[00:00:00] Welcome to the School of Moxie podcast brought to you by Sensible Woo. This is the podcast where we break the mold around business podcast conversations. We make it fun around here by using television, movies, and entertainment as a jumping off point for conversations about how we navigate the world as individuals.
I’m your host, Mary Williams, and I’ve been an online creator since 2010. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go over the years, but one thing that has persisted is a struggle among entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their audiences. As a business systems process and operations coach, I’ve seen how much my clients and subscribers have benefited from learning how to incorporate their fun sides.
So we’re going to demonstrate this for you here on this podcast through analogous thinking. Not only that, but we’re using media and entertainment as the lens through which we reflect on our own desires and strengths. Fiction is the vehicle that gives us words to articulate our value systems. And tells people who we are.
I find that a lot of my
[00:01:00] audience, and probably yours as well, struggle to find words for their problems until they start thinking about how to use analogies. Analogies help us build bridges between something we can describe into a new area that we are in the process of developing. As humans, we are a languaged species, which means we find context and meaning in our lives.
Through the ability to put our feelings into words. This podcast is going to help you normalize this process and see how it’s done in real time as my guests talk through their own experiences in relation to the episodes they’ve been assigned for this show. Our first season of this podcast is centered on the first season of the H B O original series, the Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name, consider this your official spoiler alert.
On this podcast, my guests are going to jump right into the conversation, and we are going to spill all the tea on the story and the plot. So if you enjoy being surprised, I encourage you to watch the episode first before listening to our discussion. Thank you to our generous
[00:02:00] sponsors for the one and only premiere week here at the school of Moxie podcast.
This week has been made possible with support from the AK collective with Amber Kinney. You’ll hear about the AK collective in the show credits every week because they’re a major part of how I do my marketing around here. And I’m so. So thankful to Amber for the additional opening week support scale fast with clear metrics and ads that convert like crazy, and that’s just a very small part of what the AK Collective can do for you.
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Last but not least this week, we are supported by Custom Learning Atelier with Beth Salyers. We demonstrate a lot of divergent thinking
[00:03:00] and alternative methods of learning on this podcast, and that’s what Beth can build for your organization as well. Links to each of these amazing sponsors is located in the show notes on this episode.
I encourage you to give them some love by visiting their websites. Before we get into this week’s episode, have I told you about the weekly readings that I create for entrepreneurs just like you each and every week? I’m an Akashic Records and Tarot reader, and I’ve been giving clients intuitive guidance coaching for just about 20 years now.
That’s a long time. I know that most readers out there don’t focus on your business needs. So that’s where I come in. Readings with me are only about your business development, and it helps you feel more aligned with your intuitive messages so that you can incorporate those gut feelings and inner knowings into your business data for better results.
Click the link in the show notes and subscribe to my weekly email updates, where you can get a free reading sent to your inbox every single week. If you want more, you can subscribe to the weekly extended readings, which are just
[00:04:00] 9 per month. And help you get focused on your business energy every week.
No more Sunday scaries. You’ve got this better in hand than you know, and I’ll help you see it. Now let’s get watching and talking. We are going to be spending an entire podcast season with The Last of Us, which started as a video game and then became a television series. Before diving into each episode and examining the nuances of how a dramatic fictional series can reflect our business experiences back to us, I wanted us to do a high level overview.
By the time we get to the end of our podcast season together, we’ll be ending our guest conversations with a summary overview so that we can really digest what we’ve just experienced over the course of many weeks. If you’re the kind of person who likes to jump in or does this without realizing it, then this episode is definitely for you.
The way we consume our entertainment is a direct reflection of the ways we interact in our business journeys. If you don’t know the source material for The Last of Us,
[00:05:00] you would be missing out on a lot of important information that gives greater context and insight into the whole experience. To help us navigate the journey from gameplay to series viewership, we’re joined today by Ashlan Glazier Anderson.
Born in Hawaii, Oregon raised, and now based out of Las Vegas, Ashlan holds her business degree from Portland State University and master’s degree in strategic communications from the University of Oregon. She is a professional certified marketer and certified digital marketing professional. Ashlan has worked in corporate marketing for advertising agencies and national nonprofits.
She runs a six figure digital marketing agency, volunteers in her community, and enjoys travel, live music, and watching TV and movies with her husband, dog, and two cats. Also, Ashlan is an original player of the video game version of The Last of Us and is our perfect guide to help us gain a proper lay of the land before we dive into the episodes for this season.
Ashlan, welcome to the show and thank you for being one of my very first. guests who is holding space for better business conversations.
[Ashlan] Thank you, Mary, for having me. I’m so, so, so excited to be talking about this. I’m so excited too.
[Mary] Okay. My first question is, you told me you were like, I’m going to start playing the game again.
Did you actually play the whole thing?
[Ashlan] I did not get a chance with like travel and doing stuff and moving. So I moved. I was a little butthurt about it, but I did rewatch the entire series, tears and all before joining you.
[Mary] I love it. Well, let’s start by talking about the big elephant in the room because this did start as a video game and then became a television series and storytelling in these two mediums is a whole heck of a lot different, which means they cannot be cookie cutter versions of each other.
Okay. How often do you think entrepreneurs get stuck in this mental trap, which holds them back from fresh perspectives or voices when we expect things to be exactly like the other thing?
[Ashlan] Oh my goodness. So when I was thinking about this, you know, people oftentimes they’ll
[00:07:00] take a look at something else somebody else has done and be like, okay, I can just follow that checklist.
I can do the exact same thing. And really that’s not. That’s like literally not reality. Like you cannot, you know, remake. I mean, if we, if the pandemic taught us anything, right. If you’re, if you’re relying on any information before 2020, like throw it out the window because nothing is the same anymore.
