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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.

Business

Interview With The Tangent Agency CEO, Marc Becker

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Tangent Agency
Going by the motto “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” The Tangent Agency has worked on many large projects, including Despicable Me, X-Men, Deadpool, Fifty Shades of Grey, and many more. Leading Tangent Agency is their CEO, Marc Becker. He comes with 7 years of experience as an Executive in the Global Brand Marketing team at Universal Pictures. Working closely with filmmakers, stakeholders, and brands, he helped develop campaigns for films across NBCU/Comcast platforms. Marc joined Tangent after using them as a trusted vendor while at Universal and now oversees business operations working for a creative powerhouse. The Tangent Agency brings big ideas to life by creating innovative content for their partners.
Marc granted us an interview to give us some insight on business and offered advice for those looking to advance their careers. He tells us about their new leadership team and how AR and VR is having a moment. 

What is your day like as a CEO?

When you’re running a company, you have to a wear a ton of hats. I always joke that I should change my business cards to read “Janitor to CEO” because that’s really what I have to be. On a typical day we’ll have a team check-in to talk about priorities followed by picking what music or movie we should put on in the background. My music is usually vetoed so our CSO, Daniel, has been on DJ duty for the last couple months. From there, I’m usually joining calls with partners ensuring we’re clear on all their objectives and deliverables. In addition to the account management side of things I’ll work with the team on brainstorms for ideation and reviewing material before it’s sent out to the partners. Another big part of my day is usually working on business development whether it’s chatting with partners/collaborators or potential clients who could use our services. I’m also a big proponent of mentorship and sharing my experiences whenever possible, so I NEVER turn down an informational interview - I tend to do them pretty often. It sounds very business school-y, but now that we’ve hired a couple more members of the team, I’m looking forward to working more ON the business instead of IN the business, which will enable us to scale a little faster.

What makes Tangent Agency different from other agencies?

At Universal, I used to hire nearly every agency under the sun. At Tangent, we are both a creative partner and thought partner, and all our strategy is insight-driven. We work with some of the biggest brands and on the biggest franchises, consistently delivering the quality and the marketing product you’d expect from a major creative agency, but also offer some unique capabilities like Strategic Sales Materials, Franchise Development, and Mythology. Our partners turn to our design team to develop a visual identity for their properties bringing their brands to life. Just as importantly, Tangent leads the way in deciphering data and creating a compelling story to pitch the property, often from scratch. Franchise development, while a critical storytelling and brand development device, is still a largely untapped part of entertainment marketing, and Tangent’s team is some of the best in this field. By breaking down the complex nuances of your favorite films and television shows, the process of mythology provides an avenue and a lens into the backstories of the characters and plot points to help our clients develop endlessly engaging story universes. The Tangent creative team has been both on the agency side and the client side and are truly some of the best in the business. I continue to be inspired by them on a daily basis.

What are some of the best projects you’ve worked on?

We’re proud of all our projects and they each present their own unique challenges and opportunities.  We like to say we’ve worked on everything from My Little Pony to Straight Outta Compton.  I find it exciting to work on independent films and Academy fare projects as well as the big global blockbuster franchises like the X-Men or Jurassic World.  Our resident super-geek and CSO, Daniel Barber, loves all things sci-fi and superheroes so I’m sure he’d say Deadpool 2, Logan, and Speilberg’s Ready Player One are a few he’d cite. On a personal level, it’s been special to be working on some of the Universal properties such as Despicable Me and Fast & Furious.  We’re under NDA so I can’t say exactly what we’re doing on the projects, but I spent so many years at Universal working internally with the brilliant filmmakers and collaborating with my old team and everyone around NBCU to help manage those brands, it’s fun to continue to work on them in this new capacity.

Who are some influencers that you admire?

I’ve always been a fan of the humble way of life Warren Buffet continues to maintain. Bill Gates has not only built an incredible empire and wealth, but continues to baffle me with his work through the foundation and his charitable contributions. Zuckerberg seems to be following in the footsteps of Gates, and I admire his commitment to making the world a better place. Sheryl Sandberg has become a voice of a generation of women and I appreciate the work she’s done to help break the glass ceiling. I know I’m leaving a bunch of people off, but I think you can gather the overall trend - successful people that seek to make a difference in the world.

