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Take a good look at the man in the photo above. His name is Robert Vanelli, but we call him either “Vanelli” or just “V.”

If you’re going to Photoshop World, you will definitely see him there, but more likely you’ll hear him coming first.

When you meet him (and trust me—you will), you’ll find him very charming. He has a big smile, a big heart, and arms like tree trunks, so you always feel like “if some %$&* goes down, he’s got your back.” However, be careful because he’s so charming, it’s easy to get sucked into his world, and months from now, when you’ve totally forgotten who he is, he will call your cell phone on a random Tuesday morning at like 5:00 am, just to say “hi,” and he will act like you guys just had dinner last night. That’s it—-he’s got you in his Web, and this is just one of many calls to come when you least expect it, for the rest of your natural life.

The best way I can describe it is the way it was described to me by an attendee who befriended Vanelli one year. He said (and I quote), “I just want my life back.”

There are just a few simple rules to keep in mind when you see him at Photoshop World:

  1. Don’t look him directly in the eyes
  2. Don’t speak directly to him (only address him through an intermediary).
  3. Don’t sit near him in a class (remember, accomplices get arrested, too)
  4. Don’t give him your full name, or city where you live (he will visit you. Often).
  5. But whatever you do; don’t give him your cell phone number. Ever.

Also, another of his “scams” is to tell you that his cell phone is dead, and he needs to call home to talk to his kids, so he borrows your cell phone. But then he actually calls his cell phone from your phone, and ‘boom’—he’s got your number. Rookie mistake.

Of all the things I’ve told you about the Photoshop World conference, this may be the most important. Ask anybody. ;-)

(P.S. You guys know I’m just kidding right? Vanelli’s my buddy, and this is a long-running gag with everybody who knows and loves him. Well, I was kidding about everything but the cell number–I still wouldn’t give that to him. ;-)