Yes, I retired at age 38.
Does that mean that I'm out on safari or sailing the world in my private yacht? Not exactly, but I do intend on traveling to distand lands and recording the sounds of those locations. What it does mean is this: I retired from working in a certain way and from providing my services in a certain way. I changed my business model. Let me explain. Up until December of 2005, the primary way that my business (and me) made money was to provide production services for our clients. That meant recording, editing, mastering, video production, tape transfers, audio cleanup and similar things.
Through the years of doing this, I got really good at my craft. To compare it to the martial arts world, I would probably be considered a "master" at my craft - though like martial arts, there's always things to learn. I was booked all the time (nights and weekends too) and working my ass off. The problem was, I hit the celing. There were only so many projects that I could effectively manage at one time, and keep my quality high. My business was providing me a living and nothing more, and I was a slave to the business I had created. That's not completely a bad thing. It's certainly better than having no income or having a job that you hate. But, anyone that knows me knows that I got into this field because I have a passion for media production - and that I enjoyed it. However, I didn't enjoy being a slave to my business.
Call it burnout, if you want, but that's what a lot of self-employed/sole proprietor people go through. Also, with age 40 fast approaching, I was looking at where I was in life and where I was headed. I'd accomplished a ton of things, and though I had a great life to that point (a really great life), I wasn't on track for where I wanted to be. That led me to do a lot of thinking (cue the smell of smoke).
I changed the game. Up till I was just about to turn 38, the "game" I created for my business had me serving one project at a time. Since there was only one of me, I could only focus on a single project. Yes, I know, hire someone. But, there is a better way. What if I changed the "game"? What if, instead of serving a single project or person, I could serve hundreds or even THOUSANDS at the SAME TIME? What if that was the "game"? So I retired.
Wait. I changed the game by quitting? No. However, I abruptly changed my direction. Before I retired, my business model of providing production services was the "cake". But, I had also made the "icing" for the cake. That was my CDs and CD-ROMs that I had released over the years, and my web site. My change of direction ditched the "cake" and changed the "icing" to become the "cake". I created an equation to describe this, and this equation literally changed my life:
Work on someone else's CD, get paid once. Work on your own CD, get paid for years!
Do you follow me? Does this sound selfish? It's not meant to be - especially when you can freely apply this "equation" to your life too. Oh, and feel free to substitute another object for "CD" like "building" or "web site" or whatever. Here's a quesiton: Who makes more money, the mastering engineer or the artist who OWNS the rights to the music on the CD? Well, in the very short term, the mastering engineer makes more money. But, 10 years down the road, who's made more off of that CD? The OWNER. Now, let me take a quick minute to state that it's not wrong in any way to work with or for someone. In fact, the best way to gain skills, experience and to learn is to work for and/or with someone. I've had very rewarding experiences (far beyond in value to what I was paid) working on other clients' projects that I wouldn't trade for anything. And I wish all the success possible to anyone who has the guts to put themselves and their work "out there" to the masses - whether I worked with them or not.
The world has changed. And, you're probably tired of hearing that. Or, like me, the changes are happening so fast that you hardly notice it. But here's the deal. We live in a time where there are more opportunities to connect, communicate, and serve others than there have been in any other time in human history. And we can do those things for next to nothing! Think about it. In 1989, if you wanted to get your message out to 1,000,000 people you'd have to spend huge amounts of money and purchase airtime on television, radio, and page space in newspapers. Mass communication was out of the hands of just about everyone but the super wealthy and large corporations. Not anymore. Not in "this" world of $350 laptops and $20 (or less) a month internet access.
The game I now play is: "Effectively serve millions of people. Entertain them. Inform them. Inspire them." How does a web site do that? In 2008, that's an easy question to answer. A web site is all about communication and connections. It brings people together from all over the globe. It brought you here. It provides useful information. And if created in a positive way, a web site can be of immense value to millions (possibly billions) of people.
OK, then how does selling people a CD do that? It does when a CD isn't a CD. That's right. A CD really isn't a CD, but it can be a lot of things. What if a CD helps to relieve stress and help people to relax? What if it takes people on a journey - providing an escape? What if a CD brings people back to their childhoods? What if a CD inspires people or makes them laugh? What if a CD can also make ANIMALS' lives better? If a CD can do all those things and more, then is a CD really just a CD? I mean, when you last purchased a CD, were you all excited because you had just acquired a new piece of metal and plastic with some cool looking artwork?
So, I retired because... "There is no spoon".