We live in the midst of the digital age, where unlimited information is available at our fingertips. This has huge benefits, but it has also blurred the line between work life and home life. For previous generations, a job was nothing more than a way to pay the bills and no one thought anything of it. Now, social media has provided a platform for anyone and everyone to share their story, and it has skewed our ideas of what a fulfilling career should look like.
The ones I’ve seen the most effected by this mindset are Creatives — the artists, writers, photographers, and so on. True, it’s incredibly difficult to make a living from these professions unless your name becomes well-known, which is usually due to an online influencer. It’s been this way for centuries; even painters had to have their work favored by salon curators back in the 1700’s. However, when was it decided that someone had to be wealthy or well-known to be considered successful?
As an artist, I didn’t consider “starving for my art” to be worth the effort. So, I chose a more viable and stable option in the gaming industry. Any industry that hired creatives would do, but video games presented a unique opportunity to learn the role of the producer and put my soft-skills to good use.
See, while the producer doesn’t make the product, they enable those who do. For me, the most appealing part of the producer’s role is helping people, getting them what they need, and solving problems. While the product is important, people hold the true value. It’s a bit of a cycle because you need the people to make the product and the product needs to sell in order to pay the people. Thus, you have basic economics.
In a consumerist society, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s truly important. It’s all too common to become consumed by work until an identity is rooted in it. I know, I’ve been there. However, people are not defined by the work they produce or a salary figure or their job title. These are ideas of success that, when accepted without consideration, can leave others lost, confused, and lacking perspective.
The most valuable tool a producer has is perspective.
Producers have a bird’s-eye view of a project, while most team members only see one side until completion. Taking the time to update teams on the overall project could be the difference between meeting or missing a deadline. Additionally, people are prone to connect their identity with their work. After all, they’ve poured hours of effort into it but, despite all the best efforts, sometimes content isn’t included in the final cut which may leave team members feeling slighted. It’s especially important for a producer to look for these signs of discontent and address them as appropriate.
From my own experience, I’ve had team members express concerns about time constraints limiting their best work. They worried their colleagues would think less of them and their skills because they were unable to include as much detail as they would have liked. As a producer, I had the opportunity to share the big-picture perspective and assure these people that their work was exceptional and well-received, even if they had to sacrifice their idea of perfection for the sake of the project schedule.
Some of the most talented people I know will work themselves to exhaustion in pursuit of unreachable perfection unless someone is there to remind them to rest. The role of a producer is to ensure the team delivers but also remains healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. A producer’s best assets are their soft skills, their compassion, and their wider perspective. We’re fortunate to have the option of working jobs we enjoy. However, at the end of the day, it’s just a small part of who we are and the vibrant lives we live.