[Mary] So much not the same.
[Ashlan] And I do think a lot of times, you know, entrepreneurs, they’ll be like, okay, let’s, Let’s join this thing or let’s watch this thing and we can try to make it the exact same way. But the way that you will do things in your own business is so unique and so original, and it has to be authentic to you. So I’ll give an example because, you know, I’ve, I mean, I think you knew me before I even jumped like fully into like full blown entrepreneur.
I was still doing my thing as a side hustle.
[Mary] Yes. I remember that.
[Ashlan] And I was just like, Oh, I don’t know when this is going to happen. Like when I started my business, I was literally like giving myself
[00:08:00] like 15 years. I was like, Hey, cool. I’ll have 15 years. I want by the time I’m 50 to be working for myself.
Little did I know by being focused by, by doing. Things the way that, you know, internally, I thought were right that 15 years turned quickly into 15 months and has turned into so much growth.
[Mary] So fast.
[Ashlan] Yeah. And it wasn’t following, you know, I mean, I will admit I joined programs. I did the thing you did. I did all the things that we do.
[Mary] Yeah. Yep. Yep.
[Ashlan] Bought those 27 things that you saw on Instagram, you know, like got caught up in that, in that trap, to learn very quickly. But then I adapted them all to be my own. And honestly, like people are like, Oh, can you forecast, you know, are you forecasting next year? And I’m like, Well, none of the last three years have been the same at all.
I was like, I don’t know what the next step is. But I have the foundations of what I want to build. And just keeping up with those
[00:09:00] is important.
[Mary] You’ve I mean, you’ve come a long way. Yeah. Um, but I think you’re totally right. Like you can’t forecast things. And I would argue that when we watch this series, um, we are having a conversation about the business side of it as well.
And while everyone knew that the game. For the last of us has a seriously rabid fan base, or as Renee, who is our person who’s talking about the business side, she calls them feral fans, which I love that term. And so even though you have that rabid or feral fan base, you can never predict what’s going to happen once you actually launch something.
So when they put out the television series, like nobody really knew, like, of course they have their HBO money. And so, you know, there is this huge marketing campaign behind it, but there is a big potential that especially the gaming side of the fan base would reject it and there were some people who did. They wanted more zombie kills. They wanted more infected running around.
They wanted more, you know things that you would see in a
[00:10:00] game and you know I think if you have like some brain matter between your two ears, you know that to watch somebody play a game is so different than watching a television series. Like you’re not gonna watch somebody investigate a room and open all the drawers for an hour, right?
[Ashlan] Well, it would get really boring if every single episode was about just how many kills you could get. Like, I think it would get really, really boring after a while. And like, I’m going to just, I’m going to call out the, uh, the true elephant in the room. The Walking Dead got really boring. It did. Like, it got really boring.
[Mary] Oh, I’ve already recorded that episode on the mic and, and I was like, I think I’d have more respect for them if they had ended like, 10 seasons sooner and four spinoffs sooner. It was just, it got gratuitous and it numbed everybody out and you’re just like…
[Ashlan] Oh God. Well, I think, you know, this is a, this series is with like human people.
If we wanted something to look like that, put it in a cartoon, put it, you know, like it would. An animated version would suffice, but this was the, I mean, you
[00:11:00] have great actors like we’re, you know, our lovely Pedro Pascal. I mean, he does not deserve to be, you know, beating multiple, yeah, yeah, multiple, uh, cordyceps.
I’m not going to say zombies, cordyceps, you know, every single time. Yes. It would get boring. It would get very boring.
[Mary] And I love that the showrunners were so thoughtful in the same way that the game won a ton of awards. For its thoughtfulness in very unique storytelling design, they did the same thing with the series where they really thought about, but who are these people and what are their storylines?
And we get those, these gorgeous capsule episodes with Bill and Frank, and we get to see, you know, the origins of Ellie and what really happened in the mall. And we get, you know, they get to bring in the, the PLC into the, you know, the, um, into the actual television series and. You just can’t get the same experience.
Everything’s not meant to be apples to apples or exactly the same.
[00:12:00] And I personally really love that. But I see entrepreneurs struggle with this routinely, where they’re like, I had this amazing experience in this course over here, and now I’m growing, and now I need to go do this other thing. And it’s not the same.
And they falter, and they have a really hard time picking themselves back up, and it becomes quite the roadblock.
[Ashlan] I feel like entrepreneurs need to remember failure is part of the process. So, bringing it back to the video game analogy, like anytime I play a video game, I know that I’m going to die like a million times in the game.
Like, you know, you remember to save before you get certain places. Um, I do remember the first time I played The Last of Us. It was actually scarier in the moments where we ran into people in the game than it was when we ran into monsters in the game because the monsters are predictable. You know, you can like, you can, and maybe, maybe we’ll, we’ll make the analogy.
The monsters are like the course, right? It’s
[00:13:00] predictable. You can pause, you can just stay still and they can’t hear you. But with people, they are very unpredictable.
[Mary] Well, and I love that they made that point, you know, in the fictional series. The worst enemy is people are horrible. Like when Joel goes to the ham radio operator and he says, like, where is it in Wyoming?
He’s like, dude, you’re like, you’re super capable, but he’s, I hear everything on this radio. He’s like, there are raiders and slavers. And like, people are doing horrible things because society has crumbled. And in entrepreneurship, society hasn’t crumbled, but I mean, our online entrepreneurship world is still very much the wild west.
[Ashlan] Oh, a hundred percent. There’s nothing that is consistent or, you know, when I’ve, I’ve had clients before who have worked with other agencies and I, I almost feel like sometimes I need to be like, okay, yes, you had that experience there. Here’s how we’re different. Here’s how we’re going to take better care of you.
