@craig_nash slapping me for the camera

Photo courtesy of Malone & Co.

So BigOmaha was almost a week ago and I’m still processing some of what I learned. That’s probably a good thing actually. But I figured I’d do my best to put some of what I learned to this digital paper and see what comes of it:

First off, BigOmaha was a freakin’ blast! Last year it was cool to go and hear all the speakers but this year it was at least 100x better being a volunteer.  I worked the merch table both days which I actually really enjoyed. It’s always been a dream of mine to work at the Apple Store (weird dream, I know) and fir two days I got to kind of get that feeling. It didn’t hurt that I was using an iPad and a square to do all the credit  card transactions, which consequently made me the most popular guy in the room at times. It was also really cool to talk to some people who had come from all over the US to be at BigOmaha. I had to enter a lot of S.F. zip codes.

Being a volunteer also gave me the opportunity to connect with the other volunteers, who were some of the coolest people I’ve met in a while. While I don’t know where I fit in with the start-up and tech communities, I do know one thing: something cool is happening in those communities and I want to being around that. The whole reason behind BigOmaha is to help foster the amazing environment Omaha has for businesses and that is definitely seen all across the conference.

I only got to watch a few of the speakers which was fine with me considering that the videos will be online shortly and the fact that sometimes I get speaker-ADD causing me to just tune out what they are saying. What I did see of the speakers, I loved. Here’s a rundown of what I saw and what I learned:

  • Scott Belskey of Behance – The portion I saw of Scott’s talked focused on how to make your creative ideas happen. He stressed the importance of organization with you creativity. This is definitely something that I want to implement more from writing down a lot more of my ideas to following through and making them happen. I think I’ll start with Sojourner Shows, which hopefully you will all know about soon!
  • Scott Harrison of charity: water – This was definitely the talk I will remember, mainly due to the subject of it. From now on I will do my best to support charity: water and it’s goals. I just think that everything they do, from having two different accounts for running the business side of the charity and the charity side to their use of geo-location is amazing. It just seems like charity: water is set-up in the right way to make a positive impact and they are focused on making that impact day in and day out.
  • Matt Mullenweg of WordPress – So what I saw of this talk was very techy so I didn’t quite follow everything that was going on. But hey, he created this website and I’d say it’s going pretty well and I appreciate what he does. Plus, the interview set-up was cool.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk of WineLibraryTV – Gary is one of my favorites. Even though I’ve never had a slip of wine outside of communion I really admire what he is doing. I could watch videos of his keynotes on YouTube all day. He’s just so engaging and motivating but at the same time hilarious. The most important thing I got out of Gary’s was building a brand. I want to build the brand of Jordan Johnson (or maybe people will only know my twitter handle and it’ll be the brand of jordanjohnson23). If I position myself with people who I meet or who read my stuff online as a guy who is genuine and caring then when I move into the business world (or whatever my career is) I’m more likely to get their support. So this is my daily goal now, to grow my brand in all the right ways. Also, it was awesome to meet Gary and talk to him briefly, as well as get a tweet from him.
  • Speaker Q&A – Last year, the impromptu Q&A was a highlight and this year the Q&A was great again. It was just really cool to see 5 speakers share their different ideas on one question and see how they were similar and how they were different. It also allowed the attendees to get a better sense of the speaker’s personalities and style by putting them on the spot.
  • Dennis Crowly of foursquare – I joined foursquare the day before Big Omaha because I figured I should since Dennis was speaking. I walked away from his talk with a much deeper appreciation for foursquare. It was really interesting to see Dennis’ progression from his early projects and the twists and turns he endured to get to foursquare. I apologize to all of those who hate my “checking in” tweets. I’m getting addicted. I just want to be the mayor somewhere.
  • Tony Hsieh of zappos – Tony’s talk was definitely a good one, and paired with Gary’s it definitely gave me more insight to building my brand. I was blown away with his stories about zappos’ customer service and everything they do to create a brand that people identify with.

So that’s a quick wrap-up of BigOmaha 2010. I’ll post a link to the videos of the talks when it is available. Trust me, you’ll want to see it. I’m excited to see where the knowledge I gained at BigOmaha takes me, and I’m excited to build some relationships that I formed as well. Thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment if you feel so inclined!