Anwar Bey-Taylor is an entrepreneur, professor, writer, designer and avid world traveler. He’s also the founder and director of Mind Traveler Design which is a boutique, multi-faceted video game development studio located in San Francisco, California.





In This Episode

Video game entrepreneur, professor, writer and designer Anwar Bey-Taylor discusses what led him to getting off the couch to pursue his passion, how everyone struggles with the Wonderful Imagination vs. the Savage Hater in their mind, and how he plans to use networking opportunities to grow his business.

Topic Timeline:

0:43 Monster Mash

Concept design, rigging, 3D models and animation are all involved in the process of creating the monsters for your favorite video games and movies.

2:17 Putting the Controller Down to Create His Dream

Following his passion for games, he found a career in the thing he loved most: video games.

2:54 Thrust Force Young Lad

Anwar wouldn’t want to overwhelm his past self with warnings of the future but, instead, motivate him to keep going.

4:57 Being Easy to Talk To

The competitive edge in a competitive market: just being approachable and easy to talk to.

5:51 The Wonderful Imagination vs. the Savage Hater

The two beasts in your mind that are in conflict with each other and that you decide who wins.

9:06 Networking
Meeting new people, sharing artwork, focused posting on the internet all adds up in terms of drawing in new clients.

10:19 Plasma World
Mixing entrepreneurship with both design and travel.

11:11 The Biggest Challenge
Meeting money-people not in the video game space.

12:05 WorldWide Influence
Travel, feel, experience, grow and touch the lives of people across the globe.

12:05 WorldWide Influence
All entrepreneurs exhibit this single trait.

For the people that are so confident in their present situations with no interest of stepping outside of that, I think that they should just stay where they are and make room for me.

– Anwar Bey-Taylor

Show Transcript:

LR: Welcome to Modern Ontrapreneur. Today we have Anwar Bey-Taylor. He’s an entrepreneur, professor, writer, designer and avid world traveler. He’s also the founder and director of Mind Traveler Design which sounds really cool, and is a boutique, multi-faceted video game development studio located in San Francisco, California. Thank you so much for joining us today. Tell me about Mind Traveler Design.

AB-T: All right. Mind Traveler Design is a video game company. We specialize first in monster and character creation for video games. All those crazy characters, the monsters that you see in games, we make those.

LR: People outsource their monster creation?

AB-T: Yeah, a lot of people do. So that’s games, film, commercials, advertising, design, etc. etc.

LR: These are all obviously computer CGI stuff. You guys design these monsters and their movement and all that?

AB-T: Everything from concept design which is the 2D drawing of the monster to the 3D character creation which is the 3D version, then rigging, which is setting up the bones and then animation which is moving the character.

LR: So cool. How long have you been designing monsters?

AB-T: For 12 years.

LR: Twelve years. And you got into that how?

AB-T: I think I was just at a cross path in life where I was learning about nursing, hated it, and then I found myself playing video games all day every day, skipping school, just playing games. And then one day, my buddy, Nick, AOLed me a link.

LR: AOLed you.

AB-T: He was like, “Look, there’s a school that teaches video game design.” I was like, “Okay,” and then that just really warped my whole reality because I didn’t have any idea that that was even possible, that people could make careers making video games.

LR: What an interesting story. So there’s something unique about a person who actually gets up off the couch, puts the video game controller down and goes and decides to make the damn thing. What do you think it is that had you be that guy?

AB-T: I always knew that I wanted to live a life of passion, a life of adventure and exploration, and so that just fit the bill 100%. I just dropped everything and dedicated my life to it.

LR:: Yeah, incredible. So now it’s been 12 years since you….

AB-T: Since I left the couch.

LR: … oh yeah, since you left the couch. If you could go back … I presume, I don’t know your entrepreneurial story, but no one’s is typically smooth sailing; entrepreneurship is always a challenge. If you could go back and tell that guy just as you were getting off the couch some piece of advice that would have smoothed your sail, what would that be?

AB-T: Thrust forth, young lad.

LR: We’re thrusting already.

