I’d been standing smack dab in the middle of Aksarben, Nebraska, when I was informed of why Aksarben, Nebraska, was bound to become one of my favorite palindromes.
Aksarben is Nebraska spelled backwards!
I marvel that at one time way back in 1895 there was a man or woman so silver-tongue persuasive he or she was able to convince community leaders that spelling Nebraska bass-ackwards was a better idea than naming their budding town something pansy pious like Purity or Virtue.
Aksarben is the upscale community in Omaha where I’d been invited to speak to Heartland meeting professionals.
My mission was to give a gangbuster speech and not once misspeak and say, “Can you tell me where to find a really great whore house!” when I meant to say, “Can you tell me where to find a really great steak house!”
I keep trying to convince my wife business travelers make that slip all the time.
Omaha is the farthest west I’d ever been invited to share my “Use All The Crayons!” presentation.
I could have probably done the whole thing in one night, but I opted for two. I’d never been to Omaha, am loathe to rush myself, and figured by staying another night I’d increase my odds by 100 percent I’d meet Warren Buffett and he’d take a paternal liking to me.
The speech was key.
I’d hadn’t spoken to a group in over a month and wanted to make sure it went smoothly. So I checked in and asked the hotel desk girl where I’d be speaking. She told me it was in Room A. I went down to check it out.
It had a capacity of about 50, which meant it’d be a full house. That was good. I planned on celebratory crowd surf to close.
That’s just the way I think. I’m very positive. I expect the crowd to love me.
I took a nice stroll around town, found a bar and went in for some beers and a pizza to go.
So I was fully prepared the next morning when I went down to the spacious meeting room expecting to find a throng.
Instead, it was an absolute ghost town. Not a soul. Not a table. Not a table’s soul.
The room in which I was scheduled to speak in 30 minutes was utterly empty.
I didn’t fret. I didn’t panic, but I realized fret and panic were about to begin tapping me on the shoulders.
The hotel did some checking. I was speaking in the conference center two blocks away.
I said some hellos and waited in the back of the room while everyone stood up and introduced themselves.
When they finished, I couldn’t resist. I said, “And I’m Chris and in about 30 minutes you’re all going to be sick of hearing me talk.”
I wish I could work that in with every talk. It really loosened the crowd up.
I posted the first two minutes of the speech here on YouTube and you can see for yourself. They were all ready to laugh.
So it went great. I didn’t get to body surf, but four or five of the meeting planners came up and said they want me to speak to their groups. That word-of-mouth affirmation is potentially huge.
And I later sat down at lunch with a friendly gent who introduced himself as the international rep for the entire organization, a true big shot. He was very complimentary.
I was very relieved I didn’t know he was in the audience before I started my schtick.
A day like that is very satisfying. When you can really connect and make a real impact, you can tell by the look in people’s eyes. They’re so grateful for my message.
It again proves I’m onto something.
No, I didn’t get to crowd surf, but I’m convinced that’s the trajectory I’m on.
So with a pocket stuffed full of $20s, I set out to find a really great Omaha whore house, er, steak house.
I was told to go to The Drover.
And better dining advice I’ve never had. I had a whiskey-marinated filet so sumptuous I’m trying to slow my body metabolism to the point where that steak will forever remain a part of my biological constitution.
Even without Warren Buffet calling me “Sonny,” it still turned out to be a great day.
And now I’ll forever love Nebraska. It’s filled with people of warmth and vibrance — not at all like the “Nebraska” Bruce Springsteen told me about.
And I return home with boundless confidence.
Not for me and my future.
I’m confident I can convince local leaders of the promotional benefits of changing the name Latrobe to Ainavlysnnep.
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