I’m just a son of a son, son of a son
Son of a son of a sailor
The sea’s in my veins, my tradition remains
I’m just glad I don’t live in a trailer
“Son Of A Son Of A Sailor”
But I do now! I’m spending the weekend in an Airstream at Tony Hsieh’s downtown Vegas experiment in small living. That’s right, the Zappos king lives in a trailer park.
People and access. That’s what it’s all about. Wankers think it’s about acquisitions. Oldsters think it’s all about lifestyle. But if you want to get excited, if you want to surf the possibilities, you’ve got to know people, you’ve got to work the connections, you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time.
Happened to me by accident. I was on the Summit Series cruise. Those guys tracked me down, they were buying a ski area, that was the draw. And I was speaking on the aforementioned cruise and a friend knew Tony, and we went up to his suite.
Funny with rich people. It allows them to live life on their own terms. Go where they want to go, talk to who they want to. And one thing about the rich and famous, you don’t want to fawn, you want to treat them normally, because nobody else does. And when we went to dinner I engaged Tony in conversation and heard about his Harvard roots and how he got from there to here and when we were back on the mainland he shot me an e-mail inviting me to come stay in his trailer park.
He said to really get it, I had to stay for a week. And what is the right week in Vegas, the summer’s really damn hot and the winter is the ski season and then I tore up my arm and needed surgery and I got pemphigus and had to go to the hospital and there was never a time until…
I’m here in Vegas for the Life Is Beautiful festival. I figured it was a good time to stay in the trailer park. But it turned out it was full up. But Tony e-mailed me Monday night and asked if I wanted to stay, he had a vacancy.
You’ve got to know, I’m bad with quick decisions. If we’re in a crisis, I’m good. If it’s life and death, you want me on your team, I’m a good survivalist. But if it’s a notch below that, I want to evaluate all the possibilities, I don’t want to get it wrong, and as a result it takes me a long time to make a decision, sometimes too long. Felice is impulsive. She doesn’t always get it right, but she moves forward whereas I get stuck. Sometimes a whole list of decisions piles up and I realize I’m not moving forward but the OCD shrink is working with me to decide, knowing that I’ll get it wrong sometimes, I hate to get it wrong.
So I’m e-mailing Tony and Mimi for more details. It’s like “Let’s Make A Deal,” do I want to give up my hotel room for a trailer? That’s another problem I’ve got, I’ve learned the first room the hotel gives you is often substandard and you have to negotiate for a better one, so I’m always anxious when checking in, but all Airstreams are the same, right? So I took the leap.
And I also like to prepare for trips, get myself psyched. But I’ve been so busy I just showed up at the airport and sat next to a sick man on the plane raising my anxiety ever so high, and it was a very hard landing and then here I was, in the City of Sin, the Desert Oasis, Viva Las Vegas!
I hate Vegas. It’s got no class. Money talks, and only money. But in the past few decades the food has improved and the entertainment has become first rate and up-to-date but we took the long way home, far from the strip, in a stretch limo with only me in the back.
And the limo driver couldn’t find Fergusons, i.e. the trailer park, and was driving the wrong way down a one way street when we were pulled over by security which took me to the vaunted yellow door. Whereupon I…
Entered an area little different from the house on “Big Brother.” Trailers circled around fake grass and a bunch of space age furniture and a pool and I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
Tony told me it was his second trailer park. The first one was across the street. They worked out the bugs and started over, they realized they needed a pool and then he thrust a carrot in my hand and told me to hold it in my dominant hand. I was completely flummoxed. Was I supposed to eat it?
But he steered me forward until I encountered a huge black llama that I was supposed to feed the carrot to. DOESN’T HE KNOW I’M AFRAID OF ANIMALS? I’ve never had a good conversation with an animal, and they can smell my fear and are always drawn to me and the llama started chomping on the carrot and I was afraid it was gonna bite my hand and then I dropped the rest of the orange vegetable on the ground and everybody was talking to me and I was overwhelmed. I had to pee and eat, did I talk now or later? That’s another thing about life, do you stay where you are or take a chance on something better which might be worse? But I still had my suitcase and computer and then I was taken to my trailer. That’s right, I’m not lying, I’m staying in a trailer. We never did this growing up, my father was not the camping type.
And after quizzing Mimi and Garrett about what was going on here and how the trailer worked we walked to the common area where there was food and conversation and the air of summer camp.
I talked to the head of marketing for T-Mobile. He told me that iPhone prices are high because Apple has gotten rid of incentives, that if I’m looking for a deal, I’m not gonna get one. And that the new iPhone works on new spectrum and this is great for the company.
And then I bonded with the guy who’s #2 or close to it who’s in charge of the brand. After hearing I was in the music business, he told me all about the acts he’s worked with. Justin Bieber was exceedingly nice, music was very important to T-Mobile.
And then I was introduced to this couple who’d just sold their company Skip Hop to Carter’s and made a bundle and the husband told me he was in tech in the nineties in New York and that’s how he knew…
It’s a community. It looks big, but it’s not. Just like music, although music is a bigger pool than it used to be.
That’s how Mike knows Tony.
And Ellen told me they spent a lot of time in Asia and we compared travel notes. And I know it sounds elitist and feel free to judge me but this is manna from heaven in my world. You don’t know how many unfulfilling conversations I have. My generation is retiring, they’re on the downside. And people are proud of their little worlds. But these people are going somewhere. Sure, they’re younger, but they’re still hungry and can analyze the issues and this is the modern world, where you wiggle your way up the food chain. Pedigree only goes so far, prestige education only goes so far. You ultimately enter the world and then…
When done right music touches souls, but it’s a dumb business. Ask a bigwig if they can define “algorithm.”
And I don’t want to go into banking, I don’t want to be an entrepreneur selling a product, but I love to hear the stories, I love to learn how people got from there to here. I love talking to smart people no matter where they come from.
And this is a conclave of smart people.
FOT. Friends of Tony.
Hanging out in a trailer park.
(This is the old trailer park in the video. The new one is very similar, but with a built-in pool, more fake grass and a covered dining area/living space.)