Sam Rook has always been drawn to the fast-moving and experiential excitement of the gaming industry. Having been in close proximity to Mystic Lake Casino, Rook’s curiosity was sparked in his early adulthood by the sheer size of the property, which was the largest in the upper Midwest. Little did he know that one day this curiosity would lead him back to Mystic Lake Casino.
Rook began his career as a marketing consultant developing SEO and digital marketing campaigns for various businesses. Pursuing a traditional career path, Rook found himself employed by a Fortune 500 financial services company. With limited creative output and the confines of a predefined work environment, Rook was unchallenged and drawn to be a part of something bigger, unique, and engaging.
Shortly thereafter, Rook was drawn to the lure of immersive marketing within the gaming industry. He was intrigued by the unique aspects of gaming, it being one of the few industries people can walk out of with more money than they walked in with, and one of the only places people stand up and cheer, outside of sports.
When transitioning into gaming from the mainstream corporate world, Rook was fascinated by player development and executive hosts. However, he knew he would have to broaden his skill set in order to build a versatile and transferable foundation of knowledge within the gaming industry.
Equipped with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Minnesota and after several years in marketing and player development, an opportunity to expand his knowledge base opened within business intelligence. As it became abundantly clear that most leaders in any successful organization could analyze and articulate information with fluidity and certainty, this was an opportunity he could not pass up.
Rook attributes pivoting into business intelligence as what ultimately catapulted his growth into elevated levels of leadership. While it was a vast leap moving from a marketing background into an analytical data-driven position, it taught him how to analyze information quickly and concisely. After incorporating his ground-floor knowledge of casinos with an analytical outlook, Rook was well rounded to be a functional and multifaceted leader.
Rook believes that a broad foundation, in addition to astute knowledge on how a business runs, is crucial when trying to advance into leadership positions, emphasizing, “It’s tough to lead a team when you don’t know the work your team is doing.” Rook attributes employing his wide-ranging foundation and knowledge from both marketing and business intelligence as the key to being a successful leader.
Currently, as director of marketing, Rook enjoys helping those who have demonstrated an ability to shine within the organization broaden their foundation and pave a path for success. Rook adds how he values all perspectives, noting how industry-changing ideas do not necessarily come from those who have been in the industry the longest. Good ideas can come from anyone of any age, so he strives to provide a platform for all professionals to succeed.
The best advice Rook has for any professional is to “keep building knowledge and building experience.”