Today I am feeling the repercussions of one of my favorite events of the year, Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke Las Vegas. Cigar Aficionado is the premier lifestyle magazine for cigar smokers and those who celebrate a certain lifestyle that celebrates good food, good conversations, good libations and a celebration of freedom to enjoy many of the finer things in life. But that is just the start of why I love the Big Smoke.
I was introduced to the Big Smoke by Redding, California attorney, Adam Ryan. Adam and I are about as opposite as can be in many ways. When we met, I was a county prosecutor and he is one of the best criminal defense attorneys out there. He is a die-hard Giants fan and my loyalties run deep Dodger Blue. He is a Lions Club member and I am a member of the Elks. And despite these differences, I am fortunate enough to call Adam one of my dearest friends. Our friendship stems from mutual respect, great conversations, many of which are done over drinks and a cigar. In short, for Adam and I, law is not just a business, but a practice. And our businesses work better because we can do combat in the courtroom, shake hands and enjoy each other’s company again. That is what professionals should be doing. Bringing back not just manners, but a true sense of congeniality within the profession.
The Big Smoke highlights include hearing from the titans in the industry. These individuals, almost always men, regale us with the latest information on their products and brands. They also provide more by conveying the sense of passion. Many of these cigar-makers are second, third, or fourth generation stories. Their families have seen many highs and lows on the way to becoming the success stories they are now. It is a great reminder for all entrepreneurs that passion and dedication to craft are integral to creating a successful legacy. And make no mistake, these men are very much interested in their legacies. Whether it is the numerous charitable foundations and activities of the Fuentes. Padrons, and Patels of the business, or working very closely with their children and grandchildren as a large part of each respective company, the idea of legacy is strong. So is the sense of family.
In the industry today, many of these men are now seeing their daughters take very active roles in the companies. For small business owners who want to see what they built live past them, it is probably a good idea to expose their daughters and sons into the business early. Take them to conventions and trade shows to meet others and see how each industry is bigger than it appears. After all, there is no sense in losing a top human resource without giving them the chance to see if they want to join the kingdom themselves.
The Big Smoke is a bit of a throwback as well. In today’s age, where no one seems to speak directly with anyone, at the Big Smoke, everyone speaks to everyone. CEOs , barbers, active and retired military, teachers, therapists, cops, DJ’s and lawyers from all over the world engage in great conversations that are fun and meaningful. The cigar encourages conversation. Conversation about tastes and conversations about experiences. And overall, a reminder to not rush, but to savor these little moments.
I always walk away from the Big Smoke with new business in large part because I love listening to the experiences of others and helping them on their professional and personal journeys as well. We sometimes forget that we are lawyers and counselors at law and they first step in effective counseling is effective listening. So feel free to join us for a steak and a smoke sometimes. It’s one of my favorite ways to do business and hopefully yours as well.