We are pleased to introduce another guest of TedxTorinoSalon “Visioni”: Maureen Fan. Maureen, CEO and founder of Baobab Studios, talks about the entrepreneur’s role inside the company, what creativity means and the importance of storytelling.
Q: What is the most challenging (difficult, complex) phase of your job?
A: An entrepreneur’s most important role is emotional management and reiteration of the mission. The founders are a light source for the company. If that light is energetic, the company feels energetic, if that light is anxious, the company feels anxious. It’s important for us to always be aware of this in inevitably stressful times of the company. We must be both authentic and aware of our impact on her team. That is why having cofounders is so important. Cofounders balance each other out and can share the load. We have 3 cofounders, including Eric Darnell, Baobab’s Chief Creative Officer and the writer and director of all 4 Madagascar films and Larry Cutler, our CTO, who was early TD at Pixar and Global Head of Character Technology at Dreamworks Animation. We lean on each other.
Also, people join startups often for their mission. It’s important for the CEO to remind the team of what they are trying to achieve and how what they are doing helps with this higher vision. This aligns the team. I’ve learned during my time as VP of Games at Zynga overlooking the FarmVille franchise and as CEO of Baobab, that you can NEVER do this enough!
Q: “Creativity” means a lot of things in the Entertaining world. What does it mean for you?
A: It means taking ideas that don’t seem to fit together and combining them. For example, we believe that VR is a mixture of ideas that makes it it’s own medium. If a little girl were crying on a park bench alone in a film, you’d feel bad for her but do nothing. If in a game, you’d talk to her to get to the next level or to win. In real life, you’d talk to her because you care and want to help her. Our creative vision is to create experiences with the empathy of films, agency of games, and the motivation of real life.You can now act on your caring for these characters, and you do so because you care, not because you’re trying to win.
Q: Telling stories is important to share ideas and knowledge. What about motivation in storytelling?
A: Literary theorists say that storytelling is equipment for living. Stories are how we experience other people, locations, and scenarios that we couldn’t access otherwise. When you watch a story, you imagine what it would be like to be in that person’s shoes, how they must feel, what you might do. Now if VR, you can actually experience being in a character’s shoes, not just watch it passively. You live through the story and learn how you would react, what it means to be human.