Stupid Business Tricks

by Darius Kazemi on October 30, 2007

in business,entrepreneurship,networking

Because my work email address is more or less public, every now and then I get an email from some entrepreneurial guy saying, “Hey, I have this great business idea and I’m looking for a game industry partner. But I can’t tell you more about it until you sign an NDA.”

I usually respond to these letters along the lines of, “Tell me as much as you can without making me sign an NDA and then I’ll decide. If you can’t tell me anything, you can go talk to someone else because it’s not worth my time.” What I really want to tell them is that business is not about ideas, but rather, about execution. For example, I’m not afraid of my competition learning about my philosophies on metrics because ideas are cheap and execution is everything (edited June 08 to add: notice how their competing product doesn’t exist anymore?). I’m sure there are a bunch of smart people working there who have already thought of all my great ideas, but they can’t implement them because they’re a giant company and they have a million other things to do and things move at a snail’s pace.

Today, though, I got one of those dumb letters and it begged a different response. Mostly because the email, addressed solely to me, opened with

Hello, Tom –


Here’s my response:

My friend,

A word of advice: the next time you send out a form letter to every industry email address you can find, please take care to change the name at the top of your letter to match the recipient’s.

Darius (not Tom)


Bradley Momberger October 30, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Ow, *ZING*!

But I’m totally in lockstep with this line of thinking, difficult as it may be to resolve against my own self. I think it really plays out when you look at what separates a successful project from an unsuccessful one. Successful projects aren’t the ones that start out brilliantly, but the ones that you finish because you really *want* to.

Everybody should recognize that this very thing is right now holding back some of their brightest friends. It’s not that they have ADD, but that their interest in any given project wanes after a period of weeks. This may or may not be psychologically linked to procrastination (which itself may arise from depression), or just a feeling that the world is too wide an experience to hole yourself up all the time pursuing one minor thing. I don’t know, my grasp of psychology doesn’t extend this far, but it’s what I derive from introspection. I think that many of us, myself included, are afraid of tying ourselves down to a success-or-failure mentality wherein we link our self-concepts to projects or major undertakings — if we fail at implementing our ideas, by extension we fail at life.

This gets down to my point of why people are constantly in this mindset of “help me realize my ideas.” They’re not confident enough about their own abilities, about having the resources or the wherewithal to see it through. They want to use someone else’s resources to subvert the challenge, which is understandable. If you have financial power, you can come up with ideas all the livelong day and throw money at them — it’s easy to do, and probably craploads of fun as well. I say “probably” because I don’t actually know for sure; most of us, myself included, have the desire to do this but not the resources.

We _want_ to believe that the ideas themselves are intrinsically valuable, because they combine with labor to create product. But from an economic perspective, all industries require a combination of the four fundamental assets: land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship. In generic terms, production is achieved through the use of places, people, things, and ideas. No component by itself has intrinsic value in this equation other than its scarcity, and ideas are the least scarce of them all.

Darius Kazemi October 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Well said, Brad.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: