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What happens in Vegas

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Some 118 miles south of St. George, Utah, nestled in a desert basin covered in concrete, you’ll find the glittering oasis of excess known as Las Vegas.

You know you’re in a foreign land the moment you step off the plane at McCarran International Airport. Long before the heat outside threatens your mortality, the one-armed bandits sing a familiar song just outside your gate.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! DingaDingaDingaDingaDingaDingaDingaDing!

It’s the sound of #winning, a sound that draws you in to its clanging melody, but before you can enter the mini-casino, you see an oversized billboard (and they’re all oversized in Vegas) of an alluring woman wearing a bulleted brassiere. A gun slung over one shoulder, she beckons you to come shoot assault weapons with her. You look over your own shoulder to see if anyone notices you looking at the billboard, but you’ve already forgotten the most important rule—this is Vegas, and no one cares.

After grabbing your luggage at the airport, you step outside to hail a cab and briefly feel your clothes melt to your skin in the 104 degree temperature. There is no breeze to cool you off in Vegas—only hot air.

In a world filled with financial and moral unrest, the insurance industry—nay, our industry!—stands alone in providing lifetime guarantees of safety in retirement. It’s only as your taxi approaches a video billboard of the prop comic Carrot Top punching himself in the face that you ask yourself an obvious and unavoidable question: “Why I am in Vegas in August, putting myself at such risk?” riverConfessions

You cannot step into the same river twice.” Heraclitus

I have a confession to make: Danger is everywhere in Vegas—even where you least expect it.

When I rolled out of bed the first morning of Advisor Network Summit, I tried on a suit I hadn’t worn since the show the previous year. For the last couple of weeks, my wife asked, then pleaded, that I try on the suit, just in case.

Then the morning of the event came and something that resembled a panic attack hit me as I tried zipping up the pants. They fit, sort of, thanks to the extra stretchy fabric of Mr. Jos. A Bank, but I learned a valuable lesson that would be repeated by speakers throughout the day:

“These are volatile times. Prepare for your future.”

“Greece is failing. Puerto Rico is failing. China is messing with their currency.”

“The stock market is a fool’s errand.”

“Your pants no longer fit.”

Actually, I’m not sure anyone said that last part, but I vowed to make no sudden movements and to stop eating bagels with cream cheese for the rest of my Vegas stay. venetianThe Sixteenth Chapel

I’m not sure if what happened in Vegas ever stayed in Vegas or if that was a myth perpetuated by savvy marketers. An incitement, perchance, to let all your inhibitions go once you stepped foot in Sin City.

Whatever privacy once existed was finally cast away with the invention of the selfie stick. At full extension, the silvery rods remind one of the wobbly putters rented at Monster Mini-Golf. With smart phones cradled at the other end of the stick, tourists took their own pictures beside mimes, jugglers and acrobats.

My favorite selfie moment happened at the grand entrance of The Venetian where I was checking out to go home. A husband and wife stood under the arched ceiling that leads from the registration area to the casino. The husband held the selfie stick at their feet, capturing their faces and the painted ceiling, a replica of Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Vatican.

“It’s bigger than the one at the Sixteenth Chapel,” the wife said.

“Sistine Chapel,” the husband said.

“That’s what I said.”

“No it’s not.”

“I know what I said.”

The wife stormed off, leaving her husband to fold up the selfie stick and follow after her to the white heat outside.

It was the realest thing I’d seen all week.

Click here for more coverage of Advisor Network Summit.