Don’t stop being better!

Hot on the heels of my Smart people are dumb, failure is awesome post is a followup! I can only imagine how anxious the edges of your seats are for you to stop sitting on them. 🙂

Another practical way to apply the “just show up” philosophy is finding ways to be better at your job. It’s not as obvious as it sounds, so do read on.

A lot of people, myself included, are naturally inclined toward finding better, faster and smarter ways of doing things. For artists, that’s how we grow. But most people do this. Some people apply it toward a career, some toward a hobby. There are many, many outlets for it but it’s all the same concept.

When people choose to apply this self-improving attitude toward their career, often it’s because they want to get further in life by being better, smarter, and faster at what they do.

Let’s say this is you. You’re a character artist. You find an awesome new way to create characters faster. You’ve put forth a strong initial effort toward finding better, faster, smarter ways of doing your job. You keep finding new ways to rock, and you try to make things better for everyone. You try to make a difference, and it’s all great at first.

Then… slowly… you realize, no one really seems to care. Your effort has no measurable impact outside of your immediate area of responsibility. People just aren’t as excited about your improvements as you are.

But why? You’ve found a more efficient way to do something. This affects them. It doesn’t make sense for them not to care.

This almost always happens. This is when you become discouraged, stop trying, and fall into the same grind everyone else seems to be in. Why keep trying if no one notices?

I’ll tell you what you can do to take a HUGE first step toward making these efforts matter:

Write them down.

Writing them down makes all the difference in the world. The real goal of having it written down is that the fruits of your labor exist outside your head. You don’t have to be there for someone to use them. They may even outlast YOU. These little ideas will be free-floating thoughts that anyone can grab and use without needing you to be there for them. They can be useful all on their own. Being identified with these, particularly if they help someone, is pure gold. And it’s not even that hard.

This ties in perfectly with showing up. Just as simply showing up and outlasting the competition can make all the difference, so can persisting in finding how to be a little bit better, a little bit faster, a little bit smarter than the rest, and writing it down.

It may not feel like it, but your effort DOES matter, but only so long as you write it down and put it out there for everyone to see, anytime they want! Whether it’s on a bulletin board or in a design doc or a technical specifications document, it still makes a difference, on many different levels:

1) You’re learning. This comes first and is most important. Even if you don’t communicate your little innovations (which you should), ultimately, you’re still getting in the mindset of excellence. You’re learning. You’re self-improving. Writing it down drills it into your brain, and you should do it if only for this single reason.

See, because of this type of thinking, your brain is being kicked into overdrive. It’s hungry, and you’re feeding it pure, juicy MEAT. And if you keep feeding it, the most amazing ideas will keep coming to you, and the awesomeness will only compound further and further.

2) It’ll always be there. Even if your peers or superiors don’t immediately acknowledge what you’ve done, if you put it out there anyway where people can see it, inevitably they’ll keep running across it… keep seeing it… keep eyeing it… and after a while, it’ll hit them right between the eyes, and they’ll get it. The more you do, the more omnipresent you are.

3) Your coworkers will notice. Just think about what it would look like to be the only guy that’s actively finding a better way of working. It’s never instantaneous, and it shouldn’t be. Establishing a consistent reputation as a self-improver, an innovator, has a lot of power if you can pull it off. Especially if your bosses see it and like it. Showing initiative consistently is very seductive. Just keep showing up.

Even if you put it out there and no one cares at first, you shouldn’t let it bother you. If it’s a total revolution, no one will get it at first. What revolution in history has worked perfectly, immediately? None. It totally scales up and down… these things take time.

Listen, even if they don’t understand it at first, or ever, by simple virtue of showing up, figuring it out and recording it for all to see, you’ll eventually be perceived as working a little harder. Or be a little smarter. Or, if they inspect the idea closely enough, perceive you as being a little quicker.

Ever wonder why there are 500 trillion books on writing written by authors that have never written? The authors that are writing don’t show up… so these other guys do instead. People buy their books, because they think “Hey, this guy wrote a book. He must be Sir Smarty of Pants-Town.”

Usually they’re wrong about that, but it’s the same principle. Show up. No one else will. If they do, improve your chances of competing against them successfully by actually being good. Earn the title of “expert,” or if you’re modest, “guy-that-is-knowledgeable-about-stuff.”

The reason people don’t always notice these contributions of yours is because, hey, they’re working too. Or maybe they’re not ready to learn about it. Some people make up their minds never to learn anything new, because they’ve figured it out well enough as it is.

You can’t change peoples’ minds, period. The harder you try, the less likely they will be to change it. People will change their own mind when they feel like it.

So if you’ve developed some wicked-crazy process improvement, the longer you leave it laying around, the more likely it is they’ll run across it and go for it all on their own. That’s about the best you can do to get into their heads, so putting it where they can see it is a good first step.

What also happens sometimes is that people will appreciate it and simply not tell you. Heh. Yeah, you wouldn’t think so, but that happens more than you know.

People are wrapped up in their own little world most of the time. They’ll forget to give you feedback. Or they’ll assume you’ll come to them and ask for it. It may mean the world to them but they just don’t communicate it. Silence doesn’t mean apathy… some people just keep to themselves. I’ve had this happen a LOT, and it’s always absolutely blown me away. I’d put something out there, no one would care, and a few weeks or months later someone would bring it up and thank me, and I never realized it made a difference. But it does.

See, I’ve started and given up on exactly this type of thing several times over several jobs. I assumed that because my contributions weren’t immediately noticed that I was wasting my time. Eventually I realized that it’s deferred gratification. If I only build up a little library of improvements over time, eventually it’ll sneak up on someone, kick them in the teeth (in the, uh, good way), they’ll finally appreciate it and it’ll all be worth it.

And the whole time, hell, I’m learning as I do it. I have everything to gain by trying, because I’ll always remember it, even if nothing else comes of it. But that’s the beauty of it… the longer I keep at it, the more likely something will come of it.

Most success isn’t made through years of ass-kicking, soul-draining effort, running at maximum power and expending every ounce of effort the whole time. It’s short spurts of effort, persistently carried out, followed by patience. Remember that. It’s never as hard as you think it is.

My overall point is… don’t stop trying harder. Don’t stop being better. Don’t let indifference discourage you. No effort is wasted. Be patient, keep trying, keep showing up, and eventually your efforts will pay off enormously, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

Smart people are dumb. Failure is awesome.

Been thinking about this lately and felt like committing it to paper… so to speak.

Smart people are dumb. Failure is awesome.

Let me explain.

