Sharing Their Life Lessons

Hussain Mahrous, General Manager, M Resort Spa Casino

With more than a decade of experience in the fast-paced hospitality and gaming industries, Hussain Mahrous, the general manager of M Resort Spa Casino, believes whether it’s work or personal, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way.

Life Lesson: Seize the day, and don’t delay things that truly matter.

“Through past experiences, I’ve learned tomorrow is promised to no one,” Hussain says. “Whether it’s family and friends or the work that we do every day, it’s important to live life to the fullest and make time, right now, to do the things and see the people that mean the most to you.”  

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in sociology, the Texas native began his career in the hospitality and gaming industry with Caesars Entertainment. He went on to earn a master’s degree in theology and is finishing a graduate certificate in applied statistics. Hussain joined Penn National Gaming, Inc., the parent company of M Resort, in 2012 and was named general manager of M Resort in 2016, where he oversees all operations for the Forbes Four-Star resort.

Tyler Jones, Owner, Blue Heron

“I grew up in the Green Valley area (before it had a name) and spent my summers working in the field for my father’s company, Merlin Contracting. I have great memories of one home that my father built near Pecos Road and Sunset. Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns lived in the mansion next door to the construction site, and Tommy had a monkey that was tethered by a long leash in his backyard. While I was working on the job site, the monkey would climb over the fence and hysterically scream at us. I never dared to get close, but it was a great distraction to make the day’s work pass. Only in Las Vegas, right? 

To this day, I am extremely grateful for all the time I spent as a kid on those job sites. I always enjoyed the hard work and the feeling of satisfaction you get as a new home is constructed. My father never pushed me to work in the construction industry; he just taught me about work ethic and provided a space for me to learn. The specific message he did instill in me was to always be the best. I remember him saying repeatedly, ‘It doesn’t matter what you choose to do in life. Just be the best.’ Such a simple thought, but it still motivates me every day, and I can’t imagine ever working toward a lesser goal!”

Rich MacDonald, Developer, MacDonald Highlands

“There’s a popular sales adage that immediately comes to mind: The sale doesn’t start until you get your first ‘no.’ If you’re determined about what you want, ‘no’ is not an option. I tell people that to be successful, you must be determined. You just do what you need to do to make sure things happen, and then you don’t ever quit. An example that comes to mind involves the lengthy battle I’ve fought with former Henderson leaders. A previous city planner of Henderson once told me, ‘What we want to have happen is we want to build out Green Valley first, and then you would come in [as a developer] next.’ I said, ‘Well that’s not something you shared with me when I bought the property, and that is not acceptable.’ The ensuing battle with the city lasted maybe 20 years. We prevailed because we outlasted them. Claire and I didn’t quit. It wasn’t an option. When people ask for my advice, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. They don’t beat you if you don’t quit. Throwing in the towel is simply never an option.”

John Gafford, Broker/Owner, Simply Vegas Real Estate

“Assume nothing in business. After appearing on NBC’s The Apprentice, I was contacted by a casting director. The NBC brass had requested I fly to New York and read for the lead role in a new sitcom. I am not an actor, but hey, why not? They sent me the script, and the lead part was described as ‘mid-30s, overweight, definitely not eye candy.’ Ouch. There was a smaller part described as ‘tall, loud, funny, think Vince Vaughn.’ Many people have made this comparison to me (which was awesome when Swingers came out; not so much when Psycho did). I assumed they made an error. So when I walked into that casting office at NBC, I informed them, ‘I think you guys may have made a mistake. I should be Pete.’ The casting director leaned over her coffee and with as much disdain as she could muster said, ‘You can read for whatever you want.’ Apparently, those character descriptions in scripts are not really that important. By assuming they were mistaken and changing roles, I blew an opportunity that many ‘actual’ actors would have killed for. Lesson learned. In business, I never assume I know what my clients want. I listen to their wants and needs first and then react with the best way to help them.”

Brett Lashbrook, Owner and CEO, Las Vegas Lights FC

“I’m originally from Kansas City before my family slowly started migrating to Las Vegas about 20 years ago. I’m a big believer in creating audaciously big goals and working like heck to find ways to achieve them. I had several mentors when I was younger that really taught me about ‘dreaming big’ which I am now so appreciative of. I’ve always loved when people say it can’t be done when they really meant ‘That’s gonna take a lot of hard work.’ Having worked in a variety of roles in professional soccer in the last 25 years (e.g., intern for Major League Soccer inaugural club, attorney for league office, two FIFA Women’s World Cups), I’ve seen firsthand the enormous growth of soccer in America and how many ‘mainstream’ people used to laugh at the sport in the ’90s that now find soccer to be their kids’ favorite sport. It’s fun to be part of a movement that changes views and creates fun—and that’s exactly what I think pro sports, including soccer, should be about: the fun. That led me to always want to start a new professional soccer team someday. Really, it’s been a goal of mine for decades. The fact I got to do it in my adopted hometown with my family’s support makes it even more special. Starting a pro team from scratch isn’t easy, but it’s also the greatest feeling knowing that local fans are coming together to build something that will be experienced for generations to come. In just over a season, we are averaging more than 8,000 fans per match in downtown Las Vegas. We’ve brought a new life and energy to Cashman Field that is opening eyes across the valley. I encourage everyone to experience our match day. We guarantee smiles, fun and lots of goals! Viva Lights!”