What happens in Vegas - Used to stay in Vegas....
Until this reporter came along;
Now, nothing is sacred
David James, CFO
FNF Construction, Inc.
Having spent a few days north and west of Vegas on Mt. Charleston (yes, Marj, I was hiking) – I did not arrive until Friday evening . . . but certainly in time to meet a few of the VOS folks at one of the 26+/- watering holes within a 100 yards of my room elevators. In Vegas you can be certain that you are within a very short walk of a place to quench your thirst and spend your money. It was certainly good to see those VOS folks who were there for early conference activities! VOS is one of the most active and participative chapters in CFMA – good for US!! I also was offered my first gambling opportunity . . . . No, not by the hot chick near the craps table -- rather thru our own Tony Hakes - - caught pushing odds sheets on the upcoming 2015 NCAA tournament!! Tony – CPA, CCIFP and part time bookie? Heck, if I were a gambling man . . . I would go with Kansas any time (no, Tom, NOT Kansas State); but then again, I had not even broken out my gambling cash yet! Sorry Tony, no ‘dice’ here – maybe if you had hung out near the hot chick by the craps table . . . just saying . . . a little honey attracts the bees/bears/gamblers/whatever!
As has been the trend the past few years, well ahead of the conference “official start” on Sunday evening there are various programs, summits, bored meetings, golf outings and charity events - filling Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday - - - enough to make you exhausted before the main conference even starts!!
Saturday I attended the ICCIFP bored meeting. I figured since I am chair of the Governance Committee, I ought to go. I learned two things:
1-this was the ICCIFP’s 10th year anniversary; YAY – go ICCIFP!! .. However, for those of you (us/me) who took the initial exam … feeling old yet? Oh, yeah!
2-while Marj and John are not horse whisperer’s (I think Robert Redford has that title cornered), they certainly are ICCIFP whisperer’s!! I was right in front of them, and they whispered during the entire meeting between themselves. .. . psst;psst;psst just like little kids in church. (shhhh guys, some of us were trying to nap!!)
The ICCIFP bored meeting was so exciting that I passed on the CFMA bored meeting on Sunday- - opting for the pool and a couple cold ones (which, by the way were $11 each! Wow – I could almost swear off beer at that price. . . . Almost . . . . nah, just need to pace myself better-and sneak in my own supply!!)
Following the ICCIFP bored meeting, Melanie (my better half; yes, Marj – MUCH better half) and I escaped to have a very nice dinner off property with Phil Taylor, Midge (his better half) and Jennifer Nolan, a Beach Fleishmann tax manager from our Tucson CFMA family just south of the Gila! Anyone wanting a recommendation on great Italian food near the Strip let me know!
Sunday evening began with the traditional CFMA Reception; but with a rather untraditional venue – with the Exhibitors. The chance to connect with the exhibitors early on in the conference was nice; however, by the time the conference was over, with all the other Exhibitor events . . . I think this may have been a bit of Exhibitor overload (any VOS exhibitors, excepted, of course!).
Following the Sunday reception, the ICCIFP had a 10 year celebration party; open only to CCIFP’s (who were willing to shell out $100). So if YOU want to get the opportunity to attend such fun events (woo-hoo!) . . . then YOU need to be a CCIFP!! Get with the program, folks; the Overview and Exam are coming at you this fall! And . . . our very own John Corcoran was recognized at the event for his substantial contributions to the Institute and the creation of the ICCIFP designation . . . . Thanks John!
And then . . . like magic - - POOF the conference began!! Dawn peer groups, classes covering technology, accounting and finance, HR and benefits, heavy highway and sub specialty, leadership and risk management – whoa, sensory overload!! Exhausted again! And, after a couple of the DOL sessions, I decided I should have been a dentist like my mom wanted! More regulation, more risk, more fun for our industry – but thanks to CFMA and these great sessions, I now know what I need to do to stay out of ‘tent city’!!
One of the premier general sessions was presented by Doug Pruitt, former CEO of Sundt Construction, who walked us thru the “turnaround” story of Sundt - - my take away; maintain discipline . . . lose it and risk losing your company!
