On Leadership

I have a staggering number of drafts in my draft folder, but at 3:53am, I find that I’m inspired to write a post about something that doesn’t exactly come up in any of the 30+ drafts of half-written blog posts.

That is leadership.

Brutall, the GM of Static of Arthas (H-US), has this little YouTube channel and did a video about me and my guides today. I initially wrote to Brutall a couple of months ago (good grief, that long ALREADY?) because I had started watching his videos and I knew that this random bald, bearded dude on the Internet (with an odd affinity for tacos) was on the same page that I was. I’m sure we have differences of opinion about small things, but so very much of what he was saying in his videos was stuff I had either said myself or had written down either on this blog or in my guides.

Today’s video that he released rendered me actually speechless. ME. I know. Inconceivable to think of me as “speechless”, right?! The video was exceedingly kind and positive. It helps that he called me a “young lady”. I don’t think he knows I’m older than he is… ;) But, honestly, I feel honoured that Brutall felt that we ARE on the same page when it comes to World of Warcraft and raiding and leading, because this guy is so charismatic and cheerful and positive and insert all kinds of awesome adjectives here. I feel we are united in our goal to help people out by leading them through problems, helping them to avoid common pitfalls and generally, just to be better at what they aim to do.

In the video, Brutall says that you can recognize a good leader by their passion. Someone who’s genuine, who cares about what they do and where they invest their time. (I feel awkward repeating that because the implication is obviously that I am those things… but bear with me.)

While I like to think that I’ve been a good leader over the years, I wanted to say something that I’m not entirely sure I’ve discussed adequately here before.

I was not born to be a good leader. I learned to be a good leader.

I had the good fortune to go to an all-girls’ private school for the majority of my time in school. Among those people, my classmates, I was pretty much the least ambitious, the least-willing “leader”. I was somewhat apathetic. I didn’t join any sports teams, I was only in a couple of clubs… I didn’t stand out. I didn’t want to stand out. In my final year of high school (that’s Grade 11 up here in the province of Quebec), just about everyone in the grade was given a position of some kind, to better hone their keen leadership skills.

Folks, I dreaded that part of Grade 11. I didn’t want to be a leader. I didn’t want to be the yearbook editor, I didn’t want to be the music head (which was a position my amazingly talented best friend filled). I didn’t want to be a prefect or a house official. I didn’t want to run the school paper. I didn’t want to do any of those things. I ended up being the Head Ambassador, because I was pretty darn passionate about my school, despite not wanting to do a lot of extra-curriculars. I’d spent 11 years at that school and was a “lifer” and, to this day, I still love my old school. So they made me the Head Ambassador which basically meant I organized about 50 girls (Ambassadors) from Grades 9 and 10. I had to organize which girls gave tours to prospective students and their parents and there were also some points where I, along with the Head Prefect, would go to events to represent the school. I’d served as an Ambassador in the new program the year before and was fine talking about my school, my second home, for 30-45 minutes, but managing people? Being a representative for my school? C’mon, now. Ugh.

Aside from the fact that I got to fill in on tours for Ambassadors who were out sick (I missed SO much French class in Grade 11, no joke), it wasn’t so bad. But I still graduated from school kind of wishing that someone else had done it. There was stress involved, lots of time involved… But I did it. And I did it well.

Kurn, seriously, wtf does this have to do with leadership?!

Right, right, sorry. But the backstory was important. :)

I learned, in Grade 11, that I could do a job when I had no one else upon whom I could rely to get the job done. I learned that I could do it well, too. I would just have preferred to have followed a “real” leader around. Years later, I would look back at being Head Ambassador and term myself “a reluctant leader”.

Guys, my entire experience in World of Warcraft is exactly that — me being a reluctant leader. I didn’t want to be an assistant raid leader when my guild first started dipping into Zul’Gurub, but my guild master was relying on me and others weren’t stepping up. So I did. When that very same guild master abandoned our guild, I stepped up. (I maintain that Majik tricked me into stepping up, but he refuses to admit this even years later.) When we formed Apotheosis on June 1 of 2007, we made our buddy Toga be the GM. I assumed half of the raid leader responsibilities and later, the healing lead duties. And later still, when Toga had to step down, I stepped up.

When Apotheosis crashed and burned in early Wrath of the Lich King, I moved to another guild and, within two months or so, I was suddenly an officer and eventually the healing lead. In my next guild, my RL Friend the Resto Druid was my healing lead but then she had to step away for something like three or four months, and GUESS WHO became the unofficial new healing lead? Yeah, that was me.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, I keep stepping up when I need to. To this day, I maintain that as long as I am being adequately led, I will be more than happy to follow. But when I think about it, what is it that leaders do? They care enough about the various situations they’re in to identify problems, then come up with solutions those problems and then execute them. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail, but they care enough to try to fix things when they see something’s not working.

