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Lesson #1: Go In Search of Inexperience
Eastman quit his job at the bank, vowing to his bosses, “I will succeed!” Meanwhile, his co-workers and bosses alike were shocked that he would leave his lucrative banking job to pursue photography. Asking him to return, one of the bankers even wrote Eastman a letter that read: “What a foolish thing to do, to pursue this will-of-a-wisp, when you have such a promising career as a banker.”
He had not graduated from high school, let alone obtained a college degree. He had not even been involved with photography for more than a few months. Yet here was Eastman, determined to make a success out of his newest passion – the camera.
Eastman was living proof that experience is no deciding factor for success. In fact, it was his very lack of experience that propelled him forward, that gave him the optimism and hope that something better was possible.
What Eastman lacked in formal experience he made up for with dogged persistence and hard work. While working as an errand boy, he would spend his evenings pouring over accounting books in the hopes of getting a job that paid more than his then salary of $3 a week. His strategy worked, so he continued to do the same thing while working at the bank: using his evenings to learn more about whatever it was he needed to succeed.
Eastman knew that he did not need to be an insider in order to innovate. He did not need to be a college graduate in order to build a successful company. And, he did not need to know anything about cameras to first know that it was his passion.
It was the attitude of going in search of fellow inexperienced people that helped take Eastman’s company to the top. He did not want people that had been in business for 20 years to join him. He wanted the inexperienced, the hungry. He wanted people like him, who were self-taught and inspired to work because they were ambitious.
Along those lines, Eastman first hired Henry Reichenbach, a science student at the University of Rochester. Although not self-taught, Reichenbach had no prior experience with cameras. “We have a young chemist who devotes his time entirely to experiments and we hope he will strike the right emulsion sooner or later,” said Eastman of his new hire. “He knows nothing about photography, which is all the better.”
Much like you did not have to be a skilled photographer to use Eastman’s Kodak camera, neither did you have to be a model student or experienced business person to work for him. Eastman was inexperienced and he went in search of the same on the road to success.
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