In September of 2014 I joined Rotary. For those who don't know, Rotary is a service organization. We use our time, talent and treasure to raise money and support for those who need it. My club, Fort Myers South, is, in my opinion, a great club, but it is just one of many in Southwest Florida and around the globe. Yes, we are a global organization. If you want to know more about Rotary, please feel free to contact me and learn more, in fact, I'll be glad to invite you as my guest to an upcoming meeting.
Recently, as part of my induction, I was asked to give a Rotary classification speech. Essentially, a classification speech is an opportunity to share your background and experience with other club members. I received a lot of positive feedback on my speech, so I thought I would also share it on our blog. Please let me know what you think, leave a comment or send me an email. Most of all, thank you for taking the time to read more about me.
When I was born, my mother wanted me to be different, so she spelled my name B-R-Y-O-N. Ever since I can remember I’ve been correcting people who think my name is 'Byron', so now I just tell people that my name is Bryon with a YO!
I was born in Mansfield, Ohio and grew up in the Lorain/Vermilion area. I went to Ohio University, so I’m a Bobcat, not a Buckeye!
I received my BFA in Graphic Design in 1989 and promptly moved to Chicago to start my career. By the time I was 30, I was creative director of Unilever North America’s in-house media lab. At the time, our job was figuring out how to market our brands and products online. This was the late 90s, it was an exciting time in the history of the Internet and we were on the cutting edge of what was happening in online advertising and branding. Our team worked directly with major players, like MSN and AOL, to develop online marketing solutions for brands like Calvin Klein fragrances, Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, Lipton Foods, Dove Soap, Axe, Degree and many, many more.
Looking back, I like to think I was a digital version of Don Draper, but that was 15 years ago, and the older I get the more my memories seem to improve.
In late 1999, Kellie, my wife since 2001, who was my girlfriend at the time, asked me what I thought about moving to Switzerland. She was working in the Chicago office of a national public relations firm and they had offered her the chance to move to Zürich to setup and run their European headquarters. It took me about a millisecond to say yes. It’s not often that someone offers to move you to a foreign country. However, because we weren't yet married, I had to find my own job, which I did, as COO and creative director for BBDO Worldwide, in charge of our General Motors Europe account, among many others.
Living in the heart of Europe was a fantastic experience. You learn a lot about yourself living in another culture and, in my case, you also come to appreciate your home in a much deeper and more meaningful way. We took the opportunity to travel to many wonderful places, and we are often asked if we miss it, but, honestly, what we miss most are the friendships that we made there.
I wanted to build my own agency, so in 2003 I left my job and managed to convince the Swiss unemployment service to help me setup my own company. It’s actually much more complicated than that, but let me just say that starting your own business in a foreign country, as a foreigner, is challenging.
Eventually, I was successful enough to hire my first, full-time employee. Kellie, my wife, became my business partner, and remains so today, more than 8 years later. We built a great agency, and in a short time we were at six full-time employees, and working on projects in locations across Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Photography is also a passion of mine. I’ve been published many times and have won a number of awards for my photography. So, in addition to our agency business, we saw a need for and founded the first (and only) English-language photography school in Switzerland, in fact, I don’t know of any other school like ours on the European Continent. I've taught courses and led workshops and events for thousands of participants over the years, and I continue to teach and speak on the subjects of photography, branding, marketing and social media.
After nearly twelve years in Switzerland, Kellie and I decided to move back to the USA in 2012. We came to Southwest Florida to be closer to family. Actually, it was the weather, but we continue to let our family in the area believe it was because of them.
We closed our agency over there and resurrected it over here, and it’s been exciting to start over. Since moving here we have been very fortunate to meet some great people and make some wonderful new friends and that’s how I came to Rotary, through my friend, Allan Clair.
Our business, Brilliant Lens, is about finding creative solutions to common business problems using branding, marketing and social media. Those are terms that are often confused, mis-understood or mis-used by people, so if you have any questions, just let me know.
While there is certainly an art to what we do, it’s still a business. I don’t create art for my clients, I design branding, marketing and social media solutions that allow their businesses to stand out from the crowd, help them work more efficiently or connect them more closely with their customers and employees. I consider myself more of an idea engineer than an artist, but some would still call me an artist, and I take that as a compliment.
Let me wrap up by saying that since joining Fort Myers South, I've felt very welcome and accepted by everyone, and I want to say thank you for helping me feel at home here at Rotary.
Bryon McCartney is managing partner and creative director of Brilliant Lens LLC. For more than 25 years, Bryon has worked as a designer specializing in branding, marketing and social media. His career has taken him around the world, working for premium brands like Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden, General Motors and Lipton Foods. However, Bryon takes great joy in working with small businesses to help them build big brands. Follow Bryon on Twitter @brilliantbryon or connect with him on Linkedin.
Be Brilliant! | Brilliant Lens LLC is a branding, marketing and social media agency based in Fort Myers, Florida. Our work and experience have taken us around the globe, working for clients ranging from local entrepreneurs to global, Fortune 100 companies. If you’re on Facebook, be sure to Like our page. Follow us on Twitter @BeBrilliantSWFL and on LinkedIn.