AB-T: The past is no regrets for me. Though there’s been plenty of trials and tribulations, tons of uncertainties, a lifetime of journeying into the unknown just in the dark, just in hope of what I imagine could be possible to actually become possible. The interesting thing about that question is the dynamicism behind it all because essentially what it’s saying is that, “Now that you’ve seen our exposed light to so much of the darkness, what would you tell yourself at the beginning when everything was dark?” Literally, I would say, “Just go.” It’s just been adventure. I wouldn’t want to overwhelm my young mind with too much vision because it’s to be experienced.

LR: What do you think gave you the courage to take those first steps? Most people don’t because somewhere along in the process they decide that they couldn’t or it’s too hard or, “Shit, there’s other people making monsters,” or whatever it might be.

AB-T: Again, video games have always been something I’ve been passionate about. So the idea of video games being a career that provides economy, I think that was the initial thing. It just seems so far away, it just seems so impossible, but the other side of that was everything that I already knew. So I just needed to see.

LR: What do you think your unique skill set is? Why have you been successful where certainly many, many others have not been in what has got to be an incredibly competitive field?

AB-T: I think I’m a fairly easy person to talk to. I think I can express my passion fairly well. I think I can lace all that up into some interesting poetic expression. I think that I can create, at this point, what feels like whatever I like. So crossing that bridge of the unimaginable and then seeing that it’s totally real, really inspired me to continue to figure out ways of imagining things that don’t feel possible anymore and then making them real. I think just all that energy goes a long way.

LR: Yeah, it’s interesting. Obviously, as you just said, you developed some skills in your craft over the years, but the first thing that came out of your mouth was, “My personality, my energy, the way I am is what’s helping me be successful, which I think is true. Some people tend to be attractive to be around and stuff tends to present itself in ways that it doesn’t to others. What do you think it is, do you think that’s something that can be developed?

AB-T: I’ve developed this design-like thinking process that I call Imagination Design. Essentially what it is, is it’s identifying to be centermind. One being the Wonderful Imagination, the other being the Savage Hater.

LR: The?

AB-T: The Savage Hater.

LR: Savage hater.

AB-T: Yes. The Wonderful Imagination is, like I’ve been talking about already, is the ideas in the mind of what the future could hold, about what is possible in the world and about how you could be in the center of all of that even though there’s no applicability to the present at the given time that it’s being thought about. Then the Savage Hater is the other side of the wall. It’s that voice in the mind that says, “Don’t,” and, “You’re fine,” and, “Everything that you’re experiencing now is okay. Don’t fall in love. Don’t go to the gym. Don’t try to create that company. School, there’s no pathway for you to obtain this kind of creative education so stay here with your friends. Keep playing games. Don’t go to Africa for three months by yourself and travel eight countries because you’ll die.” It’s always saying, “You’ll die.” If it’s not Africa, then it’s crossing the street. Yeah, that’s the Savage Hater.
So the idea is that when you can identify both of those beasts of the mind, then you can start to control them. I think a lot of people are just existing in the world without knowing that that voice, the Savage Hater, is something that isn’t real. It’s a prehistoric mind mechanism that has followed us through generations of existence. It comes from the day when you could walk out and scratch yourself and it’d become infected and you die. It comes from the day where if you break your leg, you won’t be able to hunt and gather and provide for your family. You can die. So it’s constantly, “No, no, no. Safety. Safety first,” etc. etc.
Once you realize what that is, well then you can quiet it down. You can tell it, “No, it’s okay. These things that I’m imagining, it’s just a game so there’s no reason for you to come out and try to talk me away from it.” Then it assumes this position that it goes into like when you go to an amusement park or when you’re playing sports or something, things that could be perceived as dangerous, but it just doesn’t say anything. So within that space of the Savage Hater being controlled by game is when we can create effortlessly and infinitely. I use that space to see new worlds for myself that are not anything that is happening right now.

LR: So you created an agency that’s a business like any other that has to get customers and get projects. What’s working today to do that successfully for you?

AB-T: This kind of stuff. Getting out, talking to people, meeting them, sharing philosophy, sharing the journey and talking about what we can create.

