Maintain a healthy skepticism, even with yourself.

 

From a young age, gaming has been a significant part of Scott Gelb’s life. Specifically, the MMORPGS genre. It would be remiss to say Gelb didn’t dabble in first person shooters but massively multiplayer online role-playing games like WoW, EQ1/2, UO had a huge impact on his life as a gamer and a game developer.

Upon receiving his Bachelor of Science in computer sciences from the University of Kansas around the turn of the century, Scott knew he wanted to pursue higher education while simultaneously starting his career in the field. He pursued this dream at Washington University where he received his Master’s in computer science. Information technology had significantly evolved during the time Gelb received his education.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I have always loved gaming, ever since I was young and working in the industry just seemed natural. All I had to do was find my place or make my own.

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

Focus time. I usually allocate afternoons for meetings and try to group by theme/priority/goals. My current goals being, company operations, new games, and diversity & inclusion initiatives. In my day-to-day I try and keep a pulse on the bigger picture with different planning and productivity tools.

I conduct my own personal planning every quarter with a 90-day planning process. I create a set of goals with key actions and performance indicators to help objectively measure success and failure. I color-code my calendar to correspond with the current goals of my quarterly plan. Each week, I look over my overall time allocation based on the color-coding; this helps me understand if I’m spending my time on the highest-priority, most impactful goals.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Of course, all ideas are different but if I had to blueprint my general process, it would look something like this. A light bulb goes off in my head and I will try to immediately document that idea. Whether that is taking notes or creating a rough outline, I like to keep the original spark of the idea. After that I will sit on the idea and let it percolate. Sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks until the thought is fully development.

Once I have developed the idea, I like to run it by other people that may bring a unique perspective on the matter. You know, beat the idea up a little bit. After a couple iterations, it’s time to figure out what’s needed to bring the idea to fruition (e.g. build a team, find a leader to lead the effort, or drive on execution myself). Long term, I will track it on my own personal board/90-day plan to hold myself accountable to ensuring it’s driven to completion

What’s one trend that excites you?

Tough one, there are a lot. Core gaming experiences (especially MMOs) becoming more viable on mobile devices (and generally more fully cross-platform experiences, especially across console/mobile/PC). Much headway has been made here, but there is still a long way to go.

Another industry trend that is really improving is VR. The hardware is getting better every day. It’s lighter, easier to set-up, more powerful, with less motion sickness than past products. Where this could end up truly excites me.

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

Self-care is crucial especially when it is hard to get. I try and take care of myself by working-out 3 times a week. I meet with a trainer to stretch and improve flexibility. Eating healthy goes hand in hand with this. Also, I try and get 6 hours of sleep a night at a minimum.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Wear more sunscreen, travel internationally sooner, and put more effort into managing others’ perceptions.

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

I have a few of these actually, starting with the Game of Thrones ending. I thought it was good! Haters are going to hate, I guess. Another one is that thin crust, provel cheese pizza from the midwest is the best. Oh, one more unpopular view I hold is that St. Louis is the best sports city in the U.S. Sorry Boston.

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

Healthy skepticism can go a long way towards self-awareness. I try and make it a habit to lead with questions instead of making assumptions when acting on only a few data points. At scale, we often don’t have a lot of data points when initially hearing or seeing something. Instead of acting directly on the data as fact, I’ve always found it’s best to start with asking questions vs. stating assumptions as fact.

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

I make sure to keep my mind open to new ideas. Often, these come from places you least expect. Listening to the people around you is important in every situation.

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

I once tried to improve a dysfunctional team’s behaviors and culture without spending enough time to truly understand the root cause of the dysfunction. I aborted halfway through the plan as it did not go well and spent more time observing the team, asking questions, listening, and eventually found the root causes (a values misalignment with one member and a poor relationship with a customer of the team). After addressing these two challenges and gaining the confidence of the team, I was able to get enough momentum with the team to change behaviors that eventually led to an improved culture.

We didn’t have a store that scaled prior to shipping League of Legends. As the tech director accountable for the platform (and our external partner who was building our store and payments platform), I quickly pivoted the team together, we built an external plan to manage expectations with players while internally, we built an entire store experience in less than 6 weeks. This saved us from having to pivot from free-to-play to a boxed-product/traditional retail business model.

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

I’m still waiting for a PC cafe-meets-nice lounge atmosphere with great food and cocktails, as well as some big TVs for esports/sports events. I think this business idea could go a long way in the right hands. Or how about a well-marketed, holistic, easy to access, easy to understand “kit” for securing yourself digitally. The kit could cover everything from home security to identity protection to securing your devices and network to securing your online social presence and data.

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

I recently bought an ergonomic pillow that I am quite happy with. Also, I bought some airbuds.

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

I use Docs and Notes to create outlines of thought processes and new ideas. For tracking I use Favro and Trello boards, I find both well organized and easy to use.

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

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman gave me a better understanding of the two systems that drive the way in which we think. While the first system is fast, intuitive, and emotional, the second is slower, more deliberative and logical. Greater self-awareness helps towards productivity in ways that I cannot even describe. For another psychologist written book that has helped me achieve my goals is Mindset by Carol Dweck. If you are looking for an industry-specific motivator give, Masters of Doom by David Kushner a read. About the success John Carmack and John Romero found with Doom and Quake, Masters changed the way I view the industry.

What is your favorite quote?

Do I have to choose just one? Here are few of my favorites:
– “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford
– “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein
– “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” – Vince Lombardi
– “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

Key Learnings:

  • Maintain a healthy skepticism, even with yourself.
  • Listen to those around you.
  • Stay focused and take good care of yourself.