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Brad's life philosophy, for what it's worth

By on May 14, 2008 10:14:05 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

About once a month someone, somewhere, will comment on something I've written saying how "A CEO shouldn't act so unprofessionally in public".  Over the years, I've gotten that message hundreds of times along with predictions of demise for my company due to my "public" behavior.

Obviously, the company's continued survival tends to imply that the fact that I look at customer / developer relationships as a partnership of equals rather than one of master / slave as some "customers" online seem to think is not too damaging.

And even if it were damaging,  I would still do what I do no matter what. That is my primary motivation for having a company: To do what I want.

My personal and professional objectives have always been the same: I want to do what I want to do.

That is my top priority. Freedom.

Freedom has consequences.  I am certain, beyond a doubt, that my public postings on various topics over the years has alienated some percentage of users who have encountered what I written to the point that they have decided to not purchase products and services from my company.  I'm okay with it.  It's a price I'm willing to pay to be able to do what I want.

Now, users on our sites who read my posts know how I "treat" people.  It's not that I treat people badly. I very much agree with the view that we should treat people with respect even if we disagree with their views.

What I don't subscribe to is the belief that because someone buys a product that they get a license to behave terribly.  A person exchanges their money for a product or service and that does not imply giving them the right to heap abuse on us or others.

Stardock isn't a public company. It's not investor run. It doesn't even have investors. It's my company. This makes it a bit unusual in the investor-driven technology industry. In the case of Stardock, it means that the company reflects my values. In particular, transparency and collaboration with others.  

Transparency is a double-edged sword. We won't tell people what they want to hear. We simply tell them what we believe is the truth -- even if that is not necessarily good news for us.

Moreover, it also means we work on the things we want to do rather than what is arguably the most profitable.

Sure, there's a cost to doing what you want to do. I have gotten plenty of ribbing that we're making a TURN-BASED fantasy strategy game instead of making it an RTS.  But I want to make a turn-based fantasy strategy game. It won't sell as well as an RTS would but so what? What good is more money if you can't do what you want to do?

I'm 36. I'm a pretty happy guy.  I enjoy what I do. I enjoy hanging out with people online (most of the time).  And I get to work every day with people who I really like. Not just professionally but on a personal level.  So I tend to think I'm probably doing something right. But more to the point, I'm way past the point where I have to do anything I don't want to do. So I'm not inclined to put up with crap.

Every day at Stardock is FUN.  Even during crunch-time it's FUN.  And why is it fun? Because every day we do what we want to do.

And part of doing what you want to do is being able to show some obnoxious customer the door or making clear that we don't want or need jerks using our stuff.

But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether I'm justified or not because I'm going to do what I want to do. And so far, it's worked out pretty well for both me, my family, my coworkers, and our customers.

+79 Karma | 61 Replies
May 15, 2008 3:23:16 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Well all this has been known for years, Brad - and I still like the fact that you are what you are

Stardock and indeed the world would be a poorer place without you.

What I don't get is how you get it all done:

1. AI coding
2. Managing Stardock
3. Representing Stardock towards associates, business partners etc.
4. Spending time with your family
5. Playing with the toys you mentioned
6. And on top of all that engaging in tons of discussions on various online communities

And all that within the 24 hours of the day. Do you ever sleep??

May 15, 2008 3:39:48 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Great- make us jealous Brad. I mean, all I've got that you don't is a death ray laser. Now if I could get it into space... we'd be on even footing happiness wise.

I find it funny that you have had so many people telling you this that you had to write a post that boils down to "Well, I have a life outside my job- and on my free time I can do what I want". Seriously, why do people get all worked up when other people share their opinion? I only get annoyed when people say stupid stuff.
May 15, 2008 4:29:07 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
There's been quite a bit of talk about arrogance or aggressiveness here. Personally, I don't think that's the issue.

Brad, one of the things that set you apart from other people in similar positions is (imho) - passion. No matter whether you're talking about your game, your company, the business in general, politics - you always seem to do it with passion.

Being passionate also means that you're often not very careful. You're stepping on other people's toes. I also suspect that your ardent, opinionated style of discussion can be a bit intimidating for people who don't share your opinion. *But* you've got the same right to voice your opinion as anybody else. And I feel respect for your upright way to stand true to your opinion, instead of just telling people what they may want to hear.

I mean, I *do* have my doubts about your career chances in the diplomatic corps - but fortunately for me, you decided to become a game designer instead.

