Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position.
David Farahi: I have the privilege to lead a very hard working and dedicated team of over 2,000 members across our two properties. There is a huge array of responsibilities ranging from building and coaching the team, to developing and executing business strategies, to delivering long-term shareholder value. My favorite aspect of the position is slot machine analytics. If you have seen the movie “Money Ball,” what the main character was doing for baseball is what we are doing for slot machines.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Farahi: I was pretty much born into it. My grandfather purchased the Golden Road Motor Inn over 40 years ago and my father and my two uncles led the growth of the company to where it is today. I literally grew up with, and within, the Atlantis. I remember each of the property’s growth milestones in tandem with my own life’s milestones. I recall sitting in a booth inside the Copper Kettle coffee shop (now the Purple Parrot) as a toddler during the grand opening of the first expansion — a bar and lounge. That lounge became the hottest place in Reno and the rest is history.
NNBW: Are there any innovations that your company is doing that impacts the industry?
Farahi: We are constantly working on innovations to drive change in the industry. We were the first to launch a social gaming tournament app called Atlantis Reels, which is popular with our guests. And we are currently deploying our Pick Your Wins slot categorization branding strategy which, for the first time in the industry, allows guests to choose the type of playing experience they enjoy: Time on Device or the Rush of the Big Win!
NNBW: What do you enjoy most about working in your field.
Farahi: Our team. It is truly the secret to our success. Many companies give lip service to the idea of teamwork, but our team locks arms and runs together. We are blessed to have a team so dedicated, passionate and innovative that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each of us, myself included, excel because we are part of this amazing team. Over one-third of our supervisor-and-above level management has been on the team for over a decade. Our industry presents new challenges every day, and this awesome team is responsible for the long-term success we demonstrate.
NNBW: What is the most challenging part about your job?
Farahi: Gaming has evolved from a growth industry to a mature industry. During such a painful transition you have to work very hard at times just to stay in the same place. The two most important success factors for this transition are a clean balance sheet and a strong team. As the result of careful and deliberate business decisions we have both of these, and they remain the driving factors in our success as our industry has transitioned. Though it was a challenge, we consistently reinvested in our product and our team despite the recession and the maturation of our industry, putting us in a prime position to take advantage of what we think will be very exciting growth in northern Nevada in the near future.
NNBW: What advice would give anyone who wants to get in your profession?
Farahi: Start from the bottom and learn the nuts and bolts. You need to understand why people choose to spend their hard- earned dollars to entertain themselves in a casino.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Farahi: My first job was as a marketing intern in 1997 at Atlantis. I have since been a bellman, busboy, change person and table games dealer, among many other positions.
NNBW: What are your hobbies? How do you spend your time away from work?
Farahi: I enjoy traveling to random places, playing basketball, skiing and spending time with friends and family.
NNBW: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Farahi: Hvar, Croatia.
NNBW: If you had one moment in time to cherish for the rest of your life either professionally or personally what would it be and why?
Farahi: I’m not sure I can distill it to a single moment, but I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my grandfather, a man who had incredible vision, not only in business, but in geo-politics. He taught me a great deal, but most of all he taught me perspective and to be humble. I asked him his happiest moment as a child and he told me “I was once very hungry and someone gave me some bread.” This simple story, not only taught me perspective and where my family came from, but really defined my grandfather’s humble nature — a lesson I try to learn from continuously.
NNBW: Last concert or sporting event?
Farahi: Dave Matthews Band and Snoop Dog concert in Denver.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming as a kid?
Farahi: I always envisioned myself joining the Atlantis team.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Farahi: “Retire” is an interesting word. If I had enough money to not have to worry about making money I guess I would stop worrying about making money, but I wouldn’t sit on a beach. I’d use my time to promote the causes for which I am passionate.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like about living/working here?
Farahi: No matter where I have lived around the world, I have always been proud to say I was born and raised in northern Nevada. Our community has a unique down-to-earth culture with the Old West at its core. We are champions of hard work, different opinions and the great outdoors — all things about which I am passionate.