A few years later, the British gentleman I had lectured for asked me to present at two more national meetings, one in New Jersey and one in Puerto Rico. The political climate was more favorable, so I got the green light for both.
The timing of my presentation was advantageous. A controversy regarding my lecture topic had been brewing in the industry. Now I had a chance to share my thoughts on resolving the issues.
I gave my presentations and they went well, but one moment when lecturing in Puerto Rico was tense for me. Excited about sharing my ideas, I was eager to get started. With just five minutes left before my talk in a ballroom set up to hold 100 people, only three seats were occupied. I looked over at the British gentleman who appeared unconerned. When I asked him about it, he smiled and said, “oh yea, you’ve never been to Puerto Rico. Their favorite expression here is ‘Mañana’ (Spanish for ‘tomorrow’). We won’t start for at least another 20 minutes.”
Later that year, I got a call from the organization that the British gentleman (Dr. S.) taught for. They said Dr. S. had recommended me for developing a three-day course on the topic that I had lectured on with him. What, take a two hour version of a 20 minute talk and turn it into a three day course? I had to really think about that.
I called Dr. S. and thanked him for the recommendation but asked him what I should do. He said don’t try to do it alone – get someone who thinks like you to help. I hung up and began to wrestle with this. I knew I wanted to do the course but I didn’t know whom I could get to help me teach it. I thought about people I had worked with before and other previous contacts in the industry but couldn’t think of anyone. Then I remembered the person (M) who had lectured after me at the FDA conference. I wondered if I could find his contact information.
I don’t know how I was able to find his number but I called M and he was very interested in working together to develop and teach the course. We then set up some time when we could talk at greater length about how we should structure the course.
Our first step was to come up with an outline for the course and submit it as a proposal to the organization. We wanted to develop a course that covered the entire subject from beginning to end. We came up with the major topics that needed to be included and were amazed that we both quickly agreed what was important to include. M made a really helpful suggestion about including a couple of workshops in the course so it wouldn’t be just lectures. I suggested a Q&A session as a part of the course so participants could ask any question about the subject. We put together the course outline, submitted it and then waited for the response.
The response we got was positive and we were asked to put together the course. It was to be divided into twelve one and one half hour lectures over three days. Once we broke down the topics over the three days, we decided who would work on each. With that decided, we each began preparing 35 mm slides. I knew preparing the course would take me away from my family so I began going into work very early on Sunday morning and working just until noon so as to minimize my time away from home. I don’t recall how many weekends I did this but it probably took about six months to put all of the slides together.
The first time we were scheduled to teach the class was in July 1997. The maximum class size of 46 filled up quickly. In fact someone who had previously worked with me and had moved onto another company called me directly to ask if I would let him in the class since he needed the course prior to an FDA inspection. So our first presentation had 47 participants and went very well. We taught the course a second time that year in the fall for an individual company which also went well.