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Interview: Max Temkin On Cards Against Humanity

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Brent Knepper Cards Against Humanity
Photo by Brent Knepper for Cards Against Humanity

Hillary Trump Cards Against HumanityInterview with Max Temkin.  If you have ever played the popular card game Cards Against Humanity, you are a horrible person. If you haven’t, prepare to die of laughter. To play, one person reads a question from a black card as everyone chooses the funniest white card from their hand to be chosen. It sounds simple, but with cards like “A big black dick.” and “Not giving a shit about the third world.”, you quickly realize that it is not a game for the weak.

During an exclusive interview with co founder Max Temkin, he tells us about business, Black Friday ideas, and doing things the Cards Against Humanity way. Best known for creating the game, he is also the cofounder of Blackbox, creator of Humans vs. ZombiesSecret Hitler, and Slap .45, and is on the National Finance Committee for Hillary for America. Though involved in politics, he does things a little differently, as you can see with America Votes with Cards Against Humanity. Like a true entrepreneur, the list of projects is endless. He describes himself as just a designer, but to think of him as just that would be foolish. Max Temkin is an inspiration for those aspiring to take their hobbies to the next level.

How did CAH get started?

Max Temkin – I’ve talked about this extensively in other interviews, but basically, the co-creators of Cards Against Humanity have a long history of making games together, and Cards Against Humanity was the first good one we play-tested. We put it out for free and it gained a cult following. Then we did a Kickstarter.

What are your backgrounds?

Max Temkin – I have a philosophy degree and I work on Democratic campaigns and elections. Some of the other Cards Against Humanity co-creators have backgrounds in economics, science, and advertising.

Why did you decide to create dick jokes instead of working in a different field?

Max Temkin – It was mostly a happy accident! We all still have outside interests, though Cards Against Humanity is my biggest project now.

When was your a-Ha moment?

Max Temkin – I’m not sure what that means! A time that sticks out in my memory that I knew Cards Against Humanity was pretty special was when I was play-testing it at college… I had a bunch of friends over in my dorm room, we were playing it and laughing, and more and more people kept coming over and joining. The laughter was contagious, and people kept coming in attracted by the spectacle. I saw that happen and I knew something special was going on.

How has sarcasm benefited your company?

Max Temkin – Not sure how to answer this one. We always try to find something earnest or authentic to make a joke about, and something that makes us laugh.

What is your on-boarding process?

Max Temkin – Is that like when you hire someone? We don’t have a lot of formal procedures. Trin is our events director and is kind of in charge of office morale, so she helps people find their place in the company.Cards Against Humanity staff

Describe your office culture.

Max Temkin – We have a large open office that we built in Chicago, it’s a co-working space full of our friends… other designers, artists, musicians, podcasters, and weirdos from around the city.

What is the best way to respond to negative feedback?

Max Temkin – I try not to get defensive and rush to defend myself… I usually take a moment to absorb the criticism, and then translate it into something constructive that I can act on. Sometimes people have constructive criticism that I can’t act on, and I just try to make sure that they’re heard.

Who are some influencers that you admire?

Max Temkin – I truly hate thinking of people as “influencers,” thinking like that instrumentalizes all of the relationships in your life and makes them transactional. I don’t know that you can think about other people in terms of being an “influencer” or not, and still view them as honest and emotionally available to you.

What is the biggest lesson you learned since starting CAH?

Max Temkin – It’s been very hard for me to delegate and give work to other people… even when they’re way better than me. Our design director Amy Schwartz is a much better designer than me, the best designer I’ve ever worked with, and I really look up to her. I know that she outshines me in every skill. But it’s still emotionally so difficult to give up the work.

How do you determine a good employee at CAH?

Max Temkin – We look for kind, funny, and well-rounded people who are first good human beings and second good employees. We value a diversity of experience and viewpoint, and whether people have full, real lives outside of work.

What advice would you give to people trying to start their own business?

