The soft-spoken business rhetoric of Robert "Flash" Gordon sounds more like what comes out of the preacher's mouth on Sunday than what you would expect from the man tapped to reverse the decline of James Brown Arena's concert schedule.
After a little more than a week as general manager, Mr. Gordon can say little about what policy changes he will make or whether the Coliseum Authority's politics will get in the way of his job. But he knows the approach he is going to take.
He said that "love" will be the guiding force in his management decisions and that he wants to show his heart to each person he meets.
"Love conquers all," he said.
Authority members want to give Mr. Gordon a chance to prove himself. But in some ways, the authority may have drawn a wild card, said Richard Isdell, who made the motion to hire Mr. Gordon. He admits he's not sure exactly what the authority is going to get out of him.
Mr. Gordon, who had little to say beyond what he read in a manager's report at his first meeting with the authority Tuesday, didn't let on much about how he will interact with the board, which in the past has been accused of micromanaging.
Nevertheless, Mr. Isdell said he thinks Mr. Gordon's fresh ideas and unconventional approach may be what the arena needs after the departure of its last general manager, who had overseen the civic center off and on for 16 years.
Authority Chairman Harry Moore said he has no doubt that Mr. Gordon, who has a background in the music industry, will be able to handle that side of the job. But on the business management side, he said, Mr. Gordon will probably need some help.
He said current staff should be able to bring him up to speed. But Mr. Moore also said he would like the authority to give Mr. Gordon some outside training through conferences and seminars.
Mr. Gordon also said he has some learning to do.
He said his method may not be understood by everyone, but that doesn't matter if it translates to results - something he has already produced.
Before his first day on the job last week, Mr. Gordon already had a New Year's Eve concert booked with several hip hop artists, including Rasheeda and Cadillac Boys, topping the bill.
He said he believes that the arena, which typically loses more than $1 million, could turn a profit eventually.
"You have to treat (the public's) money like you treat your money," he said. "That's love."
Mr. Gordon also said his softer approach will produce a better work ethic among his employees.
"A job is a job, but when you feel comfortable (you) do a better job," he said. "I'm concerned about them."
Reach Justin Boron at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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