I’ve given a lot of thought over the years to woefully inept people that end up rich, having great jobs, are in positions of power, get all the girls, etc. I wonder how they do it, even though they clearly lack much. By all rights, given what they’re working with, they should fail miserably. But they don’t.

People complain all the time about how the most mediocre people imaginable achieve things that we can’t reach. They can’t understand how. I mean, come on, I have everything that guy doesn’t, but why does he get what he wants and I don’t?

Why? He tries and you don’t.

I said before in my Marketing for Artists article that 90% of success is showing up. And that’s what these crappy people have that “smart” people don’t. The will to keep showing up.

If you’re running a race and everyone else gives up before it’s over, you win by default.

Let’s abstract that for a second: If they’re the ONLY person that keeps trying, who’s there to compete against? Who’s to stop him from winning by default, by being the only player?

It’s like a curve over time. At practically any endeavor, as time passes, people will start dropping out and giving up, slowly at first but then faster and faster. They’re only willing to go so far before throwing in the towel. The playing field narrows itself. Keep showing up. Keep trying. Be patient, give it time, and you’ll win because you were willing to do what they weren’t to succeed.

Sure. You’ll fail a lot on the way. You’ll make mistakes. Mistakes are when weak people give up and hand the trophy over to someone else. Persisting through the mistakes, embracing failure, and determining to keep moving forward is how you win. Every failure is an opportunity to learn, and improve future performance.

The end of the race, with the only other determined contender, is where quality, skill and intelligence come into play. Just doggedly ‘tard your way through the rest up until that point.

It’s all a game. Beyond quality, beyond intelligence, beyond any other factor, all you have to do most of the time is keep showing up, no matter what, and you’ll go places. Opportunities will start coming to you in ways you’d never imagined.

Here’s one real-world application for you: Applying for a job. Most people SUCK at this, and that’s why they don’t get jobs. Most people I know have given up after ONE EMAIL sent to a company they’re applying for. They quit before the race even starts.

After working in sales at Liquid Development, I learned that the follow-up call after initial solicitation is the most important communication you can make. Most people I would email, whether currently clients or people I was soliciting to, would never respond to the first email. Ever. It’s as if they never received it at all. I’d say I got one reply out of a hundred to the first email, if that.

After that, I’d sit on it a week, and send a follow-up to make sure they got the first one. At this point, usually within the next business day, I’d have a reply almost every single time. The response rate here was perhaps one in four. Whether or not it was a positive or negative response, it still got responses, and opportunities were either created or dismissed.

This fascinated me. Most people give up after only one communication, when the second one works almost every single time. You’d think that it would annoy people, but mostly, people are cool about it. They know they’re terrible about responding to email, and as long as you’re polite, everything is fine.

When I was applying for a job on my own, I sent out my resume and portfolio to probably 30 or 40 companies. I kept track of what I sent to who and what date, and followed up like clockwork after one week. The second email was always a quoted copy of the first, starting with a “Hi, my name is Jon Jones and I applied for such-and-such position at your company a week ago. I hadn’t heard back yet and I wanted to make sure that you received my email. I’ve quoted it below. Thanks!”

Then the floodgates opened.

Week one: 40 emails. Zero responses.

Week two: 40 follow-up emails. 35 responses within three days.

And you know what the best part was? The really, really funny thing? Every single response began with an apology for not responding sooner. Every single one, without ONE exception.

See, I was scared that I would annoy these companies by emailing more than once. Not so. Quite the contrary, in fact. It showed that I was serious about working with them. Giving them seven to ten days to respond is about right, in my opinion. Then comes the follow-up, which is the clincher.

Just keep trying politely, in an appropriate timeframe, until you get a solid YES or NO answer. In the game industry, most people will never even THINK of doing this! They’ll send out one feeble email and give up. Just one more email could have gotten them a job. Isn’t that tragic?

All it takes is showing up, again and again, until you get someone’s attention. THEN, and only then, do your skills come into play. They see your work, decide they like you, and it just gets better from there.

Some companies I had to follow up with three times or more. When I was applying at Ready At Dawn I sent something like ten or fifteen follow-ups because I’d caught our poor art director in the middle of a crunch. I kept trying. And it resulted in a job so fantastic I still can’t believe I have it.

Yeah. I got a lot of rejections. Almost everything I got back was a rejection. Oh, we’re not hiring right now. Oh, we’re just wrapping up this project. Oh, we’re not a game company and would you please quit emailing us. Blah, blah, blah. But I also got a handful of interviews out of that, and one of those interviews got me a fantastic job.

Why? I didn’t let failure bother me. I kept trying anyway. Failure is a part of life. The more you try, the more potential chances to succeed you have. If I apply to 100 companies and you apply to 5, who’s more likely to succeed? If ONE of your companies says no, they’ve reduced your chances of getting a job by 20%! But if one of mine says no, my chances are only reduced by 1%. Who’s trying smarter?

Let’s make the playing field bigger. If ten people are applying for companies and I’m the only one that applied at 100, my chances of contacting a company that has received NO other job applications is pretty high. See what I mean? Most people won’t even try that hard, and they make me win.

If I’m firing a shotgun at a guy, most of the shotgun pellets will miss. But all I really need is one to hit. The more pellets there are, the better my chances of succeeding. It just comes down to that, really.

Yeah, it’s messy, and a lot of failure is involved. But every failure is a chance to learn. Every time I fail and keep moving forward,

And again, it all comes down to showing up. The more you try, the longer you persist, the better your chances of winning get. It’s so simple that people overlook it. It’s so obvious that it’s instantly dismissed.

This is the way the world works, and this is why seemingly unfit people succeed. They just don’t give up and eventually they get what you want. And it probably annoys you because for some reason or another, you never even started. No gold star for you. 🙂

And that’s why I say smart people are dumb. “But I’m BETTER than him.” “But I want this MORE than him.” “But he’s so STUPID.” “But he’s ugly!”

But he still wins. Because you create excuses for yourself not to try. Because you’re “too smart” to bother trying, because of X, Y or Z reason.

If you were really smart, wouldn’t you be winning? 🙂

No energy? No brain? No problem!

Haven’t been posting as much lately, since I ran into a wee spot of crunch at work. Nothing too severe, but enough to take my evenings and energy away from me.

In an effort to counterbalance crunch time I’ve been indulging in as much media as possible. I find that my generally sunny disposition becomes dampened and even sour if I let my life get too one-dimensional.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

This is a book written in the style of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack to honor of Charles T. Munger, the business partner of Warren Buffett, one of the most talented investors in the world. They’re also two of the richest men in the world. They’re a team, the two of them, and Warren’s the public face of it, Charlie instead preferring to lurk in the background.

