Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Do You Want People to See You?

As you may have heard, my lovely daughter got married this weekend. It was a beautiful wedding and she was very happy.


 She can write about that on her own website that should be up eventually. That wasn't what I wanted to talk about, or only tangentially.

I met a very brilliant photographer at her wedding and he said he'd like to take my picture. Not right then, though, he wanted me to think about how I would like to be seen. He said,

I want to take a picture that will make you cry.

I laughed at that because he obviously doesn't know me. For me to cry, pretty much, someone close to me has to die, and maybe not even then. When I say things like that, some people get outraged, which puzzles me because really, what's it to them. People I don't even know will say stupid things like,

"You think you're so tough! I bet I could make you cry! You're just an old woman!"

First of all, no, no and yes, what's your point? Why do people think calling me an old woman is an insult? It's just a fact. It's like pointing at me and saying, "You, you - you have ten toes!"

Anyway, I digress, more than this whole blog is usually a digression. In case you are wondering, the reason I don't cry about things is that I learned early on that no one cared. If you are rich or beautiful and you cry people rush to help you. No one was rushing around to help me so I learned to suck it up and figure it out. That's not self-pity, it's just a fact. Actually, sucking it up and figuring it out has a lot to recommend it as a lifestyle.

Would it be nice if I'd had people running around handing me tissues and worrying about my feelings? Yes, probably. I also think it would be nice to have wings and be able to fly over Santa Monica Bay. In either case, I don't spend too much time pondering the lack .

It was an interesting question, though, and I pondered it over the last few days. How would I like people to see me? Does it matter to me how people see me? Do I really want to be understood ? Maybe, sometimes for about a minute when I am talking to my husband about mortality and he responds with a recommendation for a Raspberry Pi book that focuses more on game programming than hardware. We have been married 20 years because I do not smack him at these times and just remind myself of his many positive qualities of which being a good listener is not one.

I'd have to say I am used to being misunderstood and it doesn't bother me. Randomly,  this week, I happened across a thread on the internet that had been up for years with people I had never met ranting about me. There was much vitriol about my conceit, insecurity, demand for attention, etc. because her blog is DR AnnMaria. Can you imagine having DR in your email? She insists everyone call her DR - and on and on for pages. I laughed pretty hard at that.

When I got my first email account, way back when, it was not out of the question to get your actual name - that's how long ago it was. However, AnnMaria was taken, so I went with Dr. AnnMaria which is what my students at the university called me. THIS came about because when the students asked if they should call me AnnMaria or Dr. Rousey I said,

"Call me whatever the hell you want. I don't care."

I found it really funny that people had nothing better to do than speculate about my personality based on my blog name and twitter handle, that were left overs from my aol account from 1990.

What about people that do know me, though? Don't I really want to be understood by them? Don't I want my children or good friends to understand why I made certain decisions or don't cry every time they get on a plane? That would be nice but I'm not sure how possible it is to understand another person 100% , especially if you grew up in a completely different time and situation. Like I said, wings would be nice, too. They know I love them. That's enough.

 It was a really interesting question, though. What about you? If you could have people see you for exactly who you are, what would that look like? And do you care?

I'd still like to have wings.

If you like to see what our family group text is like, you can get the Family Business Textbook if you back our Kickstarter, Aztech.$50 or more. You'll also get a game for yourself and sponsor a whole classroom. Part video game, part graphic novel, it teaches Latin American history and math. It's bilingual so you can improve both your Spanish and English!

Back our Kickstarter to beat the crowd and get your copy first!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why bother staying in shape after you retire?

In the title, I specifically meant after you retire from competition, but it could apply to after you retire from working as well.

I get it. You've spend over a decade of your life cutting weight, running sprints, doing two-a-day practices so you can beat the competition. Your knees hurt, your back hurts, for the love of God can't you just relax on the couch and drink beer? Certainly, you've earned it.

I can certainly appreciate that thought. I had a long week -finished a report due to a funding agency, flew to Bismarck, drove to Standing Rock, did a professional development workshop via Google hangout and a second one on site in Fort Yates. Now, I have a 70 mile drive to the airport, two flights to get home and a pile of paperwork to complete and another report to write before Monday.

I admit it. This morning, I did NOT get up and go to the pool. I slept in until 10 and then spent another hour in bed drinking coffee and catching up on Twitter. And yet, I'm going to head out in a few minutes and go hiking for an hour before I head to the airport. That daily exercise is why I am still, literally, at my fighting weight.  although, to steal a phrase from Brewster Thompson, that weight isn't "packed in tight" as it once was.

That's not the point. What is the point? Why, I have prepared this handy video to explain it.

Okay, heading to the state park and then to the airport. If you'd like to keep up on our videos, you can subscribe to the 7GenGames TV youtube channel.  My next video will be on how the worst days of my life now are better than the worst days I could imagine when I was young.

If you like to learn new things - which I'm assuming you do by the fact that you are reading this blog, you should also check out our latest game, Aztech. Part video game, part graphic novel, it teaches Latin American history and math. It's bilingual so you can improve both your Spanish and English!

