Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why bother staying in shape after you retire?

In the title, I specifically meant after you retire from competition, but it could apply to after you retire from working as well.

I get it. You've spend over a decade of your life cutting weight, running sprints, doing two-a-day practices so you can beat the competition. Your knees hurt, your back hurts, for the love of God can't you just relax on the couch and drink beer? Certainly, you've earned it.

I can certainly appreciate that thought. I had a long week -finished a report due to a funding agency, flew to Bismarck, drove to Standing Rock, did a professional development workshop via Google hangout and a second one on site in Fort Yates. Now, I have a 70 mile drive to the airport, two flights to get home and a pile of paperwork to complete and another report to write before Monday.

I admit it. This morning, I did NOT get up and go to the pool. I slept in until 10 and then spent another hour in bed drinking coffee and catching up on Twitter. And yet, I'm going to head out in a few minutes and go hiking for an hour before I head to the airport. That daily exercise is why I am still, literally, at my fighting weight.  although, to steal a phrase from Brewster Thompson, that weight isn't "packed in tight" as it once was.

That's not the point. What is the point? Why, I have prepared this handy video to explain it.


Okay, heading to the state park and then to the airport. If you'd like to keep up on our videos, you can subscribe to the 7GenGames TV youtube channel.  My next video will be on how the worst days of my life now are better than the worst days I could imagine when I was young.

If you like to learn new things - which I'm assuming you do by the fact that you are reading this blog, you should also check out our latest game, Aztech. Part video game, part graphic novel, it teaches Latin American history and math. It's bilingual so you can improve both your Spanish and English!

Back our Kickstarter to beat the crowd and get your copy first!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Secrets to success (and failure) learned from judo

Girl pinning with sankaku (triangle choke)


  1. To be in it for the long haul. Running a business is like coping with North Dakota weather. People come to the Great Plains and say, "I can survive when it's below zero." It's the fact that it doesn't get above freezing for MONTHS that wears them out. The same with training. I have seen lots of talented athletes fail because they did not have the discipline to train consistently. That doesn't mean you need to train equally hard every day or you never take a day off, but it does mean that you put in an uncomfortably high level of work, month after month. Year after year. Like judo, running a business means you have some times when you are winning everything in sight but a long time leading up to that when you are just banging away at practice and nobody knows who you are. Sometimes, you lose, you screw up, and you have to come back and work some more.  You move into a higher level of competition (or a new market) and need to claw your way to the top all over again.
  2.   Multi-tasking - since almost all of the years I was competing I had to be a full-time employee AND a mother of a small child or AND a full-time student. Now I'm doing software development, sales, data analysis and consulting on the side. I would tell Maria stories in the two-hour drive from San Diego to Los Angeles for weekend judo practices. I'd teach her new words. I'd read my textbooks in that long break between the preliminary matches and the finals and national and international events. I'd study manuals for new computer languages I was learning in airports waiting for a plane. To this day, I work in just about every setting. I'm typing this in my hotel and pretty soon, I'm going to head to Casper, WY and stop somewhere on the way to have lunch and to write a report to USDA.
  3.   Never stop learning.  No matter how much I won, I was attending training camps, visiting other clubs and working with my own coaches to constantly learn more. I'm currently taking an online course to improve my rusty PHP skills and I just spent all yesterday attending sessions at the Native American Education Conference. You never know so much that you can just stop getting better.
  4.  To cope with being tired (see #2) and keep on going - running a startup now where I have to sometimes work until 2 am to get bugs out, and then get up at 7 to go install games at a school is still not a piece of cake. However, after driving from practice in Los Angeles to San Diego, getting home sore at 11 pm and getting up at 5:30 am to run sprints up hill, I can handle it.
  5.  Not everyone has to believe in me - or, in the case of winning the world championships - almost no one has to believe in me. When I won, even my coaches were surprised. Some of my really good friends and family weren't surprised. Initially, I dismissed that as "But they didn't know that much about judo to know the odds I was facing." Not long ago, though, one of those people said, "No, but I knew YOU." When I started 7 Generation Games, it was the same way. Investors, accelerators, people in educational technology - all of the experts predicted we'd fail. I'm pleased to say we're still here when a lot of those people they predicted would succeed have faded into oblivion. It's still my family and closest friends who believed in me from the beginning and aren't surprised I succeeded.
  6. Learned about people - that a lot of people TALK a good game. I don't know if this is a good or bad lesson but it's true. Whether it's that they will help themseve, by showing up at practice when you need to train extra hard, or help you by funding travel to tournaments, you'll find a lot fewer people who put up than shut up. Whether it is people who promise to invest, purchase your product or tell their friends, you'll find far more SAY they'll do it than actually do. The last Kickstarter campaign we did, about four times as many people told me they backed us as actually did. For all of you people who did - I can't thank you enough, so thanks again.

