President's Message: Pieces to the Puzzle

Posted by Kenyon Gleason on 1/15/24 4:43 PM

Kenyon Gleason, NASGW President

My wife and I are working on a 1,000 piece puzzle right now and it’s probably the hardest puzzle either of us has ever attempted. Most of the puzzles I’ve done in the past are challenging, but color cues or lines and shapes give really good hints as to where the pieces go. Not so in this puzzle.

This puzzle is a blown up photo of me and my wife from last winter in Big Sky, Montana. I had the photo turned into a puzzle because we celebrated our 30th anniversary in December and I thought it would be a fun project for us over the holidays. Well, we got delayed on getting to it and since the NFL decided to force viewers into buying the Peacock streaming service to watch the Kansas City Chiefs game on Saturday, we opted to listen to the game on the radio and opened the box and got a start while we cheered on the Chiefs. We then proceeded to work on the puzzle most of Sunday as well.

How’s it going? Well… It’s currently occupying the bulk of my dining room table and is roughly one-third complete. Looks like it’s going to take a few more nights and weekends before this thing gets wrapped up. In the photo, we are both wearing dark clothes, on a dark night, with only the lights of a Christmas tree and a hotel sign behind us. As a result, you have two large skin tone color areas, a semi-green area with a zillion lights, and then massive areas of darkness, making it almost impossible to know which pieces go where. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best pick for a fun and quick puzzle date with my wife. I suppose one could argue we do get an “extended date” out of it, because it’s definitely going to take awhile to finish.

As we sat and talked while surveying the unplaced pieces, my wife made a very keen and salient observation. She said, “This puzzle’s a lot like life, isn’t it?” She went on to explain how some of the pieces are an absolute struggle. Some find their fit after a good amount of work. A few are fairly easy. Others you have to ask for help. And a rare few you get in place with just dumb luck. Well, I thought she pretty much nailed it. That’s an awful lot like work, friendships, marriages… and well, life.

As you are working on the puzzle that is 2024 for your business? I hope you can find a good spot where you can work on it and work things out. Maybe take a break from your normal work area and set up shop in a place with good lighting, so things are a bit easier to see. It also helps if you have a good partner or group of friends who can help you tackle the puzzle pieces. As the old saying goes, many hands makes for light work. But no matter who is involved in the fitment of the pieces, I hope you get a chance to work through the process. It’s actually somewhat cathartic.

With all we’re facing in the world today, and all the challenges and roadblocks being thrown at our industry, it’s good to take a step back and evaluate the puzzle pieces. Maybe you can sort a few based on lines and shapes, some by color and size, whether some are in the foreground or fit better in the background. Of course if you start with the edge pieces, and understand the boundaries and the framework of what you want to accomplish, that can go a long way toward understanding what you have left to work with.

My 2024 is starting with a trip to Las Vegas to check in with old friends and hopefully to meet a few new ones at Shot Show. After that, I’ll be headed to Washington, D.C., to get the latest updates on what’s happening in the world of distribution from the National Association of Wholesalers. It’s always a great way to help me frame the picture for the upcoming year. From there, I’ll get busy filling in all the pieces to the upcoming year. It’s promising to be a good one.

As for that puzzle on the dining room table at home… I’ll have to keep you posted. ;)

Happy New Year everyone! Have a great and prosperous 2024!


Until next time,

Kenyon Gleason
NASGW President

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