Back our Kickstarter to beat the crowd and get your copy first!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Secrets to success (and failure) learned from judo

Girl pinning with sankaku (triangle choke)

  1. To be in it for the long haul. Running a business is like coping with North Dakota weather. People come to the Great Plains and say, "I can survive when it's below zero." It's the fact that it doesn't get above freezing for MONTHS that wears them out. The same with training. I have seen lots of talented athletes fail because they did not have the discipline to train consistently. That doesn't mean you need to train equally hard every day or you never take a day off, but it does mean that you put in an uncomfortably high level of work, month after month. Year after year. Like judo, running a business means you have some times when you are winning everything in sight but a long time leading up to that when you are just banging away at practice and nobody knows who you are. Sometimes, you lose, you screw up, and you have to come back and work some more.  You move into a higher level of competition (or a new market) and need to claw your way to the top all over again.
  2.   Multi-tasking - since almost all of the years I was competing I had to be a full-time employee AND a mother of a small child or AND a full-time student. Now I'm doing software development, sales, data analysis and consulting on the side. I would tell Maria stories in the two-hour drive from San Diego to Los Angeles for weekend judo practices. I'd teach her new words. I'd read my textbooks in that long break between the preliminary matches and the finals and national and international events. I'd study manuals for new computer languages I was learning in airports waiting for a plane. To this day, I work in just about every setting. I'm typing this in my hotel and pretty soon, I'm going to head to Casper, WY and stop somewhere on the way to have lunch and to write a report to USDA.
  3.   Never stop learning.  No matter how much I won, I was attending training camps, visiting other clubs and working with my own coaches to constantly learn more. I'm currently taking an online course to improve my rusty PHP skills and I just spent all yesterday attending sessions at the Native American Education Conference. You never know so much that you can just stop getting better.
  4.  To cope with being tired (see #2) and keep on going - running a startup now where I have to sometimes work until 2 am to get bugs out, and then get up at 7 to go install games at a school is still not a piece of cake. However, after driving from practice in Los Angeles to San Diego, getting home sore at 11 pm and getting up at 5:30 am to run sprints up hill, I can handle it.
  5.  Not everyone has to believe in me - or, in the case of winning the world championships - almost no one has to believe in me. When I won, even my coaches were surprised. Some of my really good friends and family weren't surprised. Initially, I dismissed that as "But they didn't know that much about judo to know the odds I was facing." Not long ago, though, one of those people said, "No, but I knew YOU." When I started 7 Generation Games, it was the same way. Investors, accelerators, people in educational technology - all of the experts predicted we'd fail. I'm pleased to say we're still here when a lot of those people they predicted would succeed have faded into oblivion. It's still my family and closest friends who believed in me from the beginning and aren't surprised I succeeded.
  6. Learned about people - that a lot of people TALK a good game. I don't know if this is a good or bad lesson but it's true. Whether it's that they will help themseve, by showing up at practice when you need to train extra hard, or help you by funding travel to tournaments, you'll find a lot fewer people who put up than shut up. Whether it is people who promise to invest, purchase your product or tell their friends, you'll find far more SAY they'll do it than actually do. The last Kickstarter campaign we did, about four times as many people told me they backed us as actually did. For all of you people who did - I can't thank you enough, so thanks again.

It wasn't all roses and buttercups, though. The one place where I think judo HURT me was in never learning to ask for help. Judo is an individual sport. When you are on the mat, it's you  and your opponent. Your coach isn't going to help you, nor your teammates, nor the referee.

My late husband, Ron, once told me he thought it was unfortunate that the popular sports for women (at the time) were all individual ones - track, swimming, gymnastics and ice skating. He said he felt like he learned from basketball to be part of a team, to rely on other people, even if they didn't have the same level or the same skills. He said he learned, literally, to be a team player.

Not only is judo an individual sport, but it's a combat sport. You are supposed to be tough, not asking anyone for help.

You can't run a business very well like that, though. If you are going to grow, you need employees and investors. You need advisors. You need customers and not just to give you money (though money is great) but also to give you feedback.

So, overall, judo has been great for me, but it has taken me a long time to unlearn that "asking for help is being whiny".  It isn't. It's part of a successful business.

Speaking of which please help me out. We're bring out new games and you can help. Plus, you get cool stuff.

Click here to help or read more below. 
Aztech god king

And thank you.

From me, Maria Burns Ortiz  and the rest of the 7 Generation Games Team

When you’re doing a Kickstarter, you’re constantly reaching out to everyone you know – friends, family, acquaintances, people you sat next to once at your second cousin’s wedding, your local bartender, your cousin’s neighbor’s best friend’s aunt. And we felt like we’d done that twice already over the last four years. But then we thought about it and realized that reach out every two years isn’t really that annoying. And plus, how much have our networks grown since then?

We’re realized that we are SUPER excited about our upcoming line of bilingual games – which can be played just in English or as a bilingual English/Spanish experience – and they’re something we would back if we weren’t making them, so we decided to give it a go.