Max Temkin – Every good business that you admire figured things out for themselves. They forged their own path and came up with their own way of doing things. Apple does things the Apple way. McDonald’s does things the McDonald’s way. Cards Against Humanity does things the Cards Against Humanity way. Reading business advice and blindly following what other people did didn’t get those companies anywhere, and it won’t get you anywhere either. To make a successful company or brand, you need to start from first principles and figure out your own way forward.

What advice can you give people new to crowdfunding?

Max Temkin – Again the whole notion of “giving advice” on crowdfunding is kind of crazy to me. The whole point is to authentically figure out what you’re about and how to connect with other people. Some advice I like from Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School is that successful designers learn to make design decisions conditionally – that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution.

Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Max Temkin – Tough question – I have no idea if people will still be playing Cards Against Humanity or care about us at all in five years. For the last five years, I’ve had a personal goal of making one small Kickstarter project a year. Sometimes they’re really small and personal like my Maxistentialism zine. And sometimes they’re huge public projects like my new game Secret Hitler. But I’d like to think that I’ll still be doing that in a year.

Cards Against Humanity

How did you come up with 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit?

Max Temkin – We needed to come up with some way to market Cards Against Humanity during the holidays that was funny and still had integrity. The first year we did a holiday stunt, it was a pay-what-you-want pack and we made $70,000, which we donated to charity. We felt like the next year we needed to out-do that. The blind subscription, where you pay us and get a series of mystery gifts in the mail, was a nice escalation. We did that for three years and now we’re taking a break.

How often do you guys visit Hawaii 2?

Max Temkin – I’ve never been! I hear from lots of people who have been to visit, and apparently it’s really nice during the summer.

What do you do with all the dumb ideas that people submit?

Max Temkin – Mostly we use them as kind of raw brainstorming ideas… I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a crowd suggestion that went directly into the game.

What are some Black Friday ideas that didn’t make the cut?

Max Temkin – We probably investigate a hundred ideas that don’t pan out to get to the one that works. The original idea was a $0.01-off coupon, but we ultimately rejected it because we felt that it was still a marketing deal. We always want to do something genuinely surprising and risky. This year’s is going to be a doozy.

How did you come up with the idea for The Bigger Blacker Box?

Max Temkin – People asked us for a big box that held all the cards, and over my strong objections, we decided to give them what they wanted. This was the best product we could design that fit those needs.

A few Redditors mentioned that they want to send you beer. Has this happened? Have you received anything out of the ordinary?

Max Temkin – We’ve gotten all kinds of crazy gifts and things from people. I love that people feel like they have a relationship with us and want to send us stuff, I think that’s a sign that we’re getting our message out there and our voice is coming through.

 

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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Embrace Failure to Unlock Success: 3 TED Talks That Show Us How

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We’ve all experienced it – that sinking feeling of disappointment in the wake of a perceived failure. It’s a universal moment where aspirations seem to crumble and self-doubt looms large.

If you’re in that place right now and are looking for inspiration, you’ve landed on the right article.

In this post, we delve into three TED Talks that unpack the enigma of failure and its unexpected role in cultivating success. These talks offer a kaleidoscope of perspectives on why failure isn’t just an inevitable milestone but a necessary companion on the road to success.

1. Embrace the near win (Sarah Lewis)

Sarah Lewis TED Talk

When talking about success and mastery, the concept of failure often carries a negative connotation, something people try to avoid. However, in her enlightening 2014 TED Talk, “Embrace the Near Win,” art historian Sarah Lewis offers a refreshing perspective on the role of near-failures in our journey toward success.

Her insights, drawn from a blend of personal experiences and historical anecdotes, reveal the hidden power of the almost-failure, the near win, in shaping our path to mastery.

Lewis’s journey into understanding the value of near wins began with her first job at the Museum of Modern Art, working on a retrospective of painter Elizabeth Murray. She recalls a significant moment when Murray pointed out that some of her early works didn’t meet her expectations. One piece, deemed a failure by Murray, was discarded, only to be rescued by a neighbor who saw its value.

