I bought the domain name jamespetzke.com almost exactly two years ago during the summer before my senior year in high school. At the time, I was starting a freelance web design business, and this site was a promotional tool for that business. However, it quickly evolved into a personal finance blog, which was my first dabble into the online business realm. A few months later and I took that down, and this site sat dormant for nearly a year.
During this time, I experimented in many different things, ranging from niche site building to Amazon Kindle self-publishing to a search engine that I thought would beat Google in a few months. While very few of my many endeavors were successful, I was learning and adapting fast.
I was also considering which direction I wanted to take my life. This especially came into focus this past spring, when I had to decide what I wanted to focus on. Would I focus on school? Business Professionals of America (a club I’m very actively involved in)? My business? And if so, which one?
But one thing became clear to me very quickly. I had a passion, and I had to follow that passion regardless of anything else. And that passion was for speaking to youth. I first saw a youth motivational speaker years ago at my first Idaho BPA state conference. I’ll never forget how much I was dreading going to the opening session after hearing there would be a “motivational speaker”. What 14 year old has the time for that? There were way too many Call of Duty opponents lined up to kill me to listen to someone talk about “motivation”.
And then I got there and watched Ryan Porter get on stage and entertain and inspire me in a way that no one ever had before. His “Make Your Own Lunch” program was so drastically different than anything I’d heard before. My parents are both teachers, so all I ever heard growing up was “go to school, get good grades, have nice friends, get a middle class job working 9 to 5, get a mortgage, have some babies, take care of your parents when you’re old, die at 92 while looking back on a happy average life”.
I left that night inspired. And my next few experiences were similar. I listened to dozens of youth motivational speakers over the years at youth conferences. Along with Ryan, Josh Shipp comes to my mind as one of my biggest inspirations, as do Grant Baldwin and Amy Gallimore.
I’ve known ever since I left that opening session where Ryan spoke nearly 6 years ago now that I wanted to someday do what he did. To travel the country and speak to teenagers in a way that they could understand. To be honest, totally authentic and transparent, and to inspire. To tell young people that there is another path. That you don’t have to do exactly what society tells you to do to be successful. That it’s okay to fail. In fact, it’s a good thing to fail.
So this summer, I decided to take action. To become a speaker. I built this website as a promotional tool for my speaking, but will posting plenty of awesome stuff on this blog that will provide incredible value. I already have four speaking gigs booked for this fall, and will no doubt have more booked by the time school starts.
I’ve been lucky enough to talk with a few of my speaking heroes, and had them help me tremendously as I get rolling. I’m so incredibly thankful for all of the help I’ve gotten, and now it’s on me to make this more than just a passion I had a thought of going for!
I’m still running an online business as well (in fact, I’m looking to expand into a full fledged media company working with other businesses this fall), but speaking is my true passion, and I am going to pursue it with everything I have. Look for more coming on this blog soon, I plan on delivering as much value as possible to my readers. You can like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter or Google+ to get updates. I’ll also be putting out the Life Domination Toolkit soon in coordination with an email list, which is the best way to keep updated. Look for more coming soon!