Peter Molyneux. You will either know that name very well or you shall think it irrelevant. He’s a visionary who changed the gaming landscape with such classics as Populous, Black & White and Fable.
For a time, He empowered people [probably most likely males in the 15 - 34 age bracket, who work in part-time unfulfilling jobs or have a problem with authority figures], with the ability to create. Create what you ask? He gave them the power to create civilisations. To craft landscapes and foliage and communities and families and, for a time, it was good.
But as we know, the tides shift and change rapidly in the world of video games and entertainment. Those who refuse to embrace change end up coasting or at worst, run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
In 2012, I had a brilliant learning experience. One that will definitely stay with me throughout my career as a personal highlight – I not only got to meet the man who changed the landscape of gaming, I also managed to ignore him.
You see the trouble is, having worked for a national radio broadcaster, I really am not fazed or intimidated by anyone. Literally. It’s quite an odd thing and to be honest it’s something I realise many people in return find odd, frustrating or intimidating. Which to me is actually one part baffling, one part hilarious. Now that I come to think of it, having worked at Scotland’s biggest music festival - T in the Park - for over 10 years, I’m definitely resilient and unmoved by those of grandeur. Soz.
'Why on earth did you ignore him’, you say?!
‘He’s Peter chuffing Molyneux!'.
Well, I didn’t really. Not on purpose. But as with everything, it’s always that frustrating tension between different perspectives. What I had failed to remember was the first thing I learned in my work experience days at Real Radio in Manchester 3 years previous.
THE ELEVATOR PITCH
Picture the scene, you’re in an elevator and the chief executive of a company walks in. Instead of squealing like a fangirl of a Buffy-undoing movie franchise, you suck-it-up and in that short elevator trip, inspire said chief executive to embrace your idea and let you run with it.
Sounds easy? Try it. Literally try summing up the idea for a book, film, video game, radio show, advertising campaign or a design layout and cram it all into a 2 minute pitch. It’s really not that easy. It’s definitely a life skill. Some people find it easier than others but most people work hard to achieve the perfect pitch on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis.
For me, it had been so long that I had to actually try at anything. I was coasting at Real Radio and frankly bored with the lack of creativity I was granted during the latter part of my time with the company. So when it came to meeting Peter, this is literally how it went - from my perspective - but in bullet point form because my fingers are sore from typing and your eyes are tired from reading:
Overnight Megabus journey to London.
Changed into a suit in the Costa’s toilet at Guildford train station.
Taxi to interview.
Waited for 15 minutes in 26 degree heat, in a suit, on a leather couch in a room void of personality.
1 hour interview with a charming, attractive German guy.
Then in popped Peter to ‘turn the air conditioning down’.
It was a surreal experience. Internally I thought to myself, “SH*T! That’s Peter! Haha! Just be cool”. T in the Park, cool. But externally, I must have just appeared like I didn’t know who he was. Brilliant. Well done Jamie, you have failed the elevator pitch.
Then after this awful metaphorical elevator ride, the rest of the conversation with the charming, attractive German continued until I found myself waiting for...another interview!!! Literally minutes later. SERIOUSLY.
Here’s the next phase of the interview process:
1 hour interview with determined and stoic female head producer.
Great advice was given.
She didn’t like me on a personal level as she clearly thought I was crass and unclassy - AKA Scottish.
She also identified the real reason why I wanted the advertised job of community manager and in turn, helped me identify it too. I basically wanted to move on from radio production!
To be honest, in hindsight, the whole thing was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. The experience helped me reevaluate my career trajectory and aspirations. Also, being able to look someone in the eye and say:
“I am worth £XX,XXX a year”
…is a necessity in the creative industries.
It’s all about knowing your worth. You are not a commodity. You are a unique human being with a unique skill set. As cheesy as it may sound, just remember that there is only one you. So strive to diversify yourself from your competitors as much as possible through a constant cycle of refinement and diversification of your skillset.
I have come to realise, through personal experience, that there is power in words. Especially in the word "no". It's a word that needs to be said sometimes and being told no* in relation to a job interview at 22 Cans was the best thing that could have happened to me professionally that year. It gave me razor sharp focus and reminded me what I wanted to achieve, the type of companies I wanted to work for and the type of person I wanted to be.
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*Note from author: I never heard back from 22 Cans after the interview.