Here is what our process is
[00:14:00] like, almost like, like a therapist for like a very bad relationship that they had with somebody else or the level of care and quality that we take them through like, if you, you know, you’re not only paying me money for this, but like I’m invested in your success. Yeah. Because by both of us being successful, that’s important.
You know important.
[Mary] Yes. You’re Tess.
[Ashlan] I’m very much Tess. Yes. Go finish it, please. , go finish the thing. We started a thing. Well go finish it. Let’s go finish it.
[Mary] Um, we’ll take your deal and also, yeah, I, I, I’ve noticed that we get a lot of comparisons because, you know, I love that you brought up The Walking Dead because technically the series does fall in the zombie genre.
So for people who are tuning into the podcast and you’re like, I’m going to do what we all did and watch the show.
[00:15:00] I find that some people do want to compare the series to another one. Like, they’re the same. Predominantly, I would say the walking dead and make assumptions right away. I also find a lot of people want to avoid the series altogether because they’re like, Well, I don’t watch that.
So in your opinion as an entrepreneur and as an entrepreneur who offers a very valuable base in the marketing space, you know, I mean, you really are helping people get their marketing act together. You hold space for a lot of people. Do you notice that this behavior pattern also shows up in the business journey?
And like, what do you think we can learn from that pattern?
[Ashlan] I guess I would compare it to, you know, people who are like, Oh, I don’t want to try the thing or, Oh, you know, that’s working over there, but that will never work for me. Yeah, I hear that a lot from folks or they’ll see this shiny, like, this is a conversation that we’ve been having internally on my team of like, Oh, let’s do this thing that other people are doing on social media.
And I’m like, okay, they’re
[00:16:00] posting every day, every hour, all these times. I’m like, do you think they really have clients? None of their stuff on there is talking about any of the results. It’s all about like what we will do and here’s what we’ll do. And here’s how to do it. But there’s no proof that any of it works.
There’s nothing showing there. It’s like, cool. You have really pretty graphics and you have this checklist and all of this, but does it actually work, you know, and there’s. It’s that pattern of folks who, like, I am a learner by heart. I love to learn what other people are doing, and I like to adapt it to be my own.
Like, oh, cool. Let’s try that. And then, you know, if it flops or whatever, be like, cool. But there’s the lesson that we learned from that, or here’s the part of that that worked. So let’s amplify that and like throw the rest, you know, the rest out. But some people are just so afraid to even put their toe in there or just try it.
Like, I’ll, I’ll use an example. I, when I was first starting out, I was just like any project, any project will be good. Oh, let’s do this
[00:17:00] Etsy SEO thing. Did not realize that Etsy SEO is not the same as regular website SEO. Actually, it’s… Why would they be the same? No, yeah. Why would they be the same? It was a pain in the butt.
It took a lot of time. I way undercharged for it. However, that became a thing of like, yeah, I don’t do that anymore. Yeah. Like, please feel free to pay for the, you know, 50 thing that you can get from somebody else’s Etsy page to do your own. Like, I just don’t want to play there. You make a really good point that…
[Mary] Yeah, I don’t do that anymore. I mean, you’ve experienced this as a gamer. So you’ve played the game for The Last of Us. And I’m sure you went down whatever path to go explore. And you’re like, yeah, and I’m not going down that one again. And I’m not going in that room again. And it’s safe in that space of a video game where you’re like, I’m just playing a game.
The stakes are really low. It’s not your life. You’re just, it’s a game. And I feel like watching a series is so much the same. Or it’s like, what is the worst thing that can happen? Like if you’re stuck in this rut of. Always saying
[00:18:00] no for somebody says, you know, here’s a strategy that I have seen work for other people similar to you.
If you’re willing to do the work, I think this might work for you. And they’re like, Oh no, no, no, I’m not going to do that. No, that’s not going to work for me. Or the immediate response is no, that’s not going to work for me. And as a systems coach, I mean, you and I have talked about this so many times where it’s like, give it a try.
And I feel like when you have, when, when an entrepreneur is really stuck in their entrepreneurial space of not being able to get out of their own way with no, that won’t work for me. No, I won’t do that. Because the response, what they’re really saying is I’m really fucking scared because I don’t want to be humiliated and I don’t want to look stupid and I don’t want to lose money, all the things.
And you know, my response to is then do something that will help you simulate taking the risks that has no stakes. Watch the series, play the game, get into something that
[00:19:00] has a heightened emotion so you can see what your response is so that when you do do something to make a choice that is like a real life thing, you’re like, okay, I have felt nervous before.
I have felt anxious before. It has been because I watched a very intense television series, but like I handled myself. What, what if I tried just this one small thing? What if I tried going to the networking group? I hear this a lot from, from people who need more leads or whatever, like you need to talk to people.
[Mary] You need to talk to real people and it’s going to involve turning on the camera if you’re online or like we have flown to Denver to go to Podcast Movement and like actually going to a place and physically walking around in the room and um, and for some people I’ve discovered how prohibitive that feels to them.
And I just think you have such a unique perspective because you have played both the game and watched the series and it actually really is very reflective and The way your business has grown.
[Ashlan] Yeah. Willingness to try anything is really where I’ve come through until you can figure out what to drill it down to, you know?
So being expansive, being willing to try things out. It’s so funny that you, you know, you talk about the saying no to everything or, Oh no, that won’t work for me. Well, if your attitude is, no, that won’t work for me, then it’s not going to work. Like if you’re not at all in on it, whereas I feel like I have this stupid blind confidence of like, oh yeah, we could do that.
And then be like, oh, well that didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would. Um, but you know, it’s take the lessons. I feel like there’s lessons in everything in life. You have to be willing to try things. I mean, you know. The first person long, long ago, who was just like rubbing two sticks together is going to make fire.