It wasn't all roses and buttercups, though. The one place where I think judo HURT me was in never learning to ask for help. Judo is an individual sport. When you are on the mat, it's you  and your opponent. Your coach isn't going to help you, nor your teammates, nor the referee.

My late husband, Ron, once told me he thought it was unfortunate that the popular sports for women (at the time) were all individual ones - track, swimming, gymnastics and ice skating. He said he felt like he learned from basketball to be part of a team, to rely on other people, even if they didn't have the same level or the same skills. He said he learned, literally, to be a team player.

Not only is judo an individual sport, but it's a combat sport. You are supposed to be tough, not asking anyone for help.

You can't run a business very well like that, though. If you are going to grow, you need employees and investors. You need advisors. You need customers and not just to give you money (though money is great) but also to give you feedback.

So, overall, judo has been great for me, but it has taken me a long time to unlearn that "asking for help is being whiny".  It isn't. It's part of a successful business.

Speaking of which please help me out. We're bring out new games and you can help. Plus, you get cool stuff.


Click here to help or read more below. 
Aztech god king


And thank you.

From me, Maria Burns Ortiz  and the rest of the 7 Generation Games Team

When you’re doing a Kickstarter, you’re constantly reaching out to everyone you know – friends, family, acquaintances, people you sat next to once at your second cousin’s wedding, your local bartender, your cousin’s neighbor’s best friend’s aunt. And we felt like we’d done that twice already over the last four years. But then we thought about it and realized that reach out every two years isn’t really that annoying. And plus, how much have our networks grown since then?

We’re realized that we are SUPER excited about our upcoming line of bilingual games – which can be played just in English or as a bilingual English/Spanish experience – and they’re something we would back if we weren’t making them, so we decided to give it a go.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kids Are Good For You

I'm hardly ever seen at judo tournaments any more because my company is taking up my life. I'm not complaining. I knew what I was signing up for when I founded a start-up.

So, agreeing to go on a road trip with 8 kids and 3 teachers, across California, Nevada and Utah was not in the schedule. However, we had promised that if they had good attendance at judo, kept their grades up and stayed out of trouble, there would be a trip for them at the end of the year.

I can't claim to know everything that defines a good person but I know damn well that one thing is you always keep your promises. 

One way in which I have found kids to always be good for me, both my own children and those I have coached or taught, is they pull me away from my desk.

"Sensei made us go out in nature"
I'm practically chained to my desk these days, and if it hadn't been for this trip, there is no way I would have gone hiking in Zion National Forest. Even if some of the kids did complain,

Sensei made us go in nature.

I believe they really did enjoy it.

If it wasn't for them, I would have stayed home working. Yes, now I'm a few days behind schedule and working 16 hour days. Yes, the trip cost more than was donated so I have to figure once again how to balance the budget when we are spending money to build really cool games that aren't out yet, but the cost for the developers, audio and art is still coming in.

On the other hand, I wouldn't have gone hiking in the mountains.





I wouldn't have been able to stand on this hill and look out at the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.

I wouldn't have driven to Salt Lake City to teach judo and met up with Dawn, who has been my friend since we were teenagers.

 


 Dawn was a significant factor in me winning the world championships in so many ways. First, there was the thousands of drills we did together. For years, we were in the  top 3 in our respective weight classes, training together for the U.S. Nationals, U. S. Open, Olympic Festival, world trials. When she didn't make the world team, I know it was a sore disappointment, but Dawn still came to practice every day, just to help me train. That's a real friend. There's a lot more, but my point is, if it wasn't for taking the kids to Salt Lake City, I wouldn't have taken the time to meet up with Dawn.

I wouldn't have gone to the rodeo.

 

I definitely wouldn't have gotten my picture taken with Miss Rodeo Utah. (At this point, you might think I'm going to make fun of beauty queens, but actually, she was a sweetheart and could ride a horse like nobody's business.)