This incident sparked a realization in Lewis: success is fleeting, but the pursuit of creativity and mastery is a continuous process. It’s not the success itself but the near wins along the way that propel us forward.

“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit.” – Sarah Lewis

Lewis extends this concept through the metaphor of archery, describing a visit to watch varsity archers. She observed the archer’s paradox, where the path to hitting the target involves aiming slightly off-course. This paradox mirrors the journey to mastery – it’s not about hitting the bullseye with every shot but understanding and valuing the near misses that drive continuous improvement. 

As Lewis eloquently puts it, “Mastery is in the reaching, not the arriving. It’s in constantly wanting to close that gap between where you are and where you want to be.”

  • Actionable Tip: Start recognizing and valuing your near wins. Whether in professional endeavors, creative pursuits, or personal goals, take time to reflect on those moments that fell just short of success. Understand that these instances are not failures but stepping stones towards mastery. They are opportunities to learn, adjust, and grow. By embracing your near wins, you align yourself with a mindset of continuous improvement and lifelong learning.

You can watch Lewis’ TED Talk here.

2. Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk

Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey, as recounted in her 2014 TED Talk “Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating,” is a profound exploration of the emotional landscapes shaped by both success and failure.

Gilbert, best known for her bestselling book “Eat, Pray, Love,” delves into the complexities of how success can be as disorienting as failure, offering a raw and honest perspective on the creative process and the importance of staying true to one’s passion.

Gilbert begins her talk with a humorous anecdote about being recognized for “Eat, Pray, Love,” setting the stage for a deeper discussion on the aftermath of success. She describes the daunting task of writing a follow-up book, knowing it would be impossible to please everyone. This predicament led her to a significant realization: the importance of writing for the sake of creation itself rather than for the outcome. 

“I had to find a way to make sure that my creativity survived its own success.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert takes us back to her early days as an unpublished diner waitress, a time filled with rejection and self-doubt. Despite the constant setbacks, she found solace and purpose in writing. This period taught her a crucial lesson: her love for writing was greater than her fear of failure. She states, “I loved writing more than I loved my own ego.” This mindset was what propelled her through the darkest times and what she later relied on after her success.

  • Actionable Tip: identify what you love more than yourself, make that your home, and anchor yourself in it. When faced with the extremes of success or failure, remind yourself of this foundation. It’s not about the accolades or the setbacks; it’s about the devotion to what you truly love. This grounding force is what will keep you balanced and focused, no matter what life throws your way.

You can watch Gilbert’s TED Talk here.

3. The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure (Astro Teller)

Astro Teller TED Talk

Astro Teller’s 2016 TED Talk, “The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure,” offers a fascinating glimpse into the culture of X (formerly Google X), a place he describes as a ‘moonshot factory.’

Teller’s insights provide valuable lessons on how embracing failure can drive innovation and lead to extraordinary achievements.

Teller begins by describing the unconventional atmosphere at X, where an aerospace engineer might collaborate with a fashion designer. This diversity fosters an environment where radical ideas are not just encouraged but expected. The key to their approach is to tackle the hardest parts of a problem first, actively seeking to ‘kill’ their projects early on.

“We’ve got this interesting balance going where we allow our unchecked optimism to fuel our visions. But then we also harness enthusiastic skepticism to breathe life, breathe reality into those visions.” – Astro Teller

One of the most compelling aspects of Teller’s talk is the balance between “unchecked optimism” and “enthusiastic skepticism.” This approach allows the team at X to dream big and remain grounded in reality. 

They celebrate the process of learning through failure, which is a radical departure from the norm in most organizations. As Teller puts it, “We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong.”

  • Actionable Tip: Create an environment where failure is not just accepted but is seen as a valuable part of the learning process. Encourage experimentation and risk-taking, and when failures occur, focus on the lessons learned rather than the setbacks. This approach can lead to a more innovative, resilient, and dynamic team or individual.

You can watch Teller’s TED Talk here.

