Fruit and Robots : Are they worth it?

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Octopus 8 Studios launched its first mobile/tablet title in 2013 on iOS, and Android on 2014. Oddlight, as our game is called; featured an interesting new way of interacting with the game which we coined as ‘perpetual touch’. It was new, quirky and different. It sold some copies.

 Has it sold as many as it deserved?  No, I don’t think so. Our team worked hard on the game, and produced a fun and interesting  quirky mobile title that deserved more.

We had worked with the guys who designed the game throughout, and bringing it to market was going to be a challenge which we wanted to be transparent about. Firstly, Octopus 8 is a largely philanthropic venture – we give a very large share to the team of revenue, partially because we’re not funded but also because we want to not just nurture and develop new talent but to reinforce the beliefs of our founders (us) which is that the direct profits of your labor be felt by those who do the work.

What this did mean, was that there was zero marketing budget. We had a lot of research to suggest that unless we had mega-bucks, and even then; marketing on mobile titles is pretty hit and miss. Without any money to risk – it was an easy decision.

 

Funding for our studio may come one day, but for now this gives great shared values to the publishing/support team at O8S and the development groups with which we work. Everyone was pretty damn happy about the revenue share – but it did get to the point where we started thinking about the platforms we had released on and what we were getting for what the slice of pie they cut themselves. It’s an interesting consideration.

At one point, getting your game out on a mobile platform gave you a huge captive audience where you could get a large amount of potential sales however, it could be argued that as time goes on this value diminishes. This market continues to become incredibly saturated – everyone wants to jump on the quick buck mobile bandwagon, and who can blame them?

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Perhaps it’s a better situation with Windows phones. I think it’s been pretty well argued that even with a lot less Windows phone owners, the low competition in games makes it more worthwhile. But that’s another story.

 Imagine if you’d had the Apple/Android situation with boxed games ‘back in the day’. Retailers would have needed a bigger boat. So to speak…  That’s both the strength, and weakness of this type of medium. But I digress.

Going back to our fruity robot friends, we’ve established that they cast your game into the veritable ocean of titles and they handle the billing. That’s cool. But it’s a hefty price to pay given that there’s not really much else they do to help your product sell, and maybe they can’t given the circumstances.

No one seems to know how Apple and Android decide whose games to promote. Everyone I have asked believes there’s some form of arcane blood magic or chaos theory behind it. Given these seemingly incomprehensible methods,  promotion from them is something you can safely assume you won’t be getting included for your ‘money’.

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What about help and support? Well, when we published in China  we had a lot of problems with jail broken copies of our games on published websites. Our appeals for help from the ‘big guys’ who we figured would be interested in people muscling in on their share as well – met silence.

I can understand that. Dealing with piracy in China could be an intimidating issue even for the likes of our friends in high places and fancy offices with free candy, unicycles or whatever the hell they’ve introduced recently. Also, what is the value to them? Little, unless you’re in the business of smashing candy or dealing with furious avians, in which case you’re probably ok.

I don’t have a problem with any of this, really. But is there an opportunity here?

If you’re not going to promote my game with or for me, and you’re not going to really support us in any way bar stick it up there and take a chunk – shouldn’t that be a smaller chunk now? Shouldn’t that perhaps be in some way related to how many downloads in order to motivate you to have the product succeed too?

It feels like the mobile and tablet world might have a space for some bright new aggressive competitor.

This someone, who isn’t afraid to find a way to make it happen for a smaller slice or a better service.

There’s a ton of holes in the argument and there are a lot of reasons why it might not be possible. I know all of that.

But then aren’t we in the business of making the impossible possible? Don’t we look to challenge the status quo?

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Times are a changing, maybe this might too?

 

 

 

 

Are MMO’s dead, or worse still – Undead?

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Well now, that’s a pretty extreme way to title a post isn’t it?

I thought it appropriate to follow-on from my last post talking about MMO’s. A lot of the last ten years of my life has been working with MMO’s specifically, and with years on World of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls Online, as well as my considerable playing experience elsewhere – most notably Everquest, this is a topic I have discussed a number of times.

As a friend remarked on my last post, “I think I’m too old to sit and grind again” and re-reading my words I can see that it might be seen to suggest that I thought that the hours of waiting and performing repetitive stuff was still a good plan.

