of getting enough people here, but also then how do we create the next generation of leaders, and leadership.

We are talking about this a little bit with the California Ski Industry Association board that I sit on. We were talking about how we find that next generation of leaders. How do we grow people into wanting to do the job?

Paul: Such an important point. When you think about just a broader context, too, of the fact that it's such a job seeker's market right now. People have so many choices. The value proposition becomes even more critical when you're not just competing with other resorts, but other industries as well. That's very challenging indeed.

Eric Kertzman: On the global stage, we see youth sports, outdoor leadership, and adventure learning programs seem to be on the rise. Do you believe that resorts and our industry associations can provide more opportunities for winter sports to be included again in the public education curriculum? If so, how?

Jay: From our point of view, we've taken the bull by the horns on some of this. We're up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and we do have quite a few local elementary school groups here on a weekly basis for the next six weeks, minus Christmas vacation.

We have made it an effort to reach out to these folks and send teams from our resort to go to the schools and help educate, and in some cases find through word of mouth, that there’s a champion somewhere at these elementary schools that might not have a curriculum or program, and go see them, and see how we could help them. What are their roadblocks for coming to the resort, or any resort I guess, because there's really quite a few around. Is it in the finances? Is it just the logistics of the busing and getting the kids there? Is it equipment? What is it?

I'll also go out and say we have three schools in the area that are doing Burton’s Riglet Snowboarding P.E. program. So basically a dry training in the gym on a bunch of equipment that Burton came up with on how to teach kids how to snowboard. Our snowsports director went and ran with this and he found some great P.E. teachers to work with and we've seen some pretty good participation by those folks coming in.

So some of it is thinking outside the box on a few little things you could try and do. But there's lots of avenues to try and introduce skiing and snowboarding to people.

Like I said, it’s thinking outside the box a little bit and trying to find local champions. But then also put some emphasis on maybe not making the most money, but reaching out to some of the local schools and make a connection to get them to come and just try it.

Nadia: I think it's a good question, it's an interesting one in working with the schools and public education. I'm not totally sure that that's always the best way to go, you know, in terms of that our public schools sort of need to be focused on what they've got going on.

But similar to what was just mentioned, we do some of the Burton Riglet, Lids on Kids, having ski patrol go into schools and things like that, which, you know, is sort of bringing the mountains to the children.

A couple other things that our company has done. Through the Epic Promise, our giving effort, one of the focuses is on education and children, and so in each of our resort communities we put a big focus on supporting non-profit organizations that are bringing children to the mountains for a mountain experience, whether it be for the Boy and Girls Club, whether it be developmentally disabled, or lower income, or things like that, to really bring them to the mountains and have an experience that maybe they wouldn't otherwise get and sometimes they're not getting through the public education system. So we support programs like that across all of our resort communities.

And then in Colorado, Utah, and now Whistler, we have a program called Epic School Kids, which is anywhere from four to five days of free skiing for kindergarteners through fifth grade. That’s something that the kids go on and register online and then they get three, four, five days in either Colorado, Utah, or Whistler based on where they live, and we've seen a lot of success with that as well.

I went out and took a couple runs just before this call, and I was thinking about the kids and my question is just whether or not it's through the public education system or not. And I would say probably various different school districts and all that are different depending on where they live and maybe can be more flexible and things like that.

But I was just skiing with this man who was in his late sixties and had been skiing forever. And I see such a difference between people who learned to ski when they were children and how they make this part of their life and their lifestyle and it's really key to growing the sport, as is everything you commented on, Eric, such as youth sports and outdoor leadership, and bringing these programs to kids in any way we can see to do that. And I guess what I would say is I just don't think that public education is the only outlet and the only way to do it.

Rick Herlihy: What are your thoughts on the evolution of pre-book options, for example, in tickets with yield view? Do you see resorts pushing more incentives for pre-book in order to capture the revenue earlier, and better forecast visits? Do you envision guests being able to eventually pre-book all their activities for an upcoming trip?

Nadia: I think pre-booking is absolutely critical and I think that the business model is right. You do have to incentivize people to pre-book and to commit early, and it's critical, especially given some of the weather challenges that those of us had. I mean, we had four years of drought here in Tahoe and I'm not sure what it would have looked like if we hadn't pre-sold and pre-booked. Even season passes. I mean, that's really a pre-booking, right? They sell season passes and, between the resorts an certainly between Ikon and Epic passes, those are heavily incentivized. You're heavily incentivized to buy your pass early and to commit your dollars to skiing for the winter.