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What Are Marketers Doing in 2024? [Budgets, Platforms, and AI]

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There’s one topic dominating the marketing sphere: artificial intelligence (AI). And many marketers are hopping on board the AI train. Aside from AI, what other strategies are marketers investing in? Plus, what are their plans for achieving their marketing goals in 2024?

Budgets

calculator app

Sagefrog released its 2024 Marketing Mix report. They surveyed various professionals across different niches and received 2,400 responses. According to 48% of the participants, they will increase their marketing budgets. Most marketers will focus their efforts on event, direct, and content marketing. 

Meanwhile, Canto reveals that marketers aim to increase content volume rather than raise their budget in 2024. Plus, here are the top five current challenges with the content creation process:

  • Keeping up with the increasing demand for multiple channels
  • Allocating budget and resources
  • Aligning teams for better collaboration and workflows
  • Locating and accessing assets
  • Maintaining brand consistency

Platforms

social media icons

Marketers can leverage various channels to promote their business and cast a wider net to entice a new audience. For instance, WARC also published their survey (The Voice of the Marketer 2024) on which platforms marketers will invest in 2024. YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are their top three platforms to post more content on.

Another survey that marketers participated in was Mediaocean’s “The Mediaocean Current: The 2024 Advertising Outlook.” Marketers for this survey will increase advertising investment on social media platforms, digital display and video, and connected TV.

AI and Marketing

chatgpt logo

Over 300+ marketers participated in Foundation Inc.’s report: “The State of AI Marketing.” Most marketers use AI in the workplace and for content creation. Despite adopting AI for content creation, these marketers believe that AI-generated content is worse compared to content created by humans. Plus, the marketers think it’s moderately useful to their job.

Kaltura has also provided another survey on AI use in marketing. Marketers in their study said they will increase AI usage in 2024. At the time of the survey, 88% had experimented with AI and 69% had subscribed to an AI tool. Like the previous study, marketers aren’t still completely satisfied with AI use. For instance, their top three reasons for not using AI are:

  • Data security
  • Integration with current systems
  • Ethical and privacy issues

Besides that, they’re also not impressed with AI’s tone of voice, quality of generated content, and committing SEO penalties.

Effective Marketing Strategies

video recording

Now that you have the pulse on the latest marketing trends learn which strategies are effective in driving your marketing goals in 2024.

Hubspot reports that these are the top five trends that create an impact:

Short-form Videos

If you want to capture your audience’s attention in a few seconds, short-form videos must be added to your content calendar. The content is up to you, but make sure that it’s edited properly and published on various platforms to reach more audiences. You could hire an actor to represent your brand. Or, you can use animation to make it even more compelling. But if you don’t have an editor on board but want to try videos, you can use AI-powered video editors to convert your written content.

Content Presenting Brand Values

If you want to connect with your audience and vice versa, you need to be transparent with your brand values. Authenticity brings you closer to your audience. One way you can go about this is by publishing a blog post about the purpose of your brand or business. Another example could be presenting your authentic brand through videos. Employees can be your “actors” and show how they interact with customers and exemplify your values through customer service and communication.

Influencer Marketing Campaigns

You can never go wrong by reaching out to influencers to introduce your brand to a whole new audience. Ensure that you find the best influencers to include in your marketing campaigns. The best way to find influencers without browsing manually is by using an influencer marketing platform. This helps you find the best influencer for your niche.

Social Media Selling

Dedicate some time to promote your products or services on social media through social selling. Social selling can entice followers and your target audience to watch your livestream. A new audience can learn more about your products while loyal customers get the latest updates, exclusive products, or service discounts!

Mobile-Friendly Website

This one’s easy to do with a web developer on board. After all, many internet users use their smartphones to browse and shop. Optimizing your website for mobile will enhance user experience. In turn, it will lead them to browse your website without a hitch. Additionally, if you have an optimized mobile website, this allows users to purchase without having to switch to another device.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve seen what marketers will be up to in 2024, the question is, should you do what other marketers are doing in 2024? On the one hand, you’d like to follow their strategies since theirs have worked in the past and are replicating or yielding better results. On the other hand, you might prefer doing what could work for your business and adjusting strategies.

