The Ole BigDog's Blog Profile Image

bigdog posted on 05/24/11 at 08:57 AM

So I want to crowd-source an answer to a question - well, a quandary really. What should my new Trader Network profile image be? Interestingly this is a topic of some debate, both within TradeKing's offices and in a recent forum thread. So perhaps you could help us figure out the right look.

Let me just say upfront: I feel a little funny talking about me having a "look" at all. My mother raised me not to puff myself up too much, and I like to say: I have the perfect face for radio. But as the CEO (with a blog!), I do field requests by media, conference organizers, et cetera for corporate headshots, so it'd be silly not to be prepared.

Maybe you remember my original blog image, of me standing in a business suit in a swimming pool:

I wrote about the backstory of this photo a while ago, and I still think it's a fun and relevant story to attach to my blog. To me the image reflects what TradeKing is all about (and my attitude as its leader). We wanted to create a friendly, responsible online brokerage where any investor would feel welcome to learn about trading, interact with other traders in our community, and explore what kind of investor they want to become. What better way to say this than me standing in a pool: "Dive in, the water's just fine!" 

But when we started talking about refreshing my headshot, it became clear that several of my colleagues (who shall remain nameless) never liked this image. In fact, some of them were driven totally crazy by it. I have to admit their points were valid: "It's a fine image if you're standing there to tell that story about what the pool symbolizes, but what if you're not?" Fair enough, ladies and gentlemen!

While it is true and fairly widely known that I don't wear a necktie that often (I've even been known to refer to a tie as “a worthless vestige of a bygone era”), I do wear one sometimes, and one of those times was a recent day when we had a photographer in our new office in Ft. Lauderdale. He snapped some photos of me and several newer members of our team, and the faction that has wanted to replace/update my Trader Network avatar started lobbying for one of these shots to be used here. They weren't all totally serious shots (Courtney had stopped by the ofice for a dog visit, so “the boys” even made it into a few shots that day).  
Anyway, we decided on 3 finalist-images for my blog from this shoot: 

Cue the emails from my colleagues, each persuasively arguing for a different image, and me cringing at all the attention. In the end we rolled with the hands-behind-head shot, as you can see. It seemed casual enough (although I wish I'd removed that durn tie for it!)

My favorite was the one with my buddy Paddy on my shoulder - this little dog is one of my best friends in the world, and he in part prompted my TradeKing username, "BigDog". (He's the little dog, I'm the bigger one. Here's an early blog post about Paddy and our dearly departed bigger dog Tessy.) But I hated to seem like I was playing favorites between our two dogs, Paddy and Davis. This image had its advocates for what it conveys about TradeKing's brand - namely, that we welcome small and big accounts alike. 

Now that the hands-behind-head image is live on my blog (and I see it in thumbnail version with every comment I post online), I'm less convinced it's the best or most truthful one. Not only do I not wear a tie to work regularly, I rarely ever sit while I work - I stand or pace.

So, let's take this question to the "street", shall we? Here are a few much more candid images my wife Courtney identified as good candidates for my blog avatar. Do any of these strike you as right? 

Here's me again with Tessy (and bare feet):

Here's me walking Paddy, about 10 minutes before I got married to Courtney, yes, in shorts and sandals (note Paddy's bow-tie – he was the only one who "dressed up" for the affair). It's a fun shot, although it's a bit dark (notice my glowing Keens): 

Courtney's true favorites are these two:

Below is another one I really like. I'm wet (again!) and have just speared a couple of "bugs" off the coast of Moraine Cay in The Bahamas. To me this jives with our tropical Florida headquarters location, and it echoes every trader's wish: to land a big-fish trade. Hopefully we're enabling that dream at TradeKing daily.

Last but not least, I also love this image of Paddy diving intrepidly into our pool. That little dog shows tremendous hustle and focus, just like any start-up entrepreneur should - qualities we hope TradeKing embodies every day. 

Enough pictures of me then! What do you think, folks? I'd love to get your feedback on this.

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Posted by bigdog on 05/24/11 at 08:57 AM


doougle posted May 24, 2011 (09:26AM)

I always liked the pool pic.  It's strange enough to be interesting, but not so strange to be scary.

incubus posted May 24, 2011 (12:07PM)

It's the internet.

Maybe photoshop an altered picture of Brad Pitts face onto the body of a Chippendale posed in a glamorous action stance on the floor of the NYSE.

All kidding aside, the pic promotes a laid-back, down-to-earth CEO who's personable, approachable.

Coincidentally, you just so happen to be a laid back, down-to-earth, approachable CEO,.

