How did Big Guy in a Bow Tie Start? Well, I think it started with me getting the speaking bug. I went to my first ISTE in 2011, and I just thought folks like Adam Bellow and Leslie Fisher were incredible. I wanted to be like them so, in 2012, I applied to GAETC as a presenter for the first time. I started with a 60 apps in 60 minutes presentation (I still do an updated version of it today), and the presentation went over great. I did try and print out resource sheets though, and soon after that conference, I thought it was time to start my website.
With my presentation being a 60 apps in 60 minutes presentation, I thought "Ed Tech Speed Dating" would be good and memorable. I got the domain name, and I started the build. Around the same time, I also started building my PLN with my Twitter account, but I used "ld112265" which I would later come to know wasn't a great tag. It all was a start, but it just wasn't good enough to make a difference. That would come later.
Fast forward to GAETC in 2014, and my friend Heather Cox gave me the kick to start "Big Guy in a Bow Tie." I had been speaking for a while, but I still had that crappy Twitter tag. After the conference, she had the guts to come up to me and tell me my Twitter sucked. As I sat there, I thought "Yes, Yes it does." I started to think of what could be unique, and I recently picked up wearing bow ties, so why not combine my large size with a bow tie. I shared what I was thinking with Heather and Stephanee Stephens, and their reaction made me feel I hit on something. Big Guy in a Bow Tie was born. It brings me to my first lesson.
- Lesson 1: Pick Something Memorable- Big Guy in a Bow Tie may be overly cute (I will get to how that bothered me later), but it sure is memorable. I see people who are trying to establish their brand, and they sometimes lean too much into the EdTech side of things. They don't develop a name or brand that is unique to them. There are tons of Ed Tech "Leader" names and brands out there, but there aren't other "Big Guy in a Bow Tie."
- Lesson 2: Keep It Simple- Branding should be simple. You want people to be able to remember where they need to go without much thought. Keeping "Ed Tech Speed Dating" wasn't that. It meant I had to go to conferences and give out two websites. I also was trying to bring people to me instead of giving them something to come for. By combining the resources with the consulting side of things, I was bringing them to the site for the resources, and they were staying for the consulting.
- Lesson 3: Build an Audience by being Present and Organized- You have to be in front of people to get people to use your stuff. In education technology, there aren't many better ways than presenting. To get in be organized with your proposals, and submit as many as you can. You can then build your brand.
- Lesson 4: Focus on messaging-The whole goal is to give the user something that they want so they keep coming back. It means you need to keep your resources fresh and think of them in a total message. You can both curate content (like retweets on Twitter) and create your own. It's all about figuring out what works for you.
- Lesson 5: Lean In: I wanted to drop the "Bow Tie" brand, but I realized it was a mistake. I would go places, and people would recognize me just from that. They may not know my name, but they sure remember the brand. I learned that I needed to lean into it the hard way. It also makes me curious if I missed out on some connections just because I did drop the bow tie for a while.