Hilary Goldstein takes a holistically pragmatic approach to work. The Head of Growth for the WWE franchise at Scopely, Goldstein tries not to take his job too seriously, despite his range of responsibility. “I am officially like a marketer-plus, where I own every aspect of the funnel—from acquisitions, to retaining players, to reacquisition, to better understanding player needs, to customer support. Anything that has to deal with the audience—and growing the audience—falls under me in some way,” he told The Org.
To keep a level head and not let the day-to-day stresses of the job consume him, Goldstein employs a more detached approach in his relationship to his work. “People don’t want to believe it, but companies don’t care about you. I get your HR person might care about you and the people you work with might care about you, but at the end of the day, if you quit your job tomorrow, the company’s first thing isn’t going to be 'How are we ever going to exist again?,' it’s going to be 'Let’s open a backfill and find somebody to replace this person.' Of course, we want to create connections with people and care about the company and the work that we do—but it’s not your life. So don’t sacrifice everything you are for something that isn’t going to matter once you leave.”
In a phone conversation with The Org, Goldstein revealed more insight into his methods for maintaining a positive headspace, discusses the power of yoga, and provides helpful tips on how to create the ultimate work/life balance.
As of the publishing of this interview, Goldstein has started a new position as the Engagement Director for 1047 Games working on Splitgate, a free-to-play console and PC shooter now in open beta.
As a kid, did you ever envision yourself working at a company such as Scopely?
When I was younger, I didn’t envision myself working at any company because I was going to write the next “great American novel” by the time I was 20. I never thought about business or “real person” work because I was going to become a world-famous novelist, always work for myself, have an amazing family and be celebrated everywhere.
I don’t know if you know, but you haven’t seen me on the shelf and you haven’t heard of me, so that did not pan out.
When I started my first “real” job, I had no qualifications for it. I hadn’t graduated college and was in community college and my mom had a connection to someone who was looking for a contractor to do instructional design. Generally, you do not get hired to do that type of technical writing without a degree or experience. I don’t know how I talked my way through the interview, but I got the contract job.
That led to a stint at GAP corporate where I co-wrote the training program, basically helping to write the training program that helps make sure people could keep in-store systems running and keep everything in stock. It’s something for sure a college dropout should not be able to do. The story of my career is that all of the things I had zero qualifications for and should not have been allowed to do, I managed to make successful.
Later on, I ended up getting a job at IGN.com—which is one of the world’s largest entertainment websites—covering and writing about video games. I did that for 10 years and ended up moving from the media side to the publishing side and doing marketing for the last decade. Along the way, the important thing you learn is that it’s not just the money, the job or even the experience of what you’re doing in the job—it’s understanding and learning the right organizational structures for you. What are the right support systems for you? Who are the right managers for you? It’s about finding out what works for you and what frees you up to be at your best.
In general—especially nowadays with half of us working from home—different people have different styles that work for them. Somebody could be seen as a poor worker in one place—not because they’re a poor worker or that they’re unskilled—but because they’re in the wrong fit for what they need in order to be successful. If I’ve learned one thing over the course of my career, it’s the importance of understanding that specific work structure that’s going to make you successful and happy.
How did you approach having “difficult” conversations with your superiors about them not getting the best version of you and what could be done to change that in order to give them your best?
The way I got to it is not a way I would advise for anyone, because what I experienced was a near-death experience. I had been working at the same place for about 9 years and there was a massive pipe explosion in San Bruno, California. There was this 200-foot tall flame that burned down the neighborhood and around 8 people died. I lived on that block and the explosion was right next to the park where I’d walk my dog everyday.
At the time, I was the typical young person who worked crazy hours, sacrificed family and was all about work. I gained satisfaction from doing that but I also was resigned to this understanding that doing all of this work was what my life was becoming all about. When you have a moment like a near death experience, you realize nobody has ever been on their deathbed saying, “Man, I wish I worked more Sundays.”
When we get to the end of it, we are all going to think back to all the moments that we missed and all the things in life we didn’t get to have. Very few people will look back and go, “Man, I’m so glad that I worked 60 to 80 hours a week.” That shaped my perspective on work for the next 10 or 11 years I’ve been around.
What are some of the techniques you’ve employed to be self-reflective, maintain a level head and care for your mental health?
It is going to sound super cliche, but it is yoga. In the period of time you’re doing yoga, it is so personally challenging for you—you against your mind—that it’s very hard to keep focused on any of your personal problems or work problems because you’re so focused on how long this person in front of you is going to make you do plank.
The two things that come out of yoga—besides a guaranteed break from the day—are willpower and balance. Studies have shown that increasing your willpower carries through to other parts of your life. Willpower is important in creating a work-life balance because a lot of times we bend to things because of personal and work histories that have poor work-life balance habits. Yoga helped me build up an internal willpower that I didn’t know I had, one that could give me self discipline that I wasn’t able to empower before. It let me set standards for myself and still do my job.
Initially, I did not understand how to feel balance. Yoga helps you build your spidey-sense to notice when you’re off balance in your personal life, work life—whatever it is. An ensuing adjustment might be harder, but at least knowing that something is off can give you an opportunity to either flee or fix.
The spidey-sense is there for everyone, but for some it’s not developed enough for them to zero in on the situation that they need to flee or fix. And yoga strengthens that.
I think a lot of people—my past-self included—if we’re in a rowboat, we just sort of start taking on water from a lot of stuff, and most people don’t realize it until they’ve capsized. The thing yoga gave me was the ability to tell when there was one drop in the boat. It’s a lot easier to fix the problem of a leak or whatever it is before the boat is actually flipped over.
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