Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in September, 2013

Toons, Love, and Letting Go

By on Sep 29, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Earlier this month the curtain finally fell on Toontown Online.  I am guessing that 90% of the people who read this post will have no idea what that is, was, or means.  I won’t spend a lot of time telling you what it is or was, but I do want to share a few words about what it means. Toontown was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, an MMORPG, if you can believe such an acronym exists.  It is more commonly referred to as an online world, or a virtual playground, where participants create a character, or avatar, that represents them among tens of thousands of others at any given time, in what is affectionately known as cyberspace, the intersection of computer networks, or the Cloud.  The most famous and successful MMORPG of all time is undoubtedly World of Warcraft, which was created ages ago by Blizzard Entertainment and has produced immense wealth for those behind it.  Toontown is kind of like the quirky second cousin of World of Warcraft, created by huge fans of WOW initially at Disney Imagineering R&D, seeking a key point of differentiation — Toontown was the first MMORPG for kids and families.  Yes, that’s right, kids and families.  It came from Disney, after all, where family entertainment is the brand promise. Aside from appealing to a different demographic audience, Toontown accomplished a few other significant milestones.  For one, it lasted commercially over a decade, if not putting it in the wealth stamping mode of World of Warcraft, certainly getting it into the rare window of time warp triumph that few digital games enjoy.  It was certainly the longest living bit of software that I ever helped see the light of day, by an order of magnitude.  We started working on it in 1999, launched the free public beta at Disney Online in the Fall of 2002, and went live in full subscription model in mid-2003.  Earlier this year, Toontown Online celebrated a milestone of ten years active that very few libraries of compiled code ever have the occasion to note. If you have never played an MMORPG or have no idea what the gameplay in Toontown Online encompassed, you can easily learn that by...

Read More

On a Mission or Just Staying Awake

By on Sep 10, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

One of the themes I explore in my forthcoming debut novel, This is Rage, is the notion of motivation.  This is a subject I hold dear, and one I focus on a great deal in the executive coaching workshop I co-lead with John Vercelli. If all a mission statement is meant to do is fill a half page in your human resources handbook, it is probably not worth the time to write it down.  One of my former teachers and board members used to say he had a vision of all the great mission statements in the world collected in a single volume, and there could be no possible better bedtime sleeping remedy than trying to force oneself through those pages with one’s eyelids open.  Again I agree, if a mission is just a string of words — Buzzword Bingo without a juicy prize — it will not motivate, but let’s consider a few potential examples of applying a personal leadership mission in attempting to inspire a team. Here are three choices I offer participants in the workshop, all of which we’ve heard in some variation, from the absurdly failing to the boldly aspirational: Choice 1: To make this department much more efficient and profitable! Choice 2: To overcome market forces and prevail over our competition! Choice 3: To provide my team with the support and resources they need, to the very best of my ability, to collaborate and do the very best work of their careers. My response to Choice 1: Not gonna inspire, management by fear is so not cool. My response to Choice 2: You’re starting to get my attention, through an occasional yawn. My response to Choice 3: I’d build you a log cabin in the arctic if you asked me. Call me an optimist; people like to be inspired.  It’s not a sleight of hand.  Real leadership means rallying people around a cause, to subordinate their own personal quirks to the shared agenda adopted.  The leader’s job is to create the environment for sharing. Is it the business leader’s job to make her or his department more efficient and profitable?  Do we really need to ask?  It goes without saying, so don’t seek glory in the obvious. ...

Read More