This past week was a nostalgic one for me. ?Four big things happened, all in a single week.
- I hired Shred-it! to shred 20 years worth of final reports. That?s not a typo. Twenty years of final printed reports, some dating back to before company email, before PDF, back when I actually had hair, and back when fax machines and pagers were the bomb. I wrote a bunch of those reports and put them together myself. Some were even put together on a kitchen table in 1992. Phase I ESAs, Environmental Assessment Reports, Groundwater Monitoring Reports, UST Closure Reports, and the like. I remember most of them, particularly the early ones in my career, very clearly. Shredding them was tough emotionally.
- I chucked my college notebooks. Yes, I had actually kept almost all of the notebooks I used at Texas A&M, the University of South Carolina, and Duke University…until I threw them in the recycle bin over the weekend. ?That, too, was tough emotionally. Some of those notebooks dated back to before I bought my first Mac SE in 1987, some even before I had ever worked on a computer at all.
- I moved our Raleigh office to smaller digs two blocks away. ?No need for all that room anymore, no need for all of that environmental sampling equipment, either. We sold some of that gear to a friend, Eli Holland, who runs One Environmental, an environmental consulting firm in Raleigh and in four other cities.
- Kristen Oldham, our full-time controller, moved on to greener pastures. ?Friday was her last full day. In 2006, I hired her fresh out of college, when she was 16. Ok, she was actually 22 when I hired her. But she was still a kid. I threw her into an accounting role full-on, sink or swim, and she swam just fine. Led us through some good times and bad times and lately through our transition from traditional environmental consulting firm to a software company. And she learned a ton while at it. Like a little sister to me, I hate to see her go. But it?s the right move for her.
Nostalgia. ?From Merriam-Webster, it is defined as:
1: the state of being homesick
2: a wistful or excessively sentimental, sometimes abnormal, yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition
Looking Back at My Past
Looking through all of those reports my company created, the college notes that I wrote down while sitting through class 20 years ago, and reminiscing over some pictures I found of good ?ol times, I wished I was there again. I remembered exactly what it was like to be there…it felt just like yesterday that I was at A&M in the fall of 1983 learning crystallography, or hanging out with my college buddies at South Padre Island drinking a ton of crappy beers during spring break, or busting through some asphalt with a breaker bar at a Q-Lube auto shop in Charlotte in the middle of a hot summer day in 1994. I remember the excitement of picking up our first bank client in 1992 — First Tennessee Bank — to conduct a Phase I ESA at Park-Med Walk-In Clinic. I remember very clearly overseeing the removal of a 20,000-gallon #4 fuel oil tank from the JPS Carpet factory near Statesville, North Carolina, in 1995. I even remember sitting through the ASBOG exam on a Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1998.
For quite a few hours this weekend, I wished I could go back to all of those times. I even posted some of those old photos and reminisced with old friends on Facebook about it.
Looking Forward to My Future
I?m ready for a new journey. A new beginning. And that new beginning is software. Web apps. Smartphone apps. Data collection apps. Databases. Data exchange with other software products. I?m taking Terraine there, and hopefully, it will pay off. Like I have mentioned before, I see an opportunity in our industry where others, for some reason, don?t. It will be a tough hill to climb, but I?ve been preparing for it now for awhile.
Our first product out the gate is ezCoC;?it is currently exiting the beta stage. Our second product will be SF330Pro, coming out this summer. We are also working on a wetland delineation software product called SwampBase, which is a joint effort between myself and Marc Seelinger, founder of The Swamp School. And let?s not forget about Adesso, either. With Windows 8?just around the corner, I feel confident that Adesso will attract many new clients requiring custom database applications, especially as HP, Dell, Trimble, Panasonic, Nokia, HTC, and others start building Windows 8 phones and tablets this fall.
Will our software products succeed in the marketplace? Only time will tell. I feel confident that we are on the right side of history in that smartphones are here to stay, but whether or not we succeed financially at the software business is currently an unanswered question. Like most things, I suspect that some of our software products will do very well and others not as well.
We have a good team, are building relationships with many folks, are shedding unnecessary overhead, and are sharpening our focus on our new core. ?And at the end of the day ? regardless of financial success or not ? 20 years from now in the year 2032, if I am still alive, I will be able to look back with nostalgia on those good ?ol times in 2012 when I dared to try something different, to buck the trends of the day, to ignore the critics, and to take a stab at making an impact on the environmental consulting industry through my crazy software ideas.
It Happens in the Present
It?s your experiences today that give you nostalgia tomorrow. Go make something happen. Don?t regret your past. Be bold and make an impact. Now. Not tomorrow. Not when everything is just right, because it will never be ?just right?. Do it now!
I?m doing it in my own way, and so should you.