My first speaking gig was in July of 1997. I remember it well, as I drove there, in the hot Missouri summer, in a car with no A/C. It was in Columbia, MO and I was there to give a Photoshop workshop to members of the Missouri Press Assocition. 

The thing is, I didn’t want to do it. 

I was trying to start a freelance graphic design business and was pretty busy. I was focusing on large documents, like catalogs, directories, etc., and a buddy of mine asked me to help him out. He needed a speaker for a workshop he was giving on scanners. He was going to talk for an hour about scanners and turn it over to me to talk about using Photoshop to get better results from scanning film, and using the tools to adjust tonal range, and more. I had about three hours, he told me.

“No thanks,” I told him.

“I need a Photoshop expert,” he persisted.

“I’m not a Photoshop expert,” I replied.

“Yes you are,” he pressed.

“I used it a lot…I’m not an expert,” I continued.

“You know more about it than anyone I know,” he said.

“Here’s what I’ll do,” I replied, “If you get in a jam, and absolutely can’t find anyone else, I’ll do it for you, but I’m not your guy.”

He then said “I’m in a jam and I absolutely can’t find anyone else.”

Fine. So I made the two-hour drive to Columbia, MO and taught Photoshop for the first time in front of an audience.

I loved it. I felt like I really made a difference for many in the audience as they came up afterwards and continued the discussions.

A couple days later my buddy called me and said “They want you do to that same thing in Arkansas for their press association.”

Not long after, I was getting requests from all over, and, since then, have spoken in 23 countries and I still love it.

As for topics, that has grown dramatically since I started. 

At first, it was just Photoshop as I hopped from one event to another. Then I heard about a book called The One to One Future, by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. The concept of the book is to look at your services or products and, instead of trying to gain business through more customers, see if there are more services or products you can offer existing customers to grow your business.

Well, I knew PageMaker, QuarkXPress, Illustrator, and Acrobat. I also know how to use them together. Maybe that’s something I should market. And it worked.

Since then I’ve added Indesign, Bridge/Camera Raw, Lightroom, Adobe mobile apps, and a bunch of more overview topics, like how setting up a process can make you more productive.

I’ve limited how many events a year I do, as I’m busy with other types of projects, but if the dates and location works, I’ll gladly speak at your event. Drop a line to discuss rates and logistics.

I’ll even talk about scanning film again.