It's a critical business strategy. It's critical for all of us to secure that revenue. But it does also help us better forecast visits. Especially when you start getting into things like pre-booking, lodging, lessons, all those types of things. I'm sure everyone on the phone right now is looking at the booking trends for this next week to three weeks, depending on your theories about whether or not the holiday's gonna be two weeks or three weeks long.

I know we just talked about it in our senior team meeting this morning, just looking at how we're pacing against last year, what we're seeing. If I could have guests pre-book all of their activities it would be amazing. I would definitely envision a future where that's possible and where it’s really easy to do online and without having to call the call center. Where people can pre-book and it makes the decision easy and they know what they're signing up for and they're committed.

Steve: One-hundred percent. I mean, there's no downside to having these folks book well in advance, depending upon how much of an incentive you're putting out there, how much of an ADR hit do you give up. Are you giving up 25 percent in order to have somebody book in August for Christmas, when you might have them book at rack or 10-percent off if it's closer in?

I think to the extent that you as a business have these weatherproof amenities that you can hang your hat on, the gap feels more comfortable when booking with a longer horizon. If the weather goes south they'll still have something to do at the resort, so I think you can back off of those discounts earlier on in the game

The reality of it is, at least for us here, we don't feel a lot of comfort with people booking ahead, only because if there's a situation where the resort has 10 trails open during Christmas week, we're not generally going to hold people to their booking if they feel like the only reason they’re coming here was to get a ski experience. I'd rather we try to, when we can, take a longer perspective on the relationship with the guest than trying to stick their 1,500 bucks in our pocket that one time because we've got a cancellation policy that doesn't work for them.

Maybe take 70-percent of that, let them come, and still push that forward where they can use the rest on another vacation. From a cash flow perspective being able to take that vacation and book it obviously helps everybody.

Hunter Steinkamp: What future technological advancements do you view as vital or game changing for the industry and the future?

Kim: Technology is moving at such a fast pace. I don't see a silver bullet, per se, but anything that would make our guests experiences less stressful. We're competing with people throwing their bikini in a suitcase and going on a cruise. Technology is really gonna be the support for those of us who know the stress of schlepping two kids and four pairs of skis and all the snow gear that goes along with the experience of a ski vacation. So anything that's going to make it less stressful will be a game-changer.

Jay: When you're talking about the ease of putting your bikini in the suitcase and just going, I totally get that. Ease of the experience, how quickly you can do it, and from a technological standpoint, to be specific, improvements on e-commerce platforms. Earlier today I purchased something on Amazon and I did it in two clicks, and to me that is becoming expectation of all of our guests to be able to process the transaction, or not even have to process the transaction, just be able to go over to go and do something, swipe a card or walk through an RFID area and they've paid. So that ease of use is gonna be really important.

I guess on an operational front, there's a lot of things out there. We've recently installed a new snowmaking software where I could tell you right now how many gallons we're pushing out of one particular gun on the mountain. Bing able to monitor some of that stuff allows us to maximize our windows for making snow. Especially in New England here, when sometimes it's an elevation game of just a couple hundred feet with a wet bulb, it’s critical.

And then there's some of the other things that are out there like cloud-based software platforms for monitoring snowcats or monitoring RFID ticket use and what lifts people are on or lodges people are in. There's a lot of great stuff that's out there and useful and we should be taking advantage of it whenever we can because that's the way the world's going and the ski industry needs to go in that direction as well.

Nadia: We’ve seen a lot of changes in the past couple of years on some of those, like RFID, or SnowSat-type software, not just for tracking efficiency of cats, but also snow depths and things like that. Those are all a big deal.

I think from a technology standpoint, one of the big things is just becoming more of a data-driven industry where we're less going off of our gut feeling in what's going on, but we're actually collecting data wherever we can, whether it be on the snowcats, or on the scanning of lift tickets and passes and things and really using those to know our guests and maintain our relationships.

Some of the technology around chairlifts, as well, and restraint bars and safety. I think that is another big area that we need to be paying attention to as an industry. And this speaks to also growing skiers and bringing new skiers in and growing the industry is making sure that we're providing the safest experience possible and looking at ways that technology can help us with that.

Christina Mattson: For resorts that have small base areas with limited amenities, what recommendations do you have to capitalize on partnerships with local communities in order to create a richer mountain experience for guests?

