Nobody starts out at the top. Everybody who’s built a career for themselves has paid their dues along the way. That means taking the lousy, exhausting gigs you don’t really want, and working harder and longer than everyone else for less (if any) recognition, all in hopes of gaining the ever-elusive “Experience.” It stinks, but that’s why the old saying goes, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”
And even then, you can still get the door slammed in your face. Providing a perfect example, producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Beck) tweeted a rejection letter he got from Abbey Road Studios in 1990 when he was just starting out.
Adding insult to injury, they didn’t even spell his name right! Many people would quite reasonably get discouraged after being turned down by the most-famous studio in the world.
For Godrich, however, it wasn’t the end of his story by a long shot; it just meant he had to knock on another door…and another one after that. As he revealed in a subsequent Tweet, “Ha! Actually, back at that time, I wrote about 100 letters asking for a job—because that’s how many studios there were in London!”
Making your career move forward is no easy thing—it takes talent, timing, social skills, patience and, yes, some luck. It also takes determination—as this letter (and perhaps the fact that he kept it for decades afterwards) inadvertently illustrate. Godrich kept going despite the setback, and today, the dismissive missive is an amusing footnote to a remarkable career.
What career setbacks inspired you to keep pushing forward?