Game On – Duane Mutu

There is a new generation of athletes that are striking record pay deals and accruing fan bases that would make the most famous traditional sport stars weep into their antiflame. They are the gamers. The sports stars that compete not on the track or field or pitch but in the virtual environments of the world’s most popular games. The eSports market is already huge and it is on the ascent and according to the eSports market report, the industry will make US$1.5 billion by 2020. In New Zealand, Duane Mutu is at the leading edge of the industry as director of Let’s Play Live (LPL) and spokesperson for the New Zealand Esports Federation.

With an incredible setup at the base of the SKYCITY Sky Tower, LPL promotes and produces televised and online tournaments and even works with traditional teams like the Vodafone Warriors and SKYCITY Breakers to up their eSports game. Duane shares with us his vision for the future of an industry that is defining the future of entertainment.

This is probably a really stupid question, but is there an average day for you?

No, there’s no average day for me. It’s average an hour because it moves so fast. I think it’s such a quick environment that you’ve always got to be ready for it, but for me it can change literally by the night. So the next day is always something that I’m tasked with challenging in the morning when I get here. So no, no normal day.

Can you take us through how this all came together?

It’s really amazing and crazy to think we got there. It’s one of those projects where you can envision something that’s going to happen and you wished you can get to this point, but it’s so hard to get to that point. When I walk around, I can’t believe we’ve got to this point, it’s so amazing, better than I couldn’t have ever of hoped and dreamed of it turning out.

The journey to get there was quite unique because it’s a really unique space. Firstly, in the fact that you’re the donut inside the Sky Tower itself, so you’re limited by space. The other thing is what we’re trying to build here was something that had never been done on almost the entire planet. There were pieces of studio, there was pieces of eSports, there’s pieces of TV, there’s pieces of technology – all in one.

While I had a vision generally in my mind of what you think you can achieve in a space like this, it came about by bringing bits and pieces from some very clever people and going to experts in each of the fields.

For example, we used the best set designers that had built TV sets for TVNZ and for SKY TV and I met a bunch of them to feel out what it would look like. I then went through some of the best production people who I’d worked with, or had my own input into.

We worked through how we’re going to do it. So everything was maybe six different elements that had to come together perfectly to create it. It’s crazy to think when we started that project.

I don’t think many people believed we could do it, because the size, because the sheer investment, because it being so new in eSports. But we did it and I’m immensely proud of the fact that we do have it.

What was the initial catalyst for this and what kicked the journey off?

My business partner and I had been doing eSports for close to four years. There were some pieces that we had that we knew would be good, but the pieces we didn’t have were a studio, a production facility and a place which is high performance gaming.

So we needed to put them altogether. We had so much resistance from traditional media in the fact that they didn’t see gaming or eSports as a thing that should go on TV, so they charge heavily for that privilege, or not at all.

So people were making us pay tens of thousands of dollars to put it on the network, so that’s not a viable model long-term. What we realised quite early is if we build it, they will come. So we decided we’re going to build this thing and we need to make sure that we’re ready for the future, being 4K ready.

We need to be the highest broadcast, even though no one can take it. Is it on internet delivery? Yes, we need to make sure that internet was ready for us, but we needed to make sure that we were ready in that capability.

And then we needed to be clever on how we get it to TV cost effectively. That’s when we brought in partners like Kordia, who allowed us to have direct satellite linking services, which is unheard of across the globe to be able to deliver our content directly to TV to make it all happen. So that’s the catalyst of how it all came about.

Can you describe what it was like over the initial four years?

It was tough. The thing is while everyone was saying ‘it’s coming, it’s coming’, I was on the bandwagon. I truly 100% believed it. My background was in gaming obviously, so I knew that I already understood gaming innately, and how big it was, and where it was going, and I also understood broadcast.

New Zealand was the third market on the planet to have ever done a live TV broadcast, so there was no model. And what people don’t realise is they look at it today and they think, ‘Oh well this is pretty easy because lots of people put on TV, lots of people can stream and do all these things’. But when we were doing it three years ago, no one wanted it, no one thought it was possible, and there was no blueprint to get there.

You learn a lot obviously, but you make a lot of mistakes with losing money and some of the decisions you make for the community for what you’re trying to put out there to the marketplace. So those were the things that were really, really challenging. There was a lot of investment in trying to keep the thing going and trying to build to the position we got to. But money wasn’t really it, we both knew if we do this it will be worth it.

