6 Lessons For My Career That I've Learned From Being A Gamer Kenny Soto

6 Lessons For My Career That I’ve Learned From Being A Gamer

This article was written with contributions from Malik Christopher.

Video games are more than entertainment

It’s been over six months since I’ve found the time to play video games. I used to be obsessed, sometimes playing until 2:00 AM on weekdays. I find it hard to believe that I’ve entered a stage in my life where games are slowly leaving my schedule. As I reflect on the lessons I’ve learned from playing them, perhaps one of these will resonate with you too.

No matter what you do to level up, books are your best friend

Taking a page (pun intended) out of The Elder Scrolls: SKYRIM, one of the most important lessons I’ve gained was learning how to level up faster by using books found throughout the world. In the game, there are various skills that you level up to create a fully customized character. An easy way to level up a skill tree is by finding the hidden books across the land. When you acquire a book, your character automatically goes to the next level of that related skill.

The importance of this is that even in video games, education is stressed. Learning how you learn and setting up a way to control your education so that you can level up your skills will always be relevant.

Related: Creating Your Own Curriculum For Self-Education After College

When you accept too many side-missions, you can get off track

Among other challenges, time management in games is critical to your success. Now, gamers define success differently when it comes to specific games. Not all games have an end point, one can play an open world/sandbox game such as Grand Theft Auto and never progress through the main narrative. Time management in video games is important because it determines how fast you beat the game, what achievements or trophies you want to acquire, and how much can you brag to your other friends who play the game. Also, there’s the conundrum of having to decide how to split your time up if you want to play online or not.

The challenge of time management and the lessons I started to gather myself, became readily apparent when I encountered the particular issue of having to play games that have endless side quests & missions. Open world (or sandbox) games are distinct in that they allow the player to step outside of the main story and interact with the world freely. As players, we have the control to do whatever we want for hours on end. The benefit of doing side-missions is that the player gets rewarded with bonus content, prizes, and they most likely help to create a richer gaming experience.

What I took away from playing side missions specifically from Grand Theft Auto is that there are both pros and cons. The negative aspect of side missions is that they can pile on if you’re not too careful and if you’re like me, you get frustrated because one of your main goals is to complete the game. This observation has prompted me to think about the number of projects I take on in real life and how I decide which ones are worth my time. Sure, there could be some list of benefits for taking on new projects, but one must ask themselves, “Does this take away from my primary objectives?” In addition to time management, video games certainly help with creating better decision-making skills if you’re consciously auditing what you do while playing.

Don’t chase money, chase skills

There are video games designed to let the player win if there is certain amount cash to acquire as the main objective. However, most of the games I’ve played require you to focus on your character’s base attributes or if you’re playing online — you need to incorporate talent and skills to be the best. There tends to be a currency system in most role-playing games as an example, but the goal isn’t only to acquire virtual wealth.

Putting a focus on actually developing your character so that they strike terror in the face of the enemy is usually your best bet. This maps on well to life in general. Often, we think about gathering short term gains. Even if it’s relatively short in real life, there is still a considerable amount of time that one has to commit to growing your character’s skills. The skills are what make the game easier, even if you have the best “gear” or items Having a character with a skillset that allows you to adapt to any scenario is what actually matters. It’s the same with who you are in your life. Skills acquisition will always be more important than money.

Related: Accelerating Your Professional Growth By Working For Free

There are no cheat codes in life

If there is one thing that I’ve noticed for both video games and my personal life is that: I’m usually heading in the right direction if things start getting harder. Especially if I start getting more haters/enemies over time. There’s a natural progression in video games, as your character grows in power and skill, so do the enemies you encounter. Life is the same, and if you try to circumvent that by thinking you can game the system, you’re sadly mistaken. Using “cheat codes” in videos games makes them boring over time. When you do it in real life, it can damage your reputation and hurt you in the long term (even if there are short-term benefits).

An example of a cheat code in real life is lying on your resume. Sure it’s a faster way for you to get your foot in the door but, you will be found out eventually. No one ever got bragging rights by using cheat codes to beat a hard game. You only get the right to be proud of yourself when you tackle your challenges head on and when you’re patient with your growth.

There will always be someone better than you

Lastly, the most important lesson I’ve ever gained from video games (specifically playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), is that there will always be someone better than you. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t consistently try to be the best at what you do, more so that you should be aware that surrounding yourself with people that are more knowledgeable and skilled than you is more than ok — it’s essential to your personal and professional growth.

There is no way you can grow to your fullest potential in whatever you decide to do in life if you don’t have other people to put your current skillset into perspective. I personally want to be a great blogger, so I’m constantly comparing myself to others at the top (like Seth Godin). Not out of envy, but out of admiration and for study. I’m a big believer that imitation is one easy way to test new things and see what’s successful.

