Big Omaha starts today. It’s a great event that I’ve had the privilege to attend the last two years. Here are five reasons why I’m attending a third time.
Featured – Because in the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, content is king. There are tons of great things going on around Big Omaha, but the featured speakers are a big reason why Big Omaha has made an impact. The speakers have proven track records and most are incredibly effective and unique with their presentations. The past two conferences have had Dennis Crowley, Jason Fried, Scott Harrison, Tony Hsieh, Gary Vaynerchuk and more. Some of those guys I didn’t know anything about before they presented, but now I think they’re solid. One of the things I’m excited for, this year, is to see who are the one or two speakers I don’t know anything about, but will come away from the conference blown away by their presentation. The guys at Silicon Prairie News have shown themselves to be astute with who they bring in to speak.
Fellowship – Whether it’s networking at one of the evening events, or mingling with people in the room at KANEKO, there is something about the Big Omaha vibe that makes the group interaction a joy. People are brought together by their shared passion for entrepreneurship, the midwest, innovation, networking and/or causes. I think of the commonality with attendees and charity: water last year. The room was like one while Scott Harrison spoke. When he was done, everyone banded together, speakers and attenders, to help charity: water in its efforts to provide clean water to those that don’t have access to it.
Friendships – I met Aaron Weiche at Big Omaha in 2009. It was at Slowdown for the opening party. He just came up to me, introduced himself, and we talked briefly. Didn’t think much of it, but since then we’ve talked, on Twitter, about our families, the Huskers, baseball, and our work. Last year, I connected with Beth Katz. We’re two people some may think would never strike up a friendship. Yet, we had common ground with Big Omaha and it bloomed from there. I think of the many little conversations I have had with Core Community’s Doug Stevens, Matthew Smith and Ethan Burmeister at the past two Big Omahas. All those little conversations helped reestablish the connection between Core and Christ Community Church. I have more of these examples. The backgrounds of people in attendance could be vastly different, yet conversations flow freely. People listen to one another, ask insightful questions, and make connections that will go beyond the few days they cross paths.
Fun – Part of the brand has been a cow with someone bungee jumping off of it. This year’s website has references to Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Star Wars. There is the photo booth that’s set up for people to get their picture taken. You have David Hauser inciting everyone to give a raucous standing ovation to every speaker that comes after him. During the breaks you can see people smiling and laughing with one another. The Hood Internet is playing at Slowdown as part of the festivities this year. And, you have Starburst.
Future – Because it’s about building something. Building something in Omaha. Building something in the midwest. Building something inside of the people that attend. Building something that will last and make an impact. It’s easy to hear a speaker, be temporarily inspired, but then go back to the monotony of life. I don’t think that happens as much with Big Omaha. Sure, there are those that come to it, consume, and do nothing. However, I know how I’ve been impacted by Big Omaha and how it has changed my life trajectory. I think of the projects at work, and my involvement in the community, that have been chaped because of Big Omaha. I think of Rahul Gupta and how he got involved with Planet Water Foundation. I think of the community Jeff, Dusty and Danny have helped create and shepherd that has helped in further establishing Omaha as a destination for life and business.
Those are five reasons, and there are plenty more. If you’re in the area, come find out for yourself why Big Omaha is such a great event. There are evening events open to the public.