About Jamin: Media entrepreneur and gaming marketing expert Jamin Warren has made his mark on the industry, helping brands connect with the world of video games. In 2013, Jamin founded Twofivesix, a strategic consultancy that provides brands with the insights and strategy they need to reach gamers as customers. Working with companies such as Intel, Google Play, Warby Parker, and GE, Twofivesix has guided clients through all things gaming from virtual reality to esports.
Before delving into marketing consulting, Jamin co-founded Kill Screen, a video-gaming arts and culture organization focused on play and interactivity. Since its formation, Kill Screen has driven the intersection of play, games, and culture, curating the first games programming at the Tribeca Film Festival, producing the first virtual reality arts program at the New Museum, and co-organizing the first videogame exhibition and acquisitions at the Museum of Modern Art.
In this installment of Eyes4Research’s Executive Insights, Jamin sits down with Rudly Raphael to share his perspectives on the gaming industry as well as his approach to success.
It’s 2015 and you have the superpower to predict what’s going to happen in 2020. What would you do differently? What advice or recommendations would you share with others?
Make hard decisions quickly, learn from them, and then move on. The only way you collect data in life is by running experiments. Just making a choice early is better than waiting for a situation to resolve itself.
How has your relationship with customers and employees changed in 2020 in comparison to past years?
Well, I'm a much better manager! I've learned a lot along the way and have a much better system of management in place with OKRs, 1:1s, weekly standups, and more. With respect to clients, I'm much more patient with their needs than when I started. While it's important to be an authority, when I encounter frustrating scenarios, I have a better sense of where a client comes from.
What is the first thing you do before you start your workday routine?
I try to work out, pray, meditate, and play video games.
What do you like and dislike about working remotely or from home?
We made a decision earlier this year to be a remote-first office. We invested in tools and technology. That's made remote work much more palatable for the team. I do miss having face-to-face communication, but I'd rather be able to give my team the flexibility they need to perform well. Working remotely isn't about your needs.
What is your learning style? How does that impact your decision making?
I try to read a lot before I jump into solving a problem. Fortunately, I also make decisions quickly, so I don't get analysis paralysis. But I'm definitely a big fan of learning from the experiences of others first.
What was the most formative (life-changing) experience of your career?
Starting my own company. I've been working for myself for over 10 years now. I'm worried I wouldn't make a good employee now!
What hobbies and interests outside of work have indirectly benefited your career?
I actually try to keep these separate. If I connect hobbies to my work, then I view them through a functional lens. That said, I started bird watching last year.
How do you define success?
My dad talks a lot about concordance. The person you are in your business life should be the same as your personal. We often focus on success in a business context but ignore the toll that might take on one's family, relationships, or health. Success means holding these things in balance.
Has there been a time where you trusted your instinct over data to make an important decision? If yes, why? If no, why not?
My decision to go out on my own, ha! I started my company just after the Great Recession and in the media space before Facebook and Google ate that business. I've gone through several iterations of my current business, but I'm glad I trusted my instinct to cut out on my own.
We all fail sometimes. How do you approach failure on the job?
It hurts! I have many days where I feel like my failures outnumber my successes. I think entrepreneurs try to pretend that failure is a good thing, and there's no emotional cost. Failure stings. The thing I have to remind myself is that I am not my business.
What kind of people do you surround yourself with?
I like curious people who like to share new information and interests. I appreciate people who are good listeners, not because I like to talk, but because listeners are active conversationalists. I also really need emotional honesty with friends.
What books would you recommend that shaped your outlook in your career or your life in general?
Rick Webb's Agency was what got me started down this path. I really like Scott Belsky's The Messy Middle.
How did you get started in the Gaming industry?
I started as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal covering games before leaving to start my own gaming media company called Killscreen. After a couple of years, we started getting more calls from brands and agencies interested in doing more with games and spun out Twofivesix as a consultancy.
What is the biggest misconception about your industry?
Where to start! There are two I run into; First, gaming as an activity is different from gaming as an identity. As an activity, everyone plays games, but as an identity, not everyone calls themselves a gamer. People then assume that everyone who calls themselves a gamer is the whole of the market. That couldn't be further from the truth.
The second is that there is one game that everyone plays. Minecraft is huge. Grand Theft Auto V is huge. League of Legends is huge. Animal Crossing is huge. Super Mario Bros. is still huge. All these universes can exist simultaneously.
Where do you see the industry 10 years from now?
Lots of things. I think we'll see fewer major esports than we do now. I also think the only consoles left will be from Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft will be dominant in a different way through subscription services. Someone will figure out that VR requires a Netflix-style infusion of cash into content. We'll start seeing our first generation of retirees that played games in their youth and multi-generational play communities.
How do you stay on top of the latest industry trends? What kind of media do you consume? Are there any media you try and avoid?
I listen to podcasts on 1.5x speed for information as well as audiobooks. I recently organized my Twitter feed around lists with experts, which helps.
If you owned a house that needed a lot of updates, would you rather tear it down and build a brand-new home from scratch or remodel the existing house preserving some of its original charms?
Do you think mobile games are competing or will ever compete frequently with console or PC games in terms of popularity?
They already are! Mobile is half of the gaming market globally.
If you could step into my shoes, what would you have asked yourself that I have not?