Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Secret to Success Came from Judo but It Could Have Come from Bobsledding

It's been a while since I posted here because I've been getting settled in Chile. If you didn't know I was in Santiago setting up what we fondly refer to as 7 Generation Games South, then clearly you don't follow closely enough on social media.

You can find THIRTEEN 7 Generation Games Social Media accounts here and several of the personal accounts of our founders here. It's almost as if we are encouraging you to stalk us but

A. No, we're not into stalking, and
B. There is no B.

Santiago Art Museum

However, you are welcome to follow any of our accounts in a friendly, non-creepy stalker-ish way and then you will know things like the I am in Santiago working on getting our bilingual games into the Latin American market and meeting all kinds of crazy challenges. For example, today I was practicing giving the pitch for our start-up in Spanish. Afterwards, the person I was practicing with asked me (in Spanish, so I was rather proud of myself that I understood it all) :

"You were a world champion, your daughter is getting inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame, your other daughter is a CEO, you'll turn 60 years old in Santiago working on your start-up. You have a Ph.D. What is the key to success?"

I asked her,

"Success in what? In sports? In education? Parenting? Business?"

She said,

"Anything. You pick."

I thought about it for a while and I finally said.

Perseverance. I think not giving up is the key. For example, today was not my day. I was working on something for two hours and the whole thing got wiped out and I had to start over. Just a lot of things went wrong. Everyone got on my nerves. I missed a meeting because another meeting ran late. I didn't get back to several people because I was recreating the site that got deleted.
We've been working on this company for a long time and the first few years were just making the games and getting them not to break, making sure that kids were actually learning. That took THREE YEARS of development, fundraising, testing and data analysis. Now it's been another year and a half of trying to get people to notice our games, download them, try them out and we're just now set to hit 10,000 users.

At a computer? You can play Forgotten Trail and maybe be our 10,000th user!

Why Forgotten Trail? This does relate to my point. Mid-way through the game, when a main character, Angie, gets discouraged, Ronda comes running up the hill, sits down and gives her a heart-to-heart talk. Angie says,

But it's just so hard to walk all the way across the country. I just want to give up.

Ronda tells her,

Where did you start from? At the bottom of this hill? No? North Dakota? Well, look how far you have come. You don't expect to run one 100-yard dash and win the Olympics, do you?
Ronda, as a game character

This gets to my point which by now you think I don't have, oh ye of little faith.

It took me 14 years from when I started judo to when I won the world championships.

There were a lot of naysayers during that time. A lot of setbacks.  I was ranked number one in the U.S. when I got pregnant and Eve went to the world championships instead of me. Two years later, I had knee surgery three weeks before the world trials. I still won - and yes, of course it hurt, really badly.

Plenty of people who were not as successful at judo, business, education or parenting worked very hard but they didn't do it as consistently. When they had a day like today, they said, "Screw it!" and took the rest of the day off instead of doubling down to fix what needed to be done. They worked really hard 80% of the days and that 20% they didn't feel like it, they slacked off.

It's like winter in North Dakota, most people think they can handle it if they come for a few days, even if it's 20 below. They don't realize that it isn't how cold it gets in North Dakota that drives people crazy (although that's pretty bad) , it's how LONG it goes on.

The secret to success is getting up every day and starting with the same enthusiasm, no matter how things went the day before, and doing that day after day after day.

Have a game on us! Making Camp runs in iPad, Android, Chromebook and any computer with a browser. Learn about Ojibwe history, outfit your wigwam and brush up on your math skills.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Four things I wish I'd told my children before I peaced out

I'm heading to Santiago, Chile on Friday morning, as part of Startup Chile. Although I will be back in the United States a couple of times in the next 7 months, I doubt I'll be back in California and, the way our lives are, I doubt I'll see my daughters much, if at all.

Last week, I met up with Ronda before she headed to Colombia and I knew I'd probably see her only for a few hours over the next several months, when she's getting inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame, and then I need to get back to Chile and she needs to get back to wherever the hell she's head off next (as if the lady heading to Santiago has any room to talk).

 I felt like I should have had some more profound things to say than,

"I love you and don't forget your passport."

Later in the week, I had brunch with my daughter, Jennifer, and her family and she commented,

"Do you realize that this will probably be the longest I have been apart from you since I was born?"

Jenn went to Santa Monica College, then to San Francisco State University, which is a short plane ride away, then went to graduate school at USC and then to work in Los Angeles.

Jenn's Baby is just as cool as she is

That REALLY made me feel like I should have some profound advice, but we were kind of busy between the mimosas and chocolate covered strawberries and checking out the duck pond.

So, a little belated, here are some things I want my daughters to remember.

1. Good people snowball. I met a really good guy, Fidel Rodriguez, when he asked me to speak at a youth conference he organizes. He introduced me to Hector Verdugo, at Homeboy Industries, where they do wonderful work helping people move from gangs to college and jobs. When the staff from Spirit Lake Vocational Rehabilitation Project were in town, he invited them to visit their project. It reminded me of a lecture I attended by Sidney Harman where he talked about being friends with an attorney in his neighborhood just because he was such a good person. That attorney introduced him to a young minister - Dr. Martin Luther King. Make an effort to spend time with good people.

2. Don't live your life to impress other people and you'll be a lot happier. Jennifer is the least well-known of my daughters, so much so that many people think I only have three children.  She is a good mother, a good teacher, a good wife and does pretty much what she wants. I am 100% certain that Jenn doesn't care at all whether you even know she exists.

3. After the first unthinkable challenge you overcome, the next one is easier.  Maria quit a safe journalism job to co-found 7 Generation Games . I went to Japan for my junior year of college, speaking little Japanese and knowing no one. Now, that I'm heading to Chile, I look back and think "If 18-year-old me could handle Tokyo, I'm sure I can succeed in Santiago with all of the resources and knowledge I have now." Julia is planning to study in Costa Rica over the summer. All of these choices are on the right path, wherever it happens to lead.

Whether it is changing careers or changing countries, take that leap of faith! You'll have a bigger, better, more fearless life and you won't regret it.

Mayan jungle
Support my day job! Get AzTech: Meet the Maya Get it for your iPad, in the app store
4. Everyone falls. It's getting up that matters. I used to think that judo saying, "Fall down seven times, get up eight" was stupid. I was wrong. Ronda has had some hard falls in the last couple of years. She picked herself up, decided what would make her happy and went forward with it. (Oh, if you are thinking of posting some comment about "Oh, are you proud of how she swears, and does X, Y and Z"  Go fuck yourself. I am damn proud of her. She's not perfect but neither are you and too bad that your mother doesn't love you as much.) We all make mistakes. You probably don't talk to anyone else as much as you talk to yourself in your own head, so don't beat yourself up (verbally) when you make a mistake.

Have to get back to work and packing. Help a sister out and check out one of our games. You can even get Making Camp for free.