Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"Impresario." There are not many company CEOs who can be called that. Steve Wynn is one. The business world needs impresarios. They make things happen -- with an extra bit of zing and swagger in everything they do.

Directors & Boards almost had Wynn in our hometown. For the past few weeks he had been angling to take over a long-troubled casino project on the Philadelphia waterfront. It looked like he had a lock on the property — extensive design plans were drawn up and he had been making good headway with the licensing authorities.

Although I hate the idea of city and state municipalities resorting to gambling to close their budget gaps, I looked forward to seeing Wynn bring his brand of sizzle to a business community that has very little of it. I thought to myself that maybe when he got established here I would have the opportunity to do a sit-down with him to talk about how he runs his board at Wynn Resorts.

Then . . . poof. Away he went. Sudden abandonment of any interest in the casino development. It was a surprise when he first showed up, and it was surprise when he scooted back out of town. But that's the way with impresarios — they are full of surprises.

Say what you want about Wynn, this he has: a crisis management philosophy that belongs in every CEO and board playbook. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal during the darkest days of the financial markets meltdown, he showed no fear. "Are we all supposed to go buca buca buca and fall dead on the floor? Or are we supposed to have the ability to survive and do well? ... The hell with Wall Street. I'll be here after this is over."

That's what I like about impresarios. And that's why we need more of them in Corporate America.