10 QUESTIONS FOR TILMAN FERTITTA

Tilman Fertitta wants you to shut up and listen with new book

Tilman Fertitta wants you to shut up and listen with new book
Photo by J. Thomas Ford

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Tilman Fertitta can't lose. Sitting in his palatial office nestled in the towering Post Oak Hotel in Uptown, the sole owner of Fertitta Entertainment, the restaurant giant Landry's, the Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels, and the NBA's Houston Rockets — not to mention the star of the TV reality show Billion Dollar Buyer — is taking a quick moment to bask in his success.

And why not? On top of being the world's richest restauranteur and Houston's most recognizable billionaire, Fertitta currently boasts a best seller with his new business book, Shut Up and Listen! As CultureMap reported, he just acquired Del Frisco's luxury steakhouse chain, adding to his impressive and extensive restaurant empire. And speaking of acquisitions: Soon, his Houston Rockets will unleash the powerhouse duo of James Harden and new teammate Russell Westbrook, who came to Houston in a massive trade with Oklahoma City.

Fertitta has just made the national media rounds promoting Shut Upand Listen! and looked quite comfortable doing so. "A lot of owners don't talk to the media and they don't know how to do it," he tells CultureMap, "but I've been doing it for 30 years and it just doesn't phase me."Shut Up and Listen! is a Tilman tell-all. But rather than a life story, the book is a how-to for the business-minded. No-nonsense nuggets such as the "Tilmanisms" teach principles such as the 95/5 rule (focus on the 5 percent of the operation that isn't perfect and fix it) and offer hardcore reminders such as "when things are bad, eat the weak and grow your business." Doubters, take note: Shut Up has landed on the Publishers Weekly's and USA Today's Best Sellers lists.

CultureMap sat down with Fertitta during a rare break to talk books, business, and his beloved Bayou City.

CultureMap: You’re a Texan titan of industry, a major local benefactor, you own one of the most buzzworthy teams in all of pro sports, and you’re the star of your own reality TV show. Can we now say — in Houston — that you’re way bigger than Mark Cuban?

Tilman Fertitta: [Laughs] Oh, I don't know about that. Mark is a special guy and we're lucky to have him in Texas.

CM: You’ve been actively involved with the Rockets and the University of Houston sports programs. Using your 95/5 rule, can you share any of the 5 percent of what you found wrong with the Rockets and UH?

TF: At UH, the 5 percent was we wanted to have good coaches and we wanted to improve our facilities. That's the 5 percent we realized that if we wanted to compete at the highest level of basketball and football, that's what we'd have to do.

For the Rockets, we're gonna make sure we can put the basketball team we can on the court with the best coaches every single year. I'm not a sit-on-my-hands guy — it's let's keep getting better.

CM: Why is giving back to your hometown important to you?

TF: This is where I grew up and Houston's been very good to me. I've been around a long time and I've watched people come and go in the '80s, the '90s, the 2000s, and the 2010s. It's fun to have lasted this long and been a player through so many decades.

CM: There’s an old adage that says, ‘Do one thing and do it well.’ But you’re doing a lot of things well. When do you know, as a business owner, to diversify?

TF: Systems and operations are very important. Everybody wants to do more deals. If you understand the Big Box Theory, you make more out of a bigger box. In the beginning, I knew I always wanted to be successful. Today, I know what I know and I know — and what I don't know.

Continue on CultureMap to learn which books inspired Tilman Fertitta, and much more.

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The stakes are high! Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros secured a much-needed series win over the Tigers behind a classic Justin Verlander performance on Sunday. It was nice to see Verlander bounce back after his worst performance of the season against the Yankees in his previous start.

JV received some unjust criticism after getting shelled by the Yankees, with many fans claiming he's over the hill and has been terrible this season. Which is completely false, as the only game Verlander surrendered more than two runs was in that one start in New York. Outside that one bump in the road, he's given his team a chance to win in every one of his starts.

Speaking of pitching, this week we arrive at the quarter point of the season and the Astros' team ERA (4.96) is the third-worst in baseball, behind only the Rockies and Marlins. As opposed to Houston's offense, that is becoming a strength for the club, posting the best team batting average in MLB.

So pitching continues to be the main issue, along with their inability to hit with runners in scoring position.

However, clutch hitting appears to be moving in the right direction, with the team scoring runs late to give the bullpen a larger margin for error against the Detroit over the weekend.

The time is now

The Astros next fourteen out of seventeen games are against a divisional opponent, so if there was ever a time to make up some ground in the division, this is it. The Astros face the A's, Brewers, Angels, and Mariners in the coming days, and the club is 6.5 games behind division leading Seattle.

The season could ultimately come down to this stretch of games, and now would be the perfect time for Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman's bats to heat up. Yordan is really struggling with runners in scoring position and Bregman is struggling to hit, period.

Bregman is in Jose Abreu territory, currently sporting the 5th lowest OPS in MLB (.534), and the 4th lowest slugging percentage (.264). Moving him down in the batting order certainly looks like the right move, as he has one double in his last 24 games, and just two extra base hits in that span.

Who leaves the rotation when Jose Urquidy returns?

Don't miss the video above as we examine arguably the most important stretch of the Astros season to date, how Houston will set up their pitching rotation moving forward, and much more!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel! We'll continue to drop more episodes throughout the week.

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