Don’t quit your day job is a common warning you hear when people talk about wanting to go their own way. I think there is a lot of wisdom in the statement and for the longest time, it was a common mantra for myself. I am not here to make a bold claim that we should do away with the statement, but I do want to let you know that today is the first day of my adult life where I don’t actually have a day job (or in the process of searching for one).
There are a lot of circumstances that provides this avenue, and I know that I am a really lucky guy. I wanted to share a bit of how I quit my day job, why I chose to quit my day job, and what has helped (and continues to help) in the process.
So this is going to be two-fold. The first time I did this was actually really easy, as I was a contractor for Google at the time. I put in my two weeks (of which you really should desire to give your current employer as much time as possible before the jump) and that night I went on a date. I looked across the table at a woman I met on Tinder and told her that I put in my two weeks because I was going to work with kids at a pretty sizeable price cut and work on my game design (more on this later).
This time, I put in a month’s notice with the store I am working at (Yes, I moved jobs a few times). When leaving this job, I have repeatedly offered as much as I could in feedback, help, and anything else the store would need. Throughout the time at this current job, while I don’t think I was the perfect employee, I worked hard to make sure that I was the best employee I could be. I turned down a job offer for an assistant manager role, because I knew that I wasn’t going to be there long term, and that would have take away from my vision.
You can’t take your eyes off the prize and get stuck in the mud. You have to love the process (see: journey) but you have to remember that there is an oasis in the desert. You have a reason – and that is how you start off right.
This may make me sound foolish, but honestly, I wanted to go it alone because I need to feel the pressure on my shoulders. Not only do I like, but I thrive on the pressures of the world. The faces people make when I tell them that I am aiming to build my own business and that it is entertainment centered is one of the driving forces in my day to day life.
Creators and entertainers and normally meant to work within a system and rely on others to get their stories told. If this all goes downhill, then I still have that option to be sure. I can still search for a company to publish my game and I can go on with my life, designing games and feed the machine as a cog. That isn’t the life that I want for myself though. I hope you read that right, being a cog in the machine wasn’t a life that I wanted for MYSELF. There are a lot of people that make amazing cogs and push large machines further than previously imagined. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a cog. There is security, stability, peace, and a healthy separation between you and whatever is being produced by the machine.
I have been an unfit cog in many machines. I have interned in a social media house, a traditional media group, and interned two seasons with a class A minor league baseball team. I have worked with Microsoft, Nintendo, and Google. I have worked with the homeless, children, and retail customers. I have tried design, marketing, and e-commerce. The main thing I know about myself is that if I don’t feel that I am actually making an impact on the machine that I am a part of then I start to move away.
Talking to my father one night, he flat out asked why I hadn’t started my own business yet. He went on to tell me that he never understood why I didn’t forge my own path. I don’t strike him as a corporate type of person – unless I would be designing what that actually looks like.
I always tried to hustle as a kid, and I vividly remembered going to Sam’s Club with him and buying candy in bulk to resell to the other kids for profit. I got so good with this that I was called to the principal because I was breaking a contract they had with a large company that had rights to pawn their candy onto the students at much higher prices. I was no longer allowed to sell candy on school property. I asked for clarification, and soon I was selling candy on the edge of the property. I did this for both morning and afternoon.
Honesty with others and honesty with ourselves clears a lot in our heads and being honest about my desires to build something of my own is why I started on this journey.
Remember that woman I mentioned earlier, the one that was told that I was leaving a nice paying job to work with kids and make games? She and I are married and I couldn’t be happier. She is my partner and my most powerful defender. She really is my rock in this process and I couldn’t imagine being here without her. We have both gone back and forth as to who was the ‘breadwinner’ for the household and she has looked me in the eyes and said that she would take on the pressure of being the main earner because she believes not only in my game but in my drive to build something out of nothing.
We have budgeted appropriately for the coming months and we have a plan. We are dedicated to this idea and I can’t express what having a partner there does for you. This doesn’t have to be a significant other – this could be family, friends, investors, and others around you. Having someone look you in the eye and saying they believe in you though will change your life.
I have had people come into the project willing to work pro bono with percentages post-KS going to them. This pirate share idea isn’t new, but what means more to me than the free labor (honestly it is nice) is the conversations I have with these people. I have grown immensely listening to others who have hopped on the team. They believe in my game and they like the vision that I am throwing out for them. They don’t quit their day jobs but they give their time. Time being such a limited resource – I refuse to fail and waste what they have already given.
Lastly, I use the word a lot, but your vision is what keeps you going. I am trying to learn as much as I can from successful Kickstarter creators, but I don’t actually want to stop at just designing games. I want to build a world for future generations. I want to learn as much as I can and help others see their dreams come to fruition. I want to build a studio… a studio known for challenging the common tropes and not sticking with ‘safe stories’. Like when I talked a bit about diversity, I want to see all kinds of voices sharing their story. I want to find creators who get lost in the system and help them out.
There is so much that I continue to talk about, but I will leave this entry so I can go focus my energy on learning more about fulfillment and warehousing. Which is something that I never thought I would take time to learn about. So yeah, don’t quit your day job… or do you. Make sure whatever path, you go in with a plan, you adapt, and if you can find a partner then you are all the better.