Actually, for most of of these guys, it IS their first rodeo

I would never have gone to see BMX - which was crazy amazing - if I hadn't been with  these kids.


So, when you find yourself saying, "I don't have time or money to be doing this" ask yourself, really, what do I want time and money FOR?

Speaking of kids, by  the way, my own kids are amazing, but that is another post all by itself.

When you didn't have time for breakfast and your daughter brings you doughnuts





Friday, July 21, 2017

Life Advice to Gompers Judo Team

Guest Post by

Jael Hernandez

Gompers Judo Team Member


Me, between Las Vegas & Salt Lake City


Imagine working as a professional gambler and having fun while doing your job. Mike Landers, a professional gambler, came to talk to us today. He was kind enough to give the Gompers Judo club a game of chess to each of us along with other gifts.

Explaining the odds

He explained to us which games in the casino were not good to play because the odds were against us and no skill was involved. Our sensei, AnnMaria De Mars, was happy to see us learning about statistics.

Thank you, Bellagio & Mike for the lunch!

During lunch at the Bellagio, I had the chance to talk to him and even though he didn't want to be interviewed. I appreciated the opportunity to hear his words of advice.

"My tip for success is to be in relationships with people" Landers told me. "Be around the right people, people whose behavior is better than yours and you will drift towards the right direction."

He also told me to not be afraid to ask.

"If you know a winner, like Ronda Rousey, and she needs someone to mow her lawn, get over there and ask to do it." Although I only got to speak with Landers for a few minutes, he is a kind and wonderful man. His last advice that he told me is, "Being around a winner will rub off on you." His words of wisdom are not something to take for granted. I am thankful I got to meet him and talk to him today.

Speaking of games, Making Camp Bilingual is now available for iPads for only $1.99 from the app store for iPads


or buy it on the web for Mac, Windows or Chromebook

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why You Should Watch Battle of the Network Stars with Your Kids

It's hard to find something the whole family will enjoy - at least in my family. There are some who love sports and some who are bored out of their minds watching any competition. A few years ago, my youngest was into watching High School Musical - OVER AND OVER AND OVER.  If I had to listen to "Get in the game" one more time I was going to pull an Elvis and shoot the TV.

Family members watching at our house ranged from age 2 to 61. Now the two-year-old just laughed at the dunk tank and then went off to do something else. My nine-year-old granddaughter liked the obstacle course the best. Everyone from nine and up liked seeing the stars they remembered from a few weeks ago (Fuller House) to a few years ago (High School Music) to more than a few years ago (Roseanne, Facts of Life).  There were a lot of exclamations of "Hey, I remember her!" which led to talking about "Remember when you were younger and that was your favorite show "  and "Yeah, Jenn and I used to fight over whether I got to watch my show or she got to watch her stupid old movies."  

Bringing back memories and talking with your children are too big benefits to watching the show - anything that has families sitting around reminiscing is good. Yes, I know that is such a mom thing to say but every mom has a sentimental side (yes, even me).

The MAIN reason you should watch Battle of the Network Stars with your kids


All that is nice, but the main reason for watching with your kids is the messages they hear from the coaches. Kim Fields and Lisa Whelchel were hesitant to compete in the swimming competition because they didn't look the same in a swim suit as they did 30 years ago. They talked to Ronda about people on social media judging your body if you are a woman, and now they are women no longer in their teens like they were the first time they competed on the show.

Ronda said,

"Strong is beautiful" ... and went on to tell them that no one should hold back on what they want to do in life because other people are judging how they will look while doing it.

As an older woman myself, as a mother of daughters ages 19-34 and grandmother of girls 9 and under,  this is a message we all need to hear.

Of course, I watched the first episode of Battle of the Network Stars because my lovely daughter, Ronda, was one of the coaches. Also, I'd been to visit her on set and the episode I saw had me laughing more than I had in years. The funny, silly and celebrity-spotting parts are important, I think, because, I can tell you, as someone who makes educational video games, to quote another childhood memory, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

In other words, your kids (and maybe you), need to get those positive messages about strong women and worrying more about what you do than about how you look doing it. However, they'll probably have more impact if those lessons come about naturally rather than sitting down lecturing them on following their own path and not giving up.

Both Ronda and fellow coach Demarcus Ware give a lot of positive advice to their teams who are very much not athletes - sometimes laughably not athletes - on just giving it your best shot and not worrying about your age or your level of skill. 

