“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” – W. H. Auden
By 1983, the ads on TV had convinced me how a desktop computer was the perfect choice for a young business like mine. With dreams of creating newsletters, tracking sales, and communicating more quickly, I knew this new technology was just what we needed to set us apart from the rest.
I was ready for the challenge, so I picked the closing weeks of the year to start learning how. I thought I could have the system mastered over Christmas, then when our customers got back to work in the new year, they’d be greeted by the first edition of The Clover, our own in-house newsletter.
That was to be my worst Christmas ever.
It’s hard to remember, but those early days of computing were a challenge for many of us. That was the age of DOS, without Windows and its graphical user interface to make computing easy.
In ‘83, there was no mouse; no point-and-click. Everything was executed on the keyboard, and done with keystrokes. Ugh! I’d taken “Typing 101” but this was different.
After a few days of struggling, I finally managed to get it hooked up. Then, I started on the software.
The writing on the boxes told me how WordPerfect would let me do the office letters and mailings; dBase would store the data; and Lotus 1-2-3 would perform the math, even keep my books in balance.
But alas, as simple it sounded, I couldn’t get it to work.
By luck, a local college had started a beginning computer class that was meeting in the evening. I enrolled – but was still hopelessly lost. Finally, after a few weeks in class, I asked my teacher for advice.
His answer surprised me. While part-time teaching was okay, Chris Morris hoped to find a company where he could put his knowledge of computers to work.
At first, the idea of hiring a computer expert sounded silly, but then I thought of how by having Chris, the expert, in our office, I could be where I belonged, out in my customer’s kitchens, selling the groceries that paid our bills, instead of stressing out over how to write code.
It was an easy hire. In no time, Chris had it all working. McIntyre and Company (later McIntyreSales) was computing and all from one desk. Over time, when we needed larger and faster systems, Chris was beside me every step of the way.
Chris was able to do what I could not. McIntyreSales would never have enjoyed the success we did without people like him.
Thank you Bill Gates and everyone at Microsoft. You introduced me to Chris and a long line of others who have been placed, “…here on earth to help others.”
I’ll bet there have been “others” in your life, the people like Chris. Who were they? How did they help? How did you know the right time to ask? Did you go on alone for too long, or maybe give up too soon?
Tell me about skills you have that will keep you from being the ones W. H. Auden asks about when he wonders, “…what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.”
If Charlie Chaplin could get this much work done, then so could I, and I could do it all alone! Oh, the crazy power of advertising!