Operator Profile: Making MovesOctober 14, 2009 By: Emily Hanna Mayock
Despite serious spinal injury, one operator continues to make deals — even from the hospital bed.
On May 10 this year, Titan Nightlife Group CEO Scott Frost’s life changed forever when he was paralyzed from the neck down after a motorcycle accident. And in the weeks that followed, his business changed forever too, growing rapidly under Frost’s leadership from a rehabilitation center.
Through conference calls made from his hospital bed as well as meetings in Las Vegas’ Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Hospital (DCRH) conference room, Frost helped his company enter into a lease, finance and develop its first restaurant. Hussong’s Cantina at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas is scheduled for a December opening, and Titan Nightlife also was awarded a contract during Frost’s hospital stay to open and manage a nightclub at the Wild Horse Pass Casino & Hotel in Phoenix, set to open this month.
“We got so much done, I jokingly said to my partner (EVP Jeffrey Marks) that I should break my neck more often,” Frost quips.
As a result of the off-road accident in May in the Madeira Canyon, Frost suffered a central core contusion of the cervical spine, torn anterior cervical ligaments, a herniated disc between C3-C4, a broken nose and dislocated left shoulder, according to the web site created to raise funds for Frost’s medical bills, www.HealScottFrost.org.
After nine days in ICU, during which he had surgery to repair his neck, Frost spent 70 days at DCRH, where he did three to four hours of aggressive therapy daily. “When I entered the rehab hospital, I was unable to move anything below my shoulders and I had some sensation in my feet and arms,” Frost remembers. “And when I left the hospital, I was able to use what they call a platform walker to slowly take a few steps upright. I can move everything against gravity now — my toes, feet — and I can lift my legs up a little bit, my arms up a little bit.”
His recovery has been nothing short of miraculous — “My doctor called me confounding,” he says — which is due in no small part to his driven attitude. “They tell you from the first day of rehab that 90 percent of what you get back will be due to effort and attitude, and I said, ‘Well then we’re not going to have a problem,’” he recalls. “It’s worked. A lot of people want to get stuck on the mental — what I can’t do and how bad it hurts — and you’ve got to focus on what it is you can do that day.”
Frost credits his family and close friends with helping him complete the day-to-day tasks he could once so easily accomplish — answering and hanging up phone calls, returning e-mails and other basic movements — and he praises Marks for being there for him on the business side.
Immediately following the accident, Marks was forced into handling all of Frost’s duties. “My partner Jeff Marks really did a great job of A) sticking by me, not losing faith; and B) there’s things he’s good at that I’m not and there’s things I’m good at that he’s not. And suddenly he was thrust into doing it all. Kudos to Jeff for not panicking and for sticking by me and having to do the things that are not in his skill set.”
But the accident also forced Frost to develop a new skill: the power of delegation. Because he can’t just hop in a car and drive to all of Titan’s meetings, which undoubtedly are often during this pre-opening time for both properties, he relies heavily on delegation, empowerment, communication and reporting to help him “be there” and share his vision with developers. “You can’t be the bitter guy in the wheelchair,” he explains. “I’m not a screamer and I’m not a yeller, so you’ve got to pick good people and do the exact opposite. You’ve got to be very motivating, inspirational and empowering to translate your vision and make sure it’s carried out.”
Frost’s own business inspiration and his drive to continue working stems from people like actor Christopher Reeve and Craig H. Neilsen, CEO of Ameristar Casinos, who both became quadriplegics after suffering spinal cord injuries. “You look at those examples and think, ‘Man, those guys can do that, and they had an injury that’s worse than mine. What’s to stop me from keeping those goals I had prior to the accident?’” he says. “My goals didn’t change, but the manner in which I’d achieve them did. [The accident] just forced me to come up with a new strategy of achieving those goals.”
He also developed a new goal, similar to those of Reeve and Neilsen’s objectives post-accidents. He founded the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Foundation, which aims to assist families and victims of spinal cord injuries immediately following the injury. “When you are lying in ICU and they have done the necessary surgery and they’re getting ready to discharge you, the family — who has had to have a crash course on spine injuries — is now faced with some decisions that can impact the lifelong recovery effort of the victim,” he explains, “and a lot of families don’t have the background or resources to make those decisions.”
SIRF (www.sirfus.org) aims to educate the family and the victim on their condition and prognosis; provide resources on available rehabilitation centers and their offerings; and enable the family and the victim to effectively handle the rehab process, from insisting on the proper amount of rehab care to actively managing medication, Frost explains.
“Now that I’ve lived this, I’ve got a playbook and I can’t sit here and hold it. I’ve got to share it,” he says.”
Having also lived nightlife for years, he’s got a revised playbook to share for that as well. His number one rule for nightlife? “Don’t yell and sweat the little stuff. Just make good food, make sure your patrons are having a fun time and make a profit,” he says. “A lot of restaurateurs don’t live a very good family life and those are the important things. It’s not worth having a fun, successful restaurant if you can’t share it with anybody.”
To learn more about Frost’s journey, visit www.HealScottFrost.org or watch video clips and view photos of his entire recovery process, search for the Facebook group “Friends and Family Pulling for Scott Frost to Get Well.”