doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

A surprise, but important connection

If you’re a follower of this blog, you know that I shared two interviews this past week.

An Interview with Shelly Terrell
An Interview with Rusul Alrubail

The back to back timing wasn’t planned.  I’m an admirer of what both ladies do and how they manage their online presence and resources.  I read their blogs and interact on Twitter when it’s appropriate.  A while back, I had been planning to do some interviews and sent a request to both of them.

I was so glad that they both said yes.

Now, I have a technique for interviewing that I think respects their commitments to other things and let them do the interview when they have the time.  So, it was quite a surprise when they both said, on the same day, that they were finished.  Rusul had completed hers first so I posted hers on one day and Shelly’s on the next.

There were some tough areas that I knew were important to them and it wouldn’t be fair not to give them a chance to talk about them so open ended questions were included.  I thought they both handled them with professional tact and clarity and yet, they got their message through.

I want to go back in time to an ISTE Conference.  Without naming names, a keynote speaker came from France and talked at a very passionate and deep level that didn’t sit well with a group of individuals.  (Again, no names)  I still remember the Twitter talk as they gathered in the Blogger’s Cafe during the keynote with comments like “We deserve better than this”.  As it would happen, I ended up in sessions following the conference with a couple of these gentlemen.  I had heard them in other settings and the content, mannerisms, timing, and even jokes were the same.  I still remember a slide that had current data when I first saw it.  I saw the same presentation a couple of years later and the speaker joked that he needed to update it.  Including the data, it was the same message that I think we’ve all heard over and over again.

When you’re organizing a conference, it’s important to get proper keynote speakers.  You want a message that’s fresh, timely, energetic, important, and current.  I’ve tried to engage people in the past for speaking and there are times when you ask about topics and you’re pointed to a YouTube collection.  If I can see the message on YouTube, why would I need to fly you to the location, pay for a hotel room, give you the big fees, etc. when I could just play your video on a big screen?  I don’t want your tired and dated rants.  I want new and important insights.

As I read Shelly’s interview, in particular, I felt pretty good about how we used to handle things with the Western Region Computer Advisory Committee and its Symposium.  We had a format that worked for the audience with two keynotes on a single day and we were happy with the results.  We always tried to ensure that one or both of our speakers was Canadian and that one or both of them was a women.


Let me quote our Prime Minister.  “Because it’s 2015“.  Or, in our case, it was a year or two before.

Shelly’s words, in her interview, speak volumes.

I have been traveling and attending many educator conferences for the last 5 years and I haven’t seen much change as far as diversity in keynotes and who is mentioned in top lists, etc. I don’t see many females or those of diversity get to share as lead voices and it disturbs me.

Reading/editing the rest of her post led me to the connection between these two ladies.

Recently, I collaborated with Rusul Alrubail, Michael Benavides, Dr. Will Deyamport, William Jeffery, Valerie Lewis, Jaison Oliver, and Sarah Thomas) to come up with which is a database free for any teacher to setup a profile and conferences to search.

I’ve been a follower of Dr. Deyamport for a while; he curates great resources.  The others were new to me. So I did check them out and ending up following them all. 

It was an aha moment for my own experience.  When we would go to engage speakers for our symposium, we would either go through a speakers’ service or we’d contact the people directly.  I’d always prefer the second route because the connection is far less formal and you’re cutting out an intermediary in the conversation so that you could specify exactly what you wanted.  And, quite frankly, the person we wanted often wasn’t associated with a speakers’ service.

So, Shelly and Rusul were part of this Edspeakers site.  I visited it and got the whole story and the connection was immediately obvious.  Apparently, it isn’t 2015 everywhere.

I have a renewed appreciation for them.  There would be many who would just sit back and say “woe is me”.  That wasn’t the case.  They have a passion and have tried to do something about it.  This website is at least part of their answer.

My suggestion?

If you’re in a position where you’re about to engage a speaker and you’re looking for something new and fresh, give them a look.  You might just find exactly what you’re looking for.

Those who attended the Bring IT, Together conference closing keynote experienced this “new and fresh” concept first hand.  Heidi Siwak gave her first keynote address and brought the house down.  There was so much rich content and real results from real students in a real classroom.  I congratulated her afterwards and remarked that I can’t remember a time when I saw so many attendees taking pictures of a presenter’s slides.  Her message was infectious.  There’s going to be changes in many classrooms starting tomorrow, I suspect.

We benefited because the conference committee took a chance, a gamble if you will, and we were the beneficiaries of such a remarkable address.

Will the same thing happen with the group of Edspeakers?


4 responses to “A surprise, but important connection”

  1. […] A surprise, but important connection | doug — off the record […]


  2. Thanks to Shelly for the mention, and kudos to Rusul. Great post, and I would love to connect, Doug.


  3. Thank you so much for your kind words Doug. It is so nice to know that what I contributed was useful!


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