Our ambition as an agency is relatively straightforward. We’re OK with being transparent with it, just like we are with everything else.
We’d like to build a small, but profitable, firm that partners up with great brands all over the world helping them grow sustainably.
And when we say sustainably, we mean it in the widest possible sense. We mean that we want to work with people who look around them and find opportunities to grow a steady and solid business. People who are in it for the long term, not for crashing and burning.
So when we look beyond the confines of the island that we were set up on, we don’t look because we feel that there’s more money to be made. We look outside our shores because we understand that we’re looking for a very niche client.
And if you want to find clients who match the profile you’re looking for, then you have to look all over the world to find them.
It’s working – over the past couple of years we’ve partnered up with brands from across 22 time zones – from Melbourne to Honolulu, we have been working with brands who see business our way.
Brands that are ready to grow sustainably, and ideally brands who are doing their best to somehow leave a positive impact on the world around them – whether locally or globally.
When we had this conversation with Abraham and Ephraim from Tactical Logistic, who we’ve been working with for a few years now, they suggested that a good place to meet other like-minded brands would be Prosper – a convention for Amazon Sellers in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas also happens to be relatively close to one of our other clients in the US, Tepia – who are based in Orange County.
The trip made perfect sense – I got to meet two clients in person, I set up a number of meetings with other Vistage Members and I reconnected with an ex-colleague of ours at Switch – Elias, who’s now living in Las Vegas.
But this is not a holiday report.
The trip was one which taught me many lessons, and I’m doing my best to share them with you here.
Conventions / Conferences are a great place to meet people
It might sound bleedingly obvious, but if you want to get immersed in a world that you’re not yet part of, going to a convention (or conference) about the subject is a great way of accelerating your immersion.
By heading to a place that was teeming with people working in (and around) the Amazon ecosystem, I was given a crash course in the subject in ways that replaced months and months of reading, probably making connections I would never have made before.
A moustache helps you meet people
It might seem stupid, but it’s a lesson I’ll keep with me. I’m not talking specifically about a moustache (it might be a bit of a tough ask for some), however if you can wear something that stands out or carry something with you that can help you stand out from the crowd, then go for it.
In my case it was a lucky break. My suitcase got stuck on the way there, so I bought a different wax to what I usually use, and I had to go clean shaven since my trimmer was not there. Result: a curly moustache on a clean-shaven face. It stood out.
People would just randomly stop me in the hall to make a comment about it – but it was the perfect way to break the ice.
It’s not for everyone, I can understand that, but if you’re heading somewhere to make new connections you should consider having something that helps you stand out from the crowd (in a way that represents you well, naturally).
Everything can be done if you put your head to it
I’m not a big fan of the American Dream, but Prosper showed me the good side of that. The number of people who were there with small or even tiny businesses, building stuff around small niches, solving problems that most others would ignore.
If the ecosystem you’re working in is large enough, then you can definitely find enough people to pay you to do something in it.
This was one of the most fascinating aspects of Prosper in my opinion. There were people who specialised in so many different aspects of Amazon selling that I kept being in awe of how niche businesses can get.
There were people who specialised in Tax across borders for Amazon sellers, dozen of dashboards to help sellers figure out how they’re doing, people who built tools to help you upload quicker, people who take photos at scale, and the best one I saw was a guy who set up a layer of customer service to give you answers quicker than Amazon’s own customer service.
Cultural differences exist, but we’re all driven by the same basic needs
This was my first trip to the US in a few years. In that period the global political landscape changed dramatically, and divisions have been consistently highlighted by the media and on social media.
What I found out in the days I spent in the US, talking to Americans from all walks of life, is that we’re all just people trying to get by in life. Whether you’re a cow farmer from Montana who’s headed down to Arizona to find work in the winter, a Turkish immigrant who’s on the way to leading his company to unicorn status or the son of immigrants who’s running his own business in a completely different field – we’re all trying to get by.
We’re all trying to do the best we can, and to create a better life for ourselves and for the people around us.
And in doing so, our lives take us down different paths, and we have a set of expectations that are determined by the paths our lives have taken.
This sent me back to Malta with a much more open mind, ready to do even more business internationally, but also with an understanding that there’s more to learn each and every day.
And finally, if you’re wondering about Vegas’ effect on me. I failed. Las Vegas failed me.
I kept a dollar to gamble in one of the casinos but then I forgot. So I left the city without betting a single dollar.
I don’t make a good gambler. That much is certain.