So we never wavered from the end goal, but it was just very, very tough, because everyone outside of the core circle didn’t believe in what we were doing.

Can you talk about personally what sort of toll it took on you?

Yeah, personally it’s tough because you’re the face of it. People have got to understand that we’re in a unique market in New Zealand. If you go straight to the core community of gamers, that number is not ginormous, though we see the bigger numbers, but it’s not massive.
With a market that only has 4.5 million Kiwis, you have to be able to talk from a commercial point of view to everyone. Part of the strategy was to talk to every Kiwi that has the ability to want to game and we knew that 97% of Kiwis play video games in some form; mobile, female, male, whatever age.

We were like ‘Right, this is the bit we’re going to do and by doing that, we’ll create the pathway out of this for all the gamers. Not just today, but outside of that’.

So that was what kept me going. I knew in my mind that if we get to that point, it will be fine. But certainly it took its toll because I was in the media. I was taking it from one side, the core community, who I felt I was supporting and they were say, ‘Well you’re kind of a sell-out, you’re putting it on TV, you’re not doing the right thing for the community, you don’t care about us, you guys are just doing it to make money’.

It was never the intention because the goal, as it is still today, is to create the pathways, create tournaments, money, infrastructure. So I wasn’t going to be the only one that benefits from that ecosystem, as we see with the Breakers and we start to see with other brands getting involved.

The community’s going well. Then on the flip side, you’re in the mainstream media saying, ‘Gaming should be on TV, gaming is a sport, it’s going to be in the Olympics’.

You’re always challenged against things where people think video game addiction is a bad thing. Why are we letting kids do this? So I was getting it both sides of the spectrum, which isn’t easy, because in my mind I think I’m doing the right thing and I still do believe 120% that I’m doing the right thing.

It was just that those early days where you start to doubt whether it’s worth the energy, worth the investment and whether the tipping point will ever come. I certainly think we’re where the tipping point has just started to tip over; networks want it, mainstream has bought into it and that’s awesome, the fact that we got to that point in time after four years of hard work.

How would you describe your relationship with that core gaming community at the moment?

There’s always going to be those who will resist the fact that they don’t see it as a mainstream TV-ified kind of property. I respect that, I understand that, but certainly there is the other facet of the community that really love what we’re doing it. They love it because there’s opportunities now.

We created that opportunity for kids, so that’s a generational thing, that’s fantastic. We gave Kiwis the opportunity to play against other Kiwis on the bigger stage in New Zealand, which is TV. We’ve sent players across to compete in some of the best tournaments in the world, winning tournaments here at Let’s Play Live or be it international tournaments for the world championships.

So now the community’s understanding that we’re here for the right reasons and we’re here to offer pathways that will exist not just today, but for the generations to come after we finish.

So to answer your question in the purest form, I think there’s still a divide in the core community, but I certainly think that most are now seeing it as more beneficial than not.

Within eSports, do you think that the face of that core community is changing with the rise of mobile?

That’s the thing coming back to the strategy I always believe, which is talk to 4.4 million Kiwis who like gaming. So when you were to sell a video game, you didn’t just talk to the core community, you talked to anyone who may have a gaming console.

The face of eSports is totally different now, anyone has the ability to play now. Fortnite’s helped that, mobile gaming’s helped that, male and female participation helps that. So while the community at core level is important, the wider community is just as important, if not more important because it’s bigger and louder.

My philosophy has always been you’ve got to convince people that it’s fine and it’s OK to do it, because people in the mainstream don’t want to associate themselves with gamers. You don’t get people saying ‘Oh yeah, I’m a gamer’, they just don’t say that. They just don’t identify as a gamer.

So when you look at someone like my wife, she might play mobile games or she might have had a level with my son while they’re playing PlayStation, but you say to her ‘Are you a gamer?’, she’ll say no. But absolutely they are.

So that’s the way you break it down to make it more normalised. It’s OK because the All Blacks are playing video games, it’s OK because some celebrity on Shortland Street is playing. I saw it on TV, I read about it in the paper, I heard about it on the news.

Once all that stereotype starts to drop, which we’ve done a good job of in New Zealand. Now you see the rise of the next generation and they’re not going to know any different, as they always grew up with eSports on TV.

