When it comes to gaming, Brian Parrish has had a lot of experience. He’s served as Navajo Gaming’s COO, the CEO of Quechan Casino in California, the CEO of Paradise Casino in Arizona, and as CEO and a member of the Management Board for Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in New Mexico.
Now, as CEO of Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, which counts five casinos in Arizona and New Mexico as subsidiaries, Parrish oversees 1,200 employees in an enterprise that has created more than 7,400 direct, indirect and induced jobs with an overall economic output of more than a billion dollars.
Parrish starts each morning with a prayer of gratitude, caring for his animals (he raises quarter horses, pygmy goats, a donkey and mini horses on his property), and then prepares to address the most important priorities for the day. This routine reinforces what he says is his favorite piece of business advice, which is to “never underestimate the importance of gratitude and humility.”
In fact, humility is an enduring theme in his approach to business and the lessons he’s learned as a leader. “Enduring success is rooted in humility, good values, treating everyone with dignity and respect at all times, stamina and self-accountability,” he tells Native Business Magazine.
With no two days the same, Parrish looks forward every day to working with different people on a multitude of issues. And he says that one of the most effective elements of his leadership style is his belief that “nobody is more important than anyone else; the higher up you go in the organization, the more people you’re responsible for serving.”
“A very wise and accomplished gaming executive once told me, ‘The gaming business is 90 percent being able to work with people and 10 percent what you know,’” he says. “Technical tools are important, but they can’t compensate for deficiencies in values, fit and finding a way to work with everyone.”