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King of Couture: How Bernard Arnault Turns Everything into Gold

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bernard arnault

The world of couture is one of opulence and decadence, and it is ruled by a king who built a global empire from the world’s finest threads and most luxurious fragrances. We’ve heard about Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but most of us are unaware of Bernard Arnault, the Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Let’s learn about this modern-day King Midas and billionaire saga.

Early Life

bernard arnault

Born in Roubaix, France, in 1949, Bernard Arnault was one of the five children of Jean Arnault and Marie-Josèphe. He grew up in a middle-class household, thanks to the engineering company his father owns. At 18, he moved to Paris, where he studied civil engineering and graduated with honors. During this time, he was able to visit famous fashion houses, developing an interest in the luxury goods niche.

After graduation, Arnault returned home to work for his father’s construction business. His business savvy enabled him to turn the business into a success. From this, he gained enough money to invest in the stock market and branch out to found his own investment company, Groupe Arnault. Through this, he started acquiring stakes in many other companies, including luxury spirits company Moët Hennessy and fashion brand Louis Vuitton.

Business Beginnings

Bernard Arnault’s acquisition of the two companies led to its merger to become LVMH. Before the end of the 1980s, LVMH became one of the world’s top luxury goods brands. He became chair and CEO in 1989 and has since held these positions.

Under Bernard’s leadership, LVMH became the owner of a wide array of high-end brands: Christian Lacroix, Loewe, Givenchy, Céline, the DFS group, and Sephora, to name a few. The company owns many more household name brands in more than 70 countries. This success made Bernard one of the world’s wealthiest men and one of the most influential in the fashion industry.

Expanding His Kingdom

bernard arnault

These key tactics summarize Bernard Arnault’s business expansion strategy:

1. Strategic Acquisitions: Arnault’s acquisitions of iconic brands across various sectors have made him master the deal, strengthening LVMH’s foothold in the industry. We can find its reach in the following:

  • Fashion: Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Fendi, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci, Celine, and Stella McCartney
  • Watches and Jewelry: Bulgari,Tag Heuer, Zenith, and Chaumet
  • Wine and Spirits: Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, and Krug

2. Building Synergies: Arnault’s acquisitions do not end there, he integrates them within LVMH. It uses synergies across divisions for shared resources, cross-brand collaborations, and leveraging brand prestige. 

3. Empowering Brand Identity: Arnault respects the individual heritage and identities of all the brands he acquires. He knows that each brand has a unique character that has its own specific audience. Thus, he maintains each brand’s creative autonomy and artistic direction to ensure authenticity and quality.

4. Innovation and Craftsmanship Focus: Arnault invests in research and development to make sure that each brand is innovative. He also greatly values traditional craftsmanship to maintain each brand’s highest quality standards.

5. Global Expansion: Arnault’s recognition of the emerging economies in Asia and its growing luxury market enabled him to aggressively expand LVMH’s presence through store openings, partnerships, and customized marketing campaigns.

6. Communication and Marketing: Arnault understands the power of storytelling and developing a strong brand image. He believes in using targeted marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements, and hosting exclusive events to create a desire and exclusivity for LVMH brands.

7. Long-Term Vision: Arnault looks to the future with LVMH by always looking for new growth opportunities without compromising the company’s core values.

Bernard Arnault’s Net Worth

bernard arnault

With a net worth of $162 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, it would seem that Arnault has that Midas touch. He has this knack of turning everything he touches into gold. Struggling brands were revitalized into lucrative powerhouses. Brand names such as Dior, Dom Pérignon, and Givenchy rose in value and popularity thanks to this King’s guidance. 

Final Thoughts

With a stellar orchestration of ambition, strategic mastery, and speaking the exquisite language of luxury, Bernard Arnault is truly a King. He built his kingdom by spinning gold from the threads of fashion, champagne, and expert craftsmanship. His relentless innovation and respect for heritage have him etched his name in the luxury industry.

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