What advice has helped you the most throughout your career?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have mentors champion me throughout my career and sprinkle many insightful gems of advice throughout the years. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is from my old boss, mentor and friend David O’Connor, who runs Brand Marketing at Universal. He always used to say “don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Too many people let their egos get in the way of being inquisitive for fear that they will be perceived as unintelligent or ignorant. It’s important to be strategic about asking questions and know when it’s appropriate and when questions should be taken off-line, but I’ve found it incredibly valuable to “be real” and honest with the people around me in both my personal and professional life. If I don’t know something, I ask and I remember, and then I have the knowledge going forward. If there’s something that isn’t my strength, for example graphic design, I can leave the work to the experts and allow people around me to shine.

What are some business tips you can give to startups?

Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Know what you’re good at and be the best at it. Or don’t be the best at it, just make sure you know what your value proposition is. In regards to people looking to launch a startup, I can’t tell you how many times entrepreneurs, friends, peers, etc. come to me with a business idea they “can’t tell me about.” Odds are, the idea isn’t an original idea and someone else has thought of it - it’s all about execution. You absolutely want to do your homework and discovery, but too many people suffer from analysis paralysis and never pull the trigger. The only way to make things happen is to actually execute. If something isn’t working, don’t let ego get in the way of being flexible, and don’t be afraid to make a pivot.Another tip is to always consider the end user. These fans are real people who are passionate about whatever brand/product you’re selling. In today’s world with social media being what it is, everyone can vocalize their opinion and has a pulpit by which to express it. Whether you’re marketing a multi-billion dollar blockbuster franchise or selling from a lemonade stand, it’s important to consider your customers.

What are some recent company milestones for The Tangent Agency?

We rebranded and restructured the company 18 months ago with a new leadership team: Ben Taylor (CCO), Daniel Barber (CSO), Mat Guillen (Art Director), and myself as CEO. We just completed our first year with the refreshed company and have seen incredible results and continued growth. Another recent milestone is we’ve expanded our Experiential, AV, and Digital capabilities.

What will make this year better than last year?

We’ve carved out a great niche for ourselves as one of the industry’s best kept secrets, working a lot behind the scenes. This year, we’re excited about becoming a bigger player in the experiential world and working on more consumer facing materials. It’s only January and we’re already having productive conversations with some of the leading content creators and key players in new technologies such as VR and AR. TV and Interactive Gaming are both having big moments, and we are excited about the opportunities for Tangent to collaborate in both areas. We’re looking forward to expanding our relationships with existing partners and working with new ones.   
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How You Know A Co-Working Space Is For You

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co-working space
Working at home is one of the best reasons to become a freelancer. However, there are people who work better when they need to get up and get dressed or when they are surrounded by co-workers. A group of people doing different jobs but working together in the same space is called co-working. Here are some ways to determine whether it's time to look for a co-working space.

You're Not Getting Work Done

Working from home is great but only if you get work done. This is perhaps the obvious sign that you need to find a co-working space. If you’re snacking every 15 minutes or you spend lots of time on social media instead of getting work done, you seriously need to consider a co-working space.

You Want Human Interaction

Humans are naturally social beings. Even if you hate some of your old co-workers, there is something about being about other people that can help you work hard throughout the day. You might not like some of your co-workers but sometimes it's nice to have somebody to complain to or chat with every day. If you find that you’re missing water cooler chats or if chat messaging is not enough, perhaps it’s time to look for a co-working space.

Your House Is Distracting

Your house has a bed, a TV, a fridge full of food and maybe your kids. All of these can be distracting especially if your kids need attention or if there's noisy construction nearby or when a telemarketer calls. Distractions also keep you from focusing on work and getting it done in a timely manner.

You Need To Meet Clients

Yes you house is cozy and warm, but is it really an ideal place to meet clients? What if your home is a studio apartment? Is there enough space for all of them to discuss matters comfortably? Co-working spaces have common areas like conference room where meetings can take place in a more professional atmosphere.

