In each edition of my newsletter, I include three links to the things that caught my attention that week. In this essay I’m sharing the most popular links that I sent out in 2022, with some of my own essays sprinkled in for good measure.
I figured this would be a nice way to share the bits that resonated the most with my subscribers, and what type of content you can expect from my newsletter.
Below you’ll find the links roughly ordered by subject, and in order of clicks they received, starting with the highest number.
? Starting up
Pitching to Raw Fury: I recently came across this write-up by Spencer Yan on the process of pitching his game to publisher Raw Fury. He goes into great depth to describe what he did, as well as how and when he did it. I’d love to see more developers share their process like this, because we can learn a great deal from each other’s experiences.
Gamefund Pitch Deck: MGRV’sIlya Emereev recently shared what he called a “perfect funding pitch deck”. This is that template, and it’s a pretty robust one. Ten slides that will tell investors pretty much everything they want to hear to make a decision on your company. As a bonus, you can read Joakim Achren’s slide-by-slide review of the deck here.
Media & influencer outreach template: Canadian PR firm Evolve PR has helpfully provided a template for keeping track of media and influencer outreach. If you’re a small(ish) studio doing your own PR, definitely check this out.
Everything you need before you pitch: GYLD’s co-founders break down all the information and materials that publishers request when assessing your game. Great resource to keep handy if you’re pitching your game.
Don’t Con Yourself: Game industry conferences are ramping up again. This slide deck by @merryh examines the various aspects involved with attending events, as well as the factors that you should consider before deciding to attend.
Beyond the business model: In this essay I laid out the basics of strategy according to Michael Porter, and show you how you can map your own strategy in a visual way.
Mission, vision, values: Done right, your mission, vision and core values are a key element in a sustainable strategy. This essay is my interpretation of Jim Collins’ well-known work on company strategy, and contains a link to a practical template to find your own.
An engine to find product-market fit: This article was shared by Joakim Achren on Twitter, and is a masterclass in Silicon Valley ingenuity. The founder of superhuman describes how he was able to find a leading indicator of product-market fit, and how they managed to leverage that to create a better product. I would love for more companies to do this and share their experience, to see if this can be generalized.
Steve Jobs on values: If you have anything to do with marketing, and really even if you don’t, you owe it to yourself to watch this 7-minute video of Steve Jobs (in shorts!) explaining the power of values in marketing. Thank me later.
Five common strategy mistakes: Another essay on Michael Porter’s work, in this one I go through five common strategy mistakes he sees companies make all the time.
Strategy is more than a plan: This essay is an overview of the three elements of good strategy, as formulated by Richard Rumelt in Good Strategy/Bad Strategy. I also share my own consulting strategy as an example of what such a strategy can look like.
The Latticework: Here’s an interesting resource for you: a collection of the most important mental models from various fields of expertise. I guarantee that you’ll pick up something new by reading this.
Annual planning strategy prompts: Annual planning meetings can be a slog, especially if you’re just going through the motions. John Cutler shared these brilliant strategy prompts on Twitter, which are sure to get your critical thinking muscle pumping.
Delegate or die: A short essay on why and what you should delegate if you’re chronically short on time. The suggested model is basically the Zone of Genius model, by way of the EOS method, who’ve given it their own spin.
Tips for remote teams: I was discussing the challenges of remote work with Jens Bahr (? Hi Jens!) at Reboot Develop Blue, and promptly came across this tweet suggesting various ways to keep a remote team better aligned and connected. Some really great nuggets in here, well worth going through to add a few tricks to your remote repertoire.
The mere urgency effect: You might be familiar with the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps distinguish between tasks that are either urgent or non-urgent, and important or unimportant. This paper, shared by @emollick, demonstrates how we fall pray to urgent yet unimportant tasks: “People behave as if pursuing an urgent task has its own appeal, independent of its objective consequence.”
The Founder-CEO downside: Alright, this is it. The scientific validation of my professional formational trauma: Founder-CEOs don’t do a good enough job of listening to the other top managers they hire. Compared to non-founder CEOs, they aren’t able to leverage the skills and experience of their management teams. Founders, take note.
Behaviors that kill companies:Here’s an interesting Twitter thread of the behavior patterns that end up killing companies. I’m particularly fond of the firefighting loop, myself.
How to manage remote teams: I found this interesting thread on Twitter, highlighting the dos and donts of managing a remote team. As Job says, most of this would probably be good to do in the office as well, but it’s good to be reminded sometimes.
Defining your core processes: At some point in your journey, documenting your core processes will be one of the highest leverage things you can do to decrease miscommunication and increase efficiency. In this essay I explain why that is, and how you can start.
Game Boost Sweden: This is an initiative by Jenny Österlund through which studios can easily contract freelancers. I thought this was a very clever concept, which allows studios to easily scale up or down depending on the current workload.
Gender Decoder: Originally shared by Alessandra van Otterlo in the Dutch Games Industry slack channel, this is a great resource to check if your job ad contains text that is biased towards any specific gender.
