I seem to do some of my best thinking while out mowing the lawn. In July, I had to give the Father’s toast at my daughter’s wedding – the whole speech pretty much came to me while mowing the lawn. Thank goodness the lawn has continued to grow and I have had to mow it or I’d have nothing to write.
So, this morning, I was thinking about the National Industrial Fastener Show which I usually refer to as the Vegas Show. And for a lot of us we go year after year after year. We work in booths, we have a few beers with industry friends, we meet customer for dinner or drinks and we catch up on what’s been going on lately. We visit post-show receptions and, if we are not too tired, we wander over to the Bourbon Room for a little rock music, drinking and networking. For certain, the opportunity to get out with customers and suppliers in a more casual setting than has a lot of appeal. You can relax and sometimes speak more freely than you would in the office or in a “private” email. Still, everything I just described is probably the same thing people do year after year after year. In fact, I suspect some of us eat dinner, hang at bars or go gamble with the same exact people each year in Vegas. I’m guilty of it. Unless something comes up to interfere, I usually have lunch on Wednesday with a particular customer. For the two of us, the fastener business is part job and part hobby. Although slightly pathetic, we love the fastener industry and love talking shop and so we try to set aside some time in Vegas each year just to talk. It is always time well spent.
While our lunch meeting might seem repetitive, our discussions are not. My industry friend is constantly analyzing and reinventing his company. He realizes there are things that his company needs to stop doing and things that they need to do more of and that’s the kind of stuff we enjoy talking about. Analyzing and planning. And I have some other industry friends like that. They are always thinking and reanalyzing their businesses and their company growth is the result of the efforts they put into it.
So, a lot of us will be traveling to the Vegas Show next month. For some, it will be “the tired old Vegas Show”. Time to drag out the old tired booth and lay out the tired old literature and see the same people. I’m often surprised when I encounter people who totally do not look forward to the show. To some it is the “same old, same old”. Me..I still feel like I’m an excitable kid. I have sales calls I want to make before I go to Vegas so that I can build on them once I am out in Vegas. I have people I want to introduce to other people when I am out there. I like to think of myself as someone Malcolm Gladwell refers to as a “Connector” (http://gladwell.com/are-you-a-connector). It’s like a puzzle and we are putting pieces in place to make next year better than last year.
As the year winds down, many of us will be in planning meetings for 2016. They might be budgeting meetings or sales training or lunch and learns or technical training or whatever. But companies will be planning and preparing to hopefully make 2016 better than 2015. So, as you make your plane reservations and book your hotels for Vegas, what do you hope to accomplish while you are out there? Why are you going out there? Is it so see old customers? Is it to find new ones? Is it to visit existing suppliers or to find new ones? Do you go to Vegas simply because you would be conspicuous by your absence?? Many companies will gather their employees together for meetings because that is when they are all in one place at the same time. But, will you produce synergies by having them interacting and brainstorming or will you simply be telling them all the same thing at the same time…just like you could in a memo or email? What can you do better by having them all in one place, interacting? Why are you and they going to Vegas?
Certainly, writing all this is just a way of offering you some food for thought. It’s not like I follow all my own suggestions. Undoubtedly, some of you will catch me sitting at a slot machine or drinking a beer talking about my fantasy football team. But I have good intentions of using the Vegas Show to make 2016 better than 2015.