Grinding should be now long dead, as are super-hard slightly elitist hardcore MMOs, unless you’re looking for a different demographic which, in my opinion is a bit more niche and motivated by different things. An accessible, non-easy mode game which has that tinge of fear and challenge is probably a good starting point, but that’s just one of the questions which any new breakthrough MMO needs to answer, isn’t it?

If they’re going to be large scale, and have a chance of having the content, polish and quality to make them long term and widespread hits enough to sustain a community – you’re going to need a fair amount of people and a lot of development time. Herein lies what is likely the biggest problem for this type of game. When you need years to make it, how do you bring it out at the end not feeling dated in approach, mechanics and styling? Sure, you can ‘incorporate’ some of your rivals’ ideas that come out while you’re making your game – we’ve seen that a lot in competing games, but it doesn’t change the core game play that right now, even tweaked and polished – feels crusty, old and dated. Even if you do succeed in all of the above to some extent – could you gamble correctly on the right amount of infrastructure to support your launch without overdoing it given that you may see a big drop if things aren’t amazing after 30 days?

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I see some things that SOE are trying to do which feel new, I hope it feels good, exciting new and challenging as I said before, I know other big budget MMO’s are launching this year too – but what I hear from many reviewers strikes the same chord over and over again: “This game doesn’t look/feel particularly innovative or different”. Albert Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” How about that?

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How can these games be long time involvement based, community strong MMOs and still successful ? Are we destined to go down the quick gratification jump in, jump out glory path of World of Tanks, War Thunder (which I love) and League of Legends? Can we sustain big enough audiences now to make it ‘worth it’ unless we are in that ‘quickfire’ bracket? Here’s some food for thought.

Back in the days of DAOC and EQ, expectations were a little different. Subscriber numbers and concurrent players were a fraction of what they were after World of Warcraft crushed the mould of these games. It opened up a massive audience by making the genre accessible, and what has happened over time is that huge audience has now fanned out into many different MMOs and MOBAs and similar (also being fed in part by the former Counterstrike type crowd who also online FPS). So we’re seeing many communities with these smaller and focused communities not too unlike the sizes of EQ and DAOC days, yet without the mainstream acceptance of the now highly questionable subscription model and with what are perhaps a poorly aligned set of publisher expectations.

So, the question could also be – should expectations now be that a highly fractured audience can be plundered a little here and a little there to form a new tight, but frankly not WoW-sized community for a new game? This would require lower budgets and working a lot smarter to better match risk vs. reward. If not, if we’re still going to see people going down the “We want and expect millions of subscribers” route, then how are any company going to be able to produce something truly fresh and genre defining to again repeat the phenomenon of World of Warcraft?

Look how many promising companies working on (maybe not so promising) MMO’s went down amidst the struggle of getting something out quick enough and good enough to get out of the red and into the black at least. Game studio survival has been on par with your average member of the Walking Dead cast. It’s not been a pretty sight these last few years in the industry.

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It’s an exciting time to be a fan of massively multiplayer with the Blizzard, Riot, Wargaming and other giants still duking it out; and others such as ZeniMax about to enter the fray. I wonder how many will retreat, bloodied over the next 12 months or if we will see a victor…for now.

Where did all of the magic go?

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When I think back to what is probably my favorite game of all time – Everquest; it can be difficult for me to really understand why, with all of the technology and years of design experience and user feedback we haven’t made something which has captured me in quite the same way.

I recall the charm of the environment sounds, a true awe at the feeling of being inside a massive dangerous and unexplored world. It was also not without its shocks, my first wander to a small outpost hut in Commonlands resulted in being chased down and beaten very swiftly to death by the guards. Somehow, even though there were set ‘camps’ and such unpleasant mechanics as ‘training’ to wipe out other players through using either divided zone walls or the feign death ability – it had a charm I don’t think I have quite felt since. I haven’t  felt  the rush of achievement from killing a boss mob in any game I played since EQ in the same way, although needing to coordinate 72 people to kill things which would eradicate you all within seconds  if a small mistake was made that then required hours of corpse retrieval certainly makes you feel that risk.

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I left Norrath when I joined Blizzard to work in a different country and had the chance to play their game. WoW’s amazing graphics and sleek, swish game play were so beguiling that I was swept up. Much like a child’s old soft toy – left behind in the cupboard when the new Christmas gifts come out of their box, I was hooked. I returned to my faithful Troll Shadowknight and Dark Elf Necromancer no more.