Well, no longer.

Charlie’s apparently quite the witty genius, and his friends and family have gotten tired of him not being more widely revered. This book is a loving testament to the person they admire so much, and it’s full of what people say about him and also the talks, papers and lectures he’s given them on life and investing principles.

It starts out being rather emotionally moving, a true labor of love, erecting a sort of shrine to honor him while he’s still alive. I hope someday to have been interesting enough and done enough interesting things to inspire something like this on my behalf. 🙂

I haven’t gotten particularly far yet, but that’s not saying much, seeing as how the book is so absurdly large that it’s measured in pounds rather than in pages. (“How far along are you?” “About half a pound.”) But it holds promise.

The secret of his investing, it seems, is a slavish devotion to studying multiple disciplines (economics, physics, psychology, etc) and how all the different factors of a company add up to a decision to invest… or not.

What interests me about his approach is that he’s studied all these subjects, found out how they applied to investing, then created a specific framework out of them for analyzing an investing opportunity. By framework I mean a separate independent system of rules and criteria applied to anything, with conditional requirements that need to be met to justify investment.

It’s like a pre-flight checklist of factors to consider before taking off. Partly borne out of the fact that even a genius can’t keep all the information he needs to have at his disposal to make a decision in his head all at once.

I like systems. And that brings me to the next book I’ve been reading…

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

It’s a nifty little book that makes the case for setting up a business as an interconnected series of systems and processes that anyone can follow, so that the business needn’t rely on its principal for its very survival. Put simpler, it’s a guide on how to build a franchised business that anyone can run.

The perspective the book offers is particularly interesting to me because it shows me why businesses like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Quiznos do so well. Someone started the first business, then dove into it and figured out how the core of the business should operate and how to repeat those results. Everything from how long to grill a burger on one side to how many shots of espresso go into what size cup to how long you toast this type of bread has been examined, experimented with, and written down in an operating manual.

Forgetting the quality of the food at McDonald’s, consider its human beings. Generally they’re considered to be slack-jawed doofuses (doofi?) and yet, notice how every single McDonald’s you’ve ever been in has delivered the same quality food to you, no matter where you are. Over however many thousand McDonald’s locations there are, that’s pretty impressive.

At its core, McDonald’s gives you food, quickly, consistently. Because Ray Kroc figured out how everything works and how to make ANYONE duplicate the results of the very first McDonald’s, consistently. Even uneducated 16-year-old high school students can do it, because everything’s planned, written down and systematized.

Everything from how many times to shake the fries as they come out of the deep fryer to what the employees say to customers is a part of this system. These processes are so simple, so boiled down, so pre-planned that anyone, anywhere can do them exactly the same way. All these processes are written down in a book you can hand to anyone and have them follow it, step by step, to run every aspect of the business.

And that’s why these businesses work. Ray Kroc doesn’t have to manage every single individual McDonald’s. Neither does Howard Schultz of Starbucks. That’s why they’re so successful. Delivering consistency is of paramount importance to a franchised business, and every different Starbucks you go to should have drinks that taste the same, instead of vary. These systems destroy variance and establish consistency without any dependency on any one person.

They run themselves.

That’s what these businesses were designed to do. And this book, The E-Myth, shows you how to set up a business like that. It’s about systems, much in the same way that Charlie Munger seems to work on a personal level for investing. He develops systems for himself to run through so he doesn’t have to have every single subject he’s ever studied in mind at the same time, because that would simply be impossible.

That concept interests me at its core. Approach a subject, find out the best way to do it, then set up steps to systematize it and be able to repeat it no matter what. I don’t have to be motivated, or happy, or even awake to do it because I boiled it down to different steps I could follow even if I’m half dead.

To some extent, with 3D art, I’ve done that. I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve pounded every technique, every concept, every mechanical action associated with 3D art into my brain that I can hammer out what I need to with the minimum of brainpower.

Design work still requires creativity and careful thought, but if you can get all that out of the way as early as possible, the rest of the job is smooth sailing. My feelings become irrelevant, just like they should be when it comes to doing my job.

On the job, I encounter a lot of situations where I can’t remember every single step of the process I’m supposed to do because a) we’re figuring it out as we go to some extent, and b) it’s sometimes a LOT to remember. So I started writing these things down as I do them, both for the benefit of the team and so I can have a written checklist of things to do to achieve the desired result, the same way, every time.

It’s been working out extremely well professionally, and I’m already looking at ways I can apply that to my personal life and projects. The biggest appeal in that idea to me is that since I’m interested in so many things at any given time, I can theoretically throw myself face-first at a huge wad of “pre-production” work when I first get interested in something and then periodically maintain it over time without needing a huge time or energy commitment. Because I set up little systems for doing it.

My friend Eric von Rothkirch has been independently having the same thoughts, and recently made a post on exactly what I’ve been talking about.

That’s all for now, just a fun little mind-dump. I have been reading some other very interesting books that I’ll get into soon, when they’re more relevant to the topics that I’m in the mood to talk about. 🙂

Outsourcing Art: Ten Steps to Success

Here’s an article I wrote last year that was extremely well-received but not very widely spread. Thought you professional developers that read me would like to read it.

Outsourcing is sending out work to an outside provider or manufacturer in order to cut costs. This happens in many industries, and it’s becoming widely used in the game industry, particularly for art. Outsourcing art has become an attractive option for game developers seeking to finish on time and on budget. As games get bigger, development costs rise and timelines increase. The sheer mass of art assets required for modern games can be overwhelming for a single team to handle. Hiring an external art studio can be a cost-effective solution.

However, outsourcing art can also have its share of problems. Of the hundreds of studios all over the world, some are large, elaborate operations that are run competently, and others are literally run out of a garage with little finesse. Garage shops seem the rule rather than the exception, sadly. Quality art and service is hard to find. If you know what to look for, however, you can minimize the difficulties and enjoy a terrific business relationship with an art studio.

I’ve been a contract artist for years, both solo and working through an art studio. I also spent eighteen months working for Liquid Development, widely regarded as the industry leading art studio. I was an artist, an account manager and a marketing director during that time. While I was there, I developed an intimate knowledge of how a successful studio is run on many levels, from sales to marketing to operations to production.

This article presents a set of guidelines to ensure a smooth working relationship with an external art studio. Part of this is setting realistic expectations, but there are facets of communication and management that come into play as well.

