The following is an edited version of the commencement speech I gave to the Edmonton Digital Arts College 2019 grad class. I swear it was way more hilarious and inspiring in person.

When Jeremy approached me and said, “Jeff, I’d love if you could give a talk at the EDAC grad ceremony”, I assumed he wanted me to impart some wisdom or something. Then he said, “Yeah. Everyone else is really busy.”

When asked to speak, I had two immediate thoughts. The first: he really could have left that last part out. Second: of course, it’d be an honour to. I really am excited to be here, and excited for each of you. Because 10 years ago, I was right where you are, and I remember what that was like. I graduated from a small private college, same as you.

Right after I graduated, I started an agency called Paper Leaf because I was too dumb to know any better. Today, Paper Leaf is probably considered a success. But back then? My partner & I started working out of a house. Super small time. I mean, I had a Skype meeting one time with a client where my two cats started fighting on the bed in the background. Real professional.

That first year in business, we did a total of $40k in revenue – revenue, not profit. When you split that between two partners, we were far below the poverty line. I couldn’t afford fancy dress hoodies like this one.

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