Greetings Reslifegeek readers! So I am back from vacation in Lake Tahoe. We’re less than a month away from our San Diego Comic Con Panel and it is time to get ready. By the way, if you know anyone who wants to sponsor geekEd. T-shirts for Comic Con, we are looking for sponsors.
So – some of you know the story of how our panel came to be, and some of you do not. I wanted to share it with you, because I think it is a great lesson in how “just try it” AND Collaboration can work for you.
Chapter 1: Going to Comic-Con for free
About two and half years ago, Ryan McRae and I were talking about Comic-Con. Ryan had shared that he was looking to purchase Comic-Con tickets as a prize for his “geek Week” program at CSU San Marcos. When he inquired, he was told at the time that Comic-Con was trying to do outreach to Higher Education professionals, and offered him free Comic-Con tickets for himself and a guest to attend. Ryan was VERY excited about this and posted on facebook that he got free comic-con tickets. Me, naturally of the “if it’s free it’s me” bent asked him how he did it. I then sent an email to Ryan’s contact who set me up with a free registration for me, my wife, and my two kids (at the time). This was 2010. Ryan offered to allow us to stay at CSU San Marcos for free, so we loaded the family and went to San Diego Comic Con for the first time in July of 2010.
Chapter 2: An idea is born
During Comic-Con in 2010, as a thank you, our family took Ryan out to dinner. At dinner, Ryan and I were talking. We had just finished presenting workshops at the Western Association of College and University Housing Officers (WACUHO) Annual Conference and Exhibition (WACE). Ok, before I go any further – YES, it is an Acronym that CONTAINS an acronym. Anyway. Both of us had just finished presenting at WACE a month prior. We looked at each other and I said to him – we could TOTALLY present at Comic-Con. Ryan had presented “Geek Week” programming at WACE and had won the “Best in the West” award for his presentation. We brainstormed what we could present about – geek culture and higher education and how they mix. We could speak to geek students who were attending comic con and tell them they could use their “geekness” for their advantage (getting RA jobs, becoming a leader, etc). We could talk about programming towards geeks. My wife came up with the “geekEd.” Idea. Geek education. Geeked. geekEd. So meta. I figured if we can present to educators in our field, we could certainly present to the public. I said I’d do the research and find out we could submit a proposal to present at Comic-Con 2011.
We left Comic-Con 2010 having a fantastic time! My wife even was interviewed for a documentary on comic books, which was WAY cool.
Chapter 3: A team is assembled
When Registration came out for Comic-Con 2011 in January of 2011, I noticed on the website a section for programming. I clicked on it and found a pdf with a panel proposal form which was SURPRISINGLY simple. Pretty much the same form I was used to for WACE. I began to fill it out and decided this needed to be more than just Ryan and I. Sure others would be interested. I knew people from WACUHO who had attended comic-con previously. I threw it out there on facebook – “Hey – I am putting together a team for a panel at Comic-Con – anyone interested?” Immediately people said– “sure, put me down.” I could tell most didn’t think we had a snowballs chance of being selected for a panel, but I knew we had something to offer. We spent about 15-30 minutes putting together the proposal form, and we had our team.
I submitted a cover letter to the Comic-Con program committee with our proposal form that basically said – “look, you gave me a free pass to Comic-Con last year, I’d like to return the favor by offering you a diverse panel of educators who would love to be your allies. You’re reaching out to us, we’ve heeded the call, let us provide you something.” You see, our passion provided a service for the conference. Why did they give Ryan and I free tickets to Comic-Con? My guess is because of what we were working on. We were giving them exactly what they wanted and hoped for. Why else would they offer us free tickets to Comic-Con? What we had to offer them was this:
- Five college educators with significant professional experience
- Five college educators from five different educational institutions
- Five college educators with a passion for pop-culture, comic books, and college students
- Five college educators who were EXCELLENT presenters
We submitted the proposal at the end of January and basically waited. Like the one ring to rule them all, many of us probably even forgot.
Chapter 4: A New Hope
I remember it well. We had gone out to dinner in June of 2011 as a family at John’s Incredible Pizza. It’s basically Chuck E. Cheese on Steroids. After dinner, I checked my iphone and there it was. An email saying our panel had been accepted! I don’t think I slept a wink that night I was so excited. I immediately went on facebook to let everyone know. I sent an email to the team and it was amazing! Immediately we had six weeks to plan. With that first email, we didn’t even know if we had tickets to comic-con. Everything came together so fast. We got a sponsor for t-shirts. We developed a power-point. We made buttons. It was a true team effort! Most of you know how it turned out, and we are excited and honored to be asked to do it again this year!
So why tell you this story? Maybe it will inspire you to live your dream. I have really learned to embrace rejection. When the WORST thing that can happen to you is they say “no” you REALLY have nothing to lose. You are no worse off than before you asked. It’s not like you went backwards. So you didn’t move forward. But when you risk a “yes” you give an opportunity for something magical to happen. AND, more importantly, when you bring people along on your journey, it is so much sweeter. Our panel last year was special because it wasn’t about any one of us. Everyone brought something to the table. In true Avengers fashion – everything worked well to have something magical happen. It started with Ryan developing geek week programming and doing a cool Comic-Con ticket prize. He took a risk being rejected. Then, knowing it was safe, I got free passes to Comic-Con. Then I took a risk putting the proposal together. I took a risk of being rejected that the work I put together would go for naught. I asked people to share the burden with me and share the risk. They took that risk with me. Once we were not rejected, others felt safe coming on our journey too. So not only does your risk expand YOUR comfort zone, it expands the comfort zone of the people around you too. And I think, overall, that is a good thing to be aware of.
That’s all for now True Believers!