Step One: Planning

Before you look for an art studio, develop a clear idea of what you want. Art studios are frequently a low-cost, faster solution than creating assets in-house, but they are not miracle workers. It’s unrealistic to expect more of them than your own internal staff. They offer cost savings first and foremost, and quality comes only after that. They need material to work with, and giving that to them is your job.

The most important parts of preparation are solidifying the budget and building a complete bill of materials for the art studio. Quantify everything and leave nothing unaccounted for, and nail down the specifications as precisely as you can. This will ensure a quick turnaround for a price quote from an art studio. Changing the budget or an asset list in the middle of a contract can be catastrophic to your project.

Once you get everything down on paper, solidified, finalized and the budget in place, you will have the materials you need to look for art studios.

Step Two: Looking for art studios

The best place to find an art studio is the GamaSutra contractor listing. Take a look through all of them. Pore over their portfolios and decide if the quality of their work appeals to you. Check to see if they’ve worked in styles and genres similar to your project.

There are several very good studios out there, but expect to pay more for their services. Depending on what studio you choose, you could end up paying between 10% and 80% of what it costs to develop assets in-house. Cost savings are inevitable, and the determining factors after that are quality of art and quality of communication.

No matter what studio you choose, it’s going to be a gamble. Many art studios are garage shops or one-man bands with little track record or business experience. Overseas studios introduce time zone mismatches, language barriers, and potential cultural mismatches. As a popular anecdote goes, Fox outsourced animation and coloring work on The Simpsons to an overseas company. When Fox received the completed work, all the pizzas were colored purple. The people at the overseas studio had never seen or understood what a pizza was, and had no point of reference to begin to understand it. That may seem silly, but factors like that could be the tip of the iceberg.

Step Three: Selecting an art studio

After narrowing down your search to a handful of candidates, contact and grill them. Get them under NDA. Ask them about their history, experience, availability, rough rates, work process, and anything else you can think of. Pay close attention to their answers—their answers and even their manner of reply are good indicators of experience and professionalism.

Any studios left standing should do a test asset for you. This is imperative, since it demonstrates their ability to satisfy YOUR needs. It’s all too easy to trust a good sales pitch and compelling portfolio, but in the end it’s your money and you have to be confident that the team will deliver what you expect.

Once you find which studios you’re comfortable with, you need to give them the materials they need to create a test asset. Regardless of your timeline, do a test asset. Don’t trust them with ANYTHING without getting a satisfactory test asset completed first. Delivery of the test asset lets you see not just the quality of the company’s work, but the company’s development, delivery, and approval processes as well, which are just as important

In preparing to give them the test asset, you should proceed as if full production begins as soon as the test asset is approved. You need to give them all the specifications they’d need to begin the project to minimize the time between test asset and full production and to maintain momentum. Follow the next few steps BEFORE engaging in a test asset.

Step Four: Provide sample assets

Before you begin the test asset, determine the project’s scope in detail and then negotiate the terms of the full contract. Proceed as if the entire project will begin at the end of the test asset’s development.

Get the studios you’re giving a test asset to under an NDA. Once that’s in place, begin the scope assessment process by providing them with all the specifications documents they need. They can’t read your minds. Provide them with at least one actual game asset of each asset type they’re expected to deliver. This will set an expectation of quality standards and cuts down on back-and-forth and guesswork that occur without a pre-approved and usable asset to pore over.

Step Five: Manage expectations

Let’s be realistic about expectations. As I stated previously, an art studio is not a magic pill. Be reasonable and estimate at least two weeks to a month of ramp-up time at the beginning of a relationship, depending on the length of the project and the scope. The time spent developing each asset decreases as the project goes on. Also don’t expect the studio to perform miracles that your internal staff, who is already ramped-up and familiar with the project, couldn’t do themselves.

Step Six: Minimize risk and variability

The next thing to consider is to limit the extent to which external asset development can go wrong. Decide how much of the process to allow them to perform. Some studios are happy simply to outsource modeling only. Others may only require texture work or rework, or simply rigging and animation. Others still outsource ALL character work, from concept to in-game implementation. The more you trust them with, the more there is to screw up.

When I say trust, it really IS a matter of trust. For every task that isn’t a core discipline like modeling, texturing, rigging or animation, expect to add ramp-up time and account for errors while the studio acclimates itself to the specifics of your project. If you don’t think they’re capable of handling all the work you want to give them in the timeframe you require, don’t. If you want it fast, keep it VERY simple. If you want to develop a long-term working relationship with a studio, test them out with a small workload, then expand the scope as you feel more comfortable with them. Nearly every long-term contract relationship I’ve been involved in started out with a very narrow initial scope that kept expanding over time as the art studio proved its reliability.

Step Seven: Negotiate terms

At this point, the studio has a clear idea of what your project is about and the type of work that’s expected of them. Now you can begin the actual contract negotiation. If you pre-planned properly, you will know every single asset you need to outsource for the entire project, and you’ll be able to give them the total number of assets. Stick to that number. Pay for the assets on a per-asset basis, never hourly or in bulk, if you can help it. This way, they’re motivated to get the assets done as quickly as possible and you’ll be able to rapidly expand the project’s scope accurately and predictably if you need. Plan out the rates for each individual asset type and break it into different categories where it’s realistic.

For example, many projects have two types of characters of varying complexity: Player characters and non-player characters. Since they’re different and you anticipate cost savings on the less complex non-player characters, make them a separate asset type. Generally, the criteria for price are polygon count, texture resolution, and texture count. Note any differences between the asset types and negotiate an appropriate price.

Another way to save money and decrease development time is to think hard about which assets are similar and could be reused or modified to create additional assets. A good example of this would be if you had ten characters that are knights in shining armor. If the only difference is their heads, create a “Character Variation” asset type and request that you reuse the bodies and merely create new unique heads. Not only do the models remain consistent, but they take less time to do and you save even more on cost.

Depending on how nice you are, you may or may not want to include provisions for paying extra for significant revisions to an asset. This won’t happen if you accurately spec out the project’s scope beforehand. However, if the situation changes, major design revisions happen internally and you keep going back to the art studio with further changes to an asset, you’ll force the project to fall behind schedule by constantly rejecting submitted art assets that would have easily been approved before the changes.

This happens for one of two reasons: either something was not accurately specified in the initial scope meeting with the art studio, or you’re subjecting the art studio to feature creep and design changes on your side. Understand that feature creep is your problem, not theirs. You’re paying them for individual art assets, not their time. Every minute your design changes make their artists sit idle is another delay you add to the project because they’re forced to reassign artists to other projects unless they’d rather burn money.

