Sid Meier sold 51 million copies of his game: 5 quick lessons from his autobiography

I read Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games.

Here are 5 ideas from the book that might be helpful in your work:

  1. You have to trust your instinct. No one knows if your product will sell Sid wanted to make an epic strategy game about the history of human civilization. Conventional wisdom was that you can't make a strategy game because it wouldn't make any money. Everyone told Sid to stick to the flight simulator games he was already making because they were selling well. Sid decided to trust his instinct instead. Civilization went on to be his most successful game and his life's work.

  2. Creative solutions can unlock new sales Retail stores would not sell Sid's games when he was an unknown developer. Sid's business partner decided to call up the stores, act as a customer, and ask if they had the new game from Sid Meier. They said, "No. Never heard of it." He would call back using a different voice every week for a month. After a month he'd call as Sid's sales rep and ask the store to sell the game. The store would buy the game because so many people called asking for it.

  3. Use your day job as a bridge to entrepreneurship Sid stayed at his job for almost 2 years while building his company. He would make games on nights and weekends. As he sold more games he slowly decreased the amount of hours he worked at his job. He asked them to work 4 days instead of 5 and then 3 days instead of 4. The world is more malleable than you think —most people never ask. Once it was clear that he had enough customers he quit and worked on his games full time.

  4. Find what you love to do and keep pounding away at it forever Sid did not have a grand plan for his career. He made games for fun. Later on he made games for fun and profit. He just liked making games and never saw any reason to stop. The lessons he learned from doing the same thing for multiple decades compounded, and opened up opportunities he could have never predicted. Most people don't get to experience this benefit because they keep switching from company to company.

  5. So many of our wildest dreams have turned out to be laughably conservative that it's hard to write off anything as impossible. This is my favorite idea in the entire book and I think relates to the other 4 ideas. If you pursue what you genuinely love you are less likely to quit. The longer you hold on, the more time can work in your favor. Sid would tell us not to put artificial caps on how big our dreams can get. As James Dyson said, "It looks brilliant at the end because there is such a difference from where you started and where you’ve ended up. There’s such a big leap. So it looks like an act of brilliance. But it wasn’t. It was just hard work."

There are a lot of ideas in the book that are helpful to independent entrepreneurs. Highly recommend reading it.

  1. 2

    Somehow I missed this one. Thanks for the thoughts and it's been added to my reading list!

    1. 1

      No problem. The book was a surprise for me too! Such a great story.

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