Being beaten by people better than you is how you learn how to play the game. It’s how you get better, especially if the competition is significantly past you in years of experience. And most importantly, it keeps things enjoyable. Because who wants to have a boring experience playing video games let alone in life? Competition breeds growth and constant challenges.

Playing with a team is the “name of the game”

In competitive games such as League of Legends or Overwatch, each member of your team is assigned a certain role that has specific objectives that they need to be accomplished during every match. When a mistake is made in one of these roles, whether big or small, it becomes detrimental to the entire team with the potential losing the match. It isn’t as costly if one plays on their own (casual gamers do this), but in the professional atmosphere (eSports) such as the Championship Series for League of Legends, a prize pool of millions of in-game dollars have easily been taken out of a team’s reach because of one mistake.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, rings true in situations like these. If one person falls behind, you’ll easily be outclassed by a team that’s more on top of things. What usually follows is frustration, blame, and a decrease in skill overall. The ability to help those you work with by providing constructive criticism is crucial. A concern for their weaknesses, should be tackled with the appropriate feedback. Slowly, you’ll notice not only improvement in them, but also in yourself as a leader and team player. And in the professional world, we all work in teams.

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6 steps to time management Kenny Soto

Time Management: A 6-Step Guide For Millennials

The first lesson I learned after graduating college…time management is your key to success.

No one will tell you how to structure your week, which is why time management has to be a focus on your mind starting today. If you’re lucky to get a job as soon as you finish your collegiate journey—you’ve gotten past the first of many hurdles. However, I’m sure the job you get will only be a placeholder as you take the first steps into building a name for yourself and advancing in your career. So, what’s missing? What do you need to take into account as you move forward and begin the next phase of your life?

1. Manage your weeks by setting monthly goals.

Part of the challenges that many of us face is that once we finish college, we are completely in control of our schedule. Sure, we may have a job that we have to take into account, but odds are, you won’t be working more than 40 hours a week, leaving you 128 hours in a week to prioritize your time.
We can’t think about prioritizing our time through a system of personal task management, though. This is what we’ve made ourselves accustomed to for quite some time, and it’s a paradigm that we have to shift out of very quickly. Thinking about goals that you have on both the micro (daily & weekly) levels & the macro (monthly & annual) levels is the first step in creating a system for ourselves in managing our time. I’m sure we all have goals that we want to see ourselves achieve but, if we aren’t consciously creating the infrastructure to get ourselves there—we are doing a disservice to our future-selves.

2. Make “No” a part of your toolbox.

Using no as a tool for time management Kenny Soto

One of the challenges in creating your time management infrastructure is learning that within your limited amount of time, other people want you to spend time with them. Whatever the reasons may be, everyone we know who we interact with wants us to invest our time in them. Family, friends, and employers all want us to allocate time into what they and realistically speaking we do need to comply—but not all the time.
There are certain times for example when we need to forego our instinct to please those we love and sometimes those we even work for, to focus on our self-development and goals. Not only that, we need to take into account that we need to say no to ourselves as well. Delaying gratification to get the things we need to get done on a daily basis is paramount to creating successful habits for when we are older. If we are always procrastinating, we will consistently see it as a thing that is permissible in our lives, when it certainly isn’t.

3. Focus on File/App Management.

This is a lesson I would have learned if it wasn’t for a fraternity brother of mine. There’s very little your mind can do when reacting to a cluttered desktop. The effects of poor file management are insidious, to say the least; they aren’t as harmful to your productive in from a mobile environment (doesn’t mean that the following advice doesn’t apply). If you want to speed up the process in which you work on your computer—keep it organized. This means that there should be folders and necessary subfolders for all aspects of your digital life. I’ve saved at least 20 minutes of every day ever since I took my friends advice, and I schedule every Sunday morning to file/app management just to keep clarity on my screens.

4. Screw your notifications.

This goes hand-in-hand with number 2 but deserves its section. We are bombarded with notifications daily from a whole slew of platforms. One of the main things that deter us from concentrating on our everyday tasks is the need to view and respond to every notification that comes our way. This is a big mistake, and it can cost hours during each month.
When creating the self-discipline to say no to others, you also have to say no to people online. Everyone else is being bombarded with notifications as well, so if you take 5-6 hours to respond later, it won’t ruin their day—half of the time they won’t even notice. This relates to not only your emails but, also with your social media notifications and especially your texts. I use Hubspot’s Sidekick Gmail extension to schedule all of my email replies every morning, and I won’t check my inbox until two hours before I go to bed.

5. Keep simple things, simple.

Not all of our tasks have equal importance in our daily affairs. Somethings obviously more to us than others. It’s why we all have to create the habit of selective-slacking, creating a system of putting minimal effort in the things that don’t require excellence. It is easy to make things complicated; a true challenge is making certain tasks simpler. If we can put minimal effort in things we don’t want to do, and most importantly, tackling those tasks at the very beginning of our day—we’ll have more time to do the things we want to do.