I love both World of Warcraft and Blizzard in a different way. It was the most incredible company I have worked for to date, with so many diverse and talented people. Their games are always enchanting, fun and challenging too. I just still missed everything we had back in those days in Norrath. There was something missing – perhaps just nostalgia?

Having invested so much time in WoW, I found I could not get along with EQ2 no matter how hard I tried. I think it was just an ‘either or’ situation for me where getting into both was impossible. I have filled my time with one failed attempt to recapture the ‘magic’ after another, turned over nearly every stone in the MMO pile without finding a source of that joy. Fast forward to now…

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I have just been playing GTA V, and massive Kudos to Rockstar for a huge and beautifully created world. As I said elsewhere, it’s somehow so reminiscent of California that it made me homesick for my ‘second home’. Sadly again, even in a huge sandbox world, I grew quickly distracted – bored with repetitive missions where as in EQ I used to spend hours doing repetitive grinding with joy. I find this so weird; I can’t truly understand the reasons. Admittedly there was a big social aspect to EQ that GTA V may have when they open their world to multiple players, but I just can’t see it. Even my pilgrimage tomorrow to buy FIFA14, (which as a franchise is definitely my other all time most played) is unlikely to truly scratch the itch that my Norrathian adventures left me feeling.

I can’t believe that as you get older the magic of a game you can stay with for a very long time and build a long and enduring love with whimpers and dies. I won’t accept that I can’t be lit up with awe at a world and adventure so huge and yet accessible that I will stay the course. Everquest Next is on the horizon.  I’m very excited, waiting with bated breath and just a little bit of fear.

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Please don’t let games which require longer term investment be dead to me, I’m ready to come home to Norrath. I don’t want that ship to have sailed.

With that, gentle reader…I leave you for today. Do you have cherished memories that new games fail to recapture? Do you think we’re all destined to be unable to re-live that feeling as we age? Somewhere, maybe not so far away from you – I’m crossing my fingers really hard that isn’t true.

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT

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As some of you may know, I recently opened a studio based upon helping young breakthrough talent get into games. It’s currently unfunded, but my partners and I wanted to prove concept before going into the Lion’s Den of presentation hell. We have a smart idea that we know is an excellent opportunity, but telling a bunch of business supremos who are likely pretty jaded about crazy ideas they hear every day is another matter.

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We are confident it’s the right thing to do, but right now, but it certainly doesn’t pay the bills and I have been looking around for another position to take on, I know that the studio can be done as a dual thing with another position, because we’ve set it up in such a way as that’s possible. Looking for a great, meaningful place to work, while taking care of things isn’t easy – but what’s life without a challenge?

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I have spent a few days pondering the subject of this next blog. My last one was all about the problems which face potential entrants into the business, along with some explanation of the reasons they meet those barriers.  I didn’t feel that a follow up to that was needed, and a discussion of my job search would be a little too much like narcissism for my liking.

I settled on three challenges that I have experienced while setting up the studio. Perhaps one day it will be doing great, or maybe it will fade into obscurity without making a mark – but to me, it stood out as a big step in getting something I believed in going.

So, dear readers- here are a few things for those of you considering your own enterprise/start-up/break dancing clown troupe.  I picked out three things that really bothered me, and still do, but were dealt with, and hopefully discussing here will help you to overcome.

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(I’m just including this for those who might have thought the clown thing was bogus.)

Don’t mitigate success:

Confidence (which I have a fair amount of) aside; the enormity of taking on something new, and forming that void of nothingness into the clay of greatness is really daunting.  It’s like standing beneath a giant building and looking up, knowing that you have just done a supermarket run so the elevator/lifts are, by the acts of fate guaranteed to be temporarily unavailable. Where to start? Such a climb! Yes indeed…

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Against my better judgment, I have found myself questioning again and again (even today) whether it could ever be successful. Could my partners care as much as I do? Could we really follow through and deliver? Will it make money? What do they use to ship Styrofoam? Why doesn’t glue stick to the bottle? Anyway…

None of that is completely Illogical, because your natural instincts are continually reminding you of the risks in order to calculate and mitigate them. It’s part of the whole fight or flight mechanism that used to try to tell us not attempt to take on a Tyrannosaurus Rex wearing just a loin cloth and armed with the caveman equivalent of a plastic teaspoon.