It ties in with what Brutall was saying in his video: leaders are passionate people, who put in the time and effort to do what they really care about.

Anyone can be a good leader. It’s easier for the more extroverted and charismatic among us (cough, Brutall, cough, Majik), but by nature, I’m an introvert. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t lead a raid. It just means it took practice. It took work. Like being a kick-ass raider, being a leader, of any kind, requires some effort. Those who want to lead their team (hockey team, raid team, it’s all team stuff!) to victory will give it their best shot, because they care.

My guides give you a lot of solid info, a lot of practical “do this if this happens” stuff, but one of the most important lessons to learn from me isn’t what to say or do in various situations. What I really want you to walk away with is the knowledge that you can absolutely be a great leader, that no tiny subsection of the population is BORN into leadership. It simply requires passion and it requires a lot of effort. But ultimately, if you care enough, if you are genuinely passionate about things, it hardly seems like work at all. :)

 

Being a Kick-Ass Raider

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say that my newest project, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider, is now LIVE! You can go read Sneak Peeks or purchase it over at Kurn’s Guides.

It was an interesting guide to work on. I definitely wanted to share the lessons I’d learned while I was a raider, but how could I do that when I have no idea how to play various classes like a rogue, a death knight, a warlock or a monk?

I decided to take an approach that relies on teaching the fundamentals instead of the specifics. I mean, the game changes too much and too quickly as it is for any kind of detailed, mechanical guide like that to have a very long shelf-life. So I focused on the lessons I learned about being a raider instead of being a hunter or a paladin.

So what are some of the fundamentals of being a raider?

That took me a while to narrow down. I went through two major rewrites of the content, trying to figure out what, exactly, I wanted to talk about, plus there were certain announcements at BlizzCon that rendered some of what I’d already written completely useless, alas! But I got it down to four major sections where people could really improve on.

1) Knowledge. So many people are completely unaware about how to play their classes and this is the first step in determining what the problem is in terms of someone not playing well. Do they know HOW to play? I indicate a few places where people can check in on what specs they should be playing (in the case of pure DPS classes, for example) and basic priorities and rotations. This also includes a fair bit about understanding your abilities and how they work together, plus planning for encounters and practicing, since practice makes perfect, after all!

2) Avoiding Mistakes. This is where we get into the more detailed stuff about user interface, various types of AWARENESS (the best friend of the truly kick-ass raiders!), buff durations, cooldowns, keybinds and the like. I even dissect my hunter’s awful UI and point out all of the mistakes. Worth it just for this section, I think. ;)

3) Being a Team Player. Raiders don’t exist in a vacuum. They are individual parts of a larger team. Section 3 deals with how to be a kick-ass raider in the sense of being an awesome member of the team. I talk about reliability and what that means, helpfulness, critcism, whining/complaining and how to know when a guild is the right fit.

Those three sections, adding up to 69 pages or thereabouts, are included in all the versions of the guide, but the Epic version gives you a bonus section: Technical Difficulties. This is where I talk about other things you may have to overcome to improve yourself as a raider, including upgrading your computer, improving your framerate, how to reduce world latency, reducing input latency and such.

The Legendary version of the guide includes all four sections, plus a bonus guide on how to apply to guild or raid team. Because, sadly, people out there really need help with this. As a former GM who would occasionally receive applications that would render me close to tears, I felt this was needed. (Actually, I felt it was SO necessary that it’s available to buy separately from the rest of the guide, too! Just scroll down to the bottom of the Kick-Ass Raider page!)

My next project is going to be a guide on how to be a Kick-Ass Raid Leader… but I think I’m going to take a nap before I get started in on that one. ;)

Thanks to everyone for your support. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you!

Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox?

As North American realms came back online today, after the application of Patch 5.4.7, a new option became available for a short while: Boost a Character to 90. The price was set at $60 USD.

As I understand it, this option was not supposed to go live, especially since it vanished quickly thereafter. Still, it certainly gives one food for thought.

1) Is $60 a reasonable price to bring a character up to level 90?

Obviously, this depends on several factors.

a) Do you have a lot of disposable income? If so, $60 is going to seem a lot more reasonable to you than someone who only just manages to pay $15/month for their subscription to the game. It also means that you’re likely to see fewer new-to-90 characters, which may (or may not) be a way for Blizzard to throttle the number of people who have no idea what on earth they’re doing at max level.

b) Is the character level 1 or level 60? Level 70? Level 80? Level 85? Obviously, if the character is brand-new, you’re getting more bang for your buck. 90 levels divided by $60 is basically 1.5 levels per dollar. But what if you, like me, stopped playing regularly after Cataclysm and your characters are mostly level 85? 5 levels divided by $60 is $12 per level! That’s the point where I’d be all “well, eff that, I’m going to go spend 12 hours or so and get to 90 on my own!” Actually, I’d probably hit that point around level 70 or so, but that’s just me.

