Guest Speaker Vince Guzzo talks to
Perspectives I Students
On Monday, March 30th, Perspectives I students and staff gathered together to listen to a presentation by Vince Guzzo. Mr. Guzzo was invited to tell the story of his life so far, in the hope that it would serve as an inspiration for the students. Some PI students are taking an Entrepreneurship course, and Vince Guzzo is a very successful entrepreneur.
Vince Guzzo said that Cinemas Guzzo started in 1974 when his father opened one theatre, with one movie screen. By the 1990s when Vince was ready to join his dad, after getting a law degree and studying economics, there were 4 locations, and now in 2015 there are ten different locations with more than 100 movie screens. Vince is the Executive Vice-President and C.O.O. of Cinémas Guzzo, which has 600 employees.
Vince said that most of the people employed in the theatres are in the age range of the PI students, working as ushers, for example. He also told the students that it is his policy to promote people that already work for him, and not to hire managers from outside. He keeps his company local, and appreciates the support he gets, so he gives to local charities to show that appreciation.
Vince was accompanied by his lovely wife, Maria, who is the VP of Charitable Donations for Cinemas Guzzo. For seven years the focus of the charity was to work preventively to avoid cancer, and the new focus is to help in the area of emotional disturbance in children.
P1 students listened attentively, and Vince encouraged them to ask questions, which they certainly did. One of the students asked why the food in the theatres is so expensive. Vince explained that the money made by selling the food keeps the movie theatre going, because it offsets the cost of maintaining the theatre, with the ticket sales not being enough to do that.
One student asked penetrating questions like “What motivates you to get up in the morning? Vince talked about his enjoyment of his work, and how when you follow your passion and work very hard, you want to get up and get going. His passion is not movies, but more the entertainment business as a whole. He introduced the concept of arcade games, bumper cars, and more than the usual food at the theatres, and is contemplating including a water park somewhere in the chain.
He credits the support initially of his parents, and now his wife and children, for helping him to be so successful. He counselled the students to put away ½ of their earnings when they work, saying that anyway whatever they spend the rest on is not likely to be important things.
Another student asked about Vince’s favourite movie – The Godfather movies and The Gladiator – whereas the movies that made the most money are both made by a Canadian director, James Cameron. He directed “Titanic” as well as “Avatar”. Vince explained that for him, both of the movies were so successful because underneath, they were love stories. Some students did not see Avatar as a love story, but Vince maintained his position.
A student sitting right in front of Vince chose to ask him about his socks. He said they were handmade for him, and had his name on them. In a follow-up conversation after the main event was over, he told another student that he had 10 cars, among them several Ferraris.
It was clear for the students that Vince started off like many of them, and is now an extremely successful entrepreneur. He was very clear in his whole story that hard work is a very important aspect of his success, as is your willingness to make the tough decisions. One of his most difficult was to close the original theatre his father had opened, because sentimentally that was not what he wanted to do, but from a business point of view, he had no real choice.
The students handled the presentation really well. They were polite and attentive throughout, and some indicated their interest in applying for a job at the theatre. Vince encouraged the students to apply, and stressed that their appropriate appearance, their posture, their willingness to work hard, and their ability to be humble would all affect their chances of success.
In conclusion, most of the students could understand that from humble beginnings, with hard work, it could be possible for them to achieve great success à la Vince Guzzo.