Art studios are used to dealing with this to some extent, but if you keep allowing it and it affects the schedule, the art studio may be forced to raise its rates dramatically or abandon the project. This is why it’svitally important for you to plan for and solidify everything before you even speak with an art studio. If you anticipate dramatic design changes, simply add provisions for design changes to the contract before you start the project. Ultimately, planning for this in advance could save you money versus increasing the cost per asset.

Step Eight: Scheduling milestones and payment

The ideal way to set up milestones and payments in my experience is this: There’s a milestone every two weeks. The assets must be delivers on the day of the milestone. Every other milestone, you receive an invoice for payment on a NET30 term, which means that you’re required to pay them within 30 days of receiving their invoice. When the project starts, there’s a starting payment. Each payment is derived from the project’s total cost divided into equal amounts over every other milestone. The test asset period is payable once the assets are delivered and approved.

For example, let’s say it’s an eight-week project for $100,000. The project starts on August 1. You have milestones August 15, September 1, September 15, and October 1. You’re billed on August 1, September 1 and October 1. The first payment is $33,000, the next payment is $33,000, and the final payment is $34,000.

Earlier milestones should have fewer deliverables than later milestones due to ramp-up time. In the example project I stated above, let’s say the project is to create 100 characters. The August 15 milestone has 10 characters, then each successive milestone has 30 characters delivered for a total of 100. Always start out light.

I’d suggest setting up the project milestones so they deliver the assets at least two weeks to a month before you actually need them to achieve your internal goals. You don’t want to be held up by the studio if they’re late delivering assets, so schedule accordingly.

Step Nine: Assigning the test asset

Now that you have the entire project planned out, select at least one test asset of each type to assign the studio. For example, if you’re outsourcing environment objects, player characters and lower detail non-player characters, test them on each asset type. Never believe that just because they can do one asset type well that they can do others equally well. Each studio has its own distinct strengths and weaknesses. Many artists that work for art studios have very little professional experience and only work there until they have a strong enough resume and portfolio to get hired at a full game development company. Others simply aren’t good enough to get a job anywhere else. Artist turnover at an art studio can be very high and happen during projects. This isn’t something you can control, and it’s nearly always transparent to you, but it happens.

Once you receive the completed test assets, check them vigorously for quality. If they fail in any respect, immediately consider whether you gave them enough information. It’s easy for some specifications to fall into the cracks, so be reasonable. Ask yourself if the assets they delivered are usable assets as-is, and if any internal rework will be required. It’s very important to understand that if your internal artists have to do ANY rework at all of the assets you’ve outsourced, the art studio has failed. It’s reasonable to expect a bumpy start, but if your internal artists are habitually redoing the art studio’s assets, you’re paying almost double for that asset and the problem should be solved immediately or the relationship terminated at the next milestone.

After you approve the test assets and are ready to move into a contracting relationship, I’d recommend making a personal visit to their offices if it’s geographically convenient. A face-to-face meeting always helps and is a great way to start a long-term business relationship. In my experience, it’s dramatically faster to generate new business. Two months of work over email and a phone can be handled in half an hour of face-to-face discussion.

And that brings me to the final step…

Step Ten: Understand the importance of communication

The key to success in outsourcing is communication and feedback. Some art studios are poor at this, and simply take the assets you give them, work on them for the allotted time, then email them back to you when they’re done. You’re left wondering what you’ll get when you open the file and hoping desperately that you can use them. They may send work-in-progress images in mid-milestone so you can know they’re doing the work, but the ideal solution is an interactive forum so you can see each asset being developed.

However, a system like that doesn’t work unless everyone actually uses it to communicate. The simple existence of a system doesn’t guarantee success; the adherence to and use of the system does. It’s important to remember is that outsourcing art is not a magic pill. It requires a time commitment on your part the same as one of your in-house artists. In short, BE AVAILABLE for questions, comments and critiques and monitor their progress at least daily if possible.

Since communication is so important, when you talk to an art studio, assess how well they understand the importance of communication and what they do to solve it. Perhaps your assets aren’t important enough to require day-to-day managing, but at least find out if you could if you wanted.

Once, an art studio’s client had a very interesting idea that fostered a tremendously successful working relationship. The client hired a new in-house employee whose sole responsibility was to monitor the art studio’s progress all day, every day. There was always someone payingattention, communicating, and approving or rejecting assets practically as soon as they were created. It worked out extremely well and the project went smoothly because of that employee and the high level of communication that was developed at the outset of the project.

You don’t necessarily need to have such an intense level of involvement, but it’s foolish to assume you can throw work at an art studio and expect it to get done with no communication. Quality communication is the difference between success and failure. Always have at least one person who’s assigned to monitor the art studio’s progress and communicate directly with the art studio’s internal art manager. Having a person on your end do this is a necessity, and they must understand that this is a part of the core content development process instead of something they should do at the end of the day, IF they have time. The sooner you accept outsourcing as a function of game development rather than a shiny new toy, the sooner you’ll have an unstoppable content development team that works like a well-oiled machine.

I place a high value on communication because a lot of contracting relationships have gone sour because the game developer didn’t understand the necessity of communication, and all deficiencies in the resulting assets were blamed on the art studio’s supposed incompetence.

So there you have it. Outsourcing can be a terrific resource if you plan ahead, select a good studio, provide ample specifications andmaintain a high level of communication and management throughout the project.

If you have any comments or questions about outsourcing art, hiring contractors or asset development in general, feel free to send me an email at

Be social? I’m not! You mean.. you mean to LIE?!??!?

Well, my Marketing for Artists post seems to have gone over really well. I’ve gotten universally positive comments on it. But one particular question came to me that required a specific response.

Q: “Jon, you say ‘be social’ but what if that’s just not who I am? Are you suggesting I pretend to be something that I’m not and lie to other people to get ahead?”

A: When I started, I was a seemingly incurable introvert with no social skills.

I was homeschooled from preschool to high school graduation. Never went to a real school a day in my life. Didn’t play sports, wasn’t a part of any social clubs, didn’t live around many other kids. I never really had more than two or three casual friends, ever, all the way through high school. I was rather more than your quintessential loner, because at least he got out of the house once in a while.

I didn’t have any of the usual social outlets that — well, we call you people “normies” — did. Occasionally I’d go to church in a desperate attempt to socialize with someone, ANYONE, but it always ended with me sitting in the corner, drawing, not talking to anyone because I didn’t know how to talk to people.