That said, time is money, friend, the goblins tell us in-game. What’s that time worth to you? That’s what it ultimately comes down to. For myself, I would have expected something around $25-$30 USD. I know that I would have paid easily that much to ding a few characters to max level, but remember, this is only max-level for a short period of time! The boost-to-90 option will still be available once Warlords of Draenor comes out, I imagine. Will there be a boost to 100? Maybe, but maybe not. You’re not paying for a max-level character for Warlords. You’re paying for a level 90 and, in just a few short months (I’m still saying June 10th +/- 2 weeks), that’s not going to be max-level anymore. Does that devalue it for you, going forward? Should it? Perhaps.

2) Did they mean to allow the option to be available?

I don’t think it’s impossible that this is a way for Blizzard to gauge reaction on a price point. Most people’s reactions seem to be “that’s way too much, they’re crazy!” Could it be that they “accidentally” left the option in the build, gave people enough time to see it and then hotfixed it out? If so, then perhaps they’re crazy… like a FOX. All of this market research! Not to mention all of this buzz. And potential buzz if they drop the price later on when it actually goes live…

Then again, I’m not sure this is the case, because there were rumours of people getting a question about this in a Blizzard survey/email or something a while back. Still, nothing can prepare someone for the reaction of announcing something to the world, not even surveys and polls. Maybe this was their way of doing that. Maybe not.

3) But seriously, $60???

I keep coming back to that price point because I think it’s somewhat ridiculous. The way I understand it, and I could be wrong, is that people started talking about buying multiple licenses for Warlords of Draenor in order to get multiple characters to 90. If the average price of a World of Warcraft Expansion is somewhere in the realm of $40 USD or thereabouts, then why price the level 90 boost to be ~150% of that? If kept at this price, a level 90 boost would be the most expensive purchase you can make for your character, exceeding even the realm-and-faction transfer fee of a $55 USD, combined.

4) The conversation has changed.

Hilariously, the conversation regarding 90 boosts, say, two months ago, was the fear that people who didn’t know what they were doing would infiltrate a highly-skilled playerbase. Ignoring the fact, of course, that much of the playerbase isn’t all that skilled to begin with, the conversation on whether or not people should be able to boost their characters to 90 has now been replaced by why does it cost so much? which neatly removes a lot of controversy amongst people who were concerned that the overall level of player ability would drop. (I’m still concerned about that, because I like thinking about how things affect the overall community.) The controversy now is “if I want to buy a level boost, it should be affordable, it shouldn’t be the equivalent of FOUR MONTHS’ worth of WoW!”

Lots of food for thought. We have a lot to look forward to on this subject, as well as the pre-order and, of course, beta testing for Warlords of Draenor. It’s going to be an exciting next few months, that’s for sure.

Speaking of excitement… My newest guide, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider is launching next Tuesday, February 25th! And don’t forget to join in the Twitter Q&A on Sunday, February 23rd at 3pm ET (noon Pacific) with the #AskKurn hashtag. :)

A Slight Delay…

So it’s been a crazy few weeks here, which means that, unfortunately, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider is being pushed back by a week. Instead of being released on Tuesday, February 18th, it’ll come out the following Tuesday, February 25th.

It’s due to a combination of family stuff (grandmother in the hospital, but is stable and doing well) and freelance work, which just haven’t allowed me to work on it much for the last couple of weeks, so I’m behind schedule.

That said, I feel pretty good in saying that it’ll be out the following week, since my freelancing is wrapping up and my grandmother’s doing well.

That also means that the pre-launch #AskKurn Twitter Event will be pushed back a week to Sunday, February 23rd at 3pm ET (noon Pacific).

On the plus side, the delay means my daily tweets with the #KickAssRaider hashtag will be extended to 32 raider tips instead of the originally-scheduled 25! So be sure to follow me on Twitter. :)

So that’s what’s going on with me. I’m looking forward to chatting with you all on the 23rd and I’m really excited for the 25th. I think you guys will really enjoy the new guide. Take a look at the Sneak Peeks, in the meantime and be sure to sign up for my announcement list to be reminded of all upcoming sneak peeks, releases and such!

x
Keep up to date on Kurn's Guides!
  • Get the first module of my GM Guide FREE when you subscribe!
  • Stay up to date on Kurn's Guide series! (Raider's Guide and Guild Raider's Guide available!)
  • Be notified when a new Sneak Peek is out!
  • Get special discount codes for newsletter subscribers only!
  • Absolutely zero spam -- unsubscribe at any time.