Saturday, November 17, 2012

My "Short-lived" Speaking Career

After presenting at the HOW Design Conference in June, I realized that, despite the preceding weeks of nausea, I actually really loved being in front of an audience. I loved sharing the story of how my career had progressed over the last decade. I loved cracking stupid jokes and hearing the resulting laughter. And I loved (more than anything) having people approach me afterward to say how they were inspired by my words.

In October, I had the opportunity to speak again, twice in fact. Once in Philly, as part of the DesignPhiladelphia festival. Myself and four other designers/illustrators gave mini-lectures about self-generated projects. And the following week, I gave my "How to Survive Your Soul Crushing Day Job" talk at the South Dakota Advertising Federation in Sioux Falls. Both were wonderful experiences that required me to purchase new "speaking" outfits.

But it seems as if my aspirations of becoming the next Tony Robbins are no more. Much to my dismay, SXSW did not accept my proposal for the 2013 conference. Fine, I understand. Tough competition. That would have been freaking bad ass though.

But even more heart-breaking, HOW did not accept my proposal for their 2013 conference in San Francisco.

Admittedly, this was a shock. Not to sound arrogant, but I legitimately killed it at my session. Even if my topic wasn't ideal, I had assumed they would have given me another shot, solely based on the reception I received this year. I should not have made such an assumption.

I think the worst part is that I didn't even receive a "We're sorry to inform you…" email. I just never heard back. Even my "Hey guys, just curious what's up…" email went unanswered. After participating in seven HOW Design Conferences over the years, I would have expected a bit more courtesy.

As of now, however, it's not completely over. I'm giving my talk again in January at the Ad Fed in Baton Rouge, so I have that to look forward to. And who knows, the opportunity may present itself again in the future, and if it does, I'll gladly accept the impending nausea.


  1. Hey Melissa!
    I saw you at HOW in Boston and was truly inspired by your words. It's very disappointing they won't have you back in San Francisco. Their loss but my gain since I get to see you tomorrow at the BR AdFEd luncheon. Look forward to hearing the funny girl I heard in Boston. Make them (HOW) green with envy! Enjoy your trip!


  2. I was just shocked to look through the HOW speakers not to find your name (which i was looking for), you were my favorite speaker. Actually, probably my favorite speaker ever.

    On days I am in tears over my soul-sucking day job, I think about your talk and it helps me get through another day. I have started my own business since your talk in June and I really wanted to see you again this year to let you know how much hearing you in Boston gave me hope that my creative spirit hadn't died forever.

    Melissa you will really be missed at HOW but I am so thankful to have heard your story.

    Thank you, Angela.

    P.S. Your hair absolutely rocks. :)

  3. Melissa, You rocked it in Baton Rouge. And you spoke to my soul. Now I'm gong to go blog about it! Hope you ate and drank well while in the best place in the world to eat and drink.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. Hey Melissa,
    I saw you in Boston, too. I'm SO surprised that you didn't get asked to come back! They had to jam like, 928374 more chairs in that room (and move to a bigger room, if I'm remembering correctly) to fit everyone that wanted to hear you speak.

    I also have a soul-sucking job (that I frequently shed tears about) and I do revisit my notes from your talk. But the best thing I learned is that I need to get out. So, I'm gonna!!

    Thanks for the inspiration.