In a silo

I hear you, Jake.

I’m well aware of the lack of actual blogging that I have done lately. I really feel disconnected to everything outside of work, home, Alli and Dreyfuss. The only thing I am positive of outside of those things is that in football, the Chiefs stink worse than my fantasy football team, the Long Haired Hippies.

At work, they call isolated focus “being in a silo”. So I guess this is me just looking outside.

The Cerner Health Conference is just around the corner and I am driving the CHC Connect blog and the Web 2.0 initiatives surrounding the conference. To do this, I have been given the services of an iPhone. DID YOU HEAR THAT? AN IPHONE.

In fact, I am writing this post from the free WordPress iPhone app.

So there’s that.

Evenings I come home and spend time with my favorite dog and the best wife ever.

It’s simple. But it’s a very good life.

Big Omaha

Big Omaha 

Today, I was really fortunate to go to the Big Omaha conference that was put on by Silicon Prairie News. As soon as I heard about it, I started lobbying my manager to send me, so I could listen to the likes of Jason Fried from 37signals, Matt Mullenweg from Automattic (the creators of WordPress), Jeffrey Kalmikoff of Threadless and the king of internet wine shows, Gary Vaynerchuk.

Jason Fried opens up Big Omaha  

It was a terrific day as Jason Fried kicked us off and talked about what became a common theme for the day, failure. While there were others who thought that failure was a good thing, Fried felt similarly to the way I did:

When did “fail early and often” become cool? – Jason Fried

What followed after Fried was a Yahoo guy a presentation about Girls in Tech and Micah Baldwin, who talked at length about failure. We headed over to lunch across the street where Ramsey, Whitney and I spent time talking with the very visionary web team at the University of Nebraska, who are really doing some interesting things with their web initiatives.

bigomaha-panel

After lunch is when Big Omaha really came alive. Unfortunately, Matt Mullenweg was not able to make it because of a conflict, but we were very fortunate to have a lively panel with Fried, Vaynerchuk, Baldwin and Kalmikoff. It was all Q&A based and was a lot of fun to see these thought-leaders and visionaries on the web talking and bantering back and forth. Of particular note was their rant on the higher education system, which is a little too colorful for this blog.

That was followed up with one of the most insightful and thoughtful talks of the day by Kalmikoff, where he talked about transparency and accessibility and what they mean to Threadless as a company and as a community. His slides included a great large/medium/small fanged Pac-Man illustration as well as great insight like:

Spend time with your community.” and “Listen. Review. Respond. Act.

I got the opportunity to spend some time talking to Kalmikoff after the talk and I really found him to be approachable and friendly as I asked him such lame questions as “How do you apply your community models to a B2B environment?”

Kalmikoff was followed by Ben Rattray of Change.org who gave a well-polished (albeit a little forgettable) presentation. I couldn’t help but think that Rattray was actually Chris Pine from the new Star Trek movie (mixed with a little Jake Gyllenhaal). You decide:

rattray-pine

There was a local entrepreneurial panel that highlighted some of the really cool projects that are going on in Omaha, including the concert hall/non-profit 2-screen theater that they’ve got, which is very cool.

The day was closed out with a great keynote (so to speak) with Gary Vaynerchuk. Now, say what you will about Gary, you can’t ever say he’s not genuine. The guy knows who he is, knows what he loves, and isn’t afraid to tell you what’s what. Instead of doing his typical talk, he realized that much of the crowd had heard him speak before, so after a short 7-minutes, he went into an open Q&A session.

I decided that I should take a crack at asking a question. Much of what I found to be challenging about ideas presented at Big Omaha was that much of it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to apply to the corporate B2B world. That’s not to say it can’t be done, but I have a hard time taking Gary’s advice of “you can’t change them, just quit”, very lightly because I was unemployed for 3 months.

But getting to interact with Gary during the Q&A session (as well as briefly after it was over) was a lot of fun. Plus, I even got a Thunder Show wrist band!

Me and Gary V at Big Omaha 

Big Omaha was an extremely well-organized conference for its initial outing. Even down to the smallest of details. The folks at BrightMix put together a heckuva day that made the 3-hour northward trek completely worth the price of admission (a steal at $200). Many thanks to Jeff and Dusty (and all their great volunteers) for working so hard to hold such a great event. You can find my pics (and others, tagged with ‘BigOmaha’) on Flickr.

My Big Omaha Notes and Stuff

Back from The Big Easy

I’ve was in New Orleans Thursday through Saturday for a conference. As we drove back to the airport, I summed up the trip as such:

“I just can’t understand why anyone would want to live in New Orleans. I barely ever want to even visit here.”

And it’s the truth. Sure, the food is great (it really is) and the music is good, but the negatives vastly outweigh the positives there. The town has been very slow to recover from Hurricane Katrina, but frankly, I didn’t think it was that great before the disaster. Any major city that situates itself 2 to 6 meters below sea level isn’t making good decisions, if you ask me.

Add that to the overwhelming smell of sewage, the high violent crime rate (4 times the homicides of Kansas City), and the vast poverty and you’re looking at a city that isn’t really appealing to me.

The food is pretty darn good though.

The first night, we ate at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, an upscale seafood place right on Bourbon Street. I ate raw oysters (teetering on the edge between gross and intriguing) and an absolutely amazing entree of crawfish-crusted Gulf fish (see below). That meal was by far the best I had, although the Shrimp Po-Boy I had at Landry’s for lunch the next day was pretty tasty too.

Crawfish

I’m glad to be home. We flew ExpressJet and had to actually walk out on the Tarmac to get on our plane. To call it small is an understatement. One seat, aisle, two seats. That’s it. The Bose QC2 Noise-Cancelling Headphones made the flight a lot easier. It was weird getting back from the 80 degree weather of Louisiana to the high 30 degree weather in KC. You gotta love the midwest.

Back to Atlanta

I’ll be traveling to Atlanta on Friday for the second time this year. I’ll actually be on the ground only for about 24 hours, giving a flurry of 20-minute presentations (8 in 4 hours) and then attending a couple round table meetings before returning home Saturday night.

I wasn’t mad about Atlanta the first time and it’s not like I’ll be experiencing the city this time around. The conference could be in Hoboken or Phoenix or El Paso and I wouldn’t know the difference. The conference is being held at the Airport Westin, so I won’t be venturing more than a mile from the airport.

So it is in the crazy world of the Marketing Specialist.