Sunday, September 27, 2009

If You Build It II

This is blog post 1,000. In my first post in July, 2007, I gave a brief background of my intentions, where I came from and what I wanted to accomplish with the blog. It was mostly sharing my vision for the new store. I think the frequency of my posts has defined the blog, despite any initial intent.

There has been a tension between transparency and vision. Transparency has soundly overwhelmed vision. This is not a place of press releases and announcements. Collaboration, which is what I've asked for with such a high level of transparency can get a little messy. However, I find it highly rewarding, even if the vision of my store isn't as slick and unified in your mind as I would like. The high level of collaboration here provides me invaluable feedback to improve my ideas, push back on ideas thought to be less than great, and with enough talk, establishing consensus on what's important. I still do what I want, but the risks are clearer, as well as the rewards and likely problems.

The dark side of transparency is that business is competitive. A competitor opened up this year, referencing my blog posts as proof of concept of their business plan. Unfortunately, the implicit principle of store transparency can't be transmitted so well. It's the Heraclitus quote that you can't step into the same river twice. The chaos theory of small store ownership basically says that there are far too many factors of a stores success to be adequately observed and measured. You can't successfully replicate a store, even as the store owner. It's why we don't mind sharing information. Everyone has to make it on their own steam.

With 1,000 posts, I'm likely to disagree with everyone at least a couple of times. Some industry people think I'm nuts. Some have vehemently disagreed with what I've said (I wish they would do it more often and in my direction). Some have been right! This is not a medium for those who don't want dissent. It's excellent if you want to lead discussions, as opposed to project discussions which is why podcasts bore me. The good news is the metrics seem to say most people have stayed with me, with readership up 72% over the last year. Thanks for hanging in there!

I also enjoy writing, which is obvious with 1,000 posts. I would be horrible at podcasting. I'm one of those people in class that rarely speaks up because I'm cogitating on every angle of an issue before I feel comfortable speaking. In grad school, my thesis adviser told me: "You've spent 100 pages painstakingly proving your point. I think you can drop the may and might language." I suppose that would be my advice to someone who wanted to start communicating with their clients. Find a medium you enjoy. Talk about stuff you know.

I probably have an average understanding of the game industry as a store owner, and I'm not nearly as much of an alpha gamer as some voices in the industry, but I really know my store and enjoy retail. I'm still learning retail, which is why I write about it. It's fascinating and multi-disciplinary. Retail is the game I play most, and there are lots of interesting theories and strategies on how to play. The bottom line is I'm a business owner, not a professional game player or a product cheer leader. I'll leave that to fans with respectable day jobs.

I talk about stuff I know, and the stuff I do along the way. I'm not a great painter, but hopefully I've shown that anyone can do it, regardless of talent. I don't read too many theory books on role-playing, but hopefully I've shown that enthusiasm and hard work can make for an excellent role-playing session that keeps people coming back. My product reviews are by far the most read, while my game projects the least.

I think the most important thing about blogging is not really caring if anyone reads or not. It's how you stay true to your vision, writing about it until it's completely transparent.