The Day I Got Fired Was One of the Best Days of My Life

Rich Tozzoli's studio setup

Introduction to the Unemployable Millionaire Entrepreneur series.

There I said it: One of the best days of my life was the day I got fired along with 5,000 others in a massive corporate layoff. Having gone to college for the obligatory Marketing/Business degree and then taking the expected commercial lending job at a monolithic bank, I was on the path to business stardom—or so I thought. I wasn’t far into that dream when the nightmare realization set in, “Holy  s#$*, this corporate life is not for me!” So, on that fateful and wonderful day when I was let go, I stepped out of my drab office and pumped my fists in the air in front of everyone…literally.

One of my biggest takeaways from that experience was that I committed to doing what I wanted to do professionally for the rest of my life, with no exceptions. However, in order to achieve that, I had to make many sacrifices, both professionally and personally. In my case, I had to go with what my heart, soul, and instinct told me to do, and that was a career in music.

Long story short, I went from hating my job to not being able to sleep some nights because I couldn’t wait to get up and get to work.

In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have your ear to the street and an eye on what’s next. I could tell which way the wind was blowing, it was clearly moving the industry towards digital recording, which was still in its infancy. Armed with a loan of $17,000 from a dear friend (which I paid back!), I was able to buy a cutting-edge digital recording system.

At that time, the way you learned new technology was by what we lovingly called RTFM, or read the f*#! manual. I literally took the 500-page hard copy manual and painfully dug into it, chapter by chapter. Many nights when my friends were out, I was home with my head in a book and my hands on the computer. It was about sacrifice, which is an essential part of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

With this powerful recording system and lucky word of mouth, I ended up working for some of the artists that I literally grew up listening to. I was recording with the likes of Ace Frehley, Al DiMeola, Billy Squier, Foghat and Deon. I even went on the road with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, with me in one bed of the tour bus and my recording setup in another. In a surreal experience, I ended up with the three of them, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer, and Keith Emerson standing in a semicircle behind me as I explained to them this new technology. This all happened because I took a chance with a loan, new technology, a lot of sacrifice and the desire to become one of the best at my craft.

Once again observing which way the wind was blowing on an industry-wide basis, I decided to jump into the world of 5.1 multi-channel mixing and recording, which delivered content to DVDs and surround sound television broadcasts. In a short time, I actually wrote the Pro Tools Surround Sound Mixing book and worked on multichannel mixes for artists ranging from David Bowie and Carly Simon to Hall & Oates, for which the team received a Grammy nomination.

Continuing to adapt and evolve, I noticed, by observing successful artists, that controlling your own royalties was the way to make a living. At this point, I transitioned into TV composing and once again made a conscious effort to become one of the best at my craft. Two carpal tunnel surgeries and well over the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000-hour mark later, I now have been on over 1,000 TV series in over 40 countries with almost 30,000 pieces of music. In addition, my expertise in the field of recording and mixing has allowed me to contribute countless articles to a wide variety of industry magazines.

While I value every ounce of my creativity, it’s important to remember that this is the business of music. Success is also about the carefully crafted team you build around you, which is an essential weapon in every entrepreneur’s arsenal. Never one to rest on my laurels, I still study relentlessly because the competition is right behind me at every step. I welcome the challenge because it pushes me to compete every day at the highest level possible. Was it all worth it? Absolutely.

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