What if they were like, those two things can’t make fire like that just does not like actually work or, um, you know, using the, you use the video game analogy, like
[00:21:00] frequently when I play and be like, okay, we go down that path and we die. Like try it again. Maybe we’ll take more guns. We take more things.
Try it again. Nope, didn’t work that time. Okay, now let’s divert resources or frequently, you know, like I play lots of different video games. I’m like, maybe I’m not supposed to go there yet. Like, am I missing something? Maybe there’s like an alternative route, but you can’t just like stop and be like, Hey, I’m not going to move.
I’m just going to stay in this space. Like one of the things that drives me crazy, and I’ve realized now that as I’m working with clients, is if your desire is not to grow, if your desire is status quo, doing the same thing, like I will drive you insane. So we are not a good fit. I’m always going to suggest like, Hey, you could add this or I’m seeing this work over here.
Let’s test it out. And the clients that work best with me are the ones who will raise their hand and be like, cool, let’s dedicate a small amount of resource to making this happen. You know, oftentimes
[00:22:00] I’m like the person, like, even if you don’t want to do it, like, just let me do it so I can figure out if it, if it works, you know…
[Mary] Having that trust.
I love that you brought up resources though, because when you play a game, I love that you’re talking about like, I got on this path, maybe I need more guns, maybe any of this. And you’re clearly demonstrating something. I don’t know if you noticed this, but you’re clearly like allocating resources. And understanding that they’re finite, like you’re not taking all your guns down the path and then you have nothing left for round two.
So like, how does somebody who is on their entrepreneurship journey, and I don’t care how far along they are on their journey, I have coached so many people at different stages where I’ve seen people who make boatloads, boucoup bucks. And they still haven’t mastered allocating their resources and, and then I’ve seen people who are baby entrepreneurs and they just have like an innate sense of it.
And so for any entrepreneur at any stage, you, you have a certain amount of, in air quotes, guns, ammo, whatever to bring with you down the
[00:23:00] path to shoot at infected cordyceps people or, or, you know, you can choose to do other things too. In real life, though, how do you allocate smartly because the stakes do feel higher.
Money is a real thing. We need to pay our rent or our mortgages. We need to put food on the table. Our friends with children, they have little mouths that need to be kept alive. Like, this is a very real thing, and it can be scary to, to say, I’m going to take my resources from my little toolbox and I’m going to go down the game of life and I’m going to assign them to this project and I might go down that path and that path might lead to a dead end and I might have used up some stuff and then I’m going to have to like go back and start over at the same level and do it again.
And do it again. I, I, I wonder, is that a resilience thing? Is it a strategy thing? I mean, I’m like, yes, yes, check, check. But like, how can we take this
[00:24:00] fun exercise that we have engaged in and apply it over to very real stakes, real life?
[Ashlan] One, you have to put something forward, right? You have to spend money to make money.
That’s what I’ve… You know? Yeah. It really, it really, really, really is a, is a true thing. It is a true thing. So, you know, in my first year of business, I mean my profit, you know, I reinvested all of it in because I was like, cool, I still have this full-time job. I, you know, I know I’m gonna grow this. So you have to decide how much, how much you’re willing to lose, honestly.
[Mary] That’s a really good point though. What are you willing to lose?
[Ashlan] Yeah. The word. And I say, choose an amount that is enough stakes in the game that you will actually make an effort. Right. So like, let’s just say, you know, I mean, I spent so much money in the beginning. Um…
[Mary] Don’t we all, don’t we all!
[Ashlan] I’m very, very thankful, you know, cause I, I started my business in January of 2021.
I had those pandemic dollars, uh, took. The money my husband got and the money that I got, and I was like, cool, we’re starting a business. So
[00:25:00] what is that? 2,400. And I was like, cool, we’re going to learn. We’re going to, we’re going to invest in a few things. We’re going to learn, we’re going to start it. Um, you know, I, I did things right out the gate.
I got an LLC. I had a website domain that I had been parked for four or five years. You know, I did kind of all the things, mental checklists, like. Make my business look legit. And then the way I actually got my first client, uh, was a friend of mine. Who’s just like, Hey, my mom needs help doing this thing.
Um, and so, and I said, cool, we’re legit. Here’s, you know, how I’m going to get paid. Got a business bank account, all of those things. And then, you know, kept doing it and was like, cool. I have this space now that I’ve invested in and I have to keep it going. So I’m, I’m personally one of those people who like.
If I put money towards it, I have to do the thing to, like, try to make it work.
[Ashlan] And, you know, and be willing to lose that
[Mary] Well, I think, too, there’s the evidence around you of other people have allocated some resources, a. k. a. money, and they’ve gotten, like, a certain return. And if I’m not getting that return, then something’s wrong with, like, where the resource is going.
I think it’s interesting talking to you within this context of this conversation, being a gamer, because there are other gamers around you who have also allocated certain resources That you have as a game player and my experience, I mean, I’m like a very long time ex gamer. There was always somebody who knew something, whether it was an Easter egg or how much ammo it takes to beat this level.
And you would work up your, your coffers if you didn’t have it. Or you would go into that level knowing that there’s evidence before me of I need like five grenades and like
[00:27:00] this amount of ammo and I also need the machine gun or I’m not gonna, or I’m, I’m like not going to beat this level. And even then I need to like be smart about how I’m using it and use them strategically.
And I think that our entrepreneurial community actually has a lot of that going in the community as well. And I think, you know, like watching this show, there’s a lot of evidence of that, too, where, like, the people who survive do certain things, they respond to the world in a certain way, and they know that they’re gonna live.
