Richard Andersen, CVE Chief Illuminations Officer & Russ Simons, Partner , VSG Advantage TrainingRichard Andersen, CVE Chief Illuminations Officer & Russ Simons, Partner
Reflecting on his early life, Richard Andersen realizes now how driven he was to be seen as someone successful. Having lost his father at a young age, Andersen says he wrongly believed his personal value and acceptance by others were connected to his professional accomplishments.

What followed was his rapid ascension in leadership roles, such that less than 20 years after he started out he was serving as President of one of the world’s most iconic sports and entertainment venues, Joe Robbie Stadium (now known as Hard Rock Stadium). While he continued to flourish in his professional career, he wasn’t feeling truly fulfilled. Andersen shares, “I realized I desired something greater than what others defined as success.” It was at this time, while reading the book “Halftime” by Bob Buford, he came to understand “I had been chasing success, while what I really wanted was significance. I wanted to matter in some way for what I might do to help others vs. what I might collect in terms of things like titles, awards, and material possessions.”

Andersen went on to say, “Look, there is nothing wrong with wanting a bigger house, faster car and such. However, I have learned these sort of material gains don’t provide the internal satisfaction we all seek. What I know is it is our human nature to want to matter … to know we are making a difference in the world and the lives of others. I believe it is not until we strive to become a “servant leader” vs. the self-serving leader most of us are (including, still, myself at times) that we find the inner peace, satisfaction, and joy we deeply desire.”

Since that revelation, Andersen has embarked on what has become a lifelong inspirational quest for significance through his learnings and leadership experiences. Through this process he connected with Russ Simons of Venue Solutions Group, who leads one of the entertainment and venue management industries’ most respected and sought-after consultant teams. Discovering their values aligned, Andersen and VSG formed a partnership to launch what is now VSG Advantage Training.

VSG Advantage Training has since become a one-of-a-kind model, specializing in the delivery of customized professional development programming and services. Dennis DaPra, EVP for the Pittsburgh Pirates and General Manager of PNC Park says, “the VSG Advantage Training team designed and delivered a customized facilitation providing us a unique and truly impacting service perspective. The whole experience has really pushed us forward and the feedback from our staff and leadership team has been highly positive as well.”

Central to Andersen and Simons’ approach for VSG Advantage Training’s game-changing programs was to build their model on the best materials available, while incorporating the latest in adult education techniques. Backed by their decades of industry knowledge, their work is largely focused on illuminating human potential and inspiring program participants to achieve excellence by equipping people with the tools they need to grow. Patrick Scanlon, Vice President of Guest Experience for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Rock Entertainment Group summed it up best, “The VSG approach was simply a great learning session for ALL involved and quite frankly a game changer for me!”

Says Andersen, “we love the Confucius approach of ‘tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, let me do and I understand.’” On this basis VSG Advantage Training designs their programs using key self-discovery techniques. Program participants become genuinely involved in their own learning process thus providing unprecedented opportunities for growth. What is most unique about Advantage Training programs is they offer more than just theoretical lessons. They engage clients with specific interactive exercises customized to provide desired outcomes.

We believe we are providing our clients with focused professional development and leadership support. If we had a tagline for our training, we would channel management guru Ken Blanchard: ‘None of Us is as Smart as All of Us

“As COO of the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, I brought VSG AT in to lead our team building process. Simply stated, the training was phenomenal. It became all the ‘buzz’ in the office, with great take-aways and tools that truly influenced the culture for the better.” Adina Erwin, Executive Vice President, Business Operations for BSE Global

Changing the Game

VSG’s key training programs include a variety of critical corporate and individual growth platforms.

CULTURE MATTERS is VSG’s industry renowned foundational organizational development tool. Inspired by the great work of Simon Sinek and decades of hands-on industry experience, CULTURE MATTERS helps organizations develop meaningful, memorable and lasting Mission and Operational Value statements Bill Foltz, CEO of ocVIBE and Honda Center (home of the NHL Anaheim Ducks) recently brought in VSG to lead their Mission and Value creation saying, “Richard’s steady hand led us through the process with expert facilitation and his experience having led countless other teams through the process was invaluable. I could not have been more pleased.”

DISCOVER is known as “an operators manual for people.” On participating in a recent facilitation, Bill Bailey, VP and Managing Director at Legends said, “This VSG AT program by far exceeds all others! The materials and approach were unique and valuable. They truly over delivered on what they promised, taking our high performance team to another level.” With consistent feedback like this, DISCOVER has become a highly popular personal development and team building tool. Powered by DiSC and presented with highly engaging facilitation, clients consider it both cost efficient and highly effective.

GUESTS, a uniquely creative and targeted customer service program, has become one of the sports and entertainment industry’s most sought-after third-party support programs. Completely customized to become each client’s service model, GUESTS incorporates the components of Safety, Smiles, Service and Success in a way that equips forward facing employees with the tools to provide great guest experiences, while also supporting situational awareness and safety.

LEADING THE CROWD is Advantage Training’s latest offering with a comprehensive focus on preparing frontline staff to address the multitude of potential event situations and crises that can arise. No matter what an employee’s role might be in a venue, their primary responsibility is to keep themselves, their co-workers and attendees safe. Leading the Crowd is designed to deliver this understanding of “Duty of Care” in a meaningful and inspirational way. Over 95% of attendees surveyed in the LEADING THE CROWD sessions have said they feel better equipped, were inspired by what they learned and appreciate that their organizations made the training available to them.
  • I believe it is not until we strive to become a “servant leader” vs. the self-serving leader most of us are that we find the inner peace, satisfaction, and joy we deeply desire

Geared for Significance

Having spent nearly four decades in the leadership space, Andersen and Simons understand that the most important thing for an organization is to acknowledge the innate potential of every individual on the team. Simons often reminds clients, “we can’t treat our staff members like commodities… they are real people with real hopes, needs and challenges. How we treat them matters most!”

VSG Advantage Training recognizes capacity for greatness in everyone. Andersen sees his and the VSG AT team of training partners’ role as shining a light on opportunity and potential to enable lasting and meaningful growth. Says Andersen, “we believe we are providing our clients with focused professional development and leadership support. If we had a tagline for our training, we would channel management guru Ken Blanchard: ‘None of Us is as Smart as All of Us’”.