The annual CMFA social gathering for attendees was on Tuesday, rather than Monday – and billed as the “Closing Night Party”. It was held at the Tropicana, known for their mirrored ceilings in their guest rooms (I have only heard – no first-hand knowledge) and was very well orchestrated (but no ceiling mirrors). The band was good; the location actually provided tables to eat, and visit without yelling … and the entire group got entertained by John Travolta (aka John Corcoran) doing some sort of dance moves yet to be defined or understood by civilized man. Now, I have seen John in a toga (public setting only), in Mexican regalia, riding a mechanical bull (yes, John, I remember the bull) , only to mention a few getups --- but the leisure suit and bell bottoms were an outfit to remember. The dancing, I am going to therapy to forget.
Social gatherings at a national conference would be incomplete without a night on the town for VOS members. And Vegas was no exception. Yes, on Monday evening a group of our peers (almost scary to admit this relationship) went over to the LINQ, and attacked the Brooklyn Bowl sports bar (yes, I said bowling; soccer was yet to emerge as the 2014 sport of choice). I have never been sure if bowling qualifies as a sport – now I am certain: not a chance! From bowlers who had blisters and gained the knick name “knuckles” (how do you bowl w/o your fingers? Ask Ryan Evans for a demo!); to tweeting during the event (Michelle/Lisa – you need to pay attention if you want to excel in any “sport”!); to . . . OMG – the group had no clue on how to set up the computer scoring, so they had to forget any structure, declare some makeshift teams and just start throwing the ball down the lane – how lame – and with no idea how to score the game!! Memo to Conference Planning Committee – have a session in the IT education track - - Bowling Computer Scoring for Dummies - - - and all VOS members should be required to attend! So, since no one could keep score (CFM’s, right – scary!) it was a ‘feel good’ event - - enhanced by adult libations! Not daunted by the confusion and lack of structure in the bowling “sport”, a few late night partiers joined in a few fast paced games of Beer Pong. Ho Brother . . . . your reporter will only end this segment by letting Drew Wagner know that though self-proclaimed champion in this tournament, my suggestion would be you find another sport to declare yourself as top dog - - “Pong King”, just does not have a good ring to it!
National CFMA had approved a conference discount rate for members of the Young Professional Leadership Program – and VOS had 8 YPLP attendees - fantastic! Reports from this group would indicate they gained some great value through networking and education! Go YPLP’ers!
Ahead of the conference, National HQ had requested a meeting with some representatives of the VOS chapter. The goal was to connect and dialogue on how we and they may best support one another. Shortly after this meeting was scheduled, we found out VOS had, once again, been passed over for chapter of the year award (yeah, Sacramento won – again!); so this was hot topic on the agenda as we met! Both Stuart Binstock and Dave Tenney attended the meeting from National. Dave Miller began with a great opening statement, laying down the olive branch to allow for a productive discussion. We had significant discussion on revamping the chapter of the year award. Good news was, that by the end of the meeting, those among us talking about seceding from CFMA backed off their position, and we remain a viable, no, THE BEST UNDER THE SUN, chapter of CFMA!!
Now, I realize Dave Miller is a great leader and performed admirably at our meeting with the national folks; however, I do have one small (well, maybe not SO small) complaint of our esteemed President. He has a very real timing problem. Two nights in a row, Melanie and I were down at the bar having a late night libation, reflecting on the CFMA experience of the day (and me studying the notes I had taken thru the courses that day) …… when, just as we finish paying for our final drink, who should show up – but Dave and Stephanie (his better half) and we would visit and talk, visit and talk; but wait, I always thought the President was obligated to buy the last round of drinks . . . hmmmmm; was it perfect timing on Dave’s part to have that last networking opportunity of the day; or planned timing to arrive just after last call and drinks were paid for; or budgetary timing cause he’s cheap, or ????? They say “timing is everything”; I say “Dave had his timing down to an art” – but the motivation behind the timing I shall leave to the reader to decide.
Next year – Chicago; bring your kites (windy city); your deodorant (late June date); leave your bowling and ping pong balls at home, and join us for another block buster Annual Conference!! But be on your best behavior . . . you never know who may be watching . . . I plan to acquire a drone or two by next conference, to assist my reporting and snooping. That fly on your collar - - not a fly!!