The bad news is time flies, the good news is you're the pilot
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I always run amuck from my usual topics. This morning I'm wrestling with trying to understand where the years have gone. Tomorrow is fifty-one years since I came into the industry, and except for my body creaking for ten minutes before Sheila and I walk every morning, I don't feel older. And according to her, the only maturity I've shown is in my hair turning gray.
Somebody recently told me it was easy for me to write about business and marketing because "I'd made it already!" Well, while I've always had fun in most of the jobs I've had, but it sure didn't start as a career I'd grow to love.
I've been working on a fun book about my journey, which still hasn't slowed down. Here's where it started.
It's 1970, and I'm trying to find a job. Time Magazine has a picture of a college grad in cap and gown pumping gas! There are no jobs, and I've just completed 2 ½ years of being every parent's worst nightmare as a college student. I spent more time perfecting my pinball game than opening a book. I'd be on suspension, afraid of getting booted. I'd buckle down, get the grades, then start the cycle all over again. I wasn't stupid, just lazy, unmotivated, and unable to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up – No, I just didn't want to grow up!
Finally, they suspended me, and I needed to figure out what to do. I decided it was time to leave the nest. Say good-bye to Ohio and hello to New England. Found a job at Polaroid at $2.89/hour washing bottles in their research lab. It was the most I'd ever made, and it paid the rent on my basement apartment in Boston's Back Bay, which I shared with a few other tenants, 100,000 cockroaches!
I remember a quote from an article in the Boston Globe that year: "The cockroaches were in Boston before man, and they'll be here long after man is extinct!" Cuffed pants were the style, and before I left my apartment, I'd shake the cuffs to make sure I wasn't bringing my "roommates" with me to work! And these were the big ones, the kind you could jump on and skateboard down Newbury Street.
I owe so much to Polaroid and everything I learned over 17 1/2 years of working there. From going back to school nights on their tuition reimbursement program, to jobs in R&D, HR, Customer Service, International, and marketing, there wasn't a day that went by I didn't learn something about myself and business.
Here's my point this morning - take the time to appreciate your roots. Regardless of the path, you took to get to today - you've got time now to appreciate it. There are no guarantees on tomorrow, and you can't change what happened yesterday.
But there is something extraordinary as you look back on your roots in this industry. Do an inventory of everything you've learned over the years. For me, it's volumes and all thanks to an incredible collection of people I've met and worked with since I started.
Polaroid as a Fortune 500 company may no longer exist today, but the memories and the friendships are still around. I still can't answer the question of where all the time and years went, but then again, who cares? Time really does fly when you're having a good time.
And if there's one lesson I've learned - if you're unhappy with something, then change it! It's not easy, but you've only got one life, and it's not a rehearsal.
Wishing everybody a day with no regrets and time to appreciate where you started right through to this very moment. And with Super Bowl today - I'm all ready - Go Bucs!
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
PS The shot of my first apartment in Boston was one of my first LUMIX images - captured with a GH3 and LUMIX G VARIO 12-35/F2.8 with a slight adjustment in clarity using Luminar.)
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.