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All too often we give into our fear and turn back. Do you have regrets? About life, career, love or where you are today? Many people do, and one reason that I think adds value to you hearing it here, is that those of you who haven’t even begun know that it’s coming from someone who hasn’t yet succeeded – but is working to try.

It’s all very well hearing from a top company founder and super rich success story about this, but it’s often hard to identify with them. Believe me though; it’s particularly relevant when you haven’t yet made it big. Don’t give up, listen to those voices, then store them away and move on. If you take too long worrying it over, you are at a huge risk to give up. You can’t possibly succeed if you don’t try.

Patience:

I could really be a more patient person. It’s something that I have worked on, and its better now but I know that I’m certainly not the type to enjoy sitting waiting for a fishing line to twitch, or for a particular species of wildlife to appear for a photograph.

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When it comes to your endeavor, some things do take a little time. Knowing that you need to have things in place correctly before you start seeing some progress can be maddening. It’s especially frustrating when there are a lot of moving parts to come together in something (which there usually are). Unless you’re a solo entity doing the work (and even then, sometimes) not everything is under your control. It is critically important to trust those you work with, while ensuring they’re accountable for what they do whether it is as your supplier, partner or whatever your business requires. I’ll admit that a part of this being listed is because of my own deficiency, but it’s something that I know is critical to getting things right.

Remember why:

Even in the early days of an endeavor, or if you’re in a tough spot which at times I think could be constant for some of us – don’t forget why you are doing it all. For us, some of the things we really wanted to do with our studio was to help people and give something back, we want to be a nice studio, not naïve but also far from the corporate beast which many think consume integrity like fossil fuel, and spit out the pieces of those who got them there as they progress. Personally I want to work with people who I like and respect, who I know bring something special to a group that I am part of – and I want to be able to do what is right, or as close as any of us are ever able to do. These are not all our guiding principles by the way, but they’re enough for me to show to you to help you understand that they are towers of strength to lean upon when there’s ever a question of why. We’re early in our overall process so many of these hard times are ahead – which is a bit ominous right? Be prepared. Just like a boy scout – but hey, drop the uniform.

That might be weird at your age.

So you want to be a game dev?

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After some discussion on my Twitter, (which you can follow @isntitrich by way of shameless plug) I said I would talk about the challenges of the new game developer, and their struggles getting into the industry on my next blog.

In the Games Industry, the barrier for entry is an issue which can be deeply disheartening and hard to understand.

In the musical Bugsy Malone, (for those of you who might have been around long enough to remember it) the boxer prospect and reluctant sidekick of our hero goes to a boxing gym to find out if he ‘has it’.

You can listen to it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm4PFcJvLh4

(Just for the record: I don’t own this video, get any money for it and other disclaimers.) Basically this one is handy and has the lyrics for those not familiar. As in all things, don’t sue me.

There are a few lines in the song, which is extremely (de)motivational that struck a chord for people who I have spoken to about their efforts getting into the Games business, most notably:

“So you might as well quit if you haven’t got it.”

“We’ll show him the ropes, and destroy his hopes…”

“Well pulp him to bits, then he’ll call it quits.”

Overly harsh perhaps, but for someone who has tried their best to get into the business of making games, whether it be into programming, art, design or whatever; it’s a big wall to climb.

Our studio, (which is currently in stealth mode and I can’t talk about much yet) is very much focused on the idea of helping those with the talent to get an opportunity, but even all going well – we’ll be just one organization and we won’t be able to do everything that we’d like for everyone.  What I can do here in the meantime is answer a couple of the main questions that I have heard, and explain the reasons why it’s not something that’s likely to change in many studios.

 “Why won’t established studios give the new guy with talent a chance?”

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My answer might not be what you want to hear. I do want to explain though, in the hope that it makes things a little clearer and helps people to understand the reasoning. I’m not saying I agree, but with many organizations they are making sure they give themselves the best chance for success. That means mitigating risk, and by the way, in this case – that’s you.

In the same way that, (in my opinion) having an unrelated college/University degree isn’t particularly relevant to many jobs, industry experience is another filter that an employer can use to streamline applicants. There are a lot of applications coming in through a recruiting team and they want the best of the best.  If that seems harsh, here are a few reasons why:

–          A lot of ‘first jobbers’ have no real understanding of how to act in a workplace. If you’ve just come out of education it can be a culture shock, even in the laid back world of gaming. Having to teach people the basics of how to interact in a business can be seen as a hassle and drain on management resources. No Producer or Manager wants to hire someone if they fear that they won’t know how to interact with others, work in teams or behave appropriately in the studio and its culture.

