In Life and Startups

In life, there are many things you have very little control over. However, the one thing you do control is who you choose to spend your time with. Research done by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard found that the people you are around determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life [a]. Are the people you hang out with helping you toward the life you want?

When building a team for a startup, it is no different. The first law of successful startups is that markets are like gravity, they always win. If you don’t create a product or service that someone wants and you can’t make revenue or attract the capital to grow it, you lose. Reverse it all and you win. …

In Life and Startups

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

I’ve spent the last few weeks on a three-part series on How to Pivot. Part 1: Recognize when to Pivot, Part 2: Fail Forward and finally Part 3: Executing a Successful Pivot. This week is a bonus on To Quit or Not to Quit

In life if you are considering quitting something, you should ask yourself “why” or “ for what purpose” are you doing this? It is best to ask “why” at least three times until you get to your “super why”. Your super why will be the real reason you chose the path in the first place. For example, why do I want to lose weight? (1) So I can have more energy Why? (2) So I can be present with my kids. Why? (3) Because time is short and they’re growing up fast. Within this statement I’ve identified the super why which is being present with my kids. I’ve also identified a personal value: spending time with family. Knowing your super why, ask if what you’re doing moves you in the direction of that super why. If yes, keep going, if no consider quitting or pivoting.[a] One of the largest sources of personal stress is when your super why does not match your behaviors. This creates cognitive dissonance.

In Life and Startups

This is the third post in a series of How to Pivot in life and in startups. Previously, I wrote about Recognizing When to Pivot (Part 1) and Fail Forward (Part 2). This is now Part 3 of How to Pivot: Executing a Successful pivot.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

Once you have recognized a need for a pivot and chosen a direction, the next step is to successfully execute . That’s easier said than done. So I will let you in on the secret to pivoting well — commitment.

Commit to overcome any obstacle that life or the market throws your way. I know, so anti-climatic. So how do we stick to our commitments? A lot has been studied and written about behavior change, all at a personal level.

In Life and Startups

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Your past was never meant to create history, but to build the future.

You’ve decided to ignore the date on the calendar and throw caution to the wind saying that today is a brand new day. That’s right, a new beginning can happen at any time, at any moment.

Last week I wrote about how to recognize when a pivot is needed in life or in your startup. If you are going to pivot, then the next natural question is: what direction should you take?

Oftentimes with founders, they need to pivot but are not sure in which direction or how. I am defining pivot for a startup as either changing WHO you are serving or WHAT the product is. …

In Life and in Startup

Image for post
Image for post
Is a pivot upcoming?

January 2020 ushered in a new year and a new decade, signaling change for many people. Change involves either a pivot towards or away from something. A successful pivot requires a bit of art, a dose of luck, and a lot of hard work. Granted, some of these are out of your control, but focus on what you do control: your mindset.

The first step to change is recognizing that you need to change.

But before even getting to that step, how do you recognize you need a pivot? …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

One of the most popular prayers is the Serenity Prayer. This prayer is repeated often within Alcoholics Anonymous and addiction circles. The first words are the most powerful:

GOD, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,

Courage to change the
things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer and mantra is centered around change and control. Control and change go hand in hand. You can really only change what you can control.

While I had heard the prayer many times, the last time I heard this was in church, and it caused me to really reflect and listen to the words about change. …

Many people think design makes the app or product aesthetically pleasing; however, design impacts more than just the look of a product, it impacts the bottom line.

If a user does not know how to buy a product — deisgn fail
If a user cannot figure out how to sign up — design fail
If a user does not know what to do — design fail

Before founding Kabam, I was a UX designer at AOL working designing product from the Media Player to Safety & Security (Spyware/Anti-virus) to Community (Blogs, Forums, etc…). Three years passed and nothing launched out of Beta.

Image for post
Image for post

When I first started my design career, I worked at AOL doing a lot of web design for Media, Safety & Security, and Community. I could have never guessed that I would be designing games.

I would like to say that what I have learned that web/app design has a lot to offer game design, but it has been the opposite.

Game design has more to offer web design.

This is non-obvious as there have been entire companies dedicated to the shell of games, called gamificationan amalgation of points, badges and leaderboards to keep a user engaged.

But the truth is that a really good game like a really good product is far more than gamification. …

Scaling is magical because you take the same amount of inputs and get greater outputs. This sounds great when it comes to code — one line of code can hit hundreds of people, thousands and millions — and nothing (or minimal) changes to the code. But how can you do the same with people.

During the growth phase of the company, I often get, “yah but can (s)he scale?” What they mean is the following:

Can (s)he continue to drive successful results as the organization gets bigger?

So that when you add another person to that team, the amount of quality output will be greater than what was before.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

Last time I spoke about expanding your market globally. The question that follows is, how do I build a team or an international office?

I will tackle this with examples of how we did it, or really mistakes we made, as Kabam grew its offices to 6 locations with a workforce of over 1500.

Whether you are considering expanding to a new location or globally, many of these steps still apply.

Step 1: Determine the purpose of your overseas office.

Here are some questions to ask when determining the purpose:

  • Do we expect this office to be responsible for our market expansion in this region?
  • How much input is expected from this office regarding market expansion?


Holly Liu

Co-founder @Kabam

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store