LR: So in a business, because you guys don’t need a ton of clients, you need like a few projects a year or something like that probably.

AB-T: Yeah.

LR: So it’s a lot about networking and meeting people and getting to be known in the space?

AB-T: Sharing artwork from past projects that we can share, posting on the internet, not just Instagram, but focused platforms that video game companies actually go to perhaps when they’re recruiting talent or they just want to see what’s hot as far as design and art goes. So we’re there sharing our artwork, talking about what is possible as far as what we could do for the client. And then that tends to yield new connections.

LR: What do you feel like is your cutting edge? What are you learning right now? What is next on your plate?

AB-T: I’m working on a project, it’s called Plasma Worlds. Essentially what it is, it’s like the mixing of the entrepreneurship, the creative design work and travel. Essentially what I’m doing is, I’m building out a whole intellectual property, a multi-entertainment platform, one that spans from books, illustrated stories, comic books, video games, movies, film, TV shows, etc. etc, anything that you could think of on an entertainment platform, this IP would be directly applicable to. Why? Because it’s starting with a story just like Harry Potter, just like Hunger Games, etc. etc. That’s my focus.

LR: What’s going to be the challenge that you’re going to need to overcome or learn to handle that stands between you and succeeding at that thing?

AB-T: To meet whole new people so people that are far outside of video game professionals, to continue to meet VCs, to meet money people, to meet people that have some type of imagination, but at the same time, they’re super businessy. As I continue to meet those people, then possibilities to partner with them and create becomes possible. I’m still early in that, I’m still battling the Savage Hater to get up and find those people and talk to them and put myself in those awkward situations, especially upon initial meet.

LR: You’re a young guy, obviously, and you have a lot of career ahead of you. But if you can humor me and imagine yourself 30 years from now looking back on your career and imagining what you would like your legacy to be, what do you think that would be?

AB-T: He who traveled far and wide, created, expressed, saw, conquered, failed, succeeded and grew every step of the way into whoever he is 30 years from now. And made video games, made entertainment platforms, made friends worldwide and people loved it.

LR: What do you think it means to be a Modern Ontrapreneur?

AB-T: Curiosity in action.

LR: It’s true. There’s something about remaining curious today in particular. Things are moving so quickly. Like I’ve got two kids and I feel like six months ago, it was all about and now is ancient history.

AB-T: Yeah, I don’t even know what that is.

LR: You missed it, you missed a whole phenomenon. Yeah, to maintain a sense of curiosity, I think is important.

AB-T: Imagine. I show up at some event or some business meeting and I say, “My name is Anwar Bey-Taylor, and I am founder of a successful video game design studio. I’ve been working in the industry for 12 years. I’ve worked on the most awesome games in the industry all the Warcrafts, Starcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Sims, Star Wars, etc. etc. Now I want to create an entertainment platform. It’s based on a story that I’ve written with my imagination and its applicability is to every entertainment outlet that you could possibly think of. This is a multi-billion dollar idea. Invest in me.
There’s so much more that I would assume needs to be said for people to believe in the possibilities. So curiosity is key especially when we’re dealing with something that makes no sense or isn’t what we expected it to be. I believe that, through that, there’s these whole new worlds to be experienced and explored, whole new worlds of business expansion, whole new worlds of successes, whole new worlds of ideas and whole new worlds of going about dealing with failure to turn it into success.
And so, for the people that are so confident in their present situations with no interest of stepping outside of that, I think that they should just stay where they are and make room for me.

LR: Awesome, Anwar. Great to have you, really good to talk to you. Would you sign our wall?

AB-T: Okay.

LR: Awesome. Thanks so much.


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About Ben Cogburn
As Ontraport’s Traffic Manager, Ben Cogburn spends most of his time in our parking lot. Just kidding, he’s our resident digital advertising guru. As a geology enthusiast, Ben graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies. So to say that he likes rocks is an understatement. You can find Ben hanging out with his rock collection, playing video games or hunting down new figurines to add to the impressive display he has on his desk.