Is it always the healthiest way? But, like, sometimes, like, that’s the world you live in, and that’s the experience you have. I feel like right now we’re going through a really big shift in our entrepreneurial community. We’ve been talking about this and the way that we used to allocate resources, for instance, or the way we used to just use them period are changing.
And so we don’t entirely know it’s kind of like going through a whole new level or a whole new episode or we don’t really know exactly how it’s going to pan out, we kind of have to hope for the best,
[00:28:00] which is really fucking scary.
[Ashlan] It is very scary. I think, uh, the one thing that I always worry about is, will this continue to work or will I have to go find a quote unquote real job as all those people say of like, I was like, I’m going to hold out.
For as long as I can, if shit hits the fan, like, you know, it’ll just happen. And, you know, I, I do know, I mean, I didn’t burn any bridges when I left, you know, full time employment.
[Mary] Oh, you did that so smoothly. It was beautiful. I know it was, didn’t feel that way, but you did so well.
[Ashlan] Yes. I did a lot of, I did a lot of extra working and being like, Hey, here’s my boundary, but yes, I will stay on and provide.
Um, you know, and so I always leave myself a backdoor to, you know, run through if necessary. I know a lot of folks who don’t do that. And I think one of it is, is, is just thinking
[00:29:00] strategically, right? One of the things that I think a lot of entrepreneurs go into is. The thing that I started as my business, while it’s still very similar, it’s very, very, very different than what, you know, what it was initially.
And so being willing to shift and change, like, I mean, I’m in only in, this is year, full year two. Yeah. This is full time. Yeah. Full year two for full time.
[Mary] It feels longer than that.
[Ashlan] I mean, it feels way longer than that. I mean, you know, a year ago it was just me and one other part time person. And then now, you know, I have five other folks who have.
You had to convince to be on this journey with me, including one full time person, you know? So I mean, didn’t know that this would be as, as fast. And, um, I think there’s a lot of things, right? Trust, trust in my own gut that this is going. Correct. Trust in, you know, the other people who are around me that they’re going to do and follow
[00:30:00] up on what they do.
I have an entirely remote team. I have some people who like completely freak out about that. And I’m like, they’re like, do you trust that they’re doing things? I was like, I don’t know. We give deadlines and things come back. So, or I get communication of like, I got sick and you know, I can’t do this. Or my flight got canceled or delayed or, or, you know, all of these different things, or like I’m having a baby.
So like, you know. Treating people as human is a necessary, like underpinning of everything that we do. And, uh, yeah, so being willing, I guess, wherever you start your entrepreneurial journey may not be where it is in the first five, 10, 15 years being adaptable, being flexible, I mean. The world apocalypse could come and we could have no internet and then my, my business is dead.
My business is completely dead because everything is online.
[Mary] I never, I never wanted to diminish what happened during our COVID pandemic, but I said it then and I’ll still say it now
[00:31:00] and I will die on this hill. It could have been so much worse. We had all of our infrastructure that allows us to be safe and comfortable.
At home. And yes, there were people who are homeless, houseless and like had all but I’m talking about the average just sort of normal everyday person, not the not the outlying cases. And a lot of us really grew a lot during COVID. We had internet. We had all of our streaming services. We had Zoom, which we’ve been using forever, but finally everybody got on.
And it was actually quite the benefit. I don’t know about you, but like for me, I was like, Oh, finally, finally, people are getting onto Zoom because before they were like, I don’t quite know how to do this. I don’t know what to do. And if you did get them on a call, like it was really hard to do it. And it was just so nice to finally have people figure out and like get comfortable doing it.
So like the barrier to entry on, on a whole lot of levels improved dramatically. And yet there’s also still this feeling of it’s that, but
[00:32:00] it’s not exactly like it was when like my parents went through life and had a job or these other people who built businesses before the pandemic. And I saw a lot of people who, you know, used to run events, conferences or whatever.
And, uh, physical spaces and, you know, they, they obviously like for obvious reasons, we’re struggling during, during lockdowns, but also just sort of mentally, emotionally having a hard time bridging the gap between like the world is shifting and changing. And I just feel like doing a mental exercise of
picking up the series, or maybe if somebody’s inspired and they want to pick up the game, they are excellently crafted, thoughtful pieces of entertainment. But they can serve a dual purpose when you’re having a hard time doing those change activities, you know, as a business owner in your entrepreneurial space.
Because you need some tool.
[00:33:00] You got to do it somehow. And if like the real life money resources is a scary way to do it, it’s like, great. Go do it with fake ammo in a game or do it by hitting play on your remote and seeing if you can sit through the pilot episode, which by the way is a ride. It’s amazing.
But like, can you do it?
[Ashlan] Get through it. You just have to do something. Yeah. You can’t just sit and like the same, the same.
[Mary] You can’t just do the same old, same old. And, um, it’s interesting because you and I, because you had to move, um, we’re recording your episodes. All the episodes got recorded out of order.
Um, they’re all scripted, but we recorded them out of order by city location. And you are actually the second to last episode. I am recording with someone, but you’re the first conversation that’s going to go out. So I’ve had the benefit of hearing almost everybody.
[Ashlan] I have not.
[Mary] And what you don’t know is what’s
[00:34:00] coming up is so fascinating and how many people said.
I never would have watched this if he hadn’t invited me into the project. I don’t normally do this. I would have said no. There were a couple people were like, they got pitched real hard a couple of times where I’m like, we keep having offline conversations about this very topic. Come on the mic and come do it with me.
And now everybody’s like, I’m so glad I watched the show. I’m so glad I did that. Like this enriched my life. I solved problems. I have a whole new, like creative burst now. You were the only person who was like, you’re doing what? How come you didn’t ask me? I was like, because you were moving and I thought it was too much.
