John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Mindreader

Posted on April 17, 2012

            Once again, Las Vegas gets thrown under the bus.


If I were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, I would be getting pretty frustrated.


The crown jewel of his state, Sin City, is once again under assault, this time because of profligate spending by the Government Services Administration.


The GSA had a “over the top” conference in Vegas that racked up bills of a little less than a million bucks.  That’s not really that much money in the context of big conference events.  The Consumer Electronics Show and the National Broadcaster’s Association convention are much more expensive productions.


Even in the context of government spending, a million bucks for a big conference is merely a drop in the bucket.


But the government is held to a different standard for a couple of different reasons.


First, the money comes from the taxpayers, and when they find out that their donations to the government are used for things like a mindreader, well, it makes them more than a bit upset.


Second, politicians love these kinds of stories because they can be seen as the heros fighting corruption and government waste.  So, they hire investigators to ferret these examples out.


But having a mindreader and other kinds of kooky entertainment is not that unusual in the private sector for these types of conferences.


It is called team-building and it is all the rage in the world of corporate management.   The idea is to let the employees of a big organization find ways to work better together, and the concept is that if these employees have some fun together, well then those memories will help them bond, which will help them perform better.


There is also a fun incentive.  If you perform at a higher level, then you get the chance to travel to Las Vegas and party like a rock star away from your spouse and your kids.


Las Vegas has been built on these types of conventions, but the Obama Administration has gone out of its way to slam them.  Remember when some big time corporations who received government bail-out money had some of their top executives fly to Vegas?   Remember what the President said about them?


I think what the boys did at the GSA event was probably over-the-top and most assuredly included some waste of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.


But I would be careful in demonizing all who travel to Vegas in search of some team-building.  The fact is that team-building is an important part of the corporate process, and let’s not forget, it is important to places like Las Vegas.


Even mindreaders have a right to make a living, especially if they are good at what they do.