Motivated by your ambitions or someone else’s? Not so obvious…

One of my observations in my thirty plus years in chess is that you can divide people into groups of those who get motivated by their own successes and ambitions and those that get excited by the prospects of others. This is one of the reasons why many grandmasters write bad books or are lousy trainers, while some less strong players are excellent coaches and write fantastic books.

There are lots of grandmasters that just want to play, but write books, give lessons and so on, as a way to make ends meet. Some of them do so poorly, because this is not where their focus is. Others do well, because they are very conscientious people. Still, I would recommend that you find a coach that would still teach after winning the lottery…

There are some of our competitors that operate solely with the purpose of making money and you can see it in their products. It is not that they do not want to make good books, it is just not their focus. I once asked another publisher why they had done a particularly poor book and got the answer: “Some books you do just to make money.”

I do not think this is an invalid point. We certainly also look at the projects we do to see if they are commercially viable. Partly because of the finances and partly because of books that don’t sell are not read and if the books are not read, why publish them? There are books we think are fun or important to do, but we know will sell in small numbers. The fantastic photobook The Thinkers by David Llada has received immense publicity, because David is everywhere, all the time, but have sold far less than average at this point. Does that mean it was wrong to do it? No, not at all. The book is amazing and chess culture has been enriched.

On the other hand, there have been projects we presumed would be quite successful, but where no one in the office were interested in them, so we passed. And we did a few books that we assumed would sell well, but we were always punished when this was the motive. I guess people could smell the cynicism. This was very early in our careers and both John and I regret this…

Finally, from the perspective of federations. If you find some of your top players are only “in it for themselves”, do not despair. You have a possible champion on your hand. Support them, allow them to have a self-centred tunnel vision, if they behave ethically correct. Success in anything requires sacrifices; and what you sacrifice is usually what other people would want you to do for them. Allow the talents you want to flourish to have the type of personality that will make them champions.

7 thoughts on “Motivated by your ambitions or someone else’s? Not so obvious…”

  1. Just wanted to pop in and say that I bought “The Thinkers”, and really cannot believe that it’s not selling that well. Might be the prettiest book I’ve literally ever seen. The quality of the actual book is off the charts, the pictures are really, really beautiful as expected, and the layout and design is perfect. Really great job QC and DL. 😉

  2. It is selling well, for what was expected of it. It is expensive and although in the improvement section, I think it will not improve your chess, even if it makes you a better human being…

  3. Making money always has to be priority number one for any business because if money is not made then you do not get to do what you originally intended to do.

    Success in chess is a selfish, self absorbed pursuit.

    Success in business is as much serendipity a anything else.

  4. @TonyRo

    Hi Tony!

    I read your comment a few days ago but I was on my phone and I hate to type on a screen. Now that I have a keyboard at hand, I wanted to thank you for your kind words. These guys at QC really spoiled me and let me do all I wanted to do with that book: I am very happy to hear that you liked the result.

    The feedback I got is that “The Thinkers” is selling well in the places where people can see it, touch it, and realize that it is a luxury item. Not so well online probably. But I got today the first selling figures and I am quite satisfied.

    It shouldn’t be in the “improvement” section, tho. Jacob, you risk to be sued by an infuriated customer :-))

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top