Big Omaha, a recap

May 18, 2011

Big Omaha

I spent 48 hours in Omaha last week for the Big Omaha conference and, phew, it’s going to take me 48 days to sort through everything I learned.

For those of you that weren’t there, I’m assigning you a bit of homework.

Are you ready? Ok, here we go:

1. Watch the recap video from 2010, Big Omaha: In Their Own Words.

It’s 4 minutes long.
You will like it.
2011’s video will be even better.

I may or may not have miraculously appeared in the video.
I may or may not have been wearing a vest at the time.


2. Scroll through ‘The Twitterverse replies: What is Big Omaha?’ Describing a conference in 140 characters or less gets straight to the heart of things. Nothing better.

My tweeting/twittering/twahootering may or may not have made an appearance.

Extra Credit: Review the live blogs, which include recaps of all speakers throughout the entire conference.

Day 1 live blog, morning edition
Day 1 live blog, afternoon edition
Day 2 live blog, morning edition
Day 2 live blog, afternoon edition

My face nor my words make any appearances.

Thank God.

Ok, have you finished your homework? Good. Here are a few scribbles from my notebook…

From Ben Huh of I Can Haz Cheezburger:

Us entrepreneurs, we’re a little wrong in the brain. But that’s what makes us successful.

What makes a successful start-up CEO?
Someone who doesn’t understand the word no, and knows how to survive failures.

Being weird doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Embracing your community is embracing your marketing. They will do the marketing for you, if you let them.

My mission statement? To make everyone happy in the world for five minutes a day.

From Dan Martell of Flowtown:

Don’t listen to your parents. Who are you getting your advice from? Have they truly been where you now?

81% of children end up in the same place (financially) as their parents.

Shervin Pishevar of Social Gaming Network:

Prune yourself of any value-extractors.
Surround yourself with value-creators.

Ben Nelson, Senator for the state of Nebraska:

Innovation comes from people like you, not from the government.

Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia:

Content is king, but conTEXT matters too.

We’re living through the biggest marketing shift of all time. For the first time ever, your ears matter more than your mouth.

Ideas are shit. Execution is the game.

A real leader builds everyone up around them, and challenges them to be better than they are.

Quotables galore! It was great. On a side note, I was one of the very few attendees who was actually writing, like, with pen and paper, my notes, versus typing them into an iPad/laptop/etc. I simply have the inability to type notes a) well, and b) in a way that will force me to keep them forever. Is anyone with me on this?

Anyone? Hello?

Shall we start a club?

We can call it the Old Fashioneds That Will Not Give Up Paper club.
Or we could just call it…Stubborn Geeks.

One of the two.

The space that Big Omaha was held in in downtown Omaha is called KANEKO. It’s, in a word, supercool.

(Supercool. Totally a word.)

Artwork in KANEKO
Artwork in KANEKO

It had pretty artwork.

KANEKO library

And a library.

KANEKO library ladder

A library with an orange ladder.


Personally, I had two main takeaways from this conference:

1) The reassurance that I’m not alone. Make no mistake of it, I am on an odd path. We are on an odd path. The author of The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Guillebeau, would say, simply, that we’re non-conformists. It’s true. But what’s so great about going against the grain, about demanding something totally different from your life and your schedule and your finances and your philosophies and your relationships, can also be not-so-great because, well, you’re going against the grain.

It can get lonely sometimes.

If you’re not surrounded by enough likeminded individuals often enough, all sorts of nasty stuff can creep in. Doubt, specifically. The feeling that you’re just plain weird, as well.

But spending forty-eight hours surrounded by 600 people who all think the same way you do?


Sometimes I forget how nice that feels.

2) The confidence that I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing. In the past couple years I’ve attended a handful of conferences. Not a ton, but more than one or two. And during and after each one I would be a swirl of new ideas and schemes and plans. I would be ready to launch this and start designing that and begin building the thing over there.

I wanted to do it all. I felt like I HAD to do it all.

It would take me a solid week or two to come down off the high of the conference, take account of what I really had going on, and make actual, reasonable, effective changes to my business based on what I learned.

This time, however, I had just as many ideas to scribble down after Big Omaha as I did in the past, but it felt different.

I was confident in what I was doing, that I didn’t feel like I had, this minute, to go after every, single one of those ideas.

The ideas were great.
But I was great where I was.

So I took them down for what they were – exciting, fun ideas – and I took inspiration from them to grow and strengthen what I currently have, but then I went on my merry way.

HUGE difference.

So, what was Big Omaha 2011?


And…a little crazy. :)

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