So you want the full story, eh? Well, ok, you got it– on a plain simple page.
The toughest part is deciding on where to begin… so how about some place logical. My name is Dave McCubbin and am the founder of Skootzi. Prior to starting this site I was (and still am) a corporate trainer. The topics I teach range from primarily software applications, both off the shelf and proprietary, to online marketing to soft skills plus a little entrepreneurship. By chance you are wondering how I got here please read on.
Before becoming a software trainer I worked in the financial business in a wide variety of roles- anything from portfolio accounting, to back office, to trader and sales. Granted I did ok (no, I did not make millions) but truth be told I hated working in that industry; pure contempt is an understatement. In my case it was a constant cycle of companies either being bought out, merging, or going out of business. Blend that with having to work with the occasional total d-bag, stone cold idiot, insufferable bosses, unethical crumbs that would steal a dime from their mother just for a commission check, and other similar slime balls simply became too overwhelming so I walked out the door. I’m talking head held high, knowing full well I was never going back. And by walking out I literally resigned one day out of the blue because I knew the longer I stayed the tougher it was going to be to get out. For the record the vast majority of people that I worked with were incredibly nice, hardworking, honest people that I enjoyed being around. It was just the constant turmoil, corporate games, a few rotten apples spoiling the bunch and overall crap that just was not worth the mental effort anymore. So I simply moved on, not having a single clue about what I would do next.
You see I could define for you in specifics what I didn’t want to do, but had no idea what I wanted to do. How I landed in this career was I wrote a list with two columns at the top… what I like to do, what I don’t like to do– since doing nothing was not a choice, I had to do something (there’s the joke). Long story short teaching and working with computers fell in the same column so I figured “hey, why not teach computers?” How is that for a high powered career decision? Just so you know prior to the financial business I taught martial arts part time at the request of my sensei, had fun doing it, hence this is where the teaching angle comes into play, of which you will see more of later.
Once I decided to investigate the corporate training business I started knocking on some training companies doors asking for informational interviews explaining I was transitioning careers and wanted to get a feel for the industry. Most companies declined to speak with me (imagine my shock), yet one finally agreed to let me come in for an interview. During the interview they asked me why I think I can teach. My response was, “…well if I can teach people all this fancy martial arts stuff I believe I can teach them how to use a keyboard and mouse”. They bought it and allowed me to come in for a skills demo, which eventually led to a 3 month contract, of which I was hired full time two months in. I have been training people since then, going all the way back to 1996. I am beyond grateful that my old mentor (HL) believed enough in me to give me a chance. No clue where I would be without her willingness to give me an opportunity.
There is one big takeaway for you besides if you’ve read this far (suffice to say I’m impressed) is– when I became a software trainer I knew nothing about software… and I mean nothing. Read that again. On my best day I was barely able to save a file, much less print. Subjects like pivot tables, referential integrity, layered objects, OLE and calculated fields were way beyond my realm of comprehension.
The way I learned software was they gave me a stack of books, along with access to the trainers, sitting through endless days of classes, the obligatory ‘any questions, just ask’… and I was off. Phrased differently it was three months of intense pure information absorption. Suffice to say I was flabbergasted, intimidated, confused and petrified; often times wondering what did I get myself into. My mentor simply offered continual encouragement plus an empathetic ear telling me to hang in there, stating things will eventually “click” (bad pun, I know). Then one day it did…mercifully. From there it became two decades of teaching along with being a proverbial pawn on the corporate chessboard. The reason I say pawn requires us to delve into the world of corporate training for a quick backstory.
The Training Business Backstory
When you are a corporate trainer someone else generally controls your schedule, as well as what you are teaching. In short, at the end of the week they give you a itinerary for the next which could entail local travel, covering multiple states, or even flying to wherever a class is being held. Often times arriving on site to find things screwed up, not working, not installed – generally an ‘insert problem here’ environment; of which you have to make lemonade out of lemons. Or chicken salad out of chicken s__t, as I like to say. For you military people it was a complete SNAFU. (Google it, look for the real definition. You might be surprised). The best part was you had to be a magician to somehow make the class go off without a hitch since the client can be paying hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars (contingent on the scope of the project). And if something went wrong you were toast. No stress there, eh? Anyhow, not complaining, just sharing.
Sarcastically, yet truthfully, stated here is the best part in being a corporate trainer; you are constantly being scrutinized, evaluated, and often times working very hard in paying particular attention to (literally) every word you say because you never know if something uttered might upset someone to the point they decide to sue you. Think I’m kidding? Here is just a small sampler for you… did you know when you are a corporate trainer you:
- can’t say ‘hit the enter key’ since ‘hit’ is a violent term, so instead we press the enter key.
