Listening to those around you is imperative to developing and growing in both business and your personal life. Taking the time to listen can be hard but well worth it.

 

“You have to balance relationships with the EQ and understanding that we are all human beings and emotional creatures.”Jin Oh is the President of Worldwide Publishing at Riot Games in Los Angeles, CA. Considered an international marketing-guru, Jin started working with Riot in 2013 before leaving to run operations for Garena, a digital entertainment platform that develops and publishes online PC and mobile digital content in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Jin returned to Riot in 2018. Coordinating the marketing efforts of one of the biggest names in esports is a monumental task. One that requires hyper-vigilance and an eye for synergies. Oh honed in on his craft with several companies like Samsung, SK Group, Blizzard Entertainment, and Ernst & Young before starting with Riot. Oh is largely responsible for the popularity of Riot’s flagship game, League of Legends, throughout South Korea’s thriving esports communities. The game has enjoyed a top slot in South Korea’s wildly popular internet cafes for more than 6 years.

Where did the idea for Riot Games come from?

I did not create Riot Games, but I had a large part in developing and promoting League of Legends. Like most good ideas passion and hard work were the driving force in making these ideas come to life.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day consists of waking up at five, and I am in the office between six and seven depending on whether I worked out at home or not. Then I plan out my day. I spend a lot of my time on my calendar because I think that’s the one resource I have that helps me take control. I say no to a lot of meetings, I’m not a fan of meetings. I take as few meetings as possible, but they are inevitable. People start rolling in for meetings around nine or 10. From there it’s just nonstop meetings until mid to late afternoon. Then I have a block of time that I am again refocusing, rethinking, and emailing. Then if I haven’t done so already, I will work out. After that I will go home, have dinner with the kids and I’m usually asleep pretty early.

How do you bring ideas to life?

For me it’s all about idea generations. I’m creative in a sense but not in the traditional way like most people in the entertainment industry. I am creative in the sense that I come up with creative solutions. It’s not rocket science; it’s just understanding what the core of the problem is. A lot of the time we focus on the symptoms rather than the core. I am super detail-oriented and part of that is asking tons of questions until I understand what the core of the problem is. Only when you understand the core can you really fix the problems and come up with creative solutions. So that is what I do.

What’s one trend that excites you?

In the gaming industry, things can change rather quickly. I generally try to steer clear of trends and look at the bigger picture.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I don’t know how productive I am, but I am certainly diligent. Having said that, I do blackout times to get work done. And this is weeks and months out. Because meetings for me are not getting work done but instead are preparation towards getting work done. Secondly, I blatantly prioritize. For example, I say no to a lot of meetings, and I also say no to a lot of people who want to come to these meetings because at Riot it’s easy to see 20 or 30 people meetings that are not very productive for everyone there. I’m very diligent about those things which I think are more productive in the end.

Also, I’m going on tangents now, but we have a tendency of being inclusive to a fault. You are not being inclusive by hauling all the people to the meetings. You are being inclusive by making sure that the right people are at the meeting at the right times because you’re wasting a lot of people’s time if they don’t have a purpose in the meeting. Think about it, how many meetings have you been invited to that you attend and ultimately you say nothing or obligated to say something when you have nothing to add. This is counterproductive in my opinion. So, a lot of the times when I hold my meetings, I’m super clear about who is invited. Like a recent meeting that was 50 people deep, and I had a question it’s necessity. That meeting no longer gathers, and we gave 50 hours back to the company.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’ve talked about this a lot, but I would tell myself to have a bigger perspective on life, and not sweat the small stuff as much. On the flipside of being diligent is trying to overachieve when you don’t have to. For a long time, I didn’t have a perspective on what was important and what wasn’t. What to worry about and what not to worry about. If it were possible to go back and talk to myself, I would say look, there’s stuff that people will never remember including yourself, and then there’s stuff that actually does matter like family. Back when I was single, it was my parents and my siblings. Now it’s my wife and kids.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I face that every day, I’ll give you a couple examples. I always think about how projects will manifest and how to operationalize them. Because if you don’t execute it, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been in many meetings, in the most senior meetings, where we have great ideas and then that is the end of the conversation. It eats me inside, because we’ve wasted these meetings throwing around ideas without talking about who owns it, or how it actually works, and when we will do it. Then a few weeks later a problem arises, and push comes to shove and things fall apart. It’s like taking care of your health; when you’re in the ER, it’s too late. I think operationalizing ideas and making sure that it works or doesn’t work, needs to happen. I know I’m right on this one, but I also know that I am in the minority. So, what I do is take a deep breath and know that I can still say what I need to say but understand, again, now I know what I can influence and what I cannot. All I can influence is my personal life.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Listening to those around you is imperative to developing and growing in both business and your personal life. Taking the time to listen can be hard but well worth it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

It is kind of a cliché here at Riot but it is crucial to keep a clear focus. This is not high-level stuff, in fact, every company talks about being customer-focused. But what we do is operationalize it, and we actually live it.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Back in my early days, when I was transitioning from my role as a manager to a senior level director. When I started managing bigger teams and bigger P&Ls and what not, my biggest failure was not understanding what got me there. What got me there was, I worked very hard, I was very analytical, strategic and I got stuff done. Just really winning at work. But when I came to the senior level, it was more about the EQ vs the IQ. Which is why I dramatically failed. I was pushing my agenda, and pushing my ideas getting stuff through. And I saw people who were not as hard-working being very critical and but I didn’t take the time to build the trust. That was my biggest failure. I still delivered but despite myself versus because of myself.

I ruined a lot of relationships back when I became a senior leader because it is not easy. You just have to try and balance the relationships with the EQ and understanding that we are all human beings and emotional creatures. We also need to put effort into building trust. I still haven’t perfected it but over the years have gotten better.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’ve seen so many great ideas that have remained as ideas because they were not operationalized properly. It’s being on the front line of marketing and publishing. Make sure your ideas are realized by being involved and aware.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I don’t have a specific place I can recall but I like to spend money on quality food. Even if it is just the grocery store a good, fresh meal can make or break your day, sometimes.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We use so many different tools at Riot it is hard to narrow it down to just one. I would have to say it is more important how you use a tool than what that tool is. Keeping my email and calendar organized is essential to my productivity.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

It’s probably pretty common but “Good to Great” by Jim Collins is a great read and gives plenty of practical ideas that you can implement on any level.

What is your favorite quote?

“If You Are Working On Something That You Really Care About, You Don’t Have To Be Pushed. The Vision Pulls You.” – Steve Jobs

Key Learnings:

  • Finding a balance in your work relationships is crucial to a lasting career.
  • Pushing yourself is key, but knowing when to push and when to ease up is even more important.
  • Creativity can come in many forms, including creative problem-solving.