Outside of communicating with immediate family, I had no social skills. I didn’t even have a way to develop them, really. I was a blank slate. There’s the typical loner, below him there’s me, and then there’s feral children.

Point made? 😉

Along the way, around age 13 or 14, I’d set my one goal in life: Become an artist in the game industry. I started working at that and obliviously continued my antisocial ways, thinking that my raw talent (ha!) would make the world beat a path to my door, magically, without me having to change or to do anything but simply be good at what I do. After all, the world was a fair place to live in, and the good guy always wins.

And THEEEEEEENNNN I woke the hell up and realized that I live on the planet earth, life isn’t a fairy tale, and I needed to make some serious changes if I wanted to get anywhere at all.

I don’t want to skim over that part — believe me, it took a long time to realize that being antisocial simply wasn’t working out for me. I was at the end of the rope and I couldn’t deny it any longer.

So I changed.

Through a lot of hard work, determination, deliberately putting myself “out there” (as the kids say) and diving headfirst out of my comfort zone for the sake of achieving something better, I changed.

Once that was underway and I started learning how it all works, everything got easier. I discovered that I liked people. I understood them. I could relate to them and learned how to carry a conversation and learn interesting things about people.

For fun, I would (and still do) talk to anyone, anywhere, seeing what I can say to cut through their shell and draw out the person inside and make them “wake up.” I like making people smile, relating to them, even if I have only 30 seconds of time to do it with. People are amazing, amazing creatures, and I can’t believe it took me so long to really appreciate them.

I’m sharing the world with them, aren’t I? Why not get comfortable with my neighbors?

So in that manner, I turned myself into a people person. I ignored all my natural instincts telling me that was a bad idea. At that point, I’d proven thoroughly that these so-called “natural instincts” had done nothing but hold me back and make me miserable by putting a blindfold over my eyes.

I had lacked the ability to see that the way I thought the world worked did not line up with simple, observable reality.

I could not see what any idiot with at least 1/3rd of an intact brain could tell at a glance, in his sleep, on hallucinogens.

The best thing I ever did with my life was realize that it came down to me and Reality, mano a mano (mano a universal-state-of-being-o?). The conclusion was clear: ONE of us needed to change… and, well, I probably couldn’t get Reality to budge, so I guess it’d better be me.

So I ran into unfamiliar territory with my guns blazing because I knew I’d learn something even if I failed.

KEY POINT: I did it without faking, without lying, without being superficial. It was honest, sincere change through hard work and determination. Sincerity reads loud and clear.

So when I said “be social” I didn’t mean it lightly.

The most important part of becoming a social creature, developing new contacts and networking successfully is to be genuine. Don’t lie. Be yourself. You know who you are, so put it out there, and be THAT. Build off what’s there. Put the best of you forward, and let the worst wither and die from malnourishment. You don’t need it.

I look at it like this: Being fake and dishonest takes a lot more effort than simply being genuine. When you’re honest, keeping a consistent persona is automatic because you’re just being yourself. It takes less time and less energy, and it’s easier to make it natural. So why bother lying?

My overall point is that people can and do change.

Ultimately, all I’m saying in the article is that if you want to be successful, these pointers can make it a lot easier. You could probably make it by ignoring them all and doing it your own way. But it’s so much more effective to follow them that deliberately choosing not to is counter-productive.

Marketing for Artists

[2014-12-04 UPDATE!] Post resurrection! I’ve updated the material in this post for a rapid-fire 13 minute long speech for the IGDA MicroTalks in Austin. While the information below is still relevant, the material in this video is much better and more current. Here it is:


I find myself in a lot of conversations with budding young artists seeking to get ahead in the world asking me advice on just how to go about that. I’ve examined a lot of individual cases and I’ve noticed a few common mistakes artists make that destroy their chances of getting ahead, and most of them stem from a lack of understanding of marketing themselves. I’ve noticed a few techniques that artist hopefuls can use to get ahead in the art field.


99% of artists I’ve seen make the same four models: Space marine, naked man, naked woman, and character from a recently released movie. If everyone’s making the same model, how is anyone going to stand out? Being an artist that creates high quality assets is important, but quality should not be the only differentiator between you and another artist.

Consider this: If a potential employer is looking for a new artist, in a “market” where there are hundreds of space marines, how likely is it that your space marine is going to be the very best out of all of them? Not very. 🙂

The most obvious (and most overlooked) solution for this is to choose subject matter that no one else is doing. If you create a “market” for a certain type of art by choosing something unique, who is there to compare and contrast against? Who’s the competition? It also makes it that much easier to be remembered as “the guy that paints amazing metal” or “the guy that makes incredible fantasy creatures.”

Let’s face it; managers hiring artists are going to look through dozens of portfolios to find a worthy artist. If you’re making exactly the same art as anyone else, what reason does this guy have to remember you?

Look at what other people aren’t making, and make it well. Find a niche, an untapped potential market for a new or different type of art, and become the undisputed master of that art. If you do it right, you’ll be seen as the originator, and everyone else will be a copycat. That’s the benefit of being first. If you can’t be the leader of something, find something you can be the leader of.

Let your portfolio reflect your personality, your uniqueness, your inner fire. You’re the only one that cares about you, so try to communicate why other people should care and remember you, too, through your artwork. That’s all they’ll care about.


Were you the kid in high school who sat alone in a corner, ignored everyone and filled his sketchbook with his drawings? Keep the art focus, but lose the antisocial behavior. Keeping to yourself is the fastest possible way to failure and ruin. Period.

Woody Allen once said, eighty percent of success is showing up. That’s one of the single most profound statements I’ve ever taken to heart.

Find a message board or website that focuses on art and start posting. Comment on other peoples’ work, give helpful advice, be friendly, and make friends. Build a network of friends and acquaintances and surround yourself with them all the time. Be social. Network. Thrive.

To put this in perspective, every contract and every job I’ve ever gotten was the result of having known a guy that knows a guy. No cold calls, no internships, no open assault of job applications. My career was created entirely through networking. This can work for anyone, because the more people you talk to, the more likely it is that opportunities will literally come to you.

So get out there, make friends, and create a presence. Always be there. Always have a voice. Always have a personality. Be yourself.

Never make enemies, because the guy you just said stank mightily of elderberries could be the art director of a company you desperately want to work for in the future. I’ve actually heard of this happening many times, so don’t shoot off at the mouth and hit yourself in the foot.

