January 14, 2019 - Robert John Hadfield
How Did I Get Here?
Gratitude Meets the Macintosh Chronicles
In 1994, after several years of hard work and study, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising. But rather than jump into corporate America right away, I put my degree on a shelf while I pursued a career in music. Things looked promising for a while, but by 1998 it was becoming clear that I should start considering a more “normal” career path.
I had been a performing musician since I was 15, so I couldn’t imagine a career that didn’t involve music or audio in some way.
I decided I should take my training in the world of advertising and combine it with the new world of computer-based digital audio and video production. The problem was, I had almost no idea how to use a computer. I had only recently been introduced to email!
So on the recommendation of a friend, I bought my first Macintosh computer in January of 1998. Along with the Macintosh computer I bought video software, audio production tools, 3D animation and special effects resources. I also bought graphics software and web design programs.
Over the next two years I read thousands of pages in manuals and muscled my way through hundreds of tutorials. I even did some ad hoc projects for the company I was working for at the time.
By 2000 my skills had grown enough that I landed a job in the marketing department of a small company. And by the end of 2001 I had enough clients that I struck out on my own. I built a small recording studio in the basement of my house and I started picking up clients doing audio and video work, graphics and web design. It was an exciting time for me, things were in an almost constant state of change; and I love change.
One day I came across a box of old cassettes with recordings of band rehearsals, high school events and song ideas. Some were over twenty years old! So I decided to use my little studio to copy them to my computer for a permanent digital archive.
Little did I know this would change my life.
As I was digitizing my tapes I thought, “I wonder if there are people out there who would be interested in doing this?” So I posted this new service on my web site and thought, if I was lucky, it might make enough money to pay my electric bill every once in a while.
Over the next few months my phone started ringing and packages began showing up at my house. In a very short period this accidental idea turned into a legitimate business. As time went on I expanded from 1 cassette deck to over 60 cassette decks. Dozens of Macintosh comptuers, a handful of PCs, and digital audio interfaces were added to the studio. Our list of clients quickly advanced into the thousands.
Here we are, closing in on two decades later and it’s stronger than ever. What was intended to be nothing more than a little income diversification turned into an all-encompassing business. This little enterprise has created jobs for a few dozen people and we have digitized over 100 million feet of audio tape.
Of course I had no idea what was ahead of me when I pulled that first Macintosh out of the box in 1998. And I couldn't have imagined the future when I digitized that first cassette tape in my basement studio.
I suppose that most of us can look back at our lives and marvel at the strange pathway that led us to our current position.
If you are like most people, that pathway is filled with tragedies, triumphs and everything in between. And if we are wise, we will be grateful for all of it. That pathway is also filled with people who nudged you, encouraged you, cautioned you, and walked with you. As I wrote this blog I realized that I needed to reach out to the woman who encouraged me to buy that first Macintosh twenty years ago and thank her for the role she played in my journey - so I sent her a short note last night. It brought back memories and positive feelings from a part of my life I rarely think about anymore.
Invoking gratitude can lift your mood and change your perspective in an instant. It’s a tool that perhaps we don’t use nearly enough.
Today, give a heart-felt "thank you" to someone who doesn’t expect it.