- can’t identify a manager as he or she because it’s sexist, instead use a gender neutral term like “they”.
- are keenly aware Pharmaceutical companies don’t sell drugs. Drugs are things like pot, coke, crack and heroin. Instead they sell products.
Suffice to say I could rant on and share stories that would make you cringe, but in the interest of time let me be blunt. Listen I would never knowingly offend anyone, yet in the same breath trying to function in a state of hyper- paranoia by constantly self-censoring as to not offend someone wears thin over time. Not to mention all the overly- sanitized PC crap that consumes our world… it just gets colossally ridiculous.
Think of it this way, some people get a performance review once a year. Imagine getting one every day because students fill out evaluation sheets at the conclusion of every class. My mentor taught me I was always one evaluation away from being out of business. It’s a lesson that I never forgot. Now for the record I’m not whining since I signed up for this line of work. All I’m saying is having this type of constant scrutiny makes you grow a thick skin and perhaps develop a minor chip on your shoulder afer you have thousands of people give their opinion about you. After years of constant reviews, not much bothers me anymore.
Going one level deeper so we can get to the heart of this story I have never been a fan of overly-polished, corporately scripted training classes since, for the most part, they are boring, stoic and leave people scrambling for the door 20 minutes into class. So this site breaks away from those confines and allows the content to be presented free of restriction. Likewise I think the cost of corporate training is just way too expensive. Most in-person courses start at $200 per day all the way up to several thousands. If you want to get an idea look up the cost of a database design class, or CCNA training; make sure you are sitting down. On a similar note, paying a monthly subscription for online video training starts to add up after a while since there is no way you can get through hours of content in one month. It’s no secret they want you to be a long term subscriber. Now just to be clear I’m not faulting these companies. They have overhead, staff to pay, fixed expenses and need to make a buck as well; I’m cool with that.
Alright, so… it’s not like you needed to know the backstory because on the grand scheme it means nothing and no doubt I’m not the only one who has had these types of experiences. As you may have surmised I’m not exactly a fan of the cubicle life. ‘Nuff said on the backstory.
Hence this site is the next milestone in my career. Skootzi represents a project that has been dwelling in the back of my mind for many years; I just reached the point where I decided it’s time to bring action to thought. Skootzi provides you with same level of material you would get in a corporate class. And since I don’t have all those expenses hanging over my head, can work in a more nimble environment because there are no bureaucratic hoops to jump through, I can develop courses with the exact same content you would get if you went through a major training provider. Plus I’ve been afforded the luxury of being able to offer the course for the price of my choice. And that is the best part for you! I’m not some greedy jerk looking to bilk you by charging outrageous prices. Think of these courses as a sit down session- just buy me a cup of coffee for my efforts.
For the record my style is very laid back, easy to follow, quirky and “slap-sticky”. Meaning I strive to make complex topics simple and like to be tongue and cheek along the way. You see there is no need to be a boring stiff and it’s ok to laugh at ourselves by poking fun at certain areas of life. Why? Simple. You learn more when you have fun. Put a different way, when I sub contract for company I have to be professional, polished, borderline robotic because the company has to play it safe. They have an image they want to project often this translates into sterile, dull presentations. Ugh. Heck, I’ve seen people almost rather have a root canal then sit through training classes.
So What is a “Skootzi”?
Like some company names the etymology is derived from individuals who are often near and dear to to their hearts. We are no different. In our case ‘Skootzi’ is a blend of two nicknames, one from my mom, the other my daughter. ‘Nuff said on that one. 🙂
Alright, since I am getting really tired of typing this let’s wrap things up this way.
The Big Takeaway
If I can take a moment to be serious— I often think that learning software is too expensive for some people because paying full price for a corporate class is really difficult. Subsequently paying a continual monthly subscription can really dent the wallet. My view is offer the same content as the “big boys”, just don’t gouge people.
You see I’m not out to charge people outrageous prices and frankly don’t have the conscious to do so. My primary goal is to give you the very best content at an extremely affordable price. As stated above therein lies the reason why every product on this site is $3.99 which is equivalent to buying yours truly a cup of coffee for a sit down one-on-one training session. 🙂
In the future the plan is to create more courses, eBooks (for $3.99) as well and some other goodies.
There you have it.
Ok… that is enough of me babbling… thank you for indulging.