Shared Vision Network Las Vegas Trip Hosted by Maria Ngo and Ray DuGray

I’d written such a nice post about the Vegas trip last week, only to have it get done blowed up and dissolve into a puff of virtual smoke on my laptop. I shall attempt to reconstitute:
I had a great time with the Vegas chapter of the Shared Vision Network. They meet once a month at a luncheon (this one at a local steakhouse) to present educational seminars to local entrepreneurs and business owners. The group is led by the wonder twins (and spouses) Maria Ngo and Ray DuGray. I was nervous that the group wasn’t going to be in my style of humor and presentation but once we had lunch and I got rolling into the presentation, I had a great time. I really need to get into more live presentations – it is a lot of fun. I jabbered and presented for about an hour and then Ray and Maria did a half-hour “seat of heat” where they and the audience grilled on pretty much any and everything. I think I did pretty good and I liked the McGlaughlin Group/Crossfire motif. Several of the attendees grabbed copies of Blogwild and I sold 2 complete sets of all my courses. All around, a great time and a great trip. At least – the part of the trip that consisted of business-y stuff. Here’s a recap of the vacation-side of the trip.


The Luxor is a shithole. On the outside it is a gleaming onyx pyramid jewel on the strip with a blazing pillar of white light firing up into the heavens with a massive Sphynx at the entrance. The interior design is replete with faux hieroglyphics and 40-foot tall Ramses-esque statues. Check in went fine until we didn’t get the king size bed we’d reserved, we ended up with 2 queens (I’m talking about the beds, smart ass). Ron’s a covers hog so I knew it was going to be fitful slumber. They pointed us to the elevators to access the second floor – how hard could that be?
Evidently inclinators (that go up the inner slant of the pyramid) and elevators (straight up) are different things and of course any newcomer to the hotel that mad a brain addled by low blood sugar and close-quarters flight would register that difference. We go to the #2 bank and go to the second floor – we can’t find our room. We’ve now walked through the lobby 3 times and a friendly Luxor staffer asks us if we need help and we say yes and he offers to help us and takes us over to a table and this guy starts talking a mile a minute while playing with a touchscreen and promising us free tickets to the show of our choice and he kept on babbling and babbling and suddenly I realized and ask: ‘Are you selling us a timeshare?’ Yes. I told them we weren’t interested and we made our way back through the lobby and through the carcinogenic casino a fourth time. We walk to the ass-end of the pyramid to #4 bank and then go to that second floor – still no room. By this time Ron is about to blow a gasket, I’m about to inflict some Van Damme-age and so I go back to the timeshare desk and say, ‘Obviously I’m a complete retard because we can’t find our room.’ They try to explain it to us. ‘No, I need someone to please walk us there. Please.’ (Then we’ll come back and let you practice your sales pitch.) Finally a guy walks us over to elevator bank #2 which is off to the side and hidden by inclinator bank #2 and shoved behind the entrance to the Luxor theatre (Leann Rimes in a few days).
This is a magic hotel: it has 3 second floors.
We got to our room which had a missing panel in the bathroom wall. We began the ‘No Talking, I’m Hungry (and I’ll Dump Your Ass if You Say 1 More Goddamn Word Until I’ve Had a Piece of Bread)’ protocol while we showered and changed for dinner. We made our way to the MGM Grand’s buffet.
I thought I knew buffets. I come from the midwest, land of double-wide strollers and double-wide people. My grandmother would hold her nose as we went to The Banquet Table on Friday nights (she called it ‘the trough’ but still deigned to dine there and enjoy the seniors discount). No amount of gluttony had prepared me for this.
Buffets in Las Vegas are similar to the situation you’d find yourself in if an Old Country Buffet annexed a football field next door and then further spilled over into a Sizzler. I mixed shrimp, chicken, pork, steak and perch on the same plate, simultaneously offending all major world religions. Ron sated himself with crab legs which in the end always seem to be a very labor intensive endeavor. We ate the buffet once at the Luxor and then twice at the MGM Grand. Quite yummy. By this time I was on my fourth Coca Cola and a nice sugar buzz was starting to compete with a sharp increase in my blood cholesterol.
What surprised me most about Las Vegas was all the walking. I’m used to density like in Chicago or New York where you walk 3 feet and see two Starbucks, a manicure joint, 5 ATMs and seven homeless people. In Vegas you have to walk everywhere. Or at least you have to walk to the shuttles that take you everywhere.
I love casinos for the same reason I love the tactics of strip clubs: complete and total dedication to separating the desperate from their money. What is more Pavlovian than a slot machine. Insert money. Press button. Loud music and bright lights give you a few fleeting moments of stimuli. Lose money.
I liked roulette because you lose your money slower. Plus they have everything automated now so you sit at a touch-screen monitor (presumably from Diebold) and the operators add you cash to your virtual chips. You click the places you want to bet on, the (real, not virtual) roulette wheel starts to spin and the ball drops while a video camera reads the results for you.
I think as industry moves further out of the United States that we will become an economy primarily of investing stocks/options and gambling. Basically the same thing: moving around massive amounts of money based on chance. It is kinda the end state of a true knowledge economy, right? Oh and porn. Stocks, casinos and porn.
Aside from the frustrations this was a fun ‘training wheels’ trip to Vegas and next time we’ll have enough advance notice to score tickets to the shows (the real reason I’d like to stay there for a few days).
Though I told Ron that since he likes slot machines so much,  could have just strapped a strobe light to his face and taken twenties out of his wallet.
Oh and here’s my presentation slides in PDF format:
Andy_Wibbels_Shared_Vision_Presentation.pdf

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

2 thoughts on “Shared Vision Network Las Vegas Trip Hosted by Maria Ngo and Ray DuGray

  1. Sharon Sarmiento

    Hee hee! You *are* a great storyteller, and it sounds like the trip was quite an adventure.
    I live in the South, so most folks LOVE the buffets. There’s a new one that opened recently called “Golden Coral” that we’ve taken to calling the “Golden Trough”–your story about your grandma reminded me of that.
    I don’t do well with buffets. They’re too stressful. When I go into a buffet, I feel under pressure, because I feel like I need “an eating strategy”.
    You know, you want to get your money’s worth (go for meats & seafood, pass on the bread basket–that’s how they get ya!), and then you don’t want to miss out on any extra tasty dishes, and on top of that your stomach is only SO big.
    So there’s lots of decision making skills involved and usually I end up with a combination of stuff on my plate that is not that appetizing. Oh well, sounds like you had better luck.
    Oh, and that’s a very snazzy PowerPoint presentation!
    Sharon

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