Hot Dog

I loved this guy, and he contributed so much to others. He was a superb athlete. He moved like a cat. What was most unusual about him was his lack of self-awareness and voice.  His background was small-townish, and he had a conflicted history with family life until he came to us for a job. We gave him stability and anchored him to the ground.  And he gave us and others back in spades.

He had a remarkable creative mind when it came to activities and bringing them to people of all ages. The problem was that he did not acknowledge or appreciate his capabilities. A wonderful and memorable event will make this clear.

He was first employed as a specialist at Camp Shasta during the sixties. He taught swimming and lifesaving and ran the waterski program. In his limited free time, he gave it all to camp and groups. A perfect example: Sunday was usually my day to get involved with all of camp, and I would put together games and activities that brought all together.  Pure fun and games were the objectives. As events would have it, I was trapped by other issues. He stepped into the breach, and the very next thing was everyone having a wonderful time playing games he invented. When it came to activities, he was creative—the best.

When the International Youth Hotel opened, he did everything for the staff and kids. He ran the food counter, hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, and more at no charge, earning the nickname “Hot Dog!”

On one occasion, the president of the Hotel told me that a major national association would be holding a convention for thousands, and their children were being invited. Family inclusion was an issue rarely faced previously in Las Vegas. “Can we do this? He asked. 

He told me we might have as many as a thousand kids to entertain for the day. “Is this possible, and what do you think we need to do?” A few hours later, “Hot Dog” came and told me it could be done and the stuff he would need, including the staff’s assistance.

“No problem,” was my instant response. Staff and I became participants awaiting his instructions.  Our Inner Circle is in action.  

The day came, and about 1000 kids of all ages came together with our entire staff in one great hall. “Hot Dog” created and facilitated one of the most wonderful days of fun and active participation I have ever witnessed.  The Youth Hotel program was honored throughout Las Vegas. The world-renowned International Hotel and its president as leader became the star of Las Vegas in the early seventies. What followed is a story I’ve told in my books.

When I began to do workshops for organizations throughout the country, I often invited “Hot Dog” to come with me and create some recreational time and games for my adult audience.  Unique to my serious lectures on power and leadership is that we also found time for fun and games. He always did the job for the participants and me.

Back at the Youth Hotel, we had a hotel person come daily to clean (spotlessly) the facility. In a short time, he attached himself to “Hot Dog” and helped in any way he could. Soon he was helping staff with children, and in a very short time, he was with us seven days a week. He asked if he could come to the meetings we held each month at our home. “Of course,” we said.  And, when he came, he brought his wife.  He was a gift, and he and “Hot Dog” became a team to benefit all. When the Youth Hotel closed, “Hot Dog” came with us to Tahoe. When that closed and I began to lecture, he eventually reverted to who he was when he first came to us. I think I know why, but that’s another story. 

I am the clown—I can make you happy too—We play together


Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

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