Usually I’m Steve Case the Xerox guy, or the Dell guy, or the JoeBugBuster guy. Sometimes someone confuses me with the other Steve Case, like the person who recently sent me this thoughtfully crafted invitation on LinkedIn:
I’m getting in touch as I’m really looking forward to your insights at South by South West (SXSW) in Austin next week and I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn if that’s ok?
Good luck with all the good work!
The South by Southwest Connection
I’ve never even been to South by Southwest. In fact, when I worked for Dell and visited the Austin area a few times a year, I deliberately avoided visiting during SxSW. Flights and hotel rooms were painfully hard to come by as Downtown Austin hosted the festivities.
Many Dell folks do spend time at South By Southwest. When I worked there, someone shared an excited email with me from someone who had “finally met Steve Case” while working at the Fader Fort. To this day I’m not sure if that person knew me from email and social media and was looking forward to meeting me IRL, or it was someone who wanted to meet “the AOL guy.”
Steve Case the speaker
A friend sent me a Facebook message, congratulating me on an upcoming speech that was going to be broadcast:
Hi Steve, I just read [in] an article you will be speaking. MSNBC how very cool.
The AOL Connection
Before the Internet was accessible to everyone, AOL was a popular online service that famously saturated peoples’ mailboxes with CDs to sign-up with the service. (Before that, their marketing included barrages of floppy disks, likewise encouraging people to sign-up for AOL.)
I actually did have an AOL account once upon a time. I made a point of setting it up with the long form of my first name (Steven Case) to avoid confusion with AOL’s co-founder (Stephen Case). Despite that, I still received the occasional email from someone who thought I was him.
When I’m traveling and I get that funny look
For years I got the look when I checked-in at the airport, a hotel, or a conference. They knew who Steve Case was, and less people knew me, but they didn’t know if I was him.
I still get the look when people who just met me are trying to figure out why my name sounds familiar. Now it’s more like a funny look of half-recognition, where someone recognizes the name but can’t place it.
These days it’s less helpful to say “AOL,” because the company isn’t front-of-mind for most people any more. Of course people who have been in the technology or communications field for a while still get it.
When I’m traveling and I get that funny look before they hear my name
People aren’t likely to stop on the street and ask me about AOL. I don’t look enough like that Steve Case.
However, I do get stopped once in a while on the street or in restaurants by folks who think I look like Mark Wahlberg or Matt Damon. Those spottings seem to come and go depending on whose movie is in theaters. With the popularity of The Martian, it’s time for more Damon sightings in the greater Seattle area.
Who do you think I am?
Folks say you should “Google yourself,” but for years that was a futile exercise for me. “The other Steve Case” always monopolized the results.
In the end though, is our impact based on our name, face, search results, or résumé?