Fiddie posted May 24, 2011 (12:28PM)

I also liked the pool pic. For a new profile pic, I'd go with Paddy on the shoulder.
You look like a savvy professional who doesn't compartmentalize his life with small thinking. The outstretched arm invites the viewer to participate, while Paddy's presence let's us know you don't carry a chip on one of your shoulders.

spshapiro posted May 24, 2011 (12:44PM)

When I first came over to Tk (4/06) I had little concept of the social aspect of the internet.  I was just trying to find a broker who would handle my orders with speed, best price and cheapest cost (BTW, that was the order of my priority.)  For quite some time I left the default ‘little man’ alone, for after all, an avatar was the form that a god took when they came down to earth, and you can check with my wife…I’m no god.

People like me have nothing to sell (and I don’t mean that as a cut.)  I am well aware that some people who see my screen name, click to read what crossed my mind this morning, and undoubtedly, far more don’t.  The point is, I have no title here, no position to maintain.  So I can pick a picture as a lark, or a favorite vacation spot, and it really doesn’t matter what the world thinks.

You, for bitter or verse, do represent something other than just yourself.  You may be the face of Tk, but Tk is (fortunately) something bigger than you; that’s why it actually functions when you are on vacation.  Now I’m the last one to tell anyone what to wear, how to comb their hair, or what life form what want to be seen cuddling. But you have to acknowledge that it will make an impression. 

In my own worklife, I always went for understatement. It works well when they think they got more than they bargained for.  It also works well when they underestimate who they are up against,  But I also wasn’t the CEO, so what do I know. 

Backroom Trader posted May 24, 2011 (01:15PM)

The one off the coast of Moraine Cay is not bad. If you could catch an actual big fish and take a similar picture, I'd say go with that... especially if you were wearing a suit!

As they stand now though, I'd go with the diving dog. As you sort of said, the focus and determination are shown quite clearly by Paddy in that picture. It also kind of ties into your original blog image.

mikebmassey posted May 24, 2011 (02:50PM)

+1 for old school pool picture. 

TampaJake posted May 24, 2011 (03:10PM)

My vote is for the original in the pool pic. You nailed what business casual in Florida is all about.  No tie... and donning the jacket on the occasional day when the temps dip into the forties or when you have to meet the occasional business client.  We all wish we could run our business poolside or from the beach. Keep up the good work and thanks for the open door policy.

El Dorado posted May 24, 2011 (09:16PM)

SP has a point, you need to look the part. So I propose the picture you posted in your blog “Mr. BigDog goes to Washington”. 

What better to symbolize capitalism and the freedom to invest as you choose, and it’s a pretty good picture. Who knows maybe even use it as a campaign picture a few years down the road.  

Lawrence-Lugar posted May 25, 2011 (08:50AM)

You look years younger, and in shape, in that pool suit photo...maybe it's just the camera, lighting and/or water.

That's my favorite photo....the other 3 options looks too generically generic/bland and cubically and officey.

But then again, it's Wall St - not Main St...this world is traditionally black or white.

bigdog posted May 27, 2011 (09:28AM)

Everyone: thanks for all the great feedback! At first I felt a bit silly asking about this, but to Spshapiro’s point: the CEO profile isn’t solely about me; it also speaks to the larger TradeKing brand. It’s always useful to see what your brand has come to mean to those who rely on it actively, so this fun exercise has a double benefit, really.
Much as I dig incubus’ suggestion – and I’d imagine my wife would thank you, Inky, if we could make your vision reality! – if I don’t revert to the original pic, I guess I now like the one of Paddy diving in the pool the best of these. I agree with Backroom Trader: his determination and sheer hustle speaks to the energy we try to bring to our work on a daily basis. It also reminds me of the focus and discipline successful traders bring to their work. If I can persuade my colleagues that my profile image doesn’t technically need to include me in it, and that may be a stretch, this could be the winner. Otherwise, I guess I’ll revert back to the original suit-in-a-pool avatar. And yes, Lawrence, it was admittedly taken a few years (and a few pounds) ago!
Of the pics above, my blog editor Jude Stewart was a big fan of the pic with Paddy on my shoulder, and personally I liked the one of me spear-fishing off Moraine Cay. Funny to realize how many of the “finalist” shots feature water in one form or another, huh? I agree with TampaJake: it’s good to evoke the business-casual ethos of Florida, although we’re now growing by leaps and bounds in our Charlotte, NC, office. Still, Charlotte is filled with gorgeous lakes, so the water-theme still fits.
Well, I’ll share these thoughts and feedback with the team here and then step out of the way. Keep one eye peeled for my new (or old) image, coming soon!

Todd Parker posted June 10, 2011 (09:55PM)

Just noticed that you decided to go with all of the suggestions!  Love how it switches to a different pic on each reload, nice choice!

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