And you were like, slot me in. You’re like, put me up to bat coach. I was like,
okay, all right. And then, um, we realized we were both going to be in Denver at the same time. And I thought, Okay, we can, we can make that work.
[Ashlan] Yeah. Well this, I mean, me being here is your fault too. I
[00:35:00] know. Which I was very excited to be coming to the Podcast Movement.
[Ashlan] I wanted to have the opening conversation with you because you’re a gamer, but also because you really understand this perspective.
And I feel like you have always shared, which is probably why we became fast friends. But you’ve always shared this hunger for, I got to try it. I got to do it. I have resources. I’m going to allocate them and I’m going to do the thing. And sometimes it doesn’t work out, but it doesn’t stop me from continuing to play the game.
That’s in air quotes, play the game of life, play the game of business. And it doesn’t stop me from doing that. And I really do think it’s. You have these, like, extra skills in your toolbox of doing something that has nothing to do with business, let’s be honest. But it does apply.
[Ashlan] Oh, 100%. I mean, I feel like that some people, well, I think less now than back in the day.
You know, we used to get judged for like, you’re spending all your free time playing video games. I learned so many problem solving
[00:36:00] skills and like just being, being able to see things that other people don’t see or, you know. Play through lines and having that like test and learn attitude is all from doing that.
Um, I’ve been exposed to video games at a very young age. My mom, hopefully my mom will listen to this. I know that, uh, you know, there were choices to buy a Nintendo entertainment system or do other things. When I was younger, you know, dedicate money and resources to other things. They went to buy a Nintendo system.
My parents used to like play. My mom would play during the day. My dad would come home from work and play and try to beat each other at the Super Mario Brothers.
[Mary] The original and that was so good.
[Ashlan] That is what I was exposed to at a young age. And that we have grown up with video games like in our hands, you know, and always.
I mean, we played shooter games, but they always had to have an underlying problem solving bent, you know, so we
[00:37:00] played Resident Evil, not for the zombie killing, but to figure out what is the underlying story or how can we get through this faster or can you guess the puzzle, you know, can you find the code?
Where is the key? Um, it’s why I love escape rooms now is like, puzzle.
[Mary] Puzzle based things.
[Ashlan] Puzzle based things, um, are always super, super fun for me and my brain. And then I get, you know, as I’m getting older, they’re getting harder for me, but they’re
[Mary] I would argue they’re making them harder too.
[Ashlan] That is very true.
We’ve beaten all the other levels and now they’re like, oh, we got to make this harder. Yes. I think you’re right. I mean, it’s funny because we walked into this space where we’re recording and you looked at my phone case and you’re like, is that a Game Boy? I was like, yes, it is. And it was a lovely gift for my sister because that thing was like permanently attached to the palm of my hand as soon as I had it.
And I think that our
[00:38:00] generation does have a benefit of being around something as simple as Tetris. It does rewire your brain differently. I mean, there’s.
And I think the reason why I really love a property like The Last of Us is because it could be just some rando zombie kill shooter game and it has the elements in there. The series definitely has that element in there, but they really invested in story and people. And it really brings me to our final point that I just kind of wanted to have a, have a conversation to help warm up our audience so that they can come join us in the project.
And it’s that the series is definitely going to have you questioning your morals, your values, and what decisions you would make because you watch people go through and you’re like, you’re going to do what? And you’re like, why wouldn’t you say yes? Or why did you say yes? You know, and. I love that the showrunners make a really
[00:39:00] big point that everything in this property, just like in the game, is all about what we do for love.
But I feel like we can’t escape the obvious connections to modern experiences because we did live through a worldwide pandemic and I know people are tired of talking about it, but I found for myself watching this, I didn’t realize how much unprocessed feeling and emotion I had from that. And I would wager that a lot of other people also have a lot of unprocessed things from that.
And I feel like this helps us do that in a safer way where you don’t have to relive the whole thing, you know? And I think for you, as someone who has been touched by the Last of Us, since its video game origins, what do you think we can learn from the story so we can navigate our way forward post pandemic, especially for our entrepreneurs?
[Ashlan] That things happen and shift in seasons.
Like, I think the Bill and Frank episode is a great example of it takes us. I
[00:40:00] watched that episode, I mean, we watched it like, I think three times, but, you know, we watched the series live and then I re watched it and then I watched it again for recording this, um, with a lot of ugly crying.
[Mary] But I gotta tell you, cause, you know, I’ve had to like script this and record with everybody, so I think I’ve watched it at this point. In total about eight times now.
I think I’m almost like, kind of like, I think I need to take a break from the show right now. But I bawl like a baby every time episode three with Bill and Frank, and they could have not told that story, but they did. And I just love that they did.
[Ashlan] That was so good. Yeah, it was so good. But, you know, it’s, I think what we learned from this is.
Take a look at what happened in the pandemic. There are lessons there, but you don’t need to be doing all the same things. You know, a lot of people went internal. They maybe got afraid of the world. You know, I know that various parts of the country came out or coming out of the pandemic at different rates.
[00:41:00] I mean, even when I was still living in Portland, I feel like we were, we were just coming out to like doing things in public and then you go to other parts of the country and they’re like, what? You guys were not do you you were not like out and about and doing things and I was just saying well I mean, we got really good at staying inside in general because of our winters.
[Mary] So well, I would also say that things hit different.
I think you’re so right things hit different places at different times because The US patient zero basically was in Seattle and I remember I moved to the area to be closer to my parents. It was January 2020 and I, as soon as I arrived, um, I do watch the local news and there was regional news already around about a patient in isolated in the ICU in Seattle with strange symptoms and they didn’t know what was going on and because of that it made the news.
And I remember, because I’m really fascinated by pandemic stories in general, and I remember thinking, Oh, something, something’s here.
