I was president of Hasselblad USA from 1987 to 1999 and left on terrific terms to play in the Internet with a company who made me an offer I couldn't refuse. However, hindsight is always 20/20 and my 2 1/2 years on an Internet start-up was like 7:1 in a dog's life, so it felt like 15!
Sometime in '93, I came into the office one morning furious. Mamiya America, our number one competitor, had done an ad congratulating Annie Leibovitz on her new exhibit. It didn't come out and say she was a Mamiya shooter, but the inference was obvious. So, I started thinking - what could we do that would pull together all the great names then using Hasselblad.
The answer was to launch two different weekend workshop programs, one in Santa Barbara at Brooks Institute, the other in Rochester at RIT. I don't remember who was teaching where, but on two different weekends at the end of the summer we had ten different industry icons teaching at each campus. The program was set up so that over a weekend each attendee could spend four hours with four instructors of their choice. Also, we had some evening programs featuring all the instructors, which added to the power of the event.
Sadly, I only remember Mary Ellen Mark being one of the instructors. We ran a double page spread featuring all the instructors in Petersen's Photographic announcing the program.
The program was a dismal failure. Nobody wanted to go to Rochester, although there was plenty of interest in Santa Barbara. However, we underestimated the popularity in Santa Barbara the weekend before Labor Day. Room rates were absurd. In the end, we quietly canceled both workshops.
But, this is where there really was a silver lining. The Hasselblad University logo, designed by our ad agency, Kalmar Ad/Marketing, won a couple of awards. It later would become the brand symbol for everything we did in education, which then became road shows with 3-4 speakers and 4-6 cities per series. It also became home for Tony Corbell, who joined us as the first and only Dean of Hasselblad University.
Well, it's Throwback Thursday, and I can't think of a better way to wander down one path of Memory Lane of my career than to think about those incredible days at Hasselblad. Take the time yourself today and look back on some chapter of your career - it's a terrific experience to look at where you are today by appreciating your roots and everything you learned along the way.