Date archives "July 2015"

The Week in Review #29: HearthStone & Gamification

Late last year a team mate of mine saw me killing some time playing Clash of Clans on my iPad. It was something I would occasionally do when I had a couple of minutes to kill or just needed a break. He suggested that I test out this new game called HearthStone. It was a competitive card trading game that you play against other opponents. It took a week and I was hooked. The game looks deceptively simple when you first start playing it. However to become a top ranked player takes a lot of work and understanding of the games fundamentals. This month I am playing to enter the highest ranks available. This is the top 2500 players out of the millions of people who play the game. I haven’t quite got there yet and thus the delay in this post.

As entrepreneurs there are several things that we can take away from how these gaming companies operate. First off it would be beneficial for most business owners to understand game mechanics. Several of these concepts can be used within your own companies for processes like recruiting and marketing. Over the last couple of years the word gamification has been greatly publicized to take advantage of these mechanics. The other factor that greatly stands out is how these gaming companies build communities. There are a plethora of websites that are dedicated to these players and Blizzard (game developer) invests heavily in promoting all of these destinations.

Professional players such as Kripparian averages 200,000 views of his youtube videos discussing the game hours after it has been released. The other major destination that I have discovered is Twitch. A business which was started to help professional players stream themselves playing the games. When you first hear about the concept, it doesn’t make too much sense. However once you see a single player being watched by tens of thousands of people at a single moment, it starts to make a lot of sense. The website was purchased by Amazon for a billion dollars late last  year.

Listed below are several links which provide insight into this industry and to get a better understanding of some of the dynamics that you can take leverage yourself.

Single Player Game This is a long read. However if you want to understand the psychology of the most hardcore game players this would be a great start. This essay provides a history of the development of games and how far they have come.

What is Gamification This post provides an in-depth summary of what is gamification. The post includes several very relevant examples of how these concepts have been implemented.

Why gamification is serious business This article by analyst at Accenture provides a broader overview of the implications of gamification. The paper includes analysis of how these mechanics are impacting Gen Y and the millennial generations.

You’d be surprised just how big ‘e-sports’ is getting People are usually shocked when they learn about the prize pools available in e-sport competitions. With millions of dollars on the line an entire industry is beginning to take shape with coaches, professional teams and major league tournaments.

Inside the life of a pro gamer Sitting in front of your computer and playing computer games sounds like a good job. However there is a much more than meets the eye if you want to go pro. This article provides an in depth look into the life of a pro gamer. There is additional context provider on just how large this space is becoming.

I may do a dedicated post on my learnings from Hearthstone soon. That would also work as a primer for anyone who wants to start playing the game.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #28: Everything is temporary

The next goal seems within grasp. Our focus sharpens and the trivialities of our day to day fade into the background. This is the moment we have been waiting for. The day arrives and everything goes just as planned. We experience a deep sense of accomplishment. All the hard work has paid off and life is great…..for a while. It doesn’t take long for us to develop a new set of goals as there is always a next step to take.

Life is something that happens between these goal posts. The scary thing is that it happens all too fast. Standing still actually becomes frightening. Our electronic devices provide us with the much needed refuge from the silence. The day dissipates into the night and repeats itself endlessly. In the hope for an imagined future we have sacrificed the present.

It is only when we begin to realize that everything is temporary, can we truly understand the value of today.

What Calvin and Hobbes taught me about mindfulness I have always been a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes. This article highlight’s two deeply profound strips. They provided me with a much needed reality check. I hope they make a similar difference to your day, today.

Warren Buffett’s “20 Slot” Rule Following up on the theme above, this article is all about focus. It is based on a rule that Warren Buffet has followed strictly. Spreading ourselves thin over multiple projects is a recipe for disaster. We have to look at all the opportunities that are presented to us very carefully. As Derek Siver’s says, if it isn’t a “Hell Yes!” then it should be a no.

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Sam Altman Sam Altman runs Y-Combinator. One of the world’s leading startup accelerators which has produced companies like Dropbox, Airbnb and Stripe. Before running the institute he was an entrepreneur himself and went through the program. Having sat on both sides of the table, he brings together a set of unique insights that are relevant to both entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Recruiting for Cultural Fit Finding strong talent is hard. Getting them to join your team is even harder. The best people want to work with people who share the same values as they do. Most companies use a laundry list of skills to fill open positions. This greatly limits your ability to attract people who will be a ‘fit’ for your company. They may have the skills you need but retaining and integrating them into your team will be a challenge. This article provides a set of questions that you can help circumvent this problem.

The 10x rule for great startup ideas New startups and sprouting at a frightening pace. Every where you turn someone is starting something new. It is ‘cool’ to be an entrepreneur these days. However, starting just another company is easy. Thinking of an business that will be 10x the current competition, that is challenging. This is not something that you can figure out along the way. This article provides a slew of relevant examples and insights on the subject.

Short Investing Philosophies This article is full of advice which is 10 words or less on investing. There are some fantastic quotes mentioned. My favorite one is:  “Less is more. Process over outcomes. Behavior is the key.”

