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Green Chips has a conversation with community leader and master power napper, City of Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman

July 30, 2015

As this is a feature about community leaders, what do you think makes a good leader?

Somebody who listens, cares, who is proactive. Somebody that is supported by really good people knowing what they are doing. But most importantly it is listening to others and putting your ego aside.

Do you have a personal philosophy or approach to life?

I feel very blessed to have had the parents I had who helped to create the spirit and energy I have. My parents are very big on education and life has been very good to me. I was always brought up to know that I have a purpose in life and it is to help other people. It isn’t about me, I, my – it is about we, our, us and you need to work hard and do your part.

What was your major in college and your path to your current position?

I never knew where I was going and it was one step at a time. I was raised in the heart of Manhattan, went to a women’s college called Bryn Mawr and actually became president of the student body there. I majored in anthropology and sociology which were in the area of people and that is my passion. I am a people person and love to be involved with people. I ultimately got my second degree at UNLV in counseling. Everything that I have done has been putting my hands in the dirt, being involved with people, and trying to be effective somewhere, somehow.

Is this where you thought you would be?

I never thought then that I would be mayor. Although, all the way through my high school years and into college I had leadership roles because I was very tall. And when you are in an all girl’s school and an all women’s college and you are tall – I was 5’7″ in 3rd grade – you become the leader. I loved being in those leadership roles and solving problems. That is the job of this role, in this city, at this time. How can we learn from the past, take advantage of this new generation and new technology, and pull it all together in a creative manner.

Is there one word that best describes how you work?


What keeps you engaged/passionate about your job; what drives you?

It’s different everyday. And, I meet new people everyday, with new issues everyday. It is also being able to bring that continuum from the past and integrate it into the issue of today. Again, I go back to the fact that I was so blessed to have the education my family afforded me – and that is the great equalizer too.

How do you re-charge?

I am the best one in the whole world on power napping! Nobody can do a better, more meaningful power nap than I can. I just need 10 minutes. I can be reading a book and then I’ll be out. 15 minutes later I am so energized because I’ve had that power nap.

What are you better at than anyone else and what is your secret?

Two things: I really pride myself on being a great mediator and I think I am full of ideas; so mediation and innovation. I have 4 children; born in 69, 70, 71, and 73 and you do not handle raising 4 children unless you know how to mediate. That was great training ground.

Where are you from originally and what has surprised you the most about this community?

I grew up in the heart of Manhattan which was, of course, the center of the universe, especially for anyone that lived in New York.

What amazes me most is the rapid growth, the uniqueness of what we are having to do to keep our community going, and how we are working towards, and becoming, a world class city with: education, medical care, research, art and all forms of culture, and sports. When we came out here Nevada was the only place for legalized gaming and the fascination for wonderful entertainers. The community was unbelievably safe. All that has changed with our growth. Gaming is now everywhere. How do we keep our conventions and tourists coming here if we aren’t continuously trying to renew ourselves? Safety becomes critical for us at that point. Nobody will move to, or a build a business, in a community that isn’t safe – that is always on my mind. It isn’t something to be frightened of, but it is something to be aware of.

What is your biggest hope for this community in the next 10 years? 50?

To keep driving towards this and focus on safety first. To see the growth and the quality of medical care; we need to put a lot into lab research and graduate schools and we aren’t there yet. As I look to 10, 15, 20, 40, 50 years out, I would just hope that we continue to focus on the educational base. Also developing the culture and all the while keep an eye on the environment and sustainability – moving people well (transportation) and the sports element that is critical to the development of every city. Really building that world class city.

What app or technical gadget can’t you live without?

It is the role of the mayor to conduct city council and to declare city emergency if and when that may happen so I have my cell phone with me 24/7 – and always on. To have the iPhone with me and that accessibility all the time is critical.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Everything in life to me, is education. And education begins from the moment a child is born. I am fully focused on behavioral development and making sure children are fed, clean, taken care of, with proper guidance and parenting, and have access to education and not passing the buck.

What advice would you give to young professionals starting out?

Keep on the path. Take it a day at a time but look to the future and plan the best you can. Enjoy everyday but make it meaningful. Do something. You are part of this world and its about each of us doing the best we can now, helping others, and making good choices and don’t let other people convince you to do things that you know aren’t right.

What is your favorite word?


Last question, what are you reading right now?

I’ve got 5 books beside my bed. One is garbage for the beach. Two are biographies of George Washington and Joseph Kennedy. Then I have two that are more focused on the job and I couldn’t tell you their titles. People keep giving me books – I have a stack over there and another stack over there.