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What Happened in Vegas — Could Help You

By Greg Kozera - | Jul 21, 2021

Last weekend Lynnda and I were in Las Vegas, Nevada for Influence 2021, The National Speakers Association’s (NSA) Annual Conference. This year at Caesar’s Palace. The plane to Vegas was packed and late for the 4 Ç hour flight. The temperature when we landed was 116 degrees. Humidity was 10%. That’s still hot. Slot machines greeted us at the airport.

Caesar’s is a beautiful and massive resort with 4,000 rooms, high end restaurants, lounges, shops, multiple casinos, ballrooms, meeting rooms and a coliseum where they have events from shows to prize fights. Vegas has the same problems we have getting workers. Express check-in was not. The express check-in person sent us the wrong way to our room. After circling through the packed casino twice one of our NSA buddies spotted us. With his help and more stumbling around, at 2 AM eastern and 11 PM Las Vegas time we were in our room. Our NSA buddy had suffered through similar experiences earlier in the day. His smile, positive attitude and helpfulness kept our attitude from deteriorating.

The next morning at 7 AM I decided to do a morning run in the 99-degree heat. People were still at the bar and in the Casino. I stumbled into the pool area and got lost. I had to ask directions to find my way out of the hotel. The run was a self-guided tour of Las Vegas Boulevard including the fountain at the Bellagio which we have seen in TV commercials and movies. I was surprised by the number of people sleeping on the sidewalk in the heat. Ordering take-out breakfast, the oranges looked nice and juicy. I ordered one. The clerk laughed and said, “I can’t sell you those oranges. They’re plastic.” We were off to a great start.

This conference felt like a family reunion and funeral rolled into one. We were seeing friends and colleagues we haven’t hugged of shaken hands with in two years. Attendees were the survivors. NSA lost over 1,000 members. Most went out of business. It was like Freshmen Engineering Lectures on my first day at WVU. We were in a large lecture hall in the engineering building. The prof said, “Look to your left and look to your right. One of those people won’t be here next semester.” The prof was right. Fortunately, I survived. At NSA we lost less than 10 people to death, most to cancer. Everyone was impacted by COVID in some way. Besides renewing friendships, Lynnda and I learned from our colleagues outside of the formal presentations. That is why in-person meetings are so powerful. Here are our top 10 take-aways from Las Vegas. We thought they might be helpful to you.

· Las Vegas, like Tennessee, Florida and many other places is back to business as usual. A few people were still wearing masks and the plexiglass is still in place. The director of marketing for Caesar’s Entertainment said weekends are very busy. Their conventions are sold out until Q2 of 2023. One reason he said, companies are doing in-person meetings is to engage those working from home.

· Major disruptions are normal and happen every few years like 9-11, the Great Recession and COVID. Prepare for them with multiple income streams and savings. Those with diversified income streams and diversified clients were survivors. Just like your 401K, it isn’t safe to have all your eggs in one basket. Dig your well before you need water.

· In-person meetings are back. Zoom isn’t going away. It will still be a valuable tool but companies putting on virtual only meetings are going to be disappointed with attendees and sponsors. People are looking for opportunities to network again and connect with people in person. We did four virtual meeting presentations in June. For Shale Crescent USA going forward, the Global Plastics Summit is virtual, all other conferences are in-person. Shale Crescent USA is presenting an in-person panel at Pittsburgh Chemical Day in October.

· Hybrid meetings will become more common if the meeting planners treat and engage the virtual attendees the same as the in-person people. NSA made the virtual attendees feel part of the meeting. They spoke to them, did the same phone polls and other activities as the in-person attendees. There were virtual meeting rooms for them when we had a sharing with those around us.

· One speaker talked about using our talents. Are you using yours? What makes you unique? A life of compare is a life of despair. Is there a skill you need to add? Let go of guilt or the thoughts you aren’t worthy. You don’t need to be like anyone else. Be yourself. Be authentic. Be relevant.

· Last week I wrote, it takes more than seven touches in sales using phone, email or social media in addition to in person contacts. We heard, based on the Journal of Experimental Psychology, face to face meetings are 34 times more persuasive than digital or virtual. Six face to face asks equal more than 200 digital touches.

· The pandemic showed us, helping is the new selling. Are you helping your customers or selling them?

· Accepting diversity of all types starts with diversity of thought.

· Decisions are emotional then justified with logical reasons. People don’t know where to look or who to trust. Be trustworthy.

· Some of our very successful friends are still hurting from the pandemic. One friend lamented at lunch, he had to borrow money from his family. That was hard because he was always the one helping them. He never worried about diversified income streams until now. Since our 2019 conference, one very successful woman who looked like she had it all lost her son to a drug overdose. We don’t always know who is hurting. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them. Be empathetic. Be a friend.

What happened in Vegas doesn’t need to stay in Vegas. Hopefully something here will help you