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  • Archive for September, 2014

    Why. Framing. Friends. And Tony Stark.

    2014 - 09.21

    I am one lucky unqualified entrepreneur. I have a mentor who has my back, but doesn’t gloss over the hits that life in a startup will swing my way.

    Business-stuff doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a feeler, a dreamer, quick to laugh and just as quick to cry. I’m finding my way. It’s dangerous to go alone. Take someone who knows more than you do about where you’re going.

    In my first freeform game, The King’s Musketeers, I got to know Alex Jones as the Musketeers deposed him (as the evil king) and restored him to the throne (as his twin brother).


    I was cast as a woman pretending to be a man running around duelling. AWESOME.

    We had a brilliant weekend of swashing and buckling and, discovering a lot of common ground including our writing, made Facebook friends.

    The following year we were fellow detectives in the world of Casablanca, and right at the end of the weekend, he mentioned he was there with his parents – a couple I had seen several times around but in games of 80+ players, had not actually spoken to much. Facebook soon after suggested his father, Chris, as a mutual friend, which seemed a good idea.


    Chris answered a Facebook plea for business advice. We had a couple of calls, where I displayed how staggeringly uninformed I was about all things business. We had more calls. And Facebook messages. Then he started letting me know when he was in London, so we could have face to face sessions.

    What Chris is very good at is looking not just as business, but what it means to be in business. We have had very frank discussions about the costs to lifestyle, relationships, sleep, stress levels. I’m not going into this naive and blind anymore. And I am lucky: Ras has seen me at my best and also my worst and every time I give into stress, he never asks me if I really want to go through this. He just asks what he can do to help, and assures me we’ll get through the current bump together. I don’t have to choose between him and the business, just like he will never have to choose between me and his musical career. So two key people have my back.

    On a Friday, a couple things came to head for me. It started with discovering that our Kickstarter video isn’t actually right as a kickstarter video. It’s a great little video, and has been the best part of my last month’s work in pre and post production – but it’s probably not our best chance at pulling strangers into our campaign.

    I have been working and working towards launching our Kickstarter campaign tomorrow and the key part of that campaign needs revision, if not re-doing completely.

    On Friday I sat in my coffice on the receiving end of a torrent of feedback on Facebook and PM – all of it helpful, all of it well meaning, but the sum of which I was not, at that time, equipped to deal with. In there, a few people really reached more directly out and ended up dealing with me in a heightened stare of aaargh but walked me through it, and I’m grateful (as I always am to everyone who fed back).

    I don’t know how to manage these new levels of fear and stress yet. I don’t know how to put so much on the line and have the line cut and while ill and sleep deprived, just go ‘ok. Bummer but here we go, Plan B’ without having an almighty emotional crash first. The video was the tip of the iceberg – there were other issues and fears around the project which jumped me on Friday.

    Which all led to the big question at the heart of all endeavour:


    Why am I doing this? Having to delay a campaign and throw out a month’s work will be the least of my worries if Imaginactive actually floats. Chris and I have talked about why he does what he does. He has a very clear understanding of his goals and rewards and is satisfied that they outweigh the costs.

    So I thought about that. I dug into everything that’s going on.

    I found an answer I’m happy with.

    And now I have a new tool: a frame tool. In a highly emotionally charged, exhausted state, my default frame for Friday was fuck my life. It’s hard to re-frame when you’re on edge anyway but I didn’t really have another strategy to even try and draw on.

    Ras is in Copenhagen. I should have been with him, for an important personal event, but I had to say no: I was launching a crowdfund on Monday. The day he left, the crowdfund strategy fell apart, as did I shortly after. I went home to an empty flat, ate all the peanut butter, started on John’s cereal box and genuinely didn’t know what to do with myself.

    So I put on Iron Man, and curled up on the couch with Tigger.

    A different kind of mentorship.

    A different kind of mentorship.

    A really helpful email from DiG came through.

    I started to regroup.

    Chris offered to call.

    I didn’t want to talk, but I also knew I had to get out of my head.

    I paused Iron Man, rang Chris, expecting a bit of ‘pull yourself together’. But I had a friend on the line, a mentor in the truest sense of the word.

    I started to re-frame the day.

    I finished watching Iron Man, fell asleep on the couch with Tigger, woke up when she got up later, went to my empty bed and lay awake until about 2am just running everything through my head, getting the heart of a couple of issues.

    I took yesterday off, which is an event in itself, and which let me think about the Why of Imaginactive. Think about framing. Inspect my weaknesses. I even went to the hairdresser, months late for my annual haircut.

    You get THIS with a HAIR CUT? Might have to start at least twice a year...

    You get THIS with a HAIR CUT? Might have to start going twice a year…

    I had a dvd night with two of my closest girlfriends and they sorted me out a bit further with a mixture of love and tough love.

    I was nervous about releasing the kickstarter video for feedback because my gut feeling was that it wasn’t right. I desperately wanted my paranoia be proven wrong.

    I was not. Everything I worried about came to pass on Friday afternoon.

    I took this as a terrible blow: my paranoia is real!

    Hollie and Eleanor re-framed that: my paranoia was true, therefore not paranoia but instinct. My instinct was true. Far from trusting myself less, I could take this as an opportunity to trust myself more.

    (that took some digesting)

    With Iron Man still on my mind, I complained that I wanted to be more like Tony Stark (post kidnapping, obviously) but have have none of his skills, business background, cast iron self-belied, teflon plating. Or, like, money.

    They reminded me that even Tony plays Tony Stark.

    We play roles. We imagine playing roles. Part of why I love reading and writing is the ability of characters to inspire us in our own lives, and to allow us to imagine being in theirs. Well, right now I’m on the other end of that. Tony crashes his suit and is pleased. He gets bashed around, thrown into walls, trashes his workshop, nearly dies in space – and it’s all brilliant to him.

    "...not bad..."

    “…not bad…”

    My journey isn’t that exciting but do me a favour: any time you see me falter, here’s the codephrase: ‘What would Tony Stark do?’

    Today I’m back to work. The kickstarter campaign has to run asap or we hit the pre-Christmas and new year crowdfund slow down and that’s it until March/April next year, and as Hollie says, all this momentum will be lost. We were already cutting the timing fine and now it’s even finer.

    Part of me is still freaking out about writing and trying to get my cast and crew back together for another video, with another edit, and in an even shorter timeframe.


    What would Tony Stark do?

    …ok, he wouldn’t write a blog about it…

    …he’d go off to the workshop. Mine isn’t anywhere near as cool and has a distinct lack of Jarvis and droids.

    But the coffee’s not bad.