Collaboration in the problem space: You’ve probably heard the adage “don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions!” This essay explores why it can actually be better to take time exploring the problem first, and suggests a model for moving from problem to solution.
On hiring for culture fit: Shared by Wharton Professor @emollick, this research paper touches on the same topic as an earlier essay of mine on hiring practices. Turns out, managers hiring for culture fit compare candidates to themselves, essentially hiring copies of themselves. Not great, unless you’re aiming for a monoculture.
Jesse Schell on Game Studio Leadership: This is a great talk by Jesse Schell on what is necessary to set a company up for success, from the GDC Vault. It’s from 2017, but the lessons haven’t lost anything in relevance. Plus, Jesse is a great speaker.
How the games industry hurts people: There’s been a lot of talk lately about unhealthy cultures at videogame companies, and this essay by Chris Pollock is a deep dive into why that is actually physically unhealthy for their employees.
Conscious Leadership: My essay on conscious leadership contained three videos from the authors of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, each of which collected a bunch of clicks:
The veil of ignorance: Someone shared this in the context of diversity efforts in the Dutch gaming industry, and I thought it was a fantastic example of this thought experiment. Essentially, Rawl’s veil of ignorance asks you to reimagine the rules and structures of the world without knowing where your place in that world would be. It’s a great way to ensure a more equitable system, and a powerful exercise for companies that truly want to be more inclusive.
The art and science of interoception: This article by Jonny Miller pairs nicely with this week’s essay. Interoception is essentially awareness of our internal state, and Jonny provides an excellent primer on what it is, how it works and how you can get better at it.
Failing with abandon: I was reminded of this blog post by another newsletter I read, by Ali Abdaal. In it, Nate Soares reminds us that we don’t have to “fail with abandon”, meaning you can get back on track without giving up completely. Partial success is still pretty good!
Burnout risk assessment: One of the possible consequences of staying in an unhealthy environment is burnout. This assessment lets you assess your burnout risk, and can be a good way to double-check if you doubt your company culture is good for you.
What great listeners actually do: A lot of people think they’re good listeners. I’m one of them! This HBR article shows that great listeners do much more than what we typically expect from “good listeners”.
Solitude and leadership: This article was recommended to me after I shared a reflection that I’m more and more convinced that self-reflection is the thing that makes great leaders great. The piece advocates that leaders should take the time to think about their motivations and actions. It’s a little heavy on the military parallels, and my feeling is that something like mindfulness would be a great “softer” element to balance the more cognitive strategic thinking advocated here, but the core arguments are very compelling.
Dare To Lead workbook: I finally got around to reading this book by Brene Brown as research for my Reboot talk. I was expecting something a bit floaty, but her work is very much grounded in research, and presented in a very down-to-earth manner. For anyone who wants a practical guide to developing vulnerability and trust in leadership with their teams, check out this helpful workbook.
How will you measure your life?: Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, discusses the three key questions he asks his students to get them to think about their life’s purpose. Interestingly, he uses some of the same wisdom gleaned from his research into innovation to explore these questions. His personal advice? “Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.”
The Ultimate Annual Review: If you want to get started on your own annual review, this is an excellent starting point. Steve Schlafman has put together a list of topics and questions that will help you get “a holistic perspective on where you’ve been and where you want to go”.
How to say no: Maintaining healthy boundaries and saying no doesn’t come natural to all of us. Luckily, there’s this website that lists many, many ways of saying no politely. The best part? You can import the templates straight into Gmail!
How to Speak: This is a great lecture on public speaking, which was shared on Twitter by @productnerd. I love how Winston brings back public speaking to the absolute essentials, and I guarantee you’ll learn something new when you watch this.
Podcast appearance:I was recently invited to appear on Hitchcock Barbie, the podcast of my good friend Linn Sovig. We talked about PR, marketing and business development in the games industry, so give it a listen if that sounds interesting to you.
DALL•E: I shared this link before Midjourney and the whole debate on AI art took off, but I still think it’s worth your time to experiment with this and see for yourself what is possible with these tools. Same goes for ChatGPT, which I’ve been consulting regularly as a sort of brainstorming partner.
Automatic cookie consent: This is such a brilliant life hack. Super Agent automatically accepts cookies according to your preferences. Let 2022 be the year in which you say goodbye to those annoying popups forever!
The problem with NFTs: This video has been doing the rounds, and I think it’s very much worth the 2 hour(!) watch if you have even a passing interest in NFTs. It does a good job of explaining NFTs core mechanics, and placing the criticisms levelled against them in a broader context.
11 Actually useful tips for G Docs: If you use Google docs, this one is for you. Rob Lennon has managed to put together 11 features that will actually improve your experience with Google Docs, and that aren’t that obvious.
Dark Forest theorem: I love Kurzgesagt, and this video was very nicely timed with my recent reading of The Three Body Problem. The video explains the Dark Forest theorem that’s at the base of the scifi trilogy. Check this out if you’ve been curious about the books!
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