Keep your passion.
May 15, 2008 4:33:32 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Dude what are people complaining about, Brads Great. Love the dedication and that Stardocks puts all its effort for great service and quality products. Dude great post. Also Brad you have a Porsche 911 Turbo... You lucky son of a... Great car aint it! God I love Porsche! Keep up the great work!
May 15, 2008 4:56:43 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I don't think Brad is very rude or offensive or misrepresents stardock with his verbal behaviour. I think the CEO of American Apparel is someone who does more risky and offensive behaviour than Brad, but then, American Apparel has recently gone public.
May 15, 2008 5:07:02 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
...why don't YOU run for president?

May 15, 2008 5:32:31 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

It is refreshing to see such a deliberate refusal to be molded by the desires of other people simply because they want something or the consequences of offending them. Far from deterring me from Stardock's products, your frank honesty encourages my patronage.

I do feel compelled by my conscience to remind you, however, that there is a Lord in heaven to whom we all answer. He does what He wants too, and while His terms are gracious beyond our imagination, refusing them is quite inadvisable. That is between yourself and Him, and my reminder may be redundant, but I hope your joy (including your remarkable career in game development) does not end with this life.

May 16, 2008 9:04:29 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Brad, I think you do a great job as CEO for Stardock and with how you direct the company. And it's great you recognize the perceptions of other people and feel free to live up to your own standard instead of others. careful. Having knowledge (and knowing it) easily leads to pride, and pride carries with it a host of bad stuff that could turn your American dream sour.

My suggestion? Intentionally do things that would keep you from becoming too lofty. Help answer phone calls at the business. Clean up the break room(s). Chat with the janitor. Find ways to do things that allow you to serve others. And maybe you already do this, so my whole point is worthless. But if so, keep it up. I want to see you continue to succeed and be able to strike that great balance between knowing a ton, but also being able to relate to others and evaluating ideas and comments well.

Thanks for the insight. Very interesting!
May 16, 2008 1:35:00 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
To me (and i'm sure to many others) DID has much more implications & meaning than DO in some ways or another. Not trying to be smart but if you carefully step back, relax, juggle with facts and perspectives & put your mind scanning radar on time as a whole concept - it will come to you, just as rain falls and radiation burns it back up into clouds.

I'm 52, divorced, on foot, unemployed... happy as hell - somehow, retired from the grand scheme of social undertakings.
Got 250,000$ many times over, spent it.
Drove a Mazda RX3, coded bazillions of scrap lines in C for anybody who'd ask and pay for it, sold bricks & mortar bags in public - all stuff of the past.

Present & today is key to my hopes & plans. Tomorrow is a never loop which won't hit our lazy foot steps until we run towards some personal goals; in my case latest being, just playing Twilight of the Arnor and developpping Mods for it.

My liberty is a result of some choices made, my fortune and current bank account of context and Oil companies greed.

I regret Nothing of Anything like a well known Quebec's Diva sang in the 30's.

Cuz, no matter where & when anyone is in time, if they didn't do what they wanted to do... life's natural luck has simply skipped them over for a very good reason.

But, i certainly will. Like i should or not.

May 17, 2008 12:08:36 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums careful. Having knowledge (and knowing it) easily leads to pride, and pride carries with it a host of bad stuff that could turn your American dream sour.

Agreed. Let your actions speak for you. Actions do indeed speak louder than words.
May 17, 2008 7:14:20 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Aye. Freedom makes the difference between living and surviving.
May 17, 2008 6:37:39 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Hm. Nothing pithy to say.

Impressive you built a $20 million dollar company - holy shite.

You obviously care some what people say/think or you wouldn't have posted the whole topic - you would have just said fuck it. But ... I don't think it's wrong to care.

I'm glad for Galactic Civilizations. I'm ecstatic the Stardock team are making a TURN BASED fantasy game. I'd pay $100 for some of the games the Stardock team has turned out.

I hope your 60 employees are all highly paid. They deserve it. It seems a team effort to me.

As long as your posts/attitudes don't affect the employees ... it doesn't bother me. It would bother me if a rich CEO ruined the lives of his employees who depend on him/her if they destroyed the company's credibility - but that doesn't sound like the case.

Money isn't the core goal, being a good person is the core goal .... and being good has nothing to do with being liked/polite to everyone.

Heh. Okay. Lemonade is good if fresh squeezed - now THAT is pithy.
May 19, 2008 9:07:29 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Just a note, Brad.