[00:42:00] And my parents had just come back from a trip to East Asia in the holidays. And my mom, who never gets sick, had come back with this cough that wouldn’t leave her. And I just knew it was like, something’s
off. My gut told me something’s off, something’s wrong. And then in our business communities in the Pacific Northwest, you know, you make your name tag and people were starting to add like little extra stickers you could put on. It said like, I’m really happy to see you, but like, please no hugs. I don’t want to shake hands.
It doesn’t mean I’m not happy to see you or whatever. And I’m not a super huggy, huggy person unless you’re my friend, like, I see you and I’m like, Oh my God.
[Ashlan] I was going to say, I’m a hugger. So that’s, I mean, the pandemic was very hard for me because I was like, all I want to do is like hug and touch my friends.
And, you know, like took away the one thing.
[Mary] You’re like, you took away that thing that fuels me. You took away my love language. Um, yeah, I think that things do hit people in different times and places. And I love that point you’re making that
[00:43:00] maybe a big part of us adjusting into our post pandemic world is recognizing what timing you’re on.
[Ashlan] Mm hmm.
[Mary] And that whatever timing you were on, which is kind of true in business in general, is uniquely yours and a thousand percent okay and totally meant for you.
[Ashlan] And you don’t need to try to match somebody else’s speed, their record, their, what they’re doing, you know, do what feels comfortable and right for you.
And it’ll be better in the long run. We have money, we have time and we have energy. Those are our kind of resources that we have. Yeah. So sometimes, I mean, sometimes we have lots of money and we can throw it at things. Sometimes we don’t and we have more time or more energy and like listening to where those three things sit in your business.
I think are important.
[Mary] Hear, hear. Oh, that’s so good. Yeah. I
[00:44:00] was also just thinking, like, I think I see entrepreneurs trying to take their resources and change their circumstances, where I’m like, that’s not the thing that you can change. All you can really change is how and where you decide to allocate your resources.
Yes. Well, I would advocate that people should allocate some time resources into watching the show and listening to us.
[Ashlan] Yes. Please join us for the rest of the series. I think it would be so great.
[Mary] I do want to ask you a question that everybody’s going to get posed throughout the entire season. I myself am going to answer this at the end of the season, um, because I have a lot of thoughts on this.
I’m going to ask you first, what does The Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself?
[Ashlan] So when I was watching it again, one of the things that I have learned in journeying in life is that not everybody stays with you. Spoiler alert, stop right now if you haven’t watched other episodes, but you know, when Tess dies,
[00:45:00] that, you know, there are people that will come in your life that are super super important for that time in that season, and sometimes for whatever reason, you move away, you have a change in your life, things happen, you, there will be people who enter and exit in your life.
And the same in business, like I had a couple clients move on recently and somebody’s like, are you super upset? And I was like, I knew it was time. They just had to realize it was time and it’s okay. Like that’s so okay. That’s okay. That I mean, that’s why I’m always pounding pavement and being like, who’s going to be my next friend who’s going to be part of the business.
And that’s okay. And that’s what The Last of Us reflects for me is that there are some very, very important stories and pieces that form your identity. But you are not, they, they might not stay with you forever and that is totally okay. You might have that, you know, I’ve heard of people having like that one integral person that they meet on a flight that was delayed, you know, a million,
[00:46:00] million hours and they never get back in touch with that person.
But they’re, so again, I will reiterate, take the lessons of what is happening because I think everything happens for a reason. When I started my business, I think it was like the third or fourth person who was asking me. Hey, do you know somebody who does insert marketing thing that either I knew how to do or wanted to do more of and wasn’t getting in my full-time job?
Yeah. Like it took me hearing that over and over again and I was like, this is clearly a sign. That you need to start your thing.
[Mary] Um, and glad you did.
[Ashlan] You know, so I know , and then of course we always kick ourselves like, why didn’t we do that sooner? And again, timing. Timing. There’s timing. Mm-hmm.
I mean, I wouldn’t have had the money tools or resources. You know, I started my business with pandemic money, uh, you know, and I wouldn’t have had that otherwise. So, you know, just keep an eye out for those, keep an eye out for those signs and be willing to listen.
[Mary] Oh, that’s so beautiful. I love
[00:47:00] that you’re normalizing transitions.
Because that’s another thing I heard from our friends who are assigned later episodes and they’re not like you. They didn’t already know the game. Um, I also knew a bit of the game. I just didn’t play the game like you. And so I, I knew things that were happening in the story and there’s so many people and they’re like, Yeah.
I got so many text messages while people were watching the show and they’re like, what do you mean that person died? Like, I got so many messages that started with, fuck you, I can’t believe you’re making me watch this and I can’t believe this happened. And then we get to the end and you get this whole complete picture and you’re like, my goodness, like, I’m so glad I went on that ride.
[Ashlan] The show is so beautifully done. Done. And the storytelling is just so powerful. I mean, as somebody who has seen many things go from game to show, this is, this is the best. This was, this was by far one of the best, you know, ever.
[00:48:00] I don’t feel like a lot was lost in it. I mean, it was, it was very helpful that the folks involved in the game were also involved in the show.
[Mary] That helps.
[Ashlan] That helps a lot. And then like thinking through what would apply there. But yeah, it is, it is very, very well done and I think worth the ride. And I’m really interested. I mean, I know it’s going to be on for another season. I never played the second game, so I may have to go get it because I have a feeling the second season is going to align with it.