I’ll say it again: If you think you can succeed by being antisocial, get comfortable mopping floors. 🙂


Learn to qualify peoples’ opinions. Not every opinion is equal. Anyone that tells you otherwise is absolutely, one-hundred-percent wrong. They may be nice and cool and seem sincere, but if you keep listening to them, they will destroy your ability to tell good advice from bad. You’ll never know who’s trying to help you grow and who’s trying not to hurt your feelings. You’ll consider the opinion of the tried and true professional to be equal to the worthless fanboy that thinks Leonardo da Vinci was the Ninja Turtle with the orange mask. (That was Michelangelo. Duh.)

Does “Hey, that looks great, don’t change a thing!” sound familiar? No piece of art is without flaw, and rarely does an artist not have an opinion. If you want to feel good about your art, by all means, listen to these people and don’t bother improving. But if you want your art to get better and be fit for a professional development environment, listen to the people whose comments hurt the most.

The people that rip your work apart the hardest are the people that genuinely want to help you. Think about it. They took the time to look at your work, think it over and write out a response. Your mom may think you’re just the best guy ever and think you deserve all the attention in the world, but you don’t. Time and attention is respect.

Show them the same respect and never turn them away. Be grateful. Learn to face the pain head-on. The comments hurt because they are true, and deep down, you know it. Get used to being broken down, and never fail to build yourself back up, stronger than before. Getting your feelings hurt is a part of life, and successful people learn to pick themselves up and try harder next time.

As you meet these people, acquire a mentor. Find someone better than you that knows what they’re doing, is honest, and likes you. Become friends. The only reason I rose from a mewling mediocrity to a professional artist is because of mentors that invested time and attention in me. Drop your ego and open yourself to learning, and never, ever backtalk if you truly trust their opinion.


Your best bet toward getting a job making art is to simulate the job experience in every way you can. Join a mod. Design levels. Make player models. Most importantly, finish them.

Find as many ways as possible to gain experience making real, usable, ingame assets. There’s a world of difference between making a model in a 3D application and making it work in the game, and that difference is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.

When you select a mod or contract to take on, decide in advance what you intend to learn from it and how you plan to grow. Every step I’ve ever taken in my career was considered in regards to what specific experience I’ll gain from it. In my eagerness for experience, I have willingly eaten a considerable amount of dirt to get the experience I needed to move forward. Identify the gaps in your education and seek to fill them through hands-on experience. Always, always, always finish what you start.

And there you have it.

That’s all I have to say on the subject. Depending on how well this is received, I may write a guide soon on how to dramatically increase your chances of getting a job based on my experiences as a salesman and as a hapless artist trying desperately to become employed. It’s truly remarkable how simple it can be, and how so many people miss out on it.

Been busy brutally murdering imaginary people.

Been quiet lately. Finally bought my copy of Relic’s wildly entertaining RTS, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.

At my core I’m a long-time RTS nut, and this game tickles all my favorite spots. I’m a big fan of extremely graphic violence, sci-fi and great art, and this game has all three. Additionally, the focus of the game is on meaty, visceral, brutal combat unlike most RTSes, which emphasize base building and careful strategy. Dawn of War is just fun as hell to sit down and watch.

You control entire squads of marines as a single unit, and they’re all animated individually to interact with enemies on a very personal level. My favorite interaction is a giant mech called a Dreadnought picking up an ork, hefting it in the air, and squeezing buckets of blood out of it while roasting it at point blank range with a flamethrower, then tossing it aside while it looks for another victim. The first time I saw it ingame I just started laughing and couldn’t stop.

It got me thinking about how much fun it would be to work on a game like this. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized this:

Games I like to play and games I like to work on are two different categories..

I’d imagine most people thinking of entering the game industry want to make the type of games that they enjoy playing the most, and that most other people do, too. I’ve proven to myself rather thoroughly that this isn’t always true.

For example, as much as I love playing RTSes, the insane polygon constraints and sheer amount of intricate busywork involved in developing art assets for them is an enormous turnoff. Seeing Age of Empires 3 at E3 made this excruciatingly clear to me as I saw all the work the artists had to go through to make every constructed object smash apart realistically and I imagined how I’d go about it, wincing and thanking heaven that I didn’t have to do it.

Another example: Rise of Nations, the terrifically fun RTS from Big Huge Games seems at first thought that it would be fun to develop for. Then I realized how each individual race has their unique units (peasants, knights, archers, etc), their unique architecture, and a series of chronologically advancing updates for each unit type, through the stone age to the Renaissance to World War 2 to present day, and I realized what a truly daunting workload that’d have to be.

Working on Daxter PSP is a blast because of the dramatically reduced number of art assets compared to your typical RTS and the increased amount of time allotted to work on each asset that the reduced scale makes possible.

Put simply, I can put as much time into one character as an RTS artist may have to put on a set of 10 tanks.

The kicker is that I’m not even that big a fan of platformer games. Unless you count The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the first platformer I’d ever played was Jak and Daxter, which I quite enjoyed, particularly from an artistic standpoint. But it’s not necessarily one of my favorite games. And does it really need to be?

What I like most about working on Daxter PSP is the increased amount of love I’m able to show toward each art asset I create. My primary job is creating the characters (which, for the fanboys’ sake, I’ll say includes several familiar cameos as well as quite a few new faces, including the new female in the series, who is effing hot 🙂 but the real delight comes in creating the enormous animated set pieces that Daxter interacts with in the game.

Because of the increased freedom of the camera movement in a platformer like Daxter, we’re able to do a lot of crazy things with the camera in certain minigames and dexterity challenges that you can’t pull off in an RTS. In our E3 demo at the end of the Wine Cellar level, there’s an enormous animated set piece I created that regulates the pressure of a giant boiler. It’s eight animated valves, a progress meter and approximately 1.4 miles of wiggling, jangling pipes on the verge of bursting from steam pressure. You have to mash the buttons perfectly in time with the valves lighting up to release the pressure and exit the level.

I was able to have a lot of fun experimenting with camera placement and focusing the detail toward where the player was able to see most, and get to push crazy detail doing it. This isn’t the type of fun I’d be likely to have in another game, because I actually have input on how it’s presented to the player and don’t have to worry about much else aside from that and it looking good. 🙂

Ultimately I just get more opportunities to make the type of art assets that interest me most, without regard for what type of game it actually is. I just thought that entire subject was a fairly interesting distinction people might not think about, and figured it was worth bringing up.

I wonder if it’s the same for programmers, level designers and game designers? Anyone?

All Marketers Are Liars, and I’m a dick.

