CEO’s Corner: Setbacks, Success, and Everything Between

Attribution: Demetri Martin

Something I have been considering a lot recently is what it takes to accomplish meaningful and difficult things.

Have you ever tried to do something big? Something outside your comfort zone? Maybe you have a vision to do something out of the ordinary. A vision that no one else can see as clearly as you, or maybe no one else can even see at all?

Well, of course you do. If you are reading this blog the you are probably a broadcaster, another startup founder, or someone similarly ambitious. What you are doing is inherently difficult and fraught with a million roadblocks, speed bumps, and any number of other traffic related analogies.

The point:

Resistance does not mean a thing is not supposed to happen.

In fact, I would argue that often the most important and lasting things will force you to face the biggest obstacles. Accomplishing these things can take all that you have.

So many external forces will naturally conspire against you, that, often, it feels like you are running straight into a gale force headwind. These forces are usually common things: people problems, dubious advice, financial constraints, your own biases, time, fatigue. Any one can derail your efforts on its own, but most of the time these things stack, exponentially complicating your pathway to success. So how do you deal? How do you overcome?


Building something lasting and important is exciting! But here is a secret: in the day to day, success is equivalent to a complex set of tasks that, often, amounts, simply, to busy work.

Some days you get to share a drink with your heroes or play a game before anyone else. Other days, you have to make sure that all one hundred of your corporate governance documents are organized, in order, as you prepare for a due diligence meeting with your attorney and an investor.

Some weekends are PAX East. Some weekends are meticulously auditing the analytics you collect so you know which data you have and which you don’t, before you can even begin the tedious process of setting up an outreach campaign to target the right new customers.

The ability to execute through both the easy times and the difficult times is what sets the best of us apart, through the fun and through the boring. If you want to do anything big, you have to execute. You have to be fanatical about doing everything it takes, no matter how much time it takes or how many other things you would rather be doing in that moment.


In any substantial endeavor, we are pursuing a moving target. What do I mean by that?

Whether you are wooing a romantic partner, constructing a house, or trying to build and maintain an audience, there is no finished, definable end-state that is knowable from the beginning. Things shift along the way. Your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse is constantly growing and changing, just like you. You have to pursue with openness, with flexibility.

Your stream will change over time as your audience, your interests, and the games that come out all do the same. Of course, there are goals you can set along the way: 1000 followers, 2500 followers, 50 subscribers, etc., but success is something you need to be able to redefine as you go along.

GameWisp has changed significantly, no less than four times, along our journey, and the small shifts in our strategy come even more frequently. Some we treated with openness, others we resisted for far too long for one reason or another. In the end, the faster we adapted, the faster we were able to move to the next stage in our journey.


Doing this stuff is hard. It is hard as hell. As you dream of your future success (whatever that looks like to you) on day one, you can’t possibly see all the struggles that lie in your way. Not knowing them ahead of time can be a gift; many wouldn’t start something so huge if they knew the challenges they’d face ahead of time, what they would sacrifice. Instead, sometimes, being flawed human beings, we worry and quit before we begin. To not know can be liberating.

What you can know for sure is that the road ahead will have, well, more than zero moments of difficulty, of doubt. Be prepared, and tell yourself: You can take it.

You have to decide, now, that you’re going to do what it takes, that you’re going to make it. Let there be no lingering doubt that you will persevere. Because it’s going to get hard. All good things do.

But, ultimately, the more frequently you struggle, and then succeed, the more you can hope. Each obstacle you overcome will build your confidence, and you will teach yourself overtime that you can make it through anything. And as your hope grows, you will have the courage to tackle bigger and bigger challenges.

A Trusted Team

I firmly believe that the best, most meaningful things can only be accomplished when you surround yourself with people you trust.

Your team will make the difference when you fail at any or everything else. Your team will carry you through dark times, and exponentially magnify the joy in good times. Your team complements your strengths and fills in where you are weak. Your team will save your life. Your team is irreplaceable.

GameWisp has an incredible team that has saved my butt countless times in countless areas. I started us on this journey, sure, but we would certainly not be here if I was still doing this alone. GameWisp would have ended an embarrassingly long time ago. And every day I look forward to coming into the office to execute beside these people, because they inspire me, they push me, and they care as much (or sometimes even more) than I do.

Running alongside the right people through this startup journey has made all the difference. Who are you running with in your endeavor? Who’s on your team?

One last point I would like to make: big things are hard, but not always for the same reason. Just because you face resistance, it doesn’t mean you are headed the wrong direction.

It is important, however, to be open to the possibility that resistance (bad audience reactions, poor turnout, lack of sales, etc.) is an indicator that you are trying to solve the wrong problem. This is why executing with openness alongside a team you trust is so important. You can’t just persevere doing the wrong thing forever and expect to succeed. That is pure insanity. You need all four things!

I hope this resonates with you, and that despite how hard things can be, that you still choose to attempt big things! You can do it!

Execute on everything in front of you, persevere through hardship, be open to where the journey takes you, and find awesome people you trust to pursue these things alongside.

Originally published at Mar 30, 2016.

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