In 2019, GSF reps Stu Bradin (CEO & President) and Rick Lamb (Dir. of Government Relations) attended SHOT Show for the first time. And when they got back, Stu declared: “Next year, we’re ALL going.”
For the uninitiated, SHOT Show is the world’s premier exposition of “firearms, ammunition, law enforcement and related products and services,” and it takes place every January in Las Vegas.
Stu and Rick realized this was a great opportunity for the Foundation for a few reasons. We can:
- Engage with our West Coast community
- Learn about the latest and greatest in defense technology
- Meet new companies and potential partners to bring into the Global SOF Network
So…it happened! This week, almost all of our Global SOF team headed to Vegas for 2020 SHOT Show. And here’s how it went…
“I just had a flashback…but a good one!”
Our team converged from Florida and D.C. onto the target in Vegas on Tuesday, giving us enough time to settle in before hitting the floor. To promote team unity and save money, we opted for a team AirBnB off “The Strip.”
As the two members of the team with the most life experience (read: oldest 😉 ), Stu and Rick were newcomers to the AirBnB world and not sure what to expect. But luckily–it all went smoothly! The house was so big we had separate wings for the males and females, with our common meeting space in the middle.
That’s where we divvied up our Global SOF literature, worked out our game plans each day, and listened to whatever music we could all most agree on (it was “Classic Rock Hits”). At one point, Rick said, “This song is giving me a flashback…”
Chelsea ran to change it, but he clarified: “No, it’s a good one!” Then regaled us with a training story from his days on Fort Benning.
As a team that works from home most of the time, it was great to have this opportunity to be in close quarters in a more casual, not-frantically-putting-on-an-event atmosphere.
We used this first afternoon to catch-up, share solutions to tech issues, and of course… prepare for two days at SHOT Show!
The Biggest Show We’ve Ever Seen
Vegas can be misleading…The Strip looks somewhat small from the air. But once you’re down in the thick of things and realize how expansive and underground every building seems to be, that illusion is quickly shattered.
The same could be said of SHOT Show. It just keeps going. Room after room, floor after floor. And if you start on the first floor, you might think you’ve seen some impressive booths. Until you get to the second floor.
Two- and three- story booths bigger than a city block are not uncommon on the second floor… and many of them look more structurally sound than some city buildings. As Stu said many times, “It’s the biggest show I’ve ever seen.”
But, we weren’t just there to gawk at the displays and the Texas Rangers (although that did inevitably happen). Upon arrival, we began our missions. Well, we took one group photo, then we began our missions.
Because we had so much ground to cover, we divided into 3 teams of two, each pair armed with a military Veteran and an experienced event professional. Each team had a geographical assignment by floor with pre-chosen targets, so we quickly moved out.
Over two days, we met with nearly 100 companies. From longtime Corporate Partners to companies that we’d never heard of, but that met a gap in our Capability Catalog, we met to talk about ways we can collaborate and work together for the SOF community.
It was busy, it was chaotic, and it was even fun! And most importantly, we think we expanded or solidified our network on many fronts with our engagements.
Networking with our People
Of course, it IS Las Vegas, after all. Which means that as much networking happens at the conference even more happens at events around the conference.
On the first night we attended the 3rd Annual Green Beret Reunion. With two former Green Berets on our team, it only made sense!
The reunion was fun, and a good chance for us to reconnect with the event host, the Green Beret Foundation (GBF). Plus, we met more West Coast-based members of the Special Operations community. Big thank you to Frances and her team at GBF for welcoming us and getting us involved.
On night two we headed over to the “SOFHOUSE,” which is a historical hotel that a few different SOF-focused companies rented out for the week. One of those companies was Black Fish, one of our Corporate Partners!
So we headed over there to network with that team, test out their digital shoothouse, and find out that they’d be having Naughty By Nature performing the next night. So yeah… we were coming back.
From there we headed back to The Strip, on a dinner invite from another excellent Corporate Partner: ATN Corp. We were treated far too well with some very tasty surf and turf, and also had the opportunity to meet some other members of ATN’s network.
Speaking of meals, on Thursday we had a great lunch with our POC from our Partner Tier 1 Group–giving us the opportunity to catch up and talk about the current SOF environment. And although we don’t think they’re joining the Foundation, we did get to see Naughty by Nature that night!
Putting the “COO” in “Cooperative Efforts”
As you may have noticed, a key member of our team is missing from the photos. With everything we have coming up, our COO, Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, stayed home to make sure the machine kept turning.
What are those “COOperative Efforts” she was working? She prepped for our first Board Meeting of 2020, worked invites and logistics of our first seminar in Silicon Valley, and even submitted our 2019 tax return! #funfun
Plus–she worked with our partners at Navigators Global on the next big focus of our year: the inaugural SOF Imperatives Forum!
If you aren’t familiar with that event, we’re really excited about it. We have a whole range of confirmed speakers from U.S. Congress, current and former Defense Leadership, and media.
The Forum will convene the community for an interactive discussion about the unconventional threats facing SOF and how the U.S. military and government should respond. The agenda has been informed by our annual SOF Imperatives publication, a platform document reflecting the critical issues facing U.S. SOF.
Speaking of, that 2020 edition will be released soon….so stay tuned to the GSF for that document, and register to attend the Forum ASAP! And if you work for a Global SOF Corporate Partner, don’t forget to contact us for your promo code.