I think that’s a legacy left with Let’s Play Live, even to this point today the kids we’ve since they grew up, they’ve already got that opportunity. If you look at other markets like Australia, they’ve only done two linear broadcasts in the entire time.

Already in New Zealand we have been on TV for four years, we’re close to over 80 linear broadcasts on TV. So we’re so advanced as Kiwis and that’s the legacy. That’s so great and the message is really good in the media for us.

Why was it such a push for you to get mainstream media in New Zealand to take you seriously?

Well, I actually don’t think it’s a push for just us here. We’re advanced, I think we’ve done a good job in New Zealand. Yes, it was hard early on and now we’ve done a good job. Internationally, what you’ve got is an audience that is under 35 and are totally digital natives who understand all these platforms. There’s the Ninjas, there’s The Alliance all these big huge tournaments, where the content has been free.

The issue you’ve got in mainstream media upwards is the fact that it’s been run and it’s controlled by people that are over 35 years of age. So I go into many, many meetings where I say to people – especially a lot of the presenters, hosts, etc – they don’t even know what Twitch is. Which is baffling to me because it’s the biggest streaming platform on Earth. That’s the issue, that’s the crux of it for me. They just don’t understand it and so they see it as something foreign and scary to them and that’s because of age.

I don’t want to stereotype, but it certainly is people that are over 35, that are really successful in mainstream, they’re usually journalists, presenters, etc, and they just haven’t got it. Whereas you’ll see now with the growth of eSports and the younger people coming through into mainstream media, they understand it already, they know it innately and that’s why it will be a lot easier to get the love in the mainstream.

In 2016 there was something like 497 million people watching eSports. So where was a lot of that happening?

The thing with gaming is because the major media across the globe didn’t want the content, they didn’t see it as a real thing, they didn’t think it was worthy of the big platforms. So that’s when came about and streamed gaming content across the globe. Of course that sold for a billion dollars to Amazon and now we know that Twitch drives more viewers than Netflix, ESPN and Hulu combined.

So we’re talking about a platform that’s astronomical. That’s because the mainstream shunted it. I look at it like the whole punk movement, where it was this movement no one really thought was real and then all of a sudden it just became bigger and bigger underground that it wasn’t small anymore.

This underground movement was, as you pointed out, ginormous. 497 million people were consuming Twitch and it was all free.

And that was what made it. In mainstream and traditional media, sport has always been about a paywall; it has always been about getting the rights, buying the rights for the rugby or the America’s Cup or the NRL or the NFL, and you pay for that privilege. Whereas in gaming, it was just given away for free. So if you like gaming and you like some sort of content in gaming, you go and get it for free. And that’s how the boom of eSports continued to this day.

Where do you see the opportunities around eSport, whether it’s entrepreneurial or other businesses or brands?

I think eSports is something – and I’ve said this many, many times, I truly believe this – we’re not going to get many other times, particularly in the next 100 years, that we’ve seen such fundamental movement in embracing something. I’m talking about technology as at the heart of it.

So we’ve seen the internet, which spawned the world we live in right now. So we have telecommunications that changed the world, then we had internet and that changed the world; those two things have stayed. Outside of that, everything else is built on telecommunications and technology on the internet. That’s really what the crux of broadcasting, media, how we do homework, everything, is built around those two things.

So think about the fact now that you’ve got everyone being born on technology. Now we have this technology surge and at the point end of all that is eSports. eSports takes in all your entertainment, so if you look at streaming sport stars, it’s sucking up what was once theatre or movies. That’s been sucked up because now you’ve got these big spectacles, then you suck up the sporting aspect of it.

So now you look at League of Legends; more people watch that than the NBA finals. All of a sudden you’ve got this world that is literally a vacuum sucking up everything we’ve known and loved in all these different worlds and the centrepoint is eSports and gaming. If you’re going to get into this as an entrepreneur or other brands, the train isn’t going to slow down. This isn’t one of those things that will just fall off the cliff tomorrow, because it’s not slowing down and it won’t because they’re going to be part of the culture of the next generations moving forward.

We’ve already seen the data that suggests that the generation under 18 already identify eSports stars and streamers as equal to sports stars. They do not make any other comparison. When they look at Ninja [Twitch streamer], they see Ninja who is the top streaming Fortnite player in the world, equal to LeBron James. There is no differentiating.