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #27: Success is a Question of When, Not If

There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come. As entrepreneurs we are constantly challenging the status quo. Breaking down barriers and working outside of our comfort zones. To the average person our decisions and choices do not make sense most of the time. This is understandable, as we face rejection and failure almost everyday. However there is something inside us that keeps us wanting to push forward. It defies logic and rational reasoning. There are far easier paths that we could traverse, yet we choose to create our own.

We are searching for the perfect confluence of the idea, timing and team. There is a lot written about finding the right idea or assembling an all star team. The one thing that is far more elusive is getting the timing right. There isn’t a formula we can follow. We have to keep our eyes open and search hard for the hidden signs. The subtle changes that are precursors to the changing tides. This requires our ears to be on the ground and our eyes wide open. Like a lion hunting it’s prey, we have to make sure we charge at just the right time. A second too early or too late could be the difference between getting what we want or letting it slip away.

Success is a Question of When, Not If Tweetstorm by Marc Andreessen on the importance of timing and startups. This short burst of insight is filled with great takeaways for every entrepreneur. The main takeaway is to persevere and keep your eyes wide open for the changing tides.

The single biggest reason why startups succeed (Video) Bill Gross is the founder of IdeaLab. An incubator that has created hundreds of companies and huge successes. Using all the data from his past experience, he delivers a great 7 minute talk on why some startups succeed. Not to give anything away, however the topic of this week should give you a good idea!

Plausible Hugeness Great article on pivoting and refining your idea. The quote that resonated with me was “it’s better to suffer and struggle through disappointing traction along an interesting path than to have significant traction on a path that leads into a fog or nowhere in particular.”

7 Rejections The story of Airbnb is now known far and wide. Two entrepreneurs who had a crazy idea that people will want to rent out rooms in their houses. When they went looking for money in 2008 7 VC’s flat out rejected their pitch. However the founders having personally experienced their product knew there was more than met the eye. They could sense the tide changing and they persevered. Today Airbnb is worth over $25.5 billion and continuous to keep on growing.

Lessons Of Success And Failure: How Startups Change People Startups are inherently challenging. If they were easy everybody would be doing them. Through the process of succeeding and failing, it is inevitable these experiences shape our perspectives. This article has some interesting insights on the changes that occur and some realizations entrepreneurs have had along the way.

People love stories, not decks This was an interesting talk. The post contains a video and a slide deck. The article has a good summary of the key takeaways from the presentation. There are lots of great quotes and advice from top venture capitalists. The core takeaway is that the story behind your startup is what brings everything together. Without a story, you are just another company that is hoping to get lucky!

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #26: Keeping key employees from quitting

Attracting top talent is hard. Hiring them is an even greater challenge. Some companies manage to pull of this miraculous feat and are faced with the toughest challenge of them all. Retaining your best people. There are countless articles, books and workshops on how companies can retain their best people. When I come across a company who does an exceptional job on retaining their best employees they usually have four things figured out. They have successfully discovered their purpose, values, customers and story.

If any of these pieces is missing, one’s ability to retain these employees becomes exceptionally difficult. The first three factors have been discussed in detail by a variety of people. It is the last component that doesn’t get the recognition it needs. When a company isn’t able to articulate their story, it loses narrative that gives people a daily doze of inspiration. A company could have a world changing purpose, however without a story it will be like an empty container.

Telling your company story A great article talking about the importance of establishing your companies story. It has a lot of advice on how to structure your story correctly and the benefits that it will have. If you are starting a company or already running one this is a very important concept to grasp.

How Adobe keeps key employees from quitting This article is about the one change that Adobe did to dramatically boost employee retention. The core takeaway from this article is that times are changing and we have to adapt. Using antiquated methods of assessing performance is not going to help us hire or retain the best people.

The Servitude Bubble Umair Haque is a great writer. I enjoy reading his pieces as he talks a lot about purpose and meaning. Both topics which interest me tremendously. This article is his take against the current deluge of on-demand companies. He takes a contrarian approach to what is considered the business model of choice these days. This was an interesting read and definitely makes you think.

The One Learning Technique That Scared The Heck Out of Bruce Lee James Altucher is back with a great post on focus and perseverance. He uses stories to get his points across very effectively and is always an entertaining read.

How to choose and hire product people Hiring people for a product role within a tech company is very challenging. Assessing whether someone has all the skills needed to be successful at the job is daunting. This post is one of the most thorough write ups on how to make a better decision.

Using Growth Stacking To Improve Your Startups Product Marketing Finding the right marketing strategy to grow your company is tough. In this article Dan Martell outlines a simple framework to help find the right steps to take to find that strategy. Comprehensive read with many examples.

You’re not a failure, you’re just failing Being an entrepreneur is hard. Most of the times things do not go as planned. Getting through those rough times is critical if we want to succeed. This is a letter written from the perspective of a founder who fought hard to make it through the tough times. Whether you are succeeding, surviving or failing this is a great read.