Professionalism. What is it?

So.

The Long and Short of It

The short version is that I got blacklisted from a (presumably) large company and my reputation was ruined among a few big names in esports.

The long version is that I applied for a position at World Wide Gaming. Ever heard of it? Me either. I found the job offering on Esports Career and saw that it was a really ambitious startups. Personally, I always try to look for startups to join because I know it’s much easier to get into a management position in an organization that isn’t already established. So I thought, “Why not apply for this Editor-in-Chief position? It might end up being a good gig.”

About a week later, I was contacted by someone on Twitter (not the person I emailed) regarding the job. I wasn’t even considered for the EiC position, it was automatically assumed that I would be writer. No words at all about the application or how they thought I would be useful somewhere else.

So that was a bit disappointing. Afterwards, I was told grand stories about a huge investor who was looking to get into gaming/esports news. There was a production studio being built in Tennessee that was supposed to produce 24/7 video news! I was told that I’d have the opportunity to go all over the US to different events and record video (interviews, venue tours, etc.), and that all of my work would be well paid. For an esports writer/journalist, that is like the dream come true.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen way too many similar situations happen in esports—promises of big money/opportunity made to kids who literally have no money at all that are never fulfilled. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

So I started doing some digging. I searched the people involved with World Wide Gaming, including the investor, my point of contact, and one other person I was told about. I extensively researched the history of their Twitter and Facebook accounts. I even looked up IP history and Tennessee corporations. Other than the 117K follower Twitter that had only had the handle @WWG for three weeks, I was unable to find any evidence of foul play or real shadiness.

But I also literally could not find any information about the group itself. In an attempt to get a better understanding of the organization, I sent out some feelers. I asked my point of contact about the Twitter, asked the investor about WWG via Twitter, etc.

The result? I was ignored, blocked, and never got any responses. I tried several times over the weekend to contact the organization, but was unable to find anyone available to contact other than the original guy who contacted me. After several days of silence, I finally received an email from the guy I emailed about the EiC job. He told me that, while my writing and editing skills were impressive, they were looking for someone more experienced with “working with people, developing talent, and working with a young company that needs to grow”.

From this comment, I can only surmise that public questions and concerns I raised on Twitter made them think that I was unprofessional.

The Criticism

Part of me is never repentant of my criticism. My intuition is always right, and I’ve learned to trust it. The lack of transparency and communication within World Wide Gaming is straight up terrible. Listing big names doesn’t mean anything, and it appears that their structure of organization is inconsistent at best. I’m still unable to find who is actually in charge of hiring.

The followup response to my questioning by ignoring and blocking me is the lowest, slimiest, thing a “reputable” member of the community can do. My questions were fair and straightforward, and my attempts to contact them were far from harassment. Absolutely ridiculous.

I don’t think World Wide Gaming is a scam. But I’m pretty sure it’s a group of individuals who literally have no idea what they’re doing. Esports history is full of investors who get into stuff they don’t understand and fail miserably. While several high-profile members of the esports community may be (allegedly) involved, I still worry about the likelihood that many of them have never played these roles before.

The Papercut

Nonetheless, every time I face rejection or criticism, it hits deep. I wonder what exactly it was that I did wrong and what I could have done better.

In this case, I have been up for hours wondering if my comments on Twitter were too visceral or too plain. Was it just the simple act of revealing their investor? Is revealing investors a cardinal sin in the business world?

There’s a lot I still need to learn about business, writing, and life. I’ve got a lot of experience and expertise that I’ve built up over the last few years, but I’m still learning. There is always the very real possibility that I’m an idiot.

In any case, decisions like these will continue to haunt me and make me wonder if I threw away a chance at an esports career. Is this the sort of dirt that people uncover 10 years later and call you a hypocrite for? Have I made some very real enemies in the esports world?

I’m scared, but I will try to channel my effort into the what has always been the most important thing to me: my work.

Betrayal. Moving Forward.

Breakup

Two weeks after my resignation from the Heroes section of TL.net, I still feel lost. I liken this feeling to a breakup, and I think that’s an accurate description. I’ve dumped innumerable hours into Team Liquid over the past five years, so being told that I was worth little more than a trial writer was painful. It was worse than painful; it was the worst betrayal I’ve ever felt. I’ve never had a relationship lasting longer than a year. I’ve never poured that much into something.

Nonetheless, I move forward. Life is full of ups and downs, and you just have to move with it and grow. One of my favorite quotes, as silly as it may be, is from Abathur from Heroes of the Storm: “Work harder, faster. Make better, stronger. Evolution never complete.” If I think about what I’ve been through and what’s coming in the future, I know that everything I do is simply preparation for better things—that I’m actively evolving all the time.

Remember when you couldn’t work a microwave or boil a pot of water? It wasn’t a huge deal back then, but growing up has forced you to figure out a way to feed yourself.

And so I feed myself.

Dragging Myself Out of Bed

There are a few invaluable lessons learned from this whole affair. First, I know that my instincts are correct. I am a good writer, a good manager, and I have the ability to run my own business. These unwavering and unerring instincts have led me so far and are continually reaffirmed when I reflect on what’s happened.

Likewise, I have the equally crippling weakness of affection, which can cause me to lose sight of those instincts. I’ve always been the type of person who looks for the best in everyone. To some degree, this is a good quality; giving people the benefit of the doubt, especially in a management position, is a strength.

The difficulty lies when you know you shouldn’t give someone a second chance and do it anyway because you like them, particularly in a managerial role. If you want things done well, never leave it to someone you don’t trust will do it well. Do it yourself, find someone else, or spend some effort trying to train them.

Recently, I asked a friend of mine who manages a store what he thinks are the most important traits of a successful manager. Here’s what he replied:

  • You’ve got to make sure everyone likes you. Because when something’s wrong they need to be able to open up to you.
  • You’ve got to be willing to put in more work than all your other workers but still get what you need done.
  • There are no days off. The store is your baby.

Interestingly, none of these came as a surprise to me. I have worked long and hard enough at a craft to understand these rules.

However, I’m still young. I’m still ignorant. This experience has also been humbling in a multitude of ways. I realized that the work that I’m putting out—my articles—is not on par with the work I’ve come to expect from myself. The articles I have written over the last three months are, in truth, not very good and don’t live up to my fullest potential.

An Attempt at Success

Success isn’t a miracle or a happy accident, it’s a story full of ups and downs.

I have spent a large part of the past seven years working on my craft (writing), experimenting with styles and formatting and wording. In an effort to further my career as an online (and modern) writer, I learned HTML and Photoshop so that I could deliver a full product to customers.

And yet…I still haven’t really put it all together. My latest article is perhaps my proudest in a while, but it still pales in comparison to what I’m actually able to do. My best work is still ahead of me.

To some degree, that’s a really comforting thought, but it means that I need to get off my ass and really get motivated. It’s both a gift and a curse to know where your potential lies. It lets you know when you need to start working, but it can also feel like an unending and unlikely road to success when you’re continually tormented with the idea that your work isn’t good enough. Still, it’s some sort of fuel.

I’m making an effort to spend more time reading and understanding stylistic writing, and I want to write more on average. I’m realizing that it’s important to live and breathe success…to literally breathe every thought and every word into the model of success. You have to want to be successful as much as you want to live; this is how you transform, this is how you grow.

You have to know hunger in order to learn how to feed yourself.
You have to know famine in order to learn the importance of water.
And you have to be better than you are right now in order to continue moving forward.