In my last post I was criticizing the media overexposure of Seth Godin, the writer of tremendously popular marketing books such as Purple Cow and All Marketers Are Liars. I was prating on about how I was sick of hearing about him and this and that and so on and so forth, enough so that I avoided reading his books.

Through a bizarre course of events, I found myself with a free copy of All Marketers Are Liars, his latest book. After I posted about that, he actually found my blog and posted a gentlemanly comment on it, despite my dickness. You can see what he said in the comments of my last post. 🙂

Feeling quite the dingus since I haven’t actually read the books I was criticizing, I dove into reading the book and was pleased and surprised to find that, in fact, it’s one of the best books on marketing I’ve ever read.

To set aside time to read it, I made a trip out to the beach last Monday, busted out my beach chair, plopped it down a few feet from the water, aimed toward the sunset and burned through a huge part of the book in one sitting. It was bliss. I haven’t devoured a book that quickly in quite a while. It even distracted me from Winning by Jack Welch, which I love.

The book is terrific. I’ve mentioned before that always felt like, as good as the other books I read are, they’re almost all vague high-level concepts I have difficulty finding a direct application for.

All Marketers Are Liars is an extremely well-written distillation of marketing theory, human psychology and practical applications woven into a series of bullet points explaining how storytelling is an immensely powerful marketing tool, and his thesis is punctuated generously with relevant real-world examples both well-known and obscure.

What’s interesting is that he weaves a wide array of concepts like Positioning, word-of-mouth marketing, branding, viral marketing and classic storytelling into one solid, cohesive picture, all described effortlessly, engagingly, and with a surprisingly common touch anyone can understand.

I find this remarkable because these concepts are usually presented as different facets of this hulking, unknowable and faceless beast called Marketing. This is intentional because the natural instinct in marketing a book on marketing is to become deadly focused on one single thing and write an entire book or series of books around it to carve out their own niche. It’s been constant divergence ever since, to the point that it’s difficult to see how anything fits together. The really interesting trick here is that Seth broke away from the flock with a strategic convergence of concepts to synthesize another, bringing them together harmoniously.

Usually I want to stomp the life out of people that say things like “This man brought [some vague concept] down to the people!” but it feels like Seth Godin’s accomplished that with a coherent, integrated, differentiated marketing strategy explained clearly and without pomp. The impressive part is that he’s apparently an extremely avid reader on all manner of subjects, such as biology, neuroscience, psychology, and distills their teachings and marketing-related applications into something that’s fun to read.

The whole book feels like it was written straight from his heart, showing his passion, enthusiasm, lust for life and hope for the future as well as his anger with unethical marketers and fraudsters. It’s really no wonder he’s so popular, because even if you’re not interested in marketing, it’s fun to read it simply for insight into why we like the things we like.

I was so, completely wrong about this guy’s work, and I need to watch my damn mouth in the future. 🙂 I’m going to buy the rest of his books, and I’ll comment on them as I read them.

Buy the book!


I loathe stepping onto the Trend Train, but I thought this was interesting and funny.

There’s a wildly successful author of marketing books named Seth Godin. He’s written some critically acclaimed and commercially successful books called Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside.

He’s also an aggressive self-promoter and shows up basically anywhere anyone talks about marketing, and if you’re as interested in reading business books and business blogs as I am, it’s impossible to avoid him. The blogs I read constantly talk about his books, how influential he is, what he’s doing that week, what kind of food he’s eating, what’s in his garbage, what he looks like when he’s sleeping alone in his house and safe from harm or so he thinks, etc.

It’s aggravating to me, because I tend to get very quickly fed up with people that are in the limelight for too long and are hard to avoid. Overexposure simply irks me, and besides simply being irked, I find myself increasingly irked by the mere fact of having BEEN irked by something, which sends me spiraling down a compounding vortex of irkdom.

I hadn’t read any of his books yet because the gist I got was that he was simply repackaging existing concepts and giving them silly names. i.e., the key concept behind Al Ries and Jack Trout’s seminal work Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind was taken a decade or two later and relabeled “Purple Cow.” On an immediate superficial level this strikes me as, pardon me for saying, jerkoffery. I strongly dislike self-indulgent cuteness — you’re a grocery store CHECKER, not a point-of-sale systems operator! — so I’ve been somewhat avoiding his books because I infer that it’s all sort of like that. And in any case, they seem primarily to serve merely as tools for him to promote his marketing consultation services. That’s actually pretty cool and exactly how I’d do it if I were him, but in my mind that makes me less likely to want to read it.

Now to introduce the second player in our story. I’ve mentioned them on this blog before but I’d like to introduce you all again to They’re a business bookseller that has fantastic book reviews, a genuinely interesting blog that’s updated with their new reviews, a great website and reasonable prices. They’re a titch above what you’d pay on Amazon, but you get wonderful freebies that Amazon won’t do.

For example, they advertised on their blog that, for their first birthday, they were going to give away free copies of books they’d been sent to review before publication to anyone who emailed them saying “Happy birthday!” I did this, not having bought anything from them before, and they sent me a free copy of Nobodies to Somebodies: How 100 Great Careers Got Their Start. I finished reading that last week and it’s one of the better books I’ve read in a while. Easy to read, very inspiring, very diverse and definitely worth buying.

At this point, they’d won my loyalty through sheer coolness, so I bought an autographed copy of Winning by Jack Welch (former CEO of General Electric). I’m still working my way through it and it’s an absolutely phenomenal read, but that’s besides the point.

So yesterday I’m at work and I had a package delivered to me from 800-CEO-READ. I had no idea what it could have been because I hadn’t ordered anything from them. So I open up the package and find a note. They have a Perfect Book Club where they send people that have bought books from their site a free copy of a book that a major publisher wants in the hands of early adopters like me. This happens every month.

And, lo and behold, the copy of the book they sent me was All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin, the author I’d so assiduously avoided reading. How about that? His self-promotion and marketing prowess have so invaded my life that HE FOUND ME AT WORK!

At this point I’d had enough of trying to avoid him and I really had no excuse not to read it. So I started reading it, and I’m only a few pages in but so far it’s actually pretty good. There isn’t enough to comment on yet but there’s certainly more to come as it happens.

Just another one of those funny things that happens to me.

Oh, incidentally, I installed a web tracker on my blog to keep track of how many people come to the site and it’s quite a bit higher than I expected. I don’t know who most of you guys are but I really thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading me. 🙂

Also, I’ve re-enabled anonymous commenting. Not sure how that got turned off.

Art outsourcing and production for the game industry