So Ninja will be your biggest movie star, he’s already the biggest social influence of today, but he’ll be the one who’s on the side of the Weetbix pack next to an All Black. It becomes much more of a cultural phenomenon if you put all those worlds together, and that’s where we’re at right now.

With competitive sport, there are media outlets that are going to be spawned in this, all the way through to educational purposes and what we’re doing with eSports. So you have to get in the space but you’ve just got to pick where you want to be in that space.

You’ve got to understand that eSports doesn’t refer to one single entity, it refers to multiple games which have different audiences and different ways you send things out there. So that’s the key when you get into eSports. Understand that most of the traditional skills that people have already learned are transferable into eSports across all those aspects.

As a father, does part of you lament a future where you will have a gamer who has as much reverence as a physical athlete?

Yeah, as a father and a coach for sports teams, I look at it in two ways. I certainly think that we use eSports as a scapegoat; we let parents get away with the fact that they can do anything with technology. Those top streamers are doing 12 hours a day, and we just let kids do it. There’s an issue here with technology at the heart of it all – moderation.

You can’t let kids play 12 hours a day and use it as an excuse. So from that point of view, I do think there needs to be moderation and rules around how we engage with technology and I think no one has a direct hold on that yet. The schools don’t really know when to do it, the parents think the schools are doing it, social media’s a free for all. So there’s this triangle where no one’s taking ownership of what we’re doing. So that’s probably the first thing – a wider conversation around technology.

But when I look at it from a gaming point of view and look at the way in which your kids consume the content. When we grew up, we started with no TVs and no cell phones and then it jumped. The people who were in the next generation now know what social media is and they spend so much time on social media – the whole world does. And when we see the youth coming through today, they spend so much time on video game content. So, of course I can totally understand that; the way they consume it is much like, if we’re honest with ourselves, how we consume TV.

I take the kids for rugby and after, we’d go home and watch TV. Now you’ve got kids who can do the same thing, except they don’t choose to watch it on TV and they don’t choose to watch traditional sports, because that’s not what engages them. They’re watching streamers or eSports stuff.

If you look at it from that context, to me it makes sense and I can totally see why kids embrace it. So I don’t have a problem with it from that point of view. And if you look at history, whether it be gladiators, then movie stars, professional athletes, it’s the same sort of model. Now this is the technology athlete, so to speak, and to me that makes absolute sense, if we look at the conjecture of history.

What was your first console?

My friend actually had the Commodore 64 with Batman and he would play it for a level and then we’d have to go off for about four hours while you chucked in the next level. So technically it wasn’t mine, but that’s the first that I got to play. And then another friend later on got a PC and we started playing rugby league and there was Leisure Suit Larry: The Lounge of the Lizards, which obviously you had to hack your way into R18. They were the wealthy kids who could afford those things.

For me, where I grew up and we had access to the Street Fighter arcade machines, I played a lot and lived at arcades growing up, as I think was the case with most of that generation. The Sega Master System was the first home console we had as a family and played Alex the Kid and Sonic the Hedgehog and that was literally what kicked me into it.

How did you and your business partner go up to SkyCity and say, we want to take over this area and turn it into a gaming studio?

With SkyCity, you look at the boom of the eSports and visitation is important, entertainment is important, so the future of all that is already going on. If you are an entertainment precinct like SkyCity, you’re looking for those key things. How do you drive younger audiences coming on site? How do you drive visitation for them coming in? Especially when you’ve got an audience that are traditionally a lot older.

So with SkyCity, we’d done some activations over the years and they were seeing the young people coming in. They went OK, we’ll take part. So for them it’s about innovation and future proofing the business long-term, and now we see across the globe with other entities in similar vein jumping in to the space for that reason.

So SkyCity were right on the cusp of understanding that this is the momentum and if we look 10 years in front – and that’s where I guess Sky City’s looking at – what does a precinct like this look like if you weren’t to embrace eSports? Where do you get the theatre participants? Where do you get people staying in the hotels? How do you get people to visit? Because we know we’re driving all those pieces.

But then on top of that we’re driving external eyeballs in viewership to their brand and this facility by going out to an audience that you normally wouldn’t get. So that’s where they see it; they see us as innovative and forward-thinking and I think that’s really smart on their behalf.

Is global an important consideration for you as well?