Your the guy who says we don't need DRM. You don't penalize me, a customer for purchasing a product that I want to buy.

You make good games.

And I'm looking forward to the Fantasy Strategy Turn Based game your going to do. I've done RTS to death and they hold very little interest for me. I just totally got into a game called Armageddon Empires. A turn based post apocalyptic game. Fun as hell.

So, I spend my money where the item is that I want.

You've constantly provided that service. And again my current hope is for your fantasy game you give the races a serious feel to it. I'll be interested. And I'll check back. Simply because. I like what your selling. So if other don't. And they don't like your attitude. Okay. Doesn't affect me, essentially like you said about the people who don't like skins or aspects of skins. Your not making them for the naysayers. Your making them for those who are interested. Who spend their money on your company.

Good for you. It entitles you to be you. Keep it up. I just can't express enough the desire for you to please, treat your fantasy game a bit more serious in tone than you did with Gal Civ 2. While that was a great game, it's really lighter tone, makes me less interested. Even when I read about all the good things you've done with the Twilight of the Arnor. Those things sound fantastic.

I just have come to recognize, the tone of the races, has kept me from caring enough. To buy the new game. Oh well.

Keep up what your doing. Not everything can be a hit. But you guys do a good enough job.
May 19, 2008 10:20:24 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
If only there were more CEOs like you and companies like Stardock...

Sadly, there are too many people who believe that having bought a product or service from a company entitles them to treat the employees of that company like trash every time they have a minor complaint, and sadly there are way too many businesses that let them get away with that. Maybe if enough businesses would tell people who act like arseholes to just bugger off, they'd get a clue and start acting more civil, at least when they found that the number of businesses willing to serve them were rapidly declining in number.

I just loathe people who think they can act however they wish just because they've bought something. No, the customer is not always right, now bugger off and learn some goddamn manners.

Keep doing what you do, please Not everyone is worth having as a customer, and I personally don't see the problem in telling them as much. If more people had the guts to do that, maybe we'd have less arseholes in the world. Wishful thinkin, I know
May 19, 2008 3:34:51 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
The typical loud mouth posting on a web forum is a cretin. And I am willing to say, on the record, that yes, I do know more. On Neowin, when i get into debates on OS technology or whatever then yea, I do know what I'm talking about and most of the time, the person ranting is a bloody loon

Such is the curse of IT specialists the world over
May 20, 2008 9:12:08 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I'd pay $100 for some of the games the Stardock team has turned out.

Shhhh .... Geez dont give him those kinds of ideas .....

May 20, 2008 9:49:55 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Good post.
I for one wish I could do as I want to do. I would love to be able to put across my personality as it is at home and with friends in work. Sadly, for my job, I have to appear to be professional and well least when the boss and the public are lurking near by.
If I was the owner of a 20 million dollar company, I would likely take much the same approach. Though I wouldn't bother with the boat or Porsche.... but I'm UK based and the government would try to steal it off me somehow.
May 25, 2008 1:48:34 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
If you run your own company and can't do what you want, what's the point? I think this is the greatest post ever by Brad, and there have been many awesome ones.
May 27, 2008 9:22:41 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Freedom baby, is never having to say your sorry.
- Satan (The Devil's Advocate, 1997)
June 6, 2008 5:39:52 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
"I've 36. I've got a beautiful wife. 3 wonderful children. Plus I've got the toys. The Porsche 911 Turbo, the boat, the lake cottage, the big house, etc. And I get to work every day with people who I really like. Not just professionally but on a personal level.

Every day at Stardock is FUN. Even during crunch-time it's FUN. And why is it fun? Because every day we do what we want to do."

I'm just like you Brad so why does my life suck? I'm 36, single with no family and no close family ties. A 10 year old truck, no boat, no lake cottage, no house and in debt up to my eyeballs working at a really crappy job (that is really hard) for next to nothing pay with no benefits. Oh yeah! I spend all my time playing games (including yours) because that is "what I want to do"...

I hate to tell you but "in the real world" it doesn't work. It is nice that you have been able to create a little "bubble of reality" around yourself. Hmmm... maybe you could add "Bubble of Reality" to the Civ2:TofA mod?


June 7, 2008 10:14:42 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I'm just like you Brad so why does my life suck?
Sorry your life sucks, but assuming it wasn't just a rhetorical question, I can give you an answer...

