Tech Tee-Shirts: How to make friends and influence people

Who are you? The world of IT is big and ever-growing. Do you just blend in? Maybe you do, and that is fine (and could be appropriate), but perhaps your role is more of an evangelist, one of the plethora of IT based architects, a CxO, a Head Of, or even as the role I find myself in today, a Chief Architect.

What is your brand and what do you stand-for?
I pen this post, because let’s face it. I have an ever-growing amount of tech tee-shirts that attract a lot of commentary.

Yes, I have plenty of tee-shirts from vendor land, (because I work for, and have worked for vendors, along with large companies who have merchandise being thrown at them from vendors), but more so today, the non-vendor tee-shirts are eclipsing the number of vendor tee-shirts I have.

If you ask anyone who works for a vendor how many tee-shirts they have, they will say plenty.
These tee-shirts though, I wear them with purpose. They are almost a ‘tool’ of my job.

Why Tee-Shirts?
How can you communicate to those who don’t know you, something about yourself, what you stand for, your values, your hobbies and so-on?

Tell me something about you, without telling me something about you?

Sound familiar?

Steve Jobs had a uniform (black polo neck, jeans, and trainers) and you knew that instantly it was part of his brand. But I am not Steve Jobs.

Look at Werner Voguels, each year at re:Invent he takes to the stage in a tee-shirt that has the Twitter sphere and websites buzzing.

Tee-shirts are conversation starters, simple as that. They are door openers. It shows people who you are and what you stand for.

If I had a dollar for every comment people make about my tee’s, I wouldn’t be able to retire, but each tee-shirt would comfortably pay for lunch. Today I find myself often presenting in front of hundreds and with each session, there will often be a comment or a conversation about the given tee-shirt I am wearing.

Many of these comments have been green sprouts of a relationship, either with peers, customers and third parties.
Just the other day in meeting a new CIO, she said, “I love that TV show” (Silicon Valley) and before you know it, we are having a 1:1 discussing strategy. A seat at the table.

So, I would ask you. How can you communicate something about yourself, without verbally messaging it?
What is your mechanism? What is your brand and do people understand your perspective? Can you use something as simple as a tee-shirt to help advance your cause, whatever it may be.

My Collection
If I had to describe my brand, in a few words, I am about progressive and pragmatic cloud architecture, choosing the right tool for the right job. Do these tee-shirts help tell that story? You decide.

Here is 9 of the 16 tee-shirts and I have picked up in the past 12 months.

A selection from June 2021 –> May 2022
Super Mario lining, how can you go wrong?

Where Do you Buy Your Tee-Shirts?
Second to the comment of “I love your tee-shirt”, often the next comment is, “Where can I buy one?”.
The reality is, many of these are either custom or non-mainstream and they can somewhat be difficult to find.

The solution here is often to either buy from website such as RedBubble, Etzy, Ebay, or Zazzle with the other option being to make your own.

Other than ensuring you have rights to any image you plan to use. Having a ‘Cricut‘ machine and a heat press, means you are limited only by your imagination and abilities. I often talk of ‘saw-sharpening’ and learning new skills, it is important and we all need to continue to learn, to keep ones saw sharp. Creating tee-shirts has been a journey of learning in itself. Full disclosure here, my wife is amazing and turns this somewhat complicated process in to a rather easy one for me, a great teacher.

Whilst this is not an endorsement for a Cricut machine, they do allow you to dream up and make pretty much anything, but you can find alternate devices from Brother and Silohouette.

A short one, not really a technical post either, did this post provide you any real value?
If there is one thing, I want you to take away, I would like you think about what do you want to be known for? (My manager recently asked me this).

Once you have figured this out, what mechanisms are you using to make this a reality.

Shane Baldacchino

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