Yeah, there’s two things when we look at our business model. We realised a long time ago when we did this whole model is that Kiwis want to see Kiwis. We see it with every other traditional sport and everything else we do, from dramas, TV, movies; Kiwis like to support Kiwis. Now, you’ve got international content and that’s been given away for free, so you’re never going to challenge that from a small place with 4.4million people that haven’t had the opportunity to have the best players play against the best in the world. You’re never going to compete with that, you’re just not going to be able to do it.

So what we realise is Kiwis do want to see the Kiwis and we’re going to give you the opportunity to see Kiwis at the highest level. So you then identify with who the best teams are and who the best players are. We’re very mindful of that presence and offering that opportunity to any market we do. But with that said, we see ourselves as a global eSports company. We see our content available freely and online to the Twitch platform and YouTube and Facebook, so anyone in the world can see our content.

But when we go to different territories – which is our growth plan, to go onto Australia, South East Asia and then hopefully beyond that – we still see it as the opportunity to talk to that local relevant market, and go on there and say, if we’re in Australia, Australians want to see Australians. Yeah, while there’s an element of sprinkling some international players or teams in there, the base of what we’re going to do is about live and local and that’s how we see it. So as we do that, I think we’ll pick up more international coverage anyway by default.

Given that a lot of content is freely available, what is the business model behind it?

It’s content. It starts off with the fact that the content, like anything, is about how much viewership you can get, how many eyeballs you can get to your particular product, and, therefore, brands are interested in that. That’s one piece of it. So by putting it on big platforms whether it be TV or on Twitch, they guarantee eyeballs through Lets Play Live.

But then the second aspect to it is they’ve got to talk to a younger millennial audience. Those brands are looking to talk to youth and they’re very hard to find. Where do you pick up the young male? Where do you find them? All the data is right here in eSports. They’re under 35, they’re millennial-based, they’re males, they usually a have a high spend. So brands are looking for that aspect. By default you get that as well and that’s why the brands are jumping into the space and enjoying it. So that’s your more traditional model.

Now there’s also the model of people wanting good content and are willing to pay for that content to take away from other providers. So for us, even though it was free, they still see it as a dual offering. That’s important because while you don’t want to put it behind a paywall, it doesn’t mean you can’t simulcast the content, which is a new model for traditional broadcasters; instead of locking it off, you do allow the hard core fans to watch it online, but they’re a different audience than what you get on your traditional media. So we start seeing a split model and people will pay for that content.

Now if you spent a lot of your time around all of these consoles and machines, do you go home and unwind and just play a single player sometimes?

I do. I like sports games for that reason, you can jump in and just unwind or have a turn of playing some sort of action adventure game. Assassin’s Creed or Last of Us, where you can go through a story and just unwind. Fortnite’s obviously quite fun, something I can play with my son.

But certainly for me when you’re around it all day, sometimes it’s actually best to unwind in other ways and not be near consoles and devices. I have no social media for that reason. You have to ring me or email me in the traditional way, because I’m so heavily saturated with technology all day, everyday that I just want to be removed from it when I’m not in.

I might be doing work days of 12 or 14 hours, and so the last thing I want to do sometimes is actually be back on a device, whatever that device is. Not just gaming, across the board.

Going forward, do you think developers are going to be focusing more on getting into a story and almost screenwriting?
I think there’s always going to be two from a purely publisher point of view. They’re going to make games that will be better from a story perspective. We see it now, it’s almost like they’ve taken a lot of writers and people from Hollywood and big, traditional media across to write these beautiful stories. They’re billion dollar-type properties that they’re rolling out, particularly with Last of Us and Assassin’s Creed. So that’s always going to happen because gamers just want to consume it that way.

But certainly from an eSport perspective, you’re going to see a lot more. There’s going to be three clear divisions in my opinion. You’re going to see mobile, which you already do now; accessibility is easy, people want to play it quickly, and that’s just booming.

You’re always going to have the core games who see the highest level of eSports. The highest pinnacle is PC-driven, keyboard and mice and games that can showcase the best. So DODA, League of Legends, clearly CS GO; those types of games and the ones that come after those, will always be the pinnacle of hard core fans of eSports. It’s about how quick you can react on the keys and the mice. So that won’t change.

