More on Corporate Wizardry

More on Wizards and Corporate Wizardry

We talked about the role of the entrepreneur or Wizard in Chapter 4 – Getting Started. We said that they were complex characters with a lot of magic who were not always to be trusted. We have to emphasize that all the seductive powers of Roland the Tall, the wizard we described in our book, are at play in the magical world of game building. We know. We worked for Roland. You have to understand those seductive practices before you sign on.

So, with that thought in mind, we feel compelled to issue a warning to those who are about to quite what may be reasonably good jobs and go to work for a wizard. The same warning applies, by the way, to those who spin-off their internal corporate game department or sell their small but moderately successful serious game company to a larger more successful operation run by a genuine wizard.

A Warning About Joining the Team

Imagine this: you are a moderately successful businessperson in a safe but rather boring company. You are very good at what you do and frankly getting a little tired of the same thing day in and day out. Suddenly, Roland, an entrepreneur who looks and speaks very much like a classic wizard, walks into your mundane life and offers to take you off on a magical trip where all the hotels are the finest in the world, all the airline tickets are first class, and all the lovers you could ever want are just outside your door. Roland then promises you millions and millions of dollars just for joining him and then shows you mystic visions of how it can all come to pass. Who wouldn’t accept such an offer? Who would ever question its viability?

In our modern age, as we have said, the wizard is an entrepreneur. The magical trip turns out to be a fund raising junket and the tools for making millions and millions of dollars are your stock options.

You believe the image Roland has conjured up for you. After all, if wizards are good at anything they are good at conjuring. They give you this picture of power and glory and they lure you out of your safe but mundane little job and into the depths of wizardry. It ends up being a lot like selling your soul, not because wizards are inherently evil (though some say they are), but because wizards are UNDEPENDABLE. You don’t really know what you’re in for. In the case of most wizards there’s a good chance it will be dark, deadly and dangerous.

The Science of Wizardry

Wizardry isn’t an exact science, in fact, wizardry isn’t and kind of science. It’s magic. As a result, even wizards can’t depend on it working every time they want it to. And we common people can’t recognize which wizards who have the best chances of success. No one does. Not even the wizards themselves.

Hundreds of workers drive themselves to exhaustion trying to bring a product as close to perfection as it can be, blaming themselves if the product is any kind of failure. They trust the wizard’s vision implicitly. In Silicon Valley, California (home of the greatest collection of pure wizards since the Dark Ages) the vision of wizards has succeeded time and time again. But for every wizard who succeeds, ten fail, and the people who trusted their visions go down with them.

How do you survive in this environment? One answer is simply to avoid it. But there may be a way to face the incredibly seductive powers of the wizard’s conjuring and still take advantage of the opportunities that it can bring.

Here is a list of the rules you have to follow if you are to have any hope of entering the wizard’s realm and coming out alive.

Survival in the Wizard’s Realm

Rule #1: Avoid the wizard’s vision

When the wizard starts to conjure up images for you, turn away. The experience may happen like this: You’ve been working long and hard. Things aren’t going well. The people you work with are starting to grumble. They want to quit; you want to quit. Roland, your wizard, sees you slaving away one night. He knows it’s his chance to work a little magic for you. You tell him how bad things are. He talks about your new office in the new building, a better company car (if you work for a real wizard you already have one), more stock options, your new home in a suburb so exclusive that no one has yet heard of it, except Roland. He’s on the board of directors.

Then the wizard goes for the jugular, he begins to talk about the work itself, how important it is, how it will save the world, how children will become better educated and lead richer lives because of it, how the world will become safe from terrorism, and all because of this project and because of you! He pats you on the back and reminds you how nice you are and, he says, “The nicer they are the bigger they get,” or some magical nonsense like that.

That’s the stuff that wizard dreams are made of. Tune it out!

It’s amazing that so many good Catholic boys and girls now work for wizards. It’s amazing because the best way to deal with wizard dreams is to do what the nuns taught catholic school boys and girls to do when dealing with impure thoughts: turn your minds to other things, wear mitten to bed, take a cold shower. There are very few mittens or cold showers in Silicone Valley. And workers don’t turn their minds to other thoughts. Everyone wants to believe in the wizard’s vision. The Wizards are counting on that.

Rule #2: Stay away from the wizard’s toys

Unless you want to be like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (unleash a bucket brigade of unstoppable brooms who flood the place) don’t try on the Wizard’s cap, don’t try casting any of his spells, don’t take his speaking engagements, don’t log onto his computer, don’t read his private messages, and don’t pick up the red phone in his office. God only knows who is on the other end of the line.

Don’t make a play for his lover, don’t get a car exactly like his, don’t offer to crew in his next yacht race, and don’t, above all else, feel that you are ready or able to start a company just like his.

Rule #3: Don’t fall for the wizard’s personal seduction

Sharing the wizard’s vision is one thing, feeling that you are special, the only person that the wizard cares about, is an even greater mistake. Of course, wizards generally try to seduce groups, not individuals. When they go after an individual that person is special – but not that special. The wizard may need you because you are the best programmer in the world. Oh, the attention and energy he will lavish on you. He wants you, kid; maybe not your soul, maybe not your body, but he does want every waking hour of your life. Don’t give it to him. Her won’t share his wizardry with you. Wizards are loners. You’ll never maintain that special relationship with the wizard. It’s not real. Wizards don’t have friends.

Rule #4: Set your own goals – make your own rules

As you may have figured out by now, corporate wizards conjure up great ideas. Some work, some don’t. That has a lot to do with timing and luck, but the other ingredient that wizards have is the ability to seduce hundreds of worked into nearly killing themselves for them. If you enter into a pact with a Wizard make sure that you know what you want and what you need. Be reasonable about planning for it. Set it out in black and white and once you’re on the job, stop whenever you feel you’ve contributed your share no matter what the wizard says. Take care of yourself. To do that you have to know what you want, how much you are willing to give and then follow Rule 5.

Rule #5: Never deal with a wizard without a contract

There is only one other business that is powerful enough (or confusing enough) to hold wizards in total awe. That is the legal profession. After all, since wizards use the legal profession extensively, they are bound by it as well. Draw up a contract whenever you work with wizards. They respect that. Put in anything you want. They will only pretend to fight it. That’s how they operate. If they start to hedge on you, sue their pointed hats off. They’ve been conjuring and seducing you. The legal profession is the only profession that does more conjuring and seducing than Wizards do. Beat them at their own game. It serves them right.

The Transience of Wizardry

With all that said and done, you may now know enough to stand a fighting chance when bargaining with wizards. You may be able to gain the wealth and power they offer. Of course, it may not last.

The wizard’s creations have a way of disappearing in a big hurry. But they are sure fun while they last. And, if you have the right perspective and see them as fleeting things that are as much a phantasm as anything else, you have an odds-on chance of survival. You may make it through the experience and get out, not only alive, but even rich. It might be worth it.

On the other hand, you may lose that boring, but oh so secure, high paying job of yours and never recover. That’s been known to happen, too. And when, having been a well paid vice president of a big corporation in San Francisco, you suddenly wake up and find yourself a low paid clerk in a moldy old office in Burbank, recognize that you are the rule, not the exception. You’re really just typical of those who agree to work with those entrepreneurs who practice Corporate Wizardry!

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