Sheep, Wolves, Snakes, and Doves – Gordon Goes to Vegas Part One

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

I spent the last part of the past week in Las Vegas at the 10XGrowthCon.  The 10XGrowthCon is exactly what it says it is.  It is a convention that is supposed to teach anyone doing anything how to they can grow it by 10X. 

The conference was hosted by Grant Cardone, a sales and real estate expert, and included such speakers as The Shark Tank’s Daymond John, Michael Jordan’s coach, Tim Grover, Oprah’s life coach, Tim Storey, and the list goes on and on.  There were no seminars and very few breaks.  From 845am until 6 or 7pm each night, speaker after speaker encouraged, rebuked, inspired, and of course, sold their goods.  Who signs up for that kind of thing?  Lots of folks.  10X’s first year was 2017 and 2,000 people showed up.  Year Two?  Over 9,000.

So, why did this pastor, writer, consultant, etc. go to the 10XGrowthCon in Vegas?  Well, just as being a Christian is not a requirement to being a good engineer, it doesn’t take a Christian to know how to grow something.  Principles of growth in such things as social media, technology, etc are ever growing and rapidly evolving.  What a growth conference in Vegas does require is a lot of discernment.  As a Vegas virgin, I learned a lot.

The first thing I noticed was that everyone, not just people at the conference, but everyone was amazingly honest about what they were doing.  What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but while you are there, everyone’s life is fair game.

Even as I waited at the airport in DC, this attitude was prevailing.  I heard buddies talking about what they would do at their bachelor’s parties.  I heard bunches of ladies talking expectantly about their girl’s getaways.  Some were making fun of the other for what happened last time, and others were saying that they were going to have to look out for so-and-so who gets a little too crazy in Vegas.  This excitement continued upon arrival, people jubilantly disembarked the airplane, and some couldn’t wait to start throwing money in the slots in the terminal.    

Within fifteen minutes on the ground, my Uber driver was telling me about Vegas and his personal devotion to the science of the mind.  When he found out I was a pastor, he opened up about the physical and emotional abuse that he suffered at the hands of the church.  My heart was broken for him, and I expressed as much Gospel compassion as I could after having traveled for nearly ten hours. 

All this, and the conference hadn’t even started yet. 

While Vegas is showy and full of lights, there is one thing about it above all with which I struggled.  The smell.  Casinos allow everything:  cigarettes, cigars, vaping, and even pot.  The smell was everywhere.  On a side note, they even have coffee shops where the grounds are laced with cannabis.  Going up or going down?

Day One of the conference, I woke up at 4am since my body hadn’t adjusted to Vegas time yet, and since my marathon is less than three weeks away, I decided to get my long run in:  a half marathon.  From the Mandalay Bay to one end of the strip is nearly five miles.  It goes further, but the more I got away from crowded neon, the less safe I felt.  I ran the five back, took my photo at the legendary “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, and found three more to finish off the run.  One note:  it’s true that Vegas is the city that never sleeps, but I can attest to this.  The folks walking home at 4:30am might be awake, but they are definitely on their last legs.

Walking into the first day of the conference, I was blown away.  9,000 people, as diverse as the United Nations, joyfully greeted each other.  They asked about backgrounds, professions, and dreams.  It was refreshing and energetic.  Certainly, there were some professional piranhas in the water, but the overwhelming majority were upbeat, encouraging, and offering free, helpful advice. 

And in very Vegas style, the conference began…

Tune in for Part Two.


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