W&D Undercover Boss: Churchill Downs


This past Sunday, the latest episode of  Undercover Boss featured Bill Carstanjen, COO of Churchill Downs.  I’d like to start this post with a few quotes that I think sum up some of Bill’s take-away’s from this experience.

“This is a people business, and knowing how people feel is vital if we want to run it well.”

“Anytime you get a little bit personal, you lose a little bit of control, but sometimes its worth that to get to the truth.”

Two things of note here are “how people feel” and the “truth”.  The truth is, I don’t think we invest enough time to find out how our people feel.

The other truth that we saw in this episode was how people feel about the “other side”.  The back stretch didn’t understand the front of house, and vise-versa.  How many times have we heard that??

Or maybe we’ve heard it, but didn’t really listen.  I think we sometimes tell ourselves that those two worlds are just too different and that they really don’t need to understand each other.

But what if they did?  What if they did understand how each impacts the other?  Wouldn’t that make your life easier?

Here’s the trick, though. Often they are two different types of people with different skill sets, different priorities and different ideas of what is important to keep the business running.  We often see that one side will think THEY are the ones who keep the place running, and the other gets in the way.

The truth?  Both are vital and NEED to understand what the other is doing and WHY they are just as important.  Rationalize it to either side this way… in the days of slashed budgets and “synergizing management practices”, why would a company PAY to have all those people on staff if they didn’t need them?

Just like all of our Undercover Bosses, eyes are only truly opened when you take the time to experience what someone else goes through.  It doesn’t have to take long (because we know you don’t have a lot of time!), but the experience is well worth it.

Thanks for reading!

One thought on “W&D Undercover Boss: Churchill Downs

  1. Nice post. This particular episode of Undercover Boss was the most annoying of all. What exactly was the reason for the CEO to play the bugle call? There must be jobs at Churchill Downs that are performed by more people where executives might actually gain some insights. THis thing was not just bad, but self-indulgent.

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