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Why You Need to Attend Big Omaha

Big Omaha 2011I’m going to follow the advice Micah Baldwin gave in his Big Omaha speech and start this out with some brutal honesty.

When Kate and Jason approached the partners earlier this year and said we all needed to go to Big Omaha this year I thought to myself, “Why in the heck would all five partners need to go to the same conference and listen to the same speakers?”  To me it seemed like a waste of time and resources.  On the other hand, I thought it was be a great way for the partners to get away and do some bonding. 

At the time I didn’t think we would accomplish much more than that. I’m happy to report that I was dead wrong. Big Omaha was an amazing experience. If you’re an active or aspiring entrepreneur, you need to attend this conference. The words you hear from the speakers will inspire, motivate, and energize you to the core. Here is a quick list of why I think you need to go in 2012.


I found there was a profound sense of community at Big Omaha. The sense of being part of something much larger.  Everyone wants to help your company succeed.  Generally at some point in a conversation the following question is asked; “What can I do to help your business?”.  How awesome is that?


Because the community is interested in helping each other out, you will find yourself receiving and giving introductions. You will be talking to someone and then think, “Hey, you need to talk to so and so, I think they could help you out.”  How often do you get those kinds of referrals? Who needs a sales force when you have the power of the community working for you? One of the speakers said introductions are the new currency.  At Big Omaha, the currency of introductions flows and we plan to do our best to keep it flowing til next year.


I think sometimes entrepreneurs can get beat down a little and lose the energy it takes to make a company successful.  If you are in that boat, the speakers and attendees are there to throw you a line.  It’s not Tony Robbins type of motivation but it gets the job done.  After the conference, your entrepreneurial batteries will be totally recharged.  To that end, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur and are struggling with whether or not to start your own business, I have full confidence that you will be ready to take the next steps after attending Big Omaha.


We were having lunch with a friend on Friday and he said that just sitting there listening to the speakers inspired 3 new ideas for businesses. For me, it was not ideas about new businesses, but ways to improve our company. The inspiration you receive just depends on what you are looking for. If you want ideas on how to get your business off the ground you will probably get the insight you need to do this. So don’t forget your notebook/smartphone/iPad to write down the ideas. For me, ideas are like dreams, I have to write them down, otherwise I lose them.


There are a lot of people out there who think they have a mind blowing idea that will be the next Groupon or Facebook. They also think they will just get their site/product to go viral and, boom, they will be rich. Any of these types of people who happened to be at Big Omaha should have realized that:
  • Ideas are worthless if you can’t execute.  That was said many times.
  • It’s not easy to go viral.  There is a certain amount of luck and timing involved.
  • You need to create a product/service that adds value, people need, and that generates revenue.


Where else can you interact with the likes of Mark Ecko, Gary Vaynerchuk, Aneesh Chopra or a guy who was sued for $250 billion? My favorite experience was sitting at a pizza place at midnight sharing pizza, beer and great conversations with other attendees.


I love Omaha's Old Market area.  It’s like a blast from the past with the old brick streets and buildings. There is even a guy with a horse and carriage. I want to go back again this year with my wife. I think with the galleries, shops, and restaurants we could spend a good day or two just exploring the Old Market area. Regarding Kaneco, the venue of Big Omaha, just go to their website and check it out for yourself.  I don’t think I will have to explain anything about why this is the ideal location for an event like Big Omaha.


All I have to say is I loved every restaurant we tried. Shout out to Vivace, Upstream Brewing Company, M’s Pub, and Goodnights Pizza Bar. The best food I had was the Smoked Gouda and Beer Soup at Upstream Brewing Company. It was goooda. I never get tired of saying that.  I doubt you can say the same for the people I eat with. :-)


Get out and have some fun. It was great to go out with my business partners and celebrate over a couple, and then a couple more adult beverages. The parties are not the ideal place to have a conversation, as you will need to scream to be heard, but they were a lot of fun and definitely a great place to make new connections. My voice is still recovering, though.


The general vibe from the speakers was that you need to be honest and always do the right thing.  That is something we aspire to do for our employees, our clients, and the community in general. It’s great to hear other very successful business people demonstrate that it’s not all about the money or closing the deal.  That was very refreshing.

So in closing, Big Omaha is amazing and you’d be a fool not to attend. Hats off to the folks at Silicon Prairie News for the work they do to make Big Omaha a huge success. If you're interested in reading more about Big Omaha 2011, check out these links to recaps from some of the speakers: Hope to see you there next year!