CEO | Landscapes Unlimited / Landscapes Golf Management
John Pugliese, CEO of Landscapes Unlimited / Landscapes Golf Management, shares his thoughts on leadership, the inspiration of Ted Lasso and the construction of his ideal day.
The First Call: Please give us a short overview of your company.
John Pugliese: Landscapes Unlimited is the premier developer and builder of first-class golf courses, country clubs, resorts and sports fields globally; and Landscapes Golf Management is one of the largest and most trusted operators of golf courses and country clubs across America.
TFC: Where are you and your company located?
JP: We are headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, but our teams can be found from California to Carolina and as far abroad as China.
TFC: What is your handicap index?
JP: Double digits with opportunity for improvement. If it gets too low, my clients and teammates will know where I’m spending my time … and where I’m not.
TFC: In one sentence, describe what you do for a living.
JP: Listen, comprehend, lead with intention, get the hell out of the way and provide support.
TFC: What time do you wake in the morning, and what time do you typically start the workday?
JP: Our 4-year-old is good for a wake-up call starting around 5:30 a.m. I spend the first half hour, while he’s bumping around in his room, pacifying the e-mail machine and reviewing the day’s agenda. Given we work from coast to coast, the workday can start early and go late if something pops up. Plus, we’re a family business, so any topic is fair game regardless of time or location.
TFC: What are key elements to leadership or to being a good leader?
JP: Know your business well enough to recognize people when they deserve recognition. Never miss an opportunity to ask someone if there’s anything you can do for them or what the company can be doing better.
TFC: What changes, if any, have you made based on the events of the past year?
JP: Gosh, what hasn’t changed!? We’ve made a point of trying to identify early on what long-term benefits could be derived from the often-temporary changes to our work environment and nurture those opportunities. I’m particularly proud of how communication has adapted and improved throughout the company as we’ve navigated the challenges and uncertainty of the past 18 months.
TFC: What's the secret to your success?
JP: It’s no secret. Just go find someone with a Landscapes logo and follow them to the culture that makes this whole thing work.
TFC: Who is your role model?
JP: It has to be Ted Lasso right now. I put off watching the show for months only to discover there is a ridiculous amount of lessons on life and leadership wrapped up in the 30-minute episodes.
TFC: Knowing what you know today, what professional advice would you give a younger you?
JP: There are a lot of incredibly impressive people out there doing some pretty amazing things. Work hard, then work harder.
TFC: What’s the last book you read?
JP: I usually have a handful of books going at any given time. My reading interests are as scattered as my musical taste. I just finished “Lean Project Delivery” by Dan Fauchier and David Umstot for a book club one of our executives is running. I’m also a few pages into “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future” by Daniel Pink.
TFC: What’s the last movie you saw?
JP: “Sandlot.” Actually, it’s the last 15 movies I’ve watched. It’s kind of a thing around our house in the summer. I’m sure my son will transition us to the Home Alone marathon any day now.
TFC: What’s on your playlist?
JP: I love all kinds of music and sharing music is a great layer to any friendship. A buddy and partner of mine recently turned me on to Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio while he was on a jazz kick. It’s worth a listen.
TFC: When you’re not at work, you can be found … ?
JP: Outside. Walking a fairway with friends and family or an open field with my bird dog. Sometimes my golf ball can be as hard to find as a pheasant.
TFC: What is your greatest extravagance?
JP: A four-year-old in the toy aisle at Target.
TFC: What was your path to the golf industry?
JP: I was working part time on a project for Landscapes while I was finishing my MBA in Austin, Texas. Over the course of the project, I was exposed to the relationship-based nature of this industry, and was increasingly in awe of the tenure and culture that existed at this company. I was hooked and the opportunity to come onboard full time presented itself. I’ve never looked back.
TFC: What are the favorite golf courses you have played?
JP: Sutton Bay in South Dakota is probably atop my list. Landscapes was involved in the development of the course and it was a labor of love for our founder Bill Kubly. Between work and family commitments, our schedules don’t allow us to visit as often as we would like. However, we spent a couple days there for my birthday in September and it doesn’t get much better than a pheasant hunt in the morning, a round of golf in the afternoon and dinner with a view. No better place to spend time with the important people in your life.
TFC: Which golf courses do you belong to (if you care to share)?
JP: Our family enjoys spending time at the Country Club of Lincoln. Great people, great facilities and Ryan Krings has that course dialed in.