My own Cars moment

Anyone who has ever searched for something related to web development has run into Chris. He runs the blog CSS-Tricks, as well as Code Pen, and the podcast Shop Talk Show. He’s like your own personal Mr. Miyagi in a can—always available to pop out when you need advice. He is now one of my heroes as he has unknowingly become something of a mentor on my path to front-end web development competence.

Shop Talk Show Episode Sketchnote

He was scheduled to be the second keynote address at the recent CSS Dev Conference, which I was invited to sketchnote. One of my goals in attending that conference was to meet Zoe Gillenwater, which I wrote about recently. My other goal was to meet Chris Coyier. I started listening to and sketchnoting episodes of the Shop Talk Show a few weeks prior to the conference. One of huge interesting side effects of listening to someone over the course of a few hours is that you feel like you get to know them a bit. So I was excited to meet the man behind the voice.

The first night of the conference included a little history lesson on the Stanley Hotel. I went to the table where Chris was sitting and sat down next to him, and said something like, “You’re Chris, right?” Very kindly, he replied, “Hey, it’s Ben, right?” And my jaw dropped. The Chris Coyier knew who I was? I was stunned. I stammered out, “You know who I am!?” With great grace, he refrained from bursting out laughing, and pointed to the big name tag hanging around my neck. I started laughing at that point, and felt pretty foolish. Since I have four kids, and have seen the movie quite a few times, the scene from Cars flashed in my mind when the old rusty car with his name on his license plate freaks out that Lightning McQueen knows his name. Yeah, I was cool like him.

Fred from Disney's Cars

As Chris and I started chatting for a minute and I mentioned that I was there to sketchnote the conference, he recognized me from the sketchnotes I’ve done from Shop Talk Show. We chatted about him having lunch with the legendary Mike Rohde, the man who coined the term “sketchnotes” and who lives in Milwaukee as well. Over the course of the conference, we chatted a few more times, and I was impressed to find him a genuine, down-to-earth guy, despite being ridiculously famous in this little web-development world of ours (top nerd!?). And even better for me, he seemed remarkably willing to forget our meeting and still treat me professionally.