Being secure in your own skin is the key to better people management: Epic Games’ Sameer Pitalwalla at AWS Startup Spin
Playing sports can help us learn essential life lessons as they teach us a lot about timing, resilience, and not giving up in the face of adversity. These qualities prove to be extremely useful in the field of business as well, as entrepreneurs are known to march on in spite of difficulties.
Sports and entrepreneurship share several such similarities, and Vikram Sathaye aims to explore how these qualities and life lessons can be used to extract important philosophies to make life better through AWS Startup Spin - a show hosted in association with AWS, George P Johnson Experience Marketing, and Bald Head Productions.
In the seventh episode, Vikram Sathaye speaks toBusiness Director of ASEAN and India Sameer Pitalwalla about his learnings from surfing, the importance of rejection, his connection with writers, and what best partnerships can offer.
Rejection and resilience
Resilience is the most important quality Sameer has learnt from the sport of surfing. He says that getting into the wave itself takes a lot of effort, and most people give up right at the start; therefore surfing brings out that side of people that helps them stay strong during difficult times.
Another lesson he has learnt from pro surfers is to identify which wave to catch and which wave to let go of. “Most people exhaust themselves trying to chase every wave regardless of its swell, speed, or thickness. The experts understand this language, and know that there are a lot more waves coming, so they’re happy to just wait around,” he says.
Sameer recalls how his experience as a door-to-door salesman gave him the ability to handle rejection with grace. Getting doors shut on his face taught him to take no as an answer, move forward, and make the pitch better.
Leading from the front
Talking about his leadership style, Sameer says that it is important to stay humble in the business and use the best kind of tools in terms of storytelling and structure.
The former journalist understands how difficult it is to be a writer, and says that he trusts the voices of the writers. Sameer added that feedback given to writers must always be suggestive rather than prescriptive and that suggestions help writers understand the edits that need to be made to the content.
Speaking about emotional flaws, he says that his way of getting work done was yelling at people which he admits sounds horrid. “It took me a decade to understand and manage it, and it has only been over the last couple of years that my style changed and I began to be a lot more secure in my own skin,” he says.
Being happy with oneself, adds Sameer, is the key to ensuring that people management becomes better. He believes it’s important for leaders to take a step back and believe in a serving leadership model as it helps people reach their true potential.
Partnerships and luck
Game designers are a unique breed as they possess a combination of storytelling and game designing, which helps them understand the nuances of the game and hardware needed, and Sameer says that they have all the qualities they need to create a multi-dimensional world.
Sameer has always encouraged his team to pass the task to somebody who can perform better. Epic Games partnered with AWS amid the pandemic to see if there was a way that could allow people to learn Unreal Engine on the cloud. “AWS was quick to support us by getting machines up and running and providing training. Now that relationship has grown really well, where we have scaled to a whole bunch of machines, and now there are other regions around the world that are using this,” he says.
Highlighting the significance of luck in his life, Sameer recalls anecdotes where he has chanced upon opportunities that would otherwise seem impossible. He says that he cannot underestimate the idea of what luck is, and if one is prepared when an opportunity strikes.