Talent. It makes all the difference in the world.

I didn't say I could give you an answer that you'd like.
June 7, 2008 11:15:33 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Like most people I've been through good times and bad - some really bad. Things turned out fairly good in the end though, many have worse. There was a stage earlier in life I got caught up in the whole "finger pointing thing" and blame the world and his wife for some issues. Then I woke to the Main Event that I had been blind to for a while. My Wife.

She has always been, and remains, so incredibly sanquine about life and its termoils. She has been a quiet and steady rock to me, as I waded through life's hassles like we all do. We're all human, and I still get some wishful thinking spinning around, but by in large that phase is over. The most important thing to me is my Wife and my Family, in all any scenario. Its easy to think we want the best for them, and lets face it we do. At the end of the day however, whats important is not what the other guy has - there's always someone with more, someone with less - its whats around yourself, your family.

I genuinely applaud, hugely, Brad's success (its heartedly deserved), but I strongly suspect that for all the "Toys" as he calls them (great phrase ) , the most important one is his family. No amount of "Toys" will ever replace them.

Everyone has that Key "Buble of Reality" - their family, or the one closest to them. Thats the real gem of life, and should never be forgotten amongst all this 'modern' world of consumerist "wanna have" and manic desire for recognition.

June 9, 2008 9:14:34 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Most of the places I have worked all of the talented people leave and all that remains is the mediocre bootlickers... lol Makes me wonder what happened to all of those talented people who left. Personally I have been laid off 8 times in 10 years from downsizes, reorganisations, corporate bankruptcies, relocations, et. al. Very frustrating. To blanket everyone with "you have hardship because you have no talent" is pretty naive in my opinion. Someone like Brad has simply matched his talent (all people have a talent for something) with a good opportunity.

I don't care if your rich or not Brad, just keep making those games that get me hooked like crack-cocaine! ????
June 14, 2008 5:18:21 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Hi. I feel a little sheepish comming on the forums again. I don't mean to take over this thread or cause trouble like I have in the past. I would like to apologize for being a extreamly rude person. (That's a huge understatement!) Frankly I am surprised I havn't been banned. I'm also surprised I haven't received some sort of legal correspondence telling me to knock it off. I have personnally insulted and harrased Brad, CariElf, Kyro, and everyone else under the sun. (Sorry if I misspelled any of your profile's, and for not mentioning everyone but this post can't go on forever.) I would like to thank the Stardock team and everyone else for being civilized while I have not been. If Brad does read this post of mine on his thread he might be wondering what in the world am I doing and what am I talking about. Brad probably has already just let all my meanness bounce off of him. He may not even remember. Not that I think he thinks he is better than anyone, Brad is obviously a great person and certainly a proffessional. All the greats were and are critizized in their time. I suppose if everyone on the planet had a favorable opinion of him then maybe he should be worried. Because that might mean he was going with the flow. I may be embarressing myself again by posting this, and I know becuase of my track record I am not trustworthy. So I understand if anyone who remembers me doesn't believe this post.

Again I apologize for being mean and ugly and going into labor and producing a cow everytime I have reared my ugly head on these forums. Don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone hates my gutts and I may have actually just been an annoying spec of dust than an actual problem. (That was my attempt to be humorous.)

But seriously I am sorry.

Best game ever.
June 15, 2008 6:56:12 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

i do not know if you really will read this.

If you do, remember this:

At any time in your life you will encounter people critizising what you do. It is unimportant what you do and how well you do in it, some or many of them will just exist, becauseyou do well. It seems to be almost a rule of society. Those people are often people that want to distract others - and themselves - from the truth that their own value is not as high as they want it to be. Decreasing the value of everything others do is a way to psychologically circumvent the hard task to improve themselves. If you accept the things these people say by discussing it with them you already begin to give value to them and their goal is achieved. Discussing your problems instead of theirs distracts from their own. So what every man with success and high self esteem should do is - not give a single bit of attention to those. Criticism is good - but at last it is ultimately youwho can really decide whether it is justified or not. The only person fully aware of your motives can only be you yourself. So the decision, whether criticism is justifiable or not is up to yourself. The ability to judge criticism honestly by yourself is a great skill everyone should have. But with this goes the skill to recognize unjustifiable criticism. What i wanted to tell you here is - just exactly know who you are and there will be no need to explicitly point out the amount of success you have (as you do again here), not even when you are provoked by others.

Know who you are, nobody else can.
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