A game industry book looks funny because “Wii would like to play”. (Wii was the first Nintendo console to support Internet connectivity.)
disrupt the game is short and direct. It’s a quick read and doesn’t promise to get into the personal and emotional areas of its author – Reggie Fils-Aimé, former president and CEO of Nintendo America. It is a “business memoir” in which the reader learns that Reggie “lived his life at the intersection of ability and opportunity”. The book may be concise, but it is powerful; Reggie had no experience in the gaming industry and despite this was able to disrupt it and make “gaming” a cultural juggernaut.
The book is a healthy mix of East and West. Five of our favorite lessons are:
He introduces you to Satoru Iwata – who should have been a household name. Maybe he “is” among game fans. With personal contributions to Pokemon, Kirby and Super Smash Bros, Iwata is the genius game developer, programmer and powerhouse behind Nintendo. The fact that Reggie and Iwata are rooted in diametrically opposed cultures is obvious; when Reggie wanted to visit Iwata in the hospital, the latter thought it was totally inappropriate. And yet, they met and discussed business in the hospital. This “concentrated genius” meets “marketing maverick” is the foundation upon which the story is built.
2. Reggie comes across as genuine – someone who pushes for his ideas. From growing up in a one-bedroom walk-up apartment on the fifth floor of a building in the Bronx, with cockroaches and mice for company, to his custom-made suit avatar, it’s a journey he owns. good. His competitive spirit, a strong drive to win more customers, quickly increase revenue and profits, and beat the competition (there is military blood passed down from his grandfathers) are self-taught traits; not phrases taught in business school.
3. Reggie could never have attended Cornell University without financial aid. And guess what; Reggie did not seek employment with Nintendo or other video game companies. A recruiter contacted him! Fortune favors the brave and not all business successes are the ones you create out of thin air; sometimes you board a bus that is on the road to success. What matters is to be “open, prepared and available” when this bus appears.
4. For young professionals just starting their journey, here’s sound advice: whatever the situation, choose your next step. If you feel you are right and your bosses are telling you you are wrong, reflect, analyze your situation and plan your alternatives. Check if you are reacting to your hurt ego? Or do you believe you are right, but in the wrong position, wrong company, and wrong leadership? You always have alternatives.
5. Be genuinely curious and don’t settle for superficial answers. The anecdote about Nintendo game director Shigeru Miyamoto wondering about the pipes lining the ceiling of a restaurant in New York – being genuinely curious about it, asking, “I need to know more about it”, is a lesson for all. Almost all the restaurant employees gathered around him to explain the reasoning to him and he kept asking until he was fully satisfied.
Reggie is self-aware and open about what isn’t working for him. For example, “working on slow growth products for conservative executives is not for him. What drives him is being a customer advocate. As a reader, the biggest lesson for me is embedded in a chapter titled ‘Pivoting to a Solution.’ Reggie talks about failure and says, ‘Don’t be too careful after failure. Although this may be a natural reaction, it is not productive. Move forward with a willingness to take risks, to be aggressive, to disrupt.” Being fully “present”, aware and weighing your choices before they become decisions is pretty much what this book is about.
And Reggie is also fully “present” in his book – the cover brings him out of pixels – and looks his reader straight in the eye. Game on!
— Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta is a columnist, biographer and bibliophile. She is the originator of the internationally renowned Red Dot experiment, a ten-year study conducted in six countries on the impact of “culture on communication”.
First post: STI