And then you’re going to see sports and sports is going drive in a new kind of category. So we’re seeing NBA enter the space and they’re going to leverage their celebrity into those leagues. So for example, a kid who may not be that interested in hard core eSports and may play basketball traditionally, may also play 2K Games. Because they play basketball, they will now have a true pathway to say to themselves, ‘OK, shall I continue to play physically and maybe make the NBA? Or should I now divert my time into playing in the virtual NBA?’

And so that’s where you’re going to not only have the celebrity of a Lebron or Kobe or the NBA pushing you, that’s why those things will explode. FIFA, NBA, NHL; you can’t underestimate the sheer reach that those sort of brands have.

So I don’t think that’s going to change and you’ll just see it grow. But I think VR is going to really change the game when it comes and will become accessible once it’s not so cumbersome. For example, if we’re going to play FIFA and react quickly virtually, then I have to be able to kick the ball in real time and it has to respond in real time. And so in technology terms, that could be only 18 months away, or it could be five years.

But certainly that’s what’s going to change all of sudden, imagine what it then looks like if you are a basketball player playing virtual NBA but you have to dribble the ball in a 5 and 5 setting passing the ball virtually.

So that’s where it’s going to be ‘wow!’ To make the proper pass, are you just as good on a basketball court? You’re probably pretty good physically and you’ve got to do it in real time. That’s what will change the game for eSports in my opinion and then it will be so much closer to what we see as traditional sport.

It’s interesting when you bring up VR, because it seems to be just years of deflated expectation or disappointment around its pickup. Is it just a technology hurdle?

It is a technology hurdle. What’s interesting about gaming is people think for themselves. Shouldn’t we want VR when you’re playing CS GO? You want to be quick on the keys and the mice and that’s the only way you’re going to be good. So VR plays no part in that. They’ve got to pick where they put VR. VR will never work in a world where it’s keyboards and mice, it’s just too cumbersome and too slow and no one will want that.

But VR will work in a world where you can wear something that’s not cumbersome; a contact lens or something where it doesn’t impact what you’re doing. Right now, it’s hard to interact like that, because you’ve got that big headset; you’re trying to play a video game, you’ve got to look around, it’s slow, it’s not realistic in that sense, and that’s why I think it stalled.

They’ve got to bring that technology down into a digestible piece that’s really easy to use. Now that’s obviously harder said than done, glasses to a point are still cumbersome. Do you want to play a game like FIFA virtually with glasses on? No, but certainly if you could just wear a contact lens and you can play virtually in real time, that’s when it will be on. But again, it’s stalled.

Gaming will always drive those initiatives. People underestimate how much gaming will leapfrog everyone else around the globe. If gaming can get right, it’s a different VR than you get with Oculus Rift and those types of things. What you’ve got to remember is the barrier to entry is easier in gaming.

So when gaming brings out a move console or they bring out some sort of VR on the consoles, that’s accessible because every household can have it.

Otherwise you’re paying a lot of money, because that’s the other problem you’ve got with VR, it costs a lot of money.

It’s cumbersome one, and two, it costs money – $2,000-3,000 to buy a proper rig to run this virtual reality and it’s just not accessible for everyone. Whereas if I can buy a PlayStation for NZ$500 and it comes with a VR set, that’s pretty mellow. Then all of sudden a lot more people are going to be using it and it becomes a lot more easier to use.

One last question, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

That’s a good question. It sounds kind of cliché, but the best piece of advice that I’ve been given is always treat others how you would like to be treated. I think that’s really important in business; if you’re nice to someone, it’s not about them potentially giving back to you, the world will always deliver you that way. So I always find if you’re always open and honest and nice to people then the world will always sort of give that back to you.

I think too many people go in to it being selfish. They’re egotistical, they want to be famous, they want to make more money than the next person, they want to crush someone and that will always, in my opinion, lead to a dead-end. Eventually somebody’s going to come crashing down on you.

So pay it forward, that’s what everyone uses now. When I was growing up, my mum always told me that no matter what happens, you should always be respectful and be nice and treat others how you’d like to be treated. Sometimes it’s not easy. Those people at the start of this whole journey even at this point when people still laugh, have a go at you – in myself that’s fine. You’re thick skinned but certainly I don’t treat them any differently. So thank you very much for your time, appreciate it, and I think as an overall that’s been the best thing for me, because people find it easy to deal with you if you’re kind and open.