Kim: That's an excellent question. I think that working closely with your local vendors and partners would help make for a richer experience in your mountain setting.

But I really think that every mountain, regardless of how small you are, and we're pretty small here at Solitude, I think that specializing in experiences that could only be found at the mountain, they are gonna separate you. For instance, if you have the opportunity to do sleigh rides or snowshoeing to a dinner yurt, just something that kind of speaks to a specialized experience, I think it's going to create a richer mountain experience for your guests. Capitalize on what you have up in your area that doesn't cost tons, but would be memorable because that's what you're doing, you're making memories other than just people sliding down the steep slope.

Nadia: At Northstar where we do have a village and we have amenities and things here, but we're six miles away from downtown Truckee where a lot of the action happens, I think having the conversations with the chambers and doing the partnerships and possibly the marketing partnerships and things like that to really market the area as a whole and collectively.

Some of the specific things that we do is, Truckee has event on Thursday called Truckee Thursdays and that happens all throughout the summer and we provide transportation for our guests to and from. So we try to make that connection just a little bit easier, and it's not that everybody has to stay at Northstar and only have a Northstar experience, but we really offer them the ability and the chance to have an experience in Truckee as well.

So, great, come to Northstar, stay here and have the majority of your experience here, but also we'll help you with understanding what else is going on and what else you can do here, and we’ll even drive you there. So that's just a specific example.

Jay: Being involved in the community and participating actively with the chamber or local rotary club and those types of groups and listening to the local business you have and things that they're looking for and things that you can maybe help with or would help contribute to, in the end, help your business.

And that's important, especially in places where a lot of the times the resort's the economic driver of the town that's right there, and it's certainly the case for us. We're a mile-and-a-half from downtown Lincoln. So, you have to really pay attention to those people, and contribute and participate in local things, and I think really it makes you better as a community altogether.

Katie White: In a fairly transient industry, how do you envision cultivating future leaders that will help carry our industry for decades to come?

Jay: That's a tough one and I think that problem has been going on for a while. I don't want to call it a problem, but Steve mentioned very early in our call what you’re doing on the shoulder seasons to help keep people around.

We are in a business that tends to be heavy winter or even some summer, but it's even getting tougher with the younger group. Everybody talks about Millennials, so I guess I'll say it, with what their needs are and what they're looking for as far as employment and life experiences, it changed the whole game from thirty, forty years ago, so I think there isn't a really good answer.

It's more about being attentive to your people and recognizing champions and people that are successful when you have them, and let them know that they're doing a great job and be open minded to listening to them and be there for them if they have questions. I think that could go a long way to keep qualified, great people around who have a passion for the ski industry or for outdoor rec.

Just paying attention to them and helping them out, I think that's good. I think on an employee basis, they need to be taught a little bit, too, sometimes to be patient about what they're doing. And they might wanna run the show, but sometimes you gotta do some things along the way that aren't always the most attractive. Any way that you can articulate the fact to them that it's, in some cases, maybe it's a resume builder, it builds your toolbox, your skill set to bigger better things in the future. It's important to communicate that stuff too.

Steve: You're right, our industry is transient. And I think it has been and continues to be for good reason. I think that historically it has been relatively poor pay. It has been not much in the way of benefits. The hours are long and they're condensed into a short period of time, and then you burst into a spring and summer season where there's, for our front line workers, there's not much work for them. It's difficult to get affordable housing within an hour of the place. It's a challenge.

It's a challenge to attract people into that who don't have a relationship with skiing and snowboarding, and it's even more difficult to retain people in that environment if you aren't going to pay them what they're probably worth. I mean, we need to, as individual resorts and as an industry, we need to be focused on that attraction and retention piece.

The industry has historically placed a pretty high value on being able to come and ski at lunch. I mean, if those days ever really existed, they're gone now. That's not a reason for talented young people to stay in this business because they can go someplace else and make three times the money and still take vacations where they get to ride a lot.

We need to pay folks, we need to benefit them. I think we need to figure out a way to help them retire educational debt, which a lot of young kids are going to be bringing into our resorts. We've got to figure out child care, we've got to figure out retirement and all that. And I think once you attract them you need to have great wellness and benefit packages to let them know that you care about them. It's still not going to be an easy road.