6. Schedule your sleep.

Sleeping as a habit for time management Kenny Soto

This seems obsessive but, it is an essential step to creating an effective time management system. Not only are there studies out there that mention the health implications of getting a lack of sleep, but it’s also a part of our culture as young people in our early 20s-30s to forgo our sleep to be more productive and get work as much work done as possible each day. This is getting in your way. The typical college habit of breaking night to finish a paper isn’t going to fly after graduating. People are most productive when they get 6-8 hours of sleep and even then, 20-30 naps in the middle of each day are highly recommended.
As someone who used to play video games late into the night (sometimes sleeping around 3 A.M. & waking up at 6 A.M. several days in a row) I can attest to the fact that ever since I’ve followed a rigorous sleep schedule I’ve become much more efficient in everything I do. I can concentrate more, execute tasks faster, and I am beginning to notice a greater sense of alertness ever since I had started two months ago. One of the most important factors to a healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep, and it is a vital part of building the foundation for good time management.

If you adopt at least one of these steps into your life, I guarantee there will be a massive amount of upside on both your productivity and ability to create free time. Because, at the end of the day the best perk of establishing an efficient system of time management is, you get a lot more time to do the things you want to do—for me, that’s taking even longer naps.

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Aaron Burden Kenny Soto

“People Get Paid To Think.”

“How do you learn on a daily basis?” “Do you think about what thoughts make up your mind?” “Are you expanding on what you already know?” “How do I make my learning habits more effective?”

I think about these questions on a daily basis, ever since one of my mentors shared this piece of wisdom with me in a recent session: “people get paid to think, Kenny.” I’ve been letting this saturate my thoughts for quite some time now. There’s a reason why not more than twelve months ago if I wanted to meet with a client, I would have had to jump through so many hoops just get an email reply. And now, clients are begging me to give them 30 minutes of my time so that they can buy me lunch.

What purpose does this quote have?

It wasn’t like this before — and now it is. Doing business seems to be easier: mentors want to teach me, and I’m much happier than I used to be. To give some context into why my mentor told me this, I’m currently taking lessons from her on public speaking and time management (two of my weaknesses as of now). She was talking about the importance of planning each week with objectives and goals in mind, and not by what tasks need to get done. And because of this, I’ve made it clearer to myself that my objectives and goals revolve around how much quality learning I could get done in any given time frame.

I live my life on a grid.

I used to think this was a good thing. I know what has to get done and when it has to be completed. It’s helped me survive college. It turns out that it isn’t enough anymore, and this is definitely news to me. It’s been a challenge to start thinking about what I need to do on a daily basis that maximizes my return on investment concerning what and how I learn.

I’ve always been curious about what people around me know; it’s why I’m considered to be a “sponge” to both my peers and my mentors. Now, I have to be more focused on how I learn and, specifically, how to position myself better in the business world. I agree with her. People do get paid to think. Expanding on her thoughts, I offer: “people get paid to think about helping others.” This is something I’ve adopted and I’m still experimenting with, and I realize it might not be the best mantra for everyone. I believe that the highest value I can bring to anyone else is by finding ways to solve their problems. Some might say, and I might agree, that it’s not only thinking but, taking action that people get paid for.

What are your thoughts? What do you believe people get paid for?

Leave a comment below and let’s talk about it.

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Baim Hanif Kenny Soto Graduating College

How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College

If you’ve heard or read my rants for the past 6-8 months, I’m constantly trying to convince people to begin working on their personal brands. Until now, the only results I could show on the benefits of working on my personal brand is being ranked number one for my own name on Google SERPs (search engine return pages). However, now I actually can prove that what I’m alluding to when I’m speaking about my brand is the fact that it only took me two weeks to get a job after I graduated. Mind you; I didn’t even apply for the position.

Read More
selective slacking

Selective Slacking: Why Sacrificing The “A,” Get’s You More

A book highlighted it.

I just finished reading this book called Smartcuts by Shane Snow, CEO of Contently. The book’s mission is to teach its readers how to achieve their goals in less time than it takes the majority of people. In the second part of the book, Shane begins to cover a topic called selective slacking: the process of putting as little effort (and time) as possible to get the minimum requirement of a task done so that you can focus on your priorities. While reading this chapter, something struck a nerve. “All of this seems oddly familiar,” I thought to myself while reading. And that’s because I’ve been using this technique for the past two years, ever since I began taking executive roles in student government at the City College of New York.