[Mary] I have a feeling, too, and from a story perspective, there’s a time jump and I have the sneaking suspicion because it’s doing really well and in all things business, you want to follow the money. Um, they’re not going to try to end that too quick and I think that, um, they might take the time, just like we filled it in the backstory of
Bill and Frank who normally show up as just this little kind of blip of a mention, and then they flesh out this. I mean, it was almost feature film length, and I would have watched a full feature film length about
[00:49:00] those two. And I, I think that they might, this is my personal prediction, I think that they might fill in what happens during the time jump, so they fill in that gap, because we are watching a series, which is different than playing a game, and I, I think that
I think that would be a beautiful thing for them to do, given the work that they already did. I’m like, I would completely trust you to entertain the crap out of me with that backstory. And I want to see what happens.
[Ashlan] I was so well done, you know, coming off of, you know, our lived pandemic. I mean, even watching it again, I was just like, Oh gosh, this is just so interesting to see the Easter eggs and nuggets that they put in that are not in the game.
Because yeah, they’re. You know, that was made, I don’t know, how many years ago.
[Mary] 2013, really, I had just moved to Austin and the game came out and won a boatload of awards, deservedly so. Because they told story and their graphics were just better and, you know, everything was different and better and new.
You know, they really took the gaming world by
[Ashlan] Well, uh, you know, it’s really funny. It’s like, you know, I had a GameStop membership for years, you know, the video game store. And, um, I actually just so happened to get this game from a friend who was like, on her Instagram stories, like, selling it. Like, hey, I just need this to…
So I didn’t even, like, pay. That is how it happened. I didn’t even pay full price for this thing. And, um, I was really glad that I did because I was just like, oh my God, 60 dollars. Like… That’s so expensive. And my friend was like, give it to you for 30. And I’m like, sold, sold, please. And I remember sitting there playing it, you know, until two in the morning and John being like, when are you going to come to bed?
And I was like, well, I just want to see, I just want to see the next thing that happens. Um, and so, yeah, and I, I feel like, you know, when we were watching the show live, it was, it was the same thing, like, um, and the fact that they went so many episodes. What was really good in the show was so many episodes were
[00:51:00] containered like that, like they let it grow long if it needed to go long, like the Bill and Frank episode.
Although I will say we got ripped off in that final episode. I was like, why? Why are you stopping it right here?
[Mary] Everybody had that feeling. And I know it needed it. It needed it. It was a very tight episode and people were like, no, make it longer because I think emotionally we were so invested in being in that space with those characters and that story.
We wanted more, but there’s another business analogy where it’s like some things aren’t meant to drag on and on and on, and I’m not going to ruin it for everybody. We have a recap episode with another guest at the end of the season. We’re going to talk all about that, but people have been debating the end of this
since 2013, and it really makes you question your morals and your values. And what would I do, which happens all the time in our business journeys. And I feel like it’s going to be happening a lot more because the landscape is changing so much that we are going to be forced to make some really different and difficult decisions.
Maybe not like super
[00:52:00] morally, I’m going to kill this person, but like, but, um, the emotional impact of it is arguably quite high compared to that and somebody is going to make decisions and change the landscape and do things and we all are going to do it and we’re going to be looking at other people and debating about why they chose to do certain things.
I already see some people who are doubling down on, I know this and I’m doing it and I’m going to keep it alive and I’m like, Oh honey, I’m like that world is dying.
[Ashlan] Yeah. Adaptability and flexibility is your friend in business. Being able to pivot, you know, we, we heard that word so much in the start of the pandemic, but it quite literally is like take what you know and adapt it for another space or another platform or the ways you’ve been doing things may not work anymore.
Or, you know, I mean, look at the, um, all the generative AI stuff that’s out there now. Like, people are like, people are losing their jobs and I was like, well, then they need to figure out how to do this thing. Like, it was really funny growing up and going through business school. They were like, you need to be a specialist and do all this and blah, blah, blah.
And I’m like, I just like to do all the things. And I’m really glad I ended up being a generalist because it has taught me how to hone in on certain skills, hire out for shit that you don’t know how to do or have no business learning how to do it. Find somebody who they did that thing. But you know, having that sense of being able to
be a generalist, know when you need to pick up certain skills, know when you need to bring certain things in, know when things are not for you. Like a lot of the business owners I help, they’re early on in their business journey, so they need to flex that adaptability and that flexibility. You know,
[00:54:00] don’t go so far down a path that you cut off this whole other thing you could be doing.
Learn it. Build on, you know, other things that are complementary to what you do, because you never know, like, when, what’s going to get thrown at you, where you need to bring in that skill.
[Mary] Entrepreneurial survival skills.
[Ashlan] Yes. Yes. You should have your survival guide and toolkit that you bring along with you.
[Mary] I think people have a toolkit more than they realize.
[Ashlan] Yeah. Yeah.
[Mary] Which is, which you have beautifully laid out for us, um, in this first episode. I hope that, um, our folks joining us are inspired by hearing your long time relationship with this title to go explore and know that it’s safe and that it can be fun.
We can learn survival skills and it can be fun.
[Ashlan] Yes. It is not cutthroat. I promise you will not die. You will not die. In real life.
[Mary] In real life. You will not die.
[00:55:00] And we can draw some really great parallels into the things that we’re. Um, experiencing now and are definitely on the horizon for business.
Well, thanks, Ashlan.
[Ashlan] Thanks for having me, Mary.
This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host, Mary Williams and special guest, Ashlan Glazier Anderson. The show is written and produced by Mary Williams. The episode was recorded in Denver, Colorado. at the Village Workspace. Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and sound designer in Vancouver, Washington.
Additional production and marketing support is provided by the AK Collective, founded by Amber Kinney. I’m Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo. You can watch the HBO original series The Last of Us on Max.com. As a librarian, I will always encourage you to check out the companion book Bittersweet by Susan Cain at your local library.
You can find this show wherever you listen to podcasts and all of the links to resources, guest information, and anything else we might reference in an episode are in the show notes. We
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