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What you can do about this?

If you’re coming out of education and can’t show any specific work experience, consider getting some. Make it relevant to the type of work you want to do in games and when you show it on your CV/Resume make sure it touches on all the points about working in an office environment, in a team and understanding some of the business side of things. Working as a stock assistant in a record store won’t get extra points for audio jobs, for example.

Volunteering is great if it gets you better background to put down. It can also show strength of character that you will do what is necessary even without immediate (financial) reward. I won’t tell you how to write that, my own skills in writing those need work, but from a hiring manager perspective it can give comfort if elegantly done.

Also, just a personal opinion here- but saying that you were head of a business or similar when it’s clear that it is your home based online soft cheese sales warehouse with a staff of one won’t impress. Real experience working alongside real people, with all their quirks, flaws and uniqueness will help you be ready for a high paced dynamic environment. Certainly in one studio I have worked with, there were a ton of quite inexperienced but hugely high potential employees, as a result every meeting or project was a nightmare to deal with because of the egos, posturing and inability to work with their fellow humans. Let’s all remember, if part of your culture is “challenge constraints”, it should not also say “while being a dick” if you’re going to succeed as a people driven organization.

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–          Recruiting, paperwork, relocation and material resources for any new employee are expensive.

While everyone is talking about the progressive approach of having people work from home and remote online working being the way forward, the realistic (and unfortunate) reality is that many companies struggle with trust and control issues which end up with a situation where the only people who ‘work from home’ end up being the top bosses. There’s a lot more to be said on this subject, particularly regarding the impression this sort of policy can have on those unable to reap its benefits, but that’s probably too far down a rabbit hole for me to wisely go. This means effectively, especially as a non-veteran employee you’re almost certain to be working in the office all day, there’s the desk, chair, hardware, software and all the other bills that go with that for a start. That isn’t cheap, and it’s another concern which is against any borderline hire.

A first games job employee is often assumed (wrongly in my opinion) high risk for failure, and repeating the hiring process if someone doesn’t work out is harmful to overall studio productivity as well as destabilizing to the team and repeat work for the support HR/recruiters. It’s not just as simple as the extra time and money on going through the hiring process again, it can and often does hurt morale losing an employee.

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What can you do about this?

This one is tricky, because more than half the problem for you is getting through the door; you’re unlikely to even be able to have a chance to sit down and make your case that you’re reliable, dedicated and all that. You need to go back to the idea of being able to show that you can complete projects, work with others and maintain high levels of reliability while picking up new skills quickly and hitting the ground running. In this particular case much depends on what you want to do. For example as a community aspirant, you may be able to provide solid stats, examples and show successes for fan sites you have been responsible for, double points in many cases if they are sites respected by the hiring manager! If you are an artist that does work on request, can you provide a solid portfolio with order requests and completion dates regularly within the timeframe with some reviews and positive feedback? If you’re skilled at incorporating a level of both being above the standard resume/CV format and targeting these concerns, there’s no guarantee but you may allay some of those fears. If your portfolio isn’t awesome or if they have an application from someone as good in whatever your area is AND with experience, you may not win.  You make your own luck by tilting the odds in your favor as much as you can, but luck and good fortune is not always exactly the same thing. Sometimes you need both in your corner (the boxing theme, see what I did there?)

These are just a couple of examples of common areas where those without experience are falling down, in time perhaps there will be other alternatives, but for now – you absolutely need to do everything you can to give yourself the best chances.

Find places where you can network with developers or game people. Get active online where that they might read your posts. Make those posts high quality and ensure it’s a consistent name/presence you can name drop later. Follow up where appropriate with social networking but avoid creepy dev stalking at ALL costs!

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Networking in the industry, which is is small and sadly often quite nepotistic; is useful. Getting a restraining order is almost always a hindrance to job seekers.

Getting the chance to speak to the right people in a positive light is another way to help get your chance. Don’t rely on empty relationships to succeed though; if you’re going to really make it in games and be successful you need to do amazing work. If you’re not there, don’t give up but be realistic. Get help and keep improving whenever you can, we never stop learning. Make sure you get good advice along the way, because if you’re not good enough to cut it in games, you need to do that learning and getting better before you continue to try or you will be beating yourself bloody trying to get in. It’s highly competitive, and hopefully…so are you. Just don’t forget – there’s no ‘jerk’ in ‘competitive’.

