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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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5 Behaviors That Separate The Successful From The Average

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Many of us wish to be Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or even Mark Zuckerberg. These people are some of the most successful Americans today. They are worth billions of dollars and are at the helm of successful companies. Aside from wanting to be like them, many are also asking what they did to become successful. We want to know what behaviors and characteristics they have that helped them succeed. Here are behaviors of successful people you will want to emulate to help you become triumphant.

1. They Initiate

Successful people are not happy with the bare minimum. They like going the extra mile. For example, aside from knowing how much an item costs to acquire, they also want to learn about better products, discounts or how they can save. They do not wait for other people to tell them information. They initiate and ask questions because they want to learn, make recommendations, pitch ideas or offer to help. This is because success requires people to become proactive. Successful people are on the offense not defense all the time.

Initiation takes risk. By putting yourself out there you could fail. Conversely, you can also fail by not doing anything.

2. Thrift

Frugality or thrift is defined as “the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully”. They don’t live beyond their means or try to keep up with the Joneses because they know that there will always be other people who are more successful than they are. Successful people also know the value of money which is why they are not too keen on burning it quickly. They know the hard work they put in earning that money and wasting it on frivolous items is counterproductive.

Successful people like Mark Zuckerberg do not flaunt what they have. He drives a $30,000 Acura and Michelle Obama wears Target and recycles her wardrobe.

3. Persistent

Thomas A. Edison said he did not fail 10,000 times. He just found 10,000 ways it did not work. Many people are willing to accept failure, but successful people embrace these failures and learn from it. They use it as a stepping stones that can help them reach that “aha” moment. Successful people are adaptable and do not give up immediately which is a big reason for their success. These behaviors help you progress as you try to reach your goals.

The same is true for bestselling author JK Rowling. She got 12 rejection letters and was told “not to quit her day job” before the daughter of a Bloomsbury editor demanded the rest of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The series is now the fastest selling book in history and has a combined sales of $450 million.

4. Intuition

Successful people listen to their gut instinct. Even if other people told them not to do it, they did so anyway because it felt right to them. Intuition goes hand-in-hand with fearlessness and not doubting yourself which are traits that keep people in low-paying jobs. So listen to your instincts. Do what you think and feel is right.

5. Passion

Passion is believing in something that is sometimes impossible. Successful people are passionate and they use this drive to do things other people have not thought of. They love what they do and it is this drive that pushes them to become the best in their field which in turn makes them financially successful. When you don’t love what you’re doing it shows in the results of your work which in turn affects your pay.

People who are inspired and passionate create new opportunities which can open new doors that lead to success. Steve Jobs for example, was often labeled as “crazy” or “eccentric”, but there is no doubt to everybody that he is passionate in what he did which in turn made him a very successful and wealthy man.

The difference between successful people is not just old fashioned luck. Successful people have behavior that helps them tackle mediocrity and stay on top of their game while other people complain about money. Success is the result of hard work; dedication and gratitude for people who helped them achieve it. Hopefully you can nurture these behaviors and let them grow to help you become successful in your own right.

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8 Bad Career Tips That Keep You From Being Successful

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Every human strives for success in his or her respective fields. Achieving success is not magic. You need to work sincerely to achieve wealth, respect, and security for the entire life. Anyone can attain success, but you need to make wise decisions for your career. Some successful people can give you some valuable tips, but all may not be effective for your career path. So, be cautious about what you hear. Accept the right career tips, and you can be a winner.

1. Asking for a raise and promotion

Do not believe that if you work hard, you will be noticed by the management. However, this is not the reality. No matter how many hours you spend at the office, that does not necessarily promise you a reward. You need to take the initiative to show your performance to the management. Make yourself visible to the authority. Ask for the raise you are worth.

2. Too much useless information

You may receive many kinds of career tips that you may think may come handy. Check the source of information you receive and then decide if it is worthy for you. There are many kinds of training programs available in the market. Some of the training are useful for a section. It may not be useful for your career. So, choose wisely.

3. Resisting change

It is an old school of thought that any kind of change is bad. If you want to be successful, you need to go with the flow. Flexibility is the key to success. Accept what is in front of you and improvise per your requirement. Do not get stuck with old theories. You need to be balanced when you accept your responsibilities at work.

