When I was a little kid, my dad would go to the junk yard. He would often come back with various things in various states of disrepair, which would drive my mom into various states of annoyance.
Every once in awhile, he would fill the back of his truck with random broken things, and let me join him on a trip to the junk yard. For me, the junk yard was an amazing place filled not with broken discarded items, but items that blinded their previous owners to their potential magic.
To this day, when I drive by Zanker Road in Alviso, CA, I think back to the time my dad and I went hunting for Discardia, the Land of Discarded Toys, only to find a brown box with a couple of switches and dials, and the word Pong written across the front of it.
Last Saturday, I was sitting with my friend Drew talking about everything and nothing, when he asked me about Graphicly. “Hows the comics biz?” Drew said with that look of “I’m interested in you, your company, not so much.”
“We aren’t ‘comics’ anymore, we work with publishers of all types” I responded, to Drew’s surprise.
“Tell me more!” And so I did, and while I did I kept thinking about the times at The Dump with my Dad, and that Pong machine we found.
See, my dad has never been a big talker. A doer. A worker. An achiever. Yes. But talker, no. He just sees what needs to be done, and does it. Consistently. Reliably. Which, by the way, as a kid, having a father who was never wrong and always did the right thing was a complete pain in the ass.
After getting that Pong, I remember running around to all my friends and telling them about it! “We’ve got Pong! The original video game! Pong at my house! Pong. Pong. Pong! By the way? Pong!”
Yet, when I tried to hook it up to the television and make it work, nada. “Dad! It’s broken!” I screamed amongst the disappointment of my friends.
“Of course it’s broken, Micah,” My never wrong father explained. “There is a reason we found it at the dump.”
As I sat there talking to Drew about all the success we had had over the previous year, massive spikes in revenue and paid users, solid product advancements and acceptance in publishing, which was a huge market, he kept asking me why I didn’t do more press.
“Because its my job to support the building of a real business, not talking about a smoke and mirrors one. Because it’s more important to build value than build hype.”
Which is an easy thing to say. And, while in our current culture of reality shows and entitlements it would seem that as someone who can’t code or draw a straight line, there is minimal value I bring other than creating hype.
But I tried that. And all it left me with was disappointed and angry friends, who just wanted to play the original video game on an old tv.
Do we need to promote our startups and network and all that funky time jazz? Of course, after all if a product can change the world, but there is no one there to use it the world just keeps spinning on.
Yet, there is something amazing, maybe even beautiful in execution. In silently creating something of immense value without the need to be everywhere to be seen by everyone. That our worth as entrepreneurs is built through our products, not through our names.
I enjoyed talking to Drew about Graphicly, and over the next few months, I will be talking to more and more people about what we are doing – because we are deeply passionate about we are doing. That we are enabling the publishing industry to accelerate their digital efforts so that stories that are currently trapped in printed form can be enjoyed by everyone in enhanced and interactive fashion.
Still, I remember that Pong box and the trips my dad and I took to the junk yard. I won’t forget the disappointment of my friends or lesson of my father:
Be proud of what you accomplish; not what you convince others you can.
Don’t confuse activity with achievement. - John Wooden
Thought I might start adding the posts and articles that inspire me to write this particular post.