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Disney quotes for Entrepreneurs

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I read a recent post somewhere which was awesome! It talked about Disney quotes, and how some of them were deep and pretty full of awesome meaning. I couldn’t resist looking around to dig up some that really apply to Entrepreneurs.

Let’s start out with one from the very Emperor of Ice cream in the Disney Universe himself – Walt Disney.

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Appropriately for a man who built his empire on hopes and dreams, that’s what the first is all about. Walt said:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” Which as a quote, Charlie Sheen would no doubt agree; is winning?

He also said:

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” This quote is poignant, and beautiful; yet as simple as outwitting a Kardashian. It’s one of my favorites.

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In ‘The Lion King’, Rafiki says something that we should all hold close to our hearts. He explains:

“Yes, the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you either run from it, or learn from it.”

How often do we put bad experiences behind us for the sake of what is easy? I think we all know that its simpler to shut those doors on the painful, awkward and just plain bad things which have happened to us. Rafiki had the right of it though. Being overly gentle with your feelings will help you less in the long run than having the courage to examine in detail where things could have been better handled. It also adds a delicious extra layer of cake-like insulation against repetition of failure in the future.

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In Mulan, the Emperor had some choice words which could be motivating, particularly in difficult times when he said:

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all”

It’s a rehash of the idea that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but the romantic in me much prefers the idea of it making us more beautiful.

This might help you through a bad day, if so…give the Emperor a silent thank you, ok?

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While we’re talking about getting through the bad times, and slugging on regardless there’s a particularly beautiful passage in Cinderella. Our glass slipper wearing lady herself explains:

“A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I absolutely adore this. When I read it, I keep expecting a line of blue birds to appear at my window and start singing while comedy mice spring-clean my house. That would be kinda nice, thinking about it – any animals wishing to do so, please feel free. As for Cinderella herself, anyone who can put up with wearing glass high heels for a party gets my vote.

Come on now fairy godmother, glass high heels, really? holy crap that has to hurt.

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So, assuming that you are following all this wonderful Disney advice, things should be looking up, if only in spirit on occasion! Disney’s cast of may also have a few reminders for us personally too, that I think are worth thinking closely upon, from time to time.

“Always let your conscience be your guide.” Is a good one for us all to remember. This one is thanks to Pinocchio!  And while Pocahontas reminds us that “Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.” I’m not so sure that too many of us will go with Snow White and her take on things when she recommends: “What do you do when things go wrong? Oh! You sing a song!”

Then again, you know…whatever floats your boat I suppose.?

It’s hard to see things quite so positively as Mary Poppins and her suggestion that

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” But that might just be the point. It’s down to us to find or make that fun, if you enjoy it – it’s not work as the saying goes.

“All it takes is Faith and Trust” according to Peter Pan, which is a nice idea, but that’s probably more applicable in NeverNeverLand, maybe we can all work on importing a bit more of both of those qualities though? It might just make the next generation of companies a joy to behold, don’t you think?

I’d like, if I may…to end with my favorite Disney character of all. Tigger. Yes, I know AA Milne and all that. But the Tigger I love is Disney through and through. I chose this quote from him, because I think it touches on something that often is in danger of getting forgotten in business.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Never, no, never. Your friendship is the best present ever.”

Wisdom indeed, that’s the wonderful thing about Tiggers…

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As always, I recognize not everyone has a WordPress account and can/wants to comment here. Please feel free to write, comment or whatever takes your fancy (within legal/sane boundaries) to isntitrichblog@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

Doing your own thing. What the barber thinks…

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I’m sure you’re going to wonder where this post is going based on the next line.

I got my haircut today. Whoa! hang in there, stay with me…

While talking to the guy trimming my mop, the discussion inevitably came around to work. I explained to him that, amongst looking around for the right opportunity at the moment – I had gotten together with a couple of friends who I like and respect and we were hoping to work for ourselves by building a Games Studio.

As a guy who had his own business, I was interested in his reaction. I found it quite interesting. He became more animated, more dynamic and almost glowed with pride during the discussion, whereas before this point he had been more reserved by far.

“Forget those other things you’re looking at – go for it yourself. It will be hard but you’ll never regret it overall.” he said “You might worry from minute to minute, day to day or even longer – but you will not regret the experience. ”

So. That was the take of my groomer today.