4. Do not underestimate yourself

‘Below the line’ thinking is the greatest barrier to achieving success. Never lose your confidence. People will not always encourage your high thinking, but you should not doubt your capability. Overcome the challenges and move forward. You need to see study the obstacles in the true light and find ways to overcome it.

5. Manage your emotions

Challenges and pressures are a part of work life. Your attitude towards life can make or break the situation for you. You need clear thinking. You should act objectively to challenge the obstacles. Fear can make you weak. Fear makes you accept wrong advice. You suffer when you make rash decisions. Keep calm and evaluate the situation rationally.

6. Increase your productivity

People always advise to overwork. Too much work makes you dull and exhausted. The harder you work, the less productive you become in the long term. Losing one hour of sleep every day can noticeably decrease your productivity. Proper rest is very much required to get rid of work-related stress. If you want to reach the pinnacle of success, take frequent breaks.

7. Do not say ‘yes’ too often

The more you deliver, the more people expect from you. Everyone believes that if you accept all the duties, the management will notice your efforts. However, that is always not true. You know your limits and do not go beyond that. One of the best career tips is learning to say ‘no.’

8. Do not yearn to be a perfectionist

Perfectionists spend more time on every work to make it perfect. If you put too much effort on smaller things, you miss out the bigger perspective. It reduces your productivity. Be sincere towards your work. You have limited time to finish your work. So, do not waste time to make it perfect.

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Why Your Monday Emails May Be Ignored

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Are you click-throughs and open rates declining? Are your recipients not responding to your emails? Many people are wondering what is the best day to send emails and if Monday is the wrong day to send them. While there are many studies showing that Monday emails are the worst, there are still people who feel that Monday is the best day to do so. So, why is Monday the worst day of the week to send emails?

Busy Start

As the first day of the work week, Monday is usually the busiest day for most people. This is usually the day when meetings for the week are scheduled, tasks delegated and reports regarding the past week come in. If you’re a supervisor, you need to wade through scheduling, reports, meetings and correspondence first thing so that your week can be productive. Sometimes, Monday emails get lost in the shuffle especially if the person wants to hit the ground running. This is especially true if the email is not headlined correctly. It can fall through the cracks and be forgotten. If you want your email to be opened, make the subject attractive and compelling to catch the recipient’s attention and to make them click your email open.

You and Everybody Else

Monday is the worst day to send emails because people who want to be noticed immediately usually send their emails during the weekend. This means that you and everybody else are vying for the recipient’s attention. For many people, Monday is usually the day where your mailbox is full especially if you tend to go off grid during the weekend. This means that when you open your email on the first working day of the week, it is full of messages from all kinds of people including those from the office, marketers, relatives and your boss. Monday is when you to compete with everybody else.

Urgent First

People like to schedule their work week on Mondays. This means prioritizing work that needs to be done immediately and delegating the less important tasks later in the week. The same is true with Monday emails. You need to open and answer the most important emails and then do the rest when you’re not too busy anymore. But you can’t control how your email is “important” to the recipient since they are the ones that decide what is and is not important to them. So if they feel that they can schedule to read your Monday emails later in the day or week, you have tough luck reaching the recipient unless they feel that you are important enough to be given first priority.

Weekend Hangover

If there are people who want to hit the ground running on Mondays, there are people who have weekend “hangovers”. They are sluggish during Monday and like to procrastinate in their work for later in the afternoon or on Tuesday (or when they want to). These people do not really feel the need to be rushed like other people on Monday so they like to take their time not only in opening emails but also in responding to them. Luckily, there aren’t many people who have weekend hangovers, unless they’re the boss of course.

Error Prone

According to a study conducted by software company Boomerang, people on Mondays tend to be error prone. The company analyzed 250,000 emails sent on Monday and they discovered that there are a lot of spelling errors and poor subject lines which resulted in low click and response rates on this day of the week. This may be because Monday is the most harrowing day of the week for most people (see above examples). They are rushed, busy, have a weekend hangover or are prioritizing emails and those with poor spelling and subject lines are usually the last to be opened.

Generally, there is really no best day or worst day to send emails. Many people dread Mondays and Tuesdays because these days are usually full of activities that need to be accomplished for the week. As the week winds down, people are generally more responsive to emails and will click and open them. The best way to get clicked on busy days is to construct an attractive subject line to entice the reader to click open and read the email.

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