Get in the game. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Daughter Merchandise

So, Jennifer found the absolute dorkiest picture of herself she could find from her childhood and had it made into a blanket for me for Mother's Day.

I don't know WHOSE glasses she is wearing in that picture. It made us laugh and on top of that, it irked Julia who immediately sent a message to the family group text :

Best daughter? I don't think so!

Yesterday, we were at a game expo - E3, it was awesome - and they were selling t-shirts that said,

I can't believe I'm not an action figure already.

I told Ronda I should buy her one of those shirts and she said,

But, Mom, I AM an action figure already!

I told her that's what would make the shirt funny. I didn't buy it for her since she did not seem properly appreciative but the next day my cousin, Julie, sent me a message that she was at the store and saw this:

I am just putting the other two daughters on notice that I am expecting some daughterly merchandise for the next merchandise-supplying event.

Julia does the voice for Angie in Forgotten Trail, so, if we come out with some Angie merchandise, does that count?  These are the types of weighty issues that I ponder when I get my lecture written early.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Mom Thinks I'm Cool: Ronda Edition


I always think all of my children are amazing. Today is the Ronda Edition.  Sometimes, idiot people who don't know her say stupid things about Ronda. So, just you have an idea why her mom thinks she's cool  -

Ronda finished filming Battle of the Network Stars yesterday. She has been working 12-14 hours a day and then working out after the filming is over. She had lost her voice from coaching on the set and was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open.

She came by the house to have coffee (point number 1, visiting Mom on Sundays. You should all try it.) and autograph shirts and jackets she had donated for Gompers Judo fundraiser.


Three of our Gompers Judo students are dual citizens with the U.S. and Mexico and have been selected to compete in the Mexican junior national championships. I was concerned that one of them was too focused on cutting weight. So, Ronda offered to talk to her, called her house and spent the next 15 minutes giving a high school sophomore tips on having a healthy diet and still making weight.

She thought that people would be more likely to donate to the judo program if it was a personalized item so she gave me some of her favorite shirts and jackets, including one from Battle of the Network Stars and several from Reebok. We had to go through this twice because when she came to autograph things she said,

"Hey, I really like that one, let me switch!"

and she gave one to Julia because it was sentimental and she remembered it being her favorite shirt at Julia's age. The point, though, is, these were things she really liked and it was hard to part with, so she figured fans might be more likely to donate money to get one.

The second part of this is that we discussed what to do with the dozen items she donated. My niece, Samantha, pointed out that the only people who can win an ebay auction are people who have A LOT of money. We thought it would be nice if people who had supported Ronda through thick and thin had more of a chance. So ... we decided to contact 12 people who had always been there for her and tell them that if they would like to donate $500 they could get anything from one of Ronda's favorite jackets to a t-shirt that Marina made for her to a t-shirt that she made herself. Yes, it's not cheap, but it at least gives a chance to people who don't have thousands of dollars extra lying around, and it will cover the expenses for the rest of the year for team jackets, a team dinner and our judo road trip to visit colleges and train (we always combine the two).

On Tuesday, we are having my grandson, Cal, pull names out of a hat to decide who gets what. He is only two and can't read so you know he won't cheat.

Update: Cal pulling names at 5:30 pm Pacific Time on Facebook Live today, June 19, 2017. 

(Sorry for the delay. I got backed up with work and our Master of Ceremonies was taking a nap two of the times I tried to arrange it.)

Just so you know, four of our students who started with us at Gompers Middle School are high school seniors this year. 

Meet our high school seniors

Did I mention that Ronda started this program (it was her sister, Jennifer's idea, so props to Jenn who did her student teaching at Gompers)? Ronda taught here for free for two years and has donated a lot of her own money and time ever since. (Also, those mats above are from Swain Martial Arts , from Michael Swain, just to show Ronda isn't the only judo champion helping make the world a better place).

Just to give you an idea of how hard these kids from south Los Angeles work and how much they deserve your support, here is just a little bit of practice yesterday. Now, mind you, Friday was the last day of school and they STILL all came to practice after school and Saturday was the first day of summer vacation and they STILL all got up and were in front of the school at 8 am to drive out to La Puente for an extra practice. 

video

I'm assuming since you read this blog you are NOT an idiot, but next time you read something bad about Ronda, know that THIS is what she did on Sunday after working nearly 200 hours over the past two weeks.

And then, she took her family to brunch.