You Need Space

There are just some types of work where you need a big space. You might need lots of light, big windows or a big table or space for bulky equipment. Not all co-working spaces are big, but there might be something that can accommodate your need for bigger space.

You Need To Get Out Of Your PJs

If you haven't changed out of your pajamas for a couple of days, perhaps you need to look for a co-working space. Changing into something more professional could help you focus and become more productive.

You Need A Central Location

Your house could be out in the suburbs or somewhere not accessible to public transportation which can create logistics problem not only if you're meeting clients in their offices but for supplies deliveries too. A central location - which some co-working places have - is not only convenient to clients but for other matters too.

You Need To Grow Your Business

A home business is fine if you only have 1 or 2 employees. But what happens when you need to scale up and need more space? A co-working space can give you the flexibility to scale up or down depending on your needs. Depending on the co-working space, it can be for a small 1-man team or a 10-person team with access to a conference room.

Networking

When you’re in a co-working space, you are surrounded with other goal-oriented people. This is a good opportunity to network with them, learn their business or share thoughts. Having access to people in different industries can open new doors of opportunities.

You Need Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is important but it can be hard to achieve for some people when you work from home. Chores, children and distractions make it hard to focus on work so it creates an imbalance by making it hard for you to work. When you’re in a co-working space, you can forget about your house for a while to focus work. However, you still have the freedom to attend to your child's PTA, go to the gym or pick up your dry cleaning.
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8 Benefits To Owning A Drone

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reasons to own a drone
Drones have become one of the most popular gadgets of 2016. It is used in different ways ranging from disaster relief to pizza delivery. Thanks to technology becoming more affordable, people are buying drones for different purposes. If you are thinking about buying a drone, here are some interesting ways it could benefit you.

Enhance Real Estate Photos & Videos

For realtors, the drone can be a godsend. It can help you enhance aerial photographs of a property and even do over head videos. In fact, using drones for real estate is one of the hottest ways to benefit from owning a drone. Using drones in real estate is one of the best ways to showcase a property. Plus, if other real estate agents don't have drones yet, you have a distinct advantage of showing potential buyers unique views of a property. Aerial shots will give potential buyers spatial information and give you an edge among potential clients.

Monitor Farms

If you're a farmer that loves technology, you can use drones to monitor your whole farm. Drones can bring information about your crops or herd. Use this technology to determine the health of crops and animals, how much pesticide or feed you need or where to apply it, or determine the best time for harvest. Drones can also be used to determine crop rotation to help maximize yield.

Better Photography Business

It seems that everybody with a camera these days instantly becomes a photographer. But if you want beautiful and unique shots, a drone can up your edge among the competition. Adding a drone to your arsenal can give you shots and videos that no other photographer has taken before. Not only are drones great for aerial photography, they are also used for weddings, parties, and other events to help photographers capture a bird's eye view of the occasion. Offering aerial shots of an event will ultimately become part of the package for many photographers in the future.

Map Your Property

Want to see what your house looks like from the air? Get a drone and find out. Many people love their home so taking pictures of it is perfectly natural. Drones can take high resolution photos, so you can frame aerial photos of your house to show guests.

Catch Corrupt Companies Red Handed

In Oak Cliff Texas, a drone captured a river of red. It turns out that a meat packing company was dumping blood in the Trinity River which led to multiple investigations. It helped stop the pollution of a body of water.

Up The Social Media Ante

If you're a social media addict, a drone can greatly improve your visibility and lead to more likes and follows. Many people do selfies with their cameras so why not add a twist to your usual selfie by taking it from a drone and uploading it to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. This is a good way to become social media royalty and lead to money making ventures in the future.

Stunning Footage

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take stunning photographs. In some cases, all you need is a drone. This is because an aerial shot is very unique and almost always awe-inspiring, no matter who takes it. If you want a unique photo or video of ordinary like fishing on a lake, make it into stunning footage by shooting it on a drone.

It’s Fun

Drones are fun. The FAA keeps on rolling out rules to limit what you can do with drones but it does not diminish the fun you have with it. Drones are fun not because of the FAA's limitations, but because man has always wanted to find out what it feels to fly. With drones, we can do this and see the world from a bird's perspective.
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