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Growthink on the Town: Rio, Moscow, and Old Berlin… In 36 Hours

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Sounds like a lot of territory to cover in such a short amount of time, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, it wasn’t. I managed to do it all… within one square mile or less.

The wonder of being in LA and having clients all over the world is that there’s one particular destination to which everyone is drawn.  In addition, it’s fairly central to travelers doing business in the western half of the U.S.

No, it’s not Fresno.

Las Vegas is a desert Mecca of entertainment, gambling, and business.  The latter is conducted everywhere from conference centers and meeting rooms, to poker tables, bars, restaurants, music halls, and nightclubs.  Low and behold, I found myself in precisely such a scenario last week, accompanied by two Growthink colleagues and a handful of Brazilian clients.  I knew, immediately, that this trip would be ripe for a sitcom episode.

My associate, Tristan, and I must have been dreaming when we thought we could fly in and out of Vegas for a day-long meeting.  “We’ll have a productive day,” we thought, “and then we’ll just have a cocktail or two and head to the airport.”

Cut to 8p.m., when the entire gang of us could be found at Red Square – the infamous Russian destination in Mandalay Bay that features a plethora of caviar and spirits.  Flights of sample wheat and potato, flavored and un-flavored vodkas were delivered to our table; and we relished in tasting each and every one, discussing the bouquet and the lingering effect of the smooth liquor on our palettes.  In the midst of an amplified discussion, Tristan and I announced our impending departure and were immediately harangued into calling Southwest to arrange morning flights.

How can one argue with a handful of handsome Latin American men? Well, that was my excuse, at least – I can’t speak for Tristan!

After securing two seats on the 10:45a.m. flight to LA, we settled back in at the table and proceeded to talk about everything: politics, music, travel, the state of the economy… no subject was left untouched, and no better time was had.  A singer by training, I was urged to perform for the group – which I did, right in the middle of the restaurant!  Only in Vegas would no one give a second thought or a glance to a gal belting out an impromptu showtune.

Carrying on with the cabaret vibe, I suggested we continue the party at Forty Deuce – a burlesque club reminiscent of old Berlin: bawdy but glamorous; fishnets and feather boas; red leather seats and bottle service.  Having worked for the owner prior to joining Growthink (I led corporate development initiatives for the parent company), I was able to secure the best VIP seats adjacent to the stage.  The next two hours found us smiling, dancing, watching the show, and having an all-around amazing time that would not have happened if we weren’t in a place like Vegas.  It inspired a camaraderie, which already existed from prior meetings but was enhanced by an environment of slightly daring opportunity.  I mean, how many times does a one-day business trip turn into a 36-hour excursion?  

When we finally shut our eyes that night, able to find last-minute rooms thanks to the down-season hotel occupancy rates, we knew we had solidified a long-term client relationship.  More than that: we had developed friendships.

The next morning we gathered for coffee in the lobby before heading to board our plane.  Bleary-eyed and tired, but anxious to proceed with our combined business-planning project, we all laughed, shook hands, and bade each other farewell until the next meeting in 2009.

The best part?  That one’s in Brazil.

Stay tuned for a blog about Carnival!

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