I was always an A student. I say this to highlight the fact that as soon as I started realizing that I couldn’t do both student government and excel in my classes, I had to make a calculated choice. So I asked myself, “What was I going to sacrifice? What were my main priorities moving forward?” At first, I opted for sacrificing my sleep, which ended up making my performance suffer in both areas of my collegiate career. So I decided, that what I wanted to learn from the most was from my leadership experience and not from my courses. I’ll admit that there were times where I wanted to drop all of my coursework altogether, to focus on student government, but I wouldn’t be able to maintain or run for future positions without at least maintaining a 2.5 GPA. I already had a 3.2 and calculated that if I just had one A and one B, each semester, I could focus on what mattered to me. And that’s what I did.

Using selective slacking now.

Now that I’m a college graduate, I can see how selective slacking can be applied to almost every aspect of my life. My two top priorities right now are focusing on growing my non-profit, Futures For Students, as well as excelling in my current part-time consultancy job for a startup in New York City. There are only 168 hours in a week, and I can’t possibly manage to grow an organization, fundraise money, be excellent at my part time job, and juggle all my other responsibilities. So I’ve set up a system (I use my calendar as a Gantt chart) to let me manage my time to excel in the things I care about. And most importantly, I’ve learned to say no to almost everything that takes away from the time I need to invest in myself. Putting the bare minimum amount of effort into things that don’t matter to me (like doing household chores) but still need to get down is the focus of how I’ve used selective slacking.

It’s a technique I suggest you at least experiment with. What do you want to do more of? There is always one hobby that you can allocate more time to but, you can’t because of the other one thousand responsibilities that you have. Learn to cut those you activities that you don’t care about to save yourself time! Selective slacking is a technique that allows you design your lifestyle based on your core values and priorities. Trying this out for a month will certainly show you the benefits of prioritizing your time and energy this way.

If you want to learn more about other techniques top paying innovators use to focus on their vision and work, definitely check out Smartcuts. I finished this book in a week.

Kenny Soto Daily Habits Article

How Your Daily Habits Affect Your Success

Personal Success begins with your habits.

As a leader or anyone aspiring to become successful, we are all responsible for our own personal success. Oftentimes people aren’t able to be successful because they are completely unaware of how their daily habits affect their future. There are many things in our lives that are outside of our own control but, the one thing we do have a say over are the daily habits we choose to adopt every day.

You are your choices.

There have been many times when I have heard people I know complain about their lives. I would hear the usual statements, “I hate where I am at in life” or, “I am only in this situation because I don’t know the right people.” What many people don’t realize is that the reason they are stuck where they don’t want to be is because of their daily habits. What makes matters worse is most of us cannot see how our daily habits affect our lives because the basis of our habits is around processes and not outcomes. Focusing on what could you gain from making a decision hinders you from focusing on what matters. The reason why the majority of us are only focused on outcomes are because others have taught us since early childhood that what is more important is reaching a specific goal and not how we get there. Just because I get an A in a course doesn’t mean that I can actually apply my knowledge effectively on a daily basis. For many of us, the outcome of our total success is not determined by how we reach deadlines but from how effective was our process in achieving our tasks and what do we learn to increase our productivity the next time.

Effective habits save time.

The answer success does not lie in asking yourself what you need to do, but instead who you need to become. Once you have that answer, realize that you are not that person right now because when you compare your current self to your ideal personal persona, the difference is how you spend your day. Some people believe the on approach to getting to where you want to be is by using self-affirmations like in The Secret to attract success to you. I am not saying that self-affirmations aren’t useful, in fact they can be very powerful. What I am saying is that a more practical way of approaching success is adopting productive habits. This creates a structural foundation in which you can achieve that success mindset. To create that structure you need to be self-aware of what are your current habits and how other people and outside factors sway your choices on what daily habits you adopt over time.

Distractions are your biggest enemy.

One big factor that determines what daily habits you decide to adopt is codependency. Codependency is when you tend to act or feel a certain way based on whom you interact with (my interpretation of it). The reason this dysfunctional behavior is detrimental to your daily success is because most of us don’t notice our codependent tendencies when we interact and spend time with others. Jim Rohn best describes this when he states, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” As we become more hyper-connected to people through the Internet, it is now more important than ever to be aware when we are being codependent with those we are spending our time with (offline and online). In the event that you cannot do so, then you should make sure you are spending your time with people who are practicing successful habits daily (at least those habits may rub off on you). Codependency is related to why you aren’t as successful as you want to be. This is because you are allowing the habits of others govern your own. Although, this may not always be the case if you are already aware of how others in your network affect your chances of success. It helps significantly if you are learning what habits are you adopting from other people.

 

You should always be aware of what habits you currently have that may not be leading to who you want to become. Researching and meeting successful people who can mentor you are very helpful ways to figure out productive habits you can adopt yourself. However, it all comes down to self-awareness. Make sure you are auditing your habits on a regular basis and calibrating them accordingly. If you don’t create a daily regimen yourself, outside factors are doing it for you.

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