Job History in 10 Questions
An Independent Game Developer

"I'm a good example of 'follow your passion,' but I think it's bad advice."

“I’m a good example of ‘follow your passion,’ but I think it’s bad advice.”

Name: Tim
Age: 31
Industry: Video games
Title: Independent game developer (self-employed)
Location: San Francisco, CA

Most interesting job you’ve ever had?

I would say the most interesting moment in my recent career was when I was hired at my previous job and got the opportunity to design and develop my own game. I happened to join at a good time when they’d just received a lot of investment money and were looking to create interesting content for a new online world. Every new hire was asked to pitch and build a game. I had a few ideas I’d fleshed out a little bit, and there was one was the most obvious choice. That idea became Corpse Craft. It was totally unexpected and exciting.

Least interesting job you’ve ever had?

Working as a dishwasher. That was torture.

Any role models or mentors?

I wish I did have a mentor; that’s been something I’ve felt is lacking in my career. I’ve had a couple of role models at previous jobs – both were the heads of the company I worked for at the time and I respected and admired them. My biggest role model is my dad. He started his own non-profit organization when he was thirty one – the age I am now. He just retired from that job this year. (read more…)

How to Take Yourself on a Work Retreat

Pollock Autumn Rhythm

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.”

— Confucius

In February 2012, plagued by the feeling of life moving past me, of not achieving the things I set out to do, and generally feeling unsettled in my career, I decided to plan time to reflect and make sure I was working towards the things wanted in my life. For my excursion I planned a day-long solo retreat (“emphasis on TREAT” say my notes from the day) which I spent walking along Ocean Beach and through Land’s End, taking myself out to lunch at a favorite pizza place, and writing out some reflections and feelings as I sipped coffee at a cafe. I came to no new conclusions per se, but it felt great to organize the feelings of discomfort and discontent that had been circling around in my head and to expel them onto a page.

Since then, I’ve kept up a regular habit where I take some time alone (a day or overnight trip) every three months or so to think through the current issues in my career and life. I started calling them “quarterly retreats,” but my friend insisted this was too corporate (like I should report back on profits and earnings), and suggested renaming them “seasonal reflections.”

(read more…)

My Mad Men Memories
On Being The Only Woman In The Room

A girl who wore glasses, circa 1970.

A girl who wore glasses, circa 1970.

When the show Mad Men first premiered, I couldn’t watch it – not because I didn’t think it was well done, but because it captured a little too perfectly what it was like for women working at a large New York corporation in the 1960s. I began my career in 1967, and watching the show brought back memories of my own years of internal struggle, of learning how to be assertive and not defer to men. It was a difficult time to be a woman in the workforce.

I attended Barnard College, in New York City, where I was a math major. This was very unusual for a woman at that time. My advisors wanted me to get a PhD in pure math in order to teach, but I wasn’t interested. I’m too people-oriented. I wanted to go into business, but I didn’t have any role models of women in business positions. “Girls,” as we all called them, became teachers or secretaries if they chose to work. They did not have professional jobs. I decided I wanted to become a computer programmer; I had to get special approval to take computer courses at the Columbia School of Engineering while I worked toward my degree.  I was 21 years old when I got my first job working in a research laboratory at Columbia University. It was 1967. I was the only woman in the office. (read more…)

Invisible Scripts: Do You Know What You Think You Know?

Buy our invisible script popper!

An invisible script is an assumption that is so baked in to how you view the world and your choices that you don’t even question it. It often involves an inner voice telling you what you should do, need to do, or can’t do.

Here are some common invisible scripts we can think of off the top of our heads:

  • I need to go to grad school to be successful
  • Traveling is the best way to spend free time/money
  • If I follow my passion, I’ll find a job I love (or, I need to follow my passion in my career)
  • I can’t raise kids while living in a city
  • I’ll be happy once I make more money
  • Spending a lot of money on gifts demonstrates much I care
  • After getting married, I need to buy a house
  • Couples who are truly compatible never have bad fights
  • It’s important to be liked
  • The harder something is to attain, the more important it is
  • My job has to be completely sustaining to me
  • Being busy all the time means you are important and valued

(read more…)

My Mother’s Other Career

My mom with her horse, Isis.

My mom is an artist, and for most of her career was an art teacher. First she taught in after-school programs and a children’s museum, then in a retirement facility, and finally, in public high schools in New York City.

But she had another job this whole time as well, as a rescuer of various animals, usually off the street and often on our own block. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that this was unpaid. My mom doesn’t just see a homeless animal, feel bad, and move on. She scoops it up, feeds and cares for it, and finds it a new home. And she’s done it despite a very small apartment, two kids, a reluctant husband, and limited funds. I’ve always shared a passion for animal welfare with my mom, and have also done years of volunteer work in that field. I didn’t think about it much growing up, but as an adult I can she that she has been the inspiration for all of it. I wanted to know more about her career as a rescuer, the role animals had played in her life, and how she managed this incredibly meaningful yet taxing commitment. Here is what she had to say.

(read more…)