I asked him why he felt that way, particularly without knowing a great deal about my business, my capabilities or lack of them and certainly without an idea of financial position or motivation.

More interestingly, he answered with a few questions which were pretty thought provoking.

He started out with:
“Ok, think about it this way. Which people that you know are happiest or seem most satisfied in their careers?”

I answered that yes, those people I know who work for themselves or with friends seem much happier. In my case, the possible exception/addition would be those I know in education, all of which seem particularly happy with their choice of career.

He nodded,

“So, you have heard that saying about never regretting anything when you look back at your life at ‘the end’?”  I nodded again, mute and by now not really knowing where this was going but drawn to it like a moth to a candle.

“My Dad has worked for himself on and off; he gets past a really tough patch and gives up. It’s only when after working for someone else for a while he’s back on the working for himself idea again. It’s been going on for years. He’s still in the same place he was before, very unhappy and regrets giving up. But you haven’t even started with any conviction, have you? Do you regret the years you didn’t give it a go that have already passed?”

regret

He seized on the latter part of his question after I had (at least partially conceded) I have worked for some great companies, and I wouldn’t have changed much during those years for sure!

“Working 40 odd hours a week with a commute somewhere that you can’t be around your loved ones, your pets (in most cases) or an environment you really want to spend your time in is outdated. People want to work from home, on the internet or in their chosen place whether that’s a farmer in a field or a socialite behind a cocktail bar.”

club_tropicana_resized

His point was certainly valid; though I will admit I considered the idea of part time and online work but found pretty much 100% scam, pyramid or entry level pay websites. Furthermore I just don’t have the network to find a person who needs a more senior level leader working remotely.  Perhaps that’s just my fault for not having found the right people to help!

“How do you think I should pay my bills until my studio makes money then?” I asked him, explaining that a game (Product) will take a fair while to make and even with a business model which is based upon getting a proof of concept in the market before trying for funding – it doesn’t pay for my existence.

Here’s where I got in return. A bit more interesting background on my scissor wielder.

He explained:
“Before I did this, which I always loved – I worked in the Travel industry. I was an Executive in a quite well known Business Travel organization. It was when i needed a new position that problems finding the right job pushed me in this direction.” He paused, as though letting this sink in…

“At a senior level, which you sound like you are – Agencies won’t get many jobs come in, and no matter what they tell you –  for people like me then or you now, that model is hopeless because unless the right role is there, they won’t do much work apart from throw out a few letters for you. Also, if you’re looking around, you must not know someone who happens to have something available for you. Am I right?”

I conceded that this was a pretty fair reflection of my recent experiences.

“So, given that unless the right job just happens to be there and that you don’t have someone in your network who has the job waiting for you – and working on the assumption that agencies won’t really fight for you, because that isn’t the most cost effective way of them working – where does that leave you?” He stopped snipping and smiled in the mirror. I looked back; a little uncomfortable because it was more detail than I really had planned on discussing with my coiffeur.

“It leaves you with what you probably should be doing anyway – putting all your effort into the freedom of working your own business, and finding a way no matter how hard it is. It might not succeed first time, but you know that every hour and all your effort goes into your pocket or takes away from it if you don’t put in your best.”

love job

I didn’t argue with his logic here. I did explain that I’m still looking for the right role, but that – given I just worked somewhere I was very unhappy; and that I had my own studio that I was working on – it left me feeling far stronger about turning down anything but the perfect opportunity and finding ways to work that really suit me, particularly with quality of life in mind. My  next job has to be meaningful and valuable, where I am happy and can be a long time, doing things I truly care about.

As I got up to leave, I wanted to leave him with something to think on in return, on reflection I think I was successful.

“How much is an hour, a month or a year of your free time worth…to you?” I asked as I paid, (and tipped him I might add. I felt like the discussion was at least as good as the trim.)

He smiled again and said

“That’s a tough question. I’ll think about it and tell you next time you come in and help me out with my business. If you’re as busy as you might be soon – you may look like Rapunzel by the time you make it back here.”

He paused

“How about you? What would you say?”

I hadn’t really anticipated the question being turned back around, but a little surprisingly to me my answer came to me pretty quickly.

“A lot more than I had really thought about, until recently, though it depends how much I enjoy what I’m doing…I’ll try to put a figure on it myself and let you know.

You will recognize me; I’ll be towing my hair in a trailer…”

2010-Tangled-Rapunzel

 

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