Paul: That’s a challenge that everybody is dealing with right now, ensuring that they can provide those perks and benefits. And maybe they wouldn't even be considered perks and benefits, but just simply the basics, in order to keep people long enough so that you can identify them as leaders and cultivate them.

Steve: That's the reality. I’ll just follow-up on that thought, in that the notion of what basics are have changed dramatically in the last 10 years, mostly the last 20 years, or so.

I just think that we all need to look at ourselves differently than we ever have.

Paul: And it’s this group listening to this conversation that is gonna do it. The definition of basic is a little less basic than it has been.

Meghan Wilcock: What career advice would you go back and give your 27-year-old self?

Kim: I don't even remember being 27! Just kidding. I think that giving myself advice at 27, just recognizing that there are a lot of opportunities and just make sure you take that calculated risk each time that opportunity comes along. Grab the gold ring, because you just never know where it will lead. That is kind of where my career has gone.

I think that one of the things that I would remember, my first supervisor job I became a little more serious than what my normal sense of humor would be because I felt like I needed to be or do something different.

Once I was in the position for a while, I got some great mentoring advice: “Kim, it's recreation and you need to have fun.” In other words, if I'm not having fun, my guest is not having fun. So just making sure that you put things in perspective and keep your eyes on the prize.

Steve: I hate this question, first of all because anything I say is going to be a letdown. It's a good question. I'm sorry, it's a difficult question, it puts us on the spot. I probably would say resist the urge to be a martyr and die at the resort.

Coming up in the industry, all the folks were trying to outdo each other with how many days in a row they worked and this, that, and the other thing, and it doesn't really get you anywhere—it gets you burnt out. You end up becoming jaded quickly and this industry doesn't have any room for jaded people in it. So, take a day off, hang out with your family, get away from the mountain, get your head clear.

I would try to work in other departments to the extent that you can because it makes you more empathetic to what other people go through that you're working with. If you work in marketing or finance or ski school you can become very much focused on what you do as being the most important thing at the resort, and that nobody gets you, and you have the most difficult position there. I think if you work alongside folks in other departments you see what they go through and you become more empathetic, which is never a bad thing.

I think if you can figure out a way to train yourself to become a better listener. I know it's one thing that at 25 or 24, when I got into the industry, I didn't do a good enough job of it. I probably still don't, but I find that every time that I shut my mouth and listen, I end up advancing myself somehow. So if you could figure that out at an early age, I would imagine you'd be a lot better off by the time you're 50.

Jay: Well, I was thinking about it, and I'm a relatively quiet guy but I speak up when I have something to say, and I tend to consider myself as a humble person. I was thinking back on this to when I was 27 and right around there I actually did have a change in my career. And I think I would tell my 27-year-old self to speak up a little sooner and talk about my desires as far as my professional development and desire to lead sooner to the people that I worked for in the management of the resort company.

Because when it happened, when it came up and I did say something, things really accelerated from there and it grew into a great career.

So that's my advice: speak up for yourself a little bit, but at the same point be careful about what you say and don't be a nag.

Paul: There's a professor at University of Pennsylvania who talks about self-advocates who tend to have a steeper accelerated career path than those who try to just work their way through everything without saying anything.

Nadia: So, my 27-year-old self was still seven years away from working at a ski resort. I had a ten year career in another space prior to working at a ski resort, and so I guess what I would say is, in general at that age, I think it's a lot of the things that everybody else has said, but I also think some good advice is: be curious, ask a lot of questions. There are a lot of people around you that have way more experience and way more knowledge, not just at the ski resort, but also in life, that they can offer.

Someone mentioned a mentor. I think that's another great way to go, but I think be curious and really be curious about yourself as well and learn and figure out what your passions are and I think at 27 sometimes that's hard to do, but the more curious you can be, the more you're gonna learn, and the more you're gonna experience.

I would say also raise your hand and take advantage of the opportunities to try new things. Twenty-seven is still so young in terms of your career and life experience. Don't be rigid in your opinion of what you can and can't do and what you are and are not interested in. Try new things, raise your hand, step outside of your designated job description and be willing to take on other responsibilities in other areas. I think at most ski resorts there's no shortage of opportunities to step in and provide assistance.

So I would say just be curious, keep learning and growing, and don't be rigid about who you are or what you can or can't do.

That wraps up the 2018-2019 Summit Series, but more is on the way. Do you have someone on your team who could benefit from participating in the Summit Series? Nominations and applications are now being accepted for the Class of 2019-20. Head over to for more information.