Chris Padilla/Blog / Notes

Iwata on Creative People

Cover Image for Iwata on Creative People

I grew up with a lot of the games and consoles developed by the late Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's former President. "Ask Iwata" is a sort of auto-biography, a collection of interviews Iwata gave for Shigesato Itoi's company / site with a few excerpts from the official Nintendo "Iwata Asks" interview series.

The book came across as surprisingly personal for someone that's a sort of legend in the space. Some characters garner mysticism through the distance between them and their audience, but Iwata was a proponent of transparency and open communication, as is evident by all that's shared in these interviews.

The war stories are impressive. His early experiences of being a tech wiz, saving a couple of games like Earthbound and Pokemon Gold and Silver from development hell, are a testament to him being a master developer.

But it was his view on people that struck me.

It's not what I expected going in, though he did spent more of his life in management. Iwata transferred much of his logical thinking and desire to delight others over into his leadership.

Here's one example of this is his insight onto why creative folks can come into conflict on a shared project:

Unless they have the self-confidence to announce, "I'm the best," engineers and artists never make any headway. Most programmers, too, believe their way of doing things to be superior. When these kinds of people join forces on a project, some conflict is unavoidable. Creativity, after all, is an expression of the ego.

Really insightful to frame creativity as a means of putting a piece of ourselves out there.. Maybe not all forms of creativity, but certainly design centric, engineering type roles, take a bit more of that characteristic to it.

Here's another one on respecting the talents of others:

"There will always be people who see things differently than you. Perhaps to an unreasonable degree. Still, these people surely have their own reasons, their own history and values. Moreover, they're bound to be able to do things you can't do, and know things you don't know. This doesn't mean accepting everything they suggest, but respecting the fact that they have skills you lack, and are doing things that you can't do yourself. Whether or not you can maintain this respect will vastly influence how much fun and fulfillment you get out of a job."

I plead guilty to the artistic trope of wanting to be good at it all! In an age (and, for me, a stage of life) that glorifies remarkable individuals, this was a refreshing passage to come across. It's that gradual opening up of accepting yourself for your limitations and celebrating the differences with others that brings buoyancy to work and opens up possibilities.