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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Leaving Las Vegas

Thoughts from an early-morning flight after a week in Las Vegas

As I lazily shuffled down the jet bridge to board the Southwest Airlines flight at 5:21 AM in Las Vegas, I found my mind traipsing to the harried activities of the previous five days. After almost a week in Sin City filled with oxygenated air, walking well over 20,000 steps daily, forging new relationships while strengthening old ones, wondering if the $7.50 bottles of water contained the dreams of small children to justify the cost, and enjoying time with my friends, clients, and business partners, I was quite ready to get back to Nashville.

I collapsed in my seat, unpacked my charger and earbuds, and used my feet to shove my backpack underneath the seat in front of me. It was then I thought about many of the conversations I had with people – as well as the ones I overheard – over the week. As I reflected on the discussions, I realized that far too many toss around terms that sound great but are rarely backed up by any substantive action. Some of the words and phrases that come to mind are:

  • Partner

  • Strategy

  • Engagement

  • Tactical

  • Implementation

  • Turn-key solution (my personal favorite)

If you want to really dazzle people with meaningless buzzwords, they can be combined to create new, even more empty phrases like, “strategic partner” or “tactical engagement.” However, I wouldn’t recommend it as, through experiences, we have learned that these words are worthless marketing terms designed to do little more than create a false sense of contentment. It’s time to accept buzzwords and buzzphrases are useless when evaluating potential business partnerships. Instead, make your appraisal much easier (and more accurate) by realizing there are two types of partners in the world: those that are involved, and those that are invested.


  • Pass the buck – either internally or externally – when something goes wrong

  • Speak in vague generalities

  • Simply respond to communications and inquiries

  • Create a wildly inconsistent experience for their clients

  • Express happiness for your business


  • Display ownership of the entire process

  • Are both direct and candid

  • Drive communication

  • Deliver a dependable experience for clients

  • Seek to solve problems before they happen

  • Express gratitude and seek to build a mutually beneficial relationship

Our shared industry has many excellent distributors, suppliers, and service providers. As such, the question you should ask is simple: do you want to work with the involved, or do you want to create relationships with those who are invested?

Partnering with distributors, suppliers, and service providers who are invested in forming relationships will lead to a dramatically higher positive experience for all involved – not the least of which is the end-user client.

When it comes to involvement or investment, there is no choice. Speaking of choice, after a week in Vegas, I’m choosing to take a nap before this plane lands if I have any hope of being productive today.

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