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Should you go all in on VR?

Hello, friend, and welcome back to episode number 18 of my 31 day challenge, where every single day I am answering your questions about creating a career or a business that you love. In today's episode: should you go all in on virtual reality? We'll dive into my thoughts on that. If you've got a question of your own, why don't you reach out and hit me up on social media, I'm on Instagram and Twitter @alexmakesvr. If you've got a longer question you want to email over, that's alexmakesvr@gmail.com. Every single day, I send out a daily newsletter to remind you when these episodes go live and to give you a bit of a recap about what I covered in the episode. If you want to sign up for that, head over to alexmakesvr.com.

This is a transcript of the podcast episode. Instead, you can listen to the episode here:

So, should you go all in on virtual reality? In short: yes, yes, yes, yes! I think you should go all in on VR!

Number one: The specific criteria of the person that wants and needs to go all in on VR is the kind of person that first and foremost believes in the technology. You're not just someone that reads headlines, thinks it's fashionable and sees that Google, Facebook and Apple are all investing in this area and think if you get into it now maybe one day you’ll be a millionaire because the technology is going to take off and you can say you was one of the only people in it! You can't be in it just for that. It can play a role, it's not not a bad thing, if that's one of the things that's driving you, but more than that, you need to believe wholeheartedly that this technology will fundamentally change the world one day.

So that's my belief. If you're going to go all in, on VR you should absolutely be passionate and believe in the technology, because if twenty years down the line it all goes horribly wrong- let's face it, not that it will, but there's people that have been in VR since the sixties and eighties, there's been several waves of VR and every single time it's had its moment in the spotlight, it's died down again afterwards, because the world wasn't ready for it. It could well be that that happens again- are you willing to risk your livelihood or your career on that? That's what you've got to ask yourself.

Number two: You've got to be a super resilient person to work in this industry. I have done a lot in my life that prepared me for being in an industry, where no is the default setting. My job in television was in development, where you are coming up with the ideas and pitching it to commissioners or broadcasters, so as you can imagine, with a job like that, 99.9% of your job is getting rejected, 99% of your ideas are getting tossed out and 99% of your ideas are not seeing daylight. It’s very similar in VR. People don't really see the need for it right now. People see the big, sweaty, black box that you have to wear on your face and they think, ‘why would anyone do that?’ A client might not realise just how beneficial VR can be for their company. They might wonder what the point is when they want to make a traditional film? What’s the point when they can make a mobile app and everyone's already got an iPhone? What's the point of them spending all that money on it? A lot of your career in VR will be getting rejected, and you've got to have the resilience and the passion to push past that and keep on going, because you know this technology could change someone's life or someone's business. I really believe that it is a brilliant technology that can totally transform someone's way of life or way of working, and so to some extent you've also got to be a risk taker. You've got to be willing to be amongst the first pioneers, because even though this technology has been around for a long time, in its current form in this new wave of VR that's been generating momentum for the last five years, it's still so small. It's still a really, really small industry. It's still an underdog in most people's opinion. There is no kind of guarantee that this technology is going to be the next thing, but you've got to be a risk taker to bet your career and livelihood that this technology is going to make it. The point is similar to being passionate about and believing in the technology, but ultimately, it is a risk being involved in it. Instead of investing monthly into a small amount in the stock market in an index fund- if you know about finance, that's a fairly safe bet. That method works over time. You're guaranteed to make X amount of percentage in a return every single year. That in itself will build wealth in a way that’s less risk than the others- there’s the people who take their last five grand and bet their farm on one particular stock. Even the best investors in the world like Warren Buffett say that this is absolutely not what you should do, the best kind of economists in the world would not be able to predict accurately which stocks are better. But if you bet on a particular company-I think my dad told me once he had the option to buy Apple stocks in like the seventies or eighties or something, when the first generation of Apple computers were coming out. Obviously if he had if he had done it, they would be worth a lot of money now, but he didn’t. Story of my family's life really, just so close to being generationally wealthy and just always missing the mark. I don't know what that says about my potential!- if you bet the farm on Amazon or Apple or Google, how wealthy would you be now? Yes, it would be a massive risk, but the return would be absolutely ginormous.

I think that is where we're at with VR as a technology.

It is a bit of a risk because it's still not 100% proven. In its current form, it's still not 100% going to be the next thing. But the truth is, if you're in it early and it takes off, the risk is the reward. To some extent I credit my career on the fact I took a risk making a VR romcom when no one wanted a VR romcom...No-one really wants a VR romcom now, but that paid off. For me that risk was worth it. The return of that risk has been absolutely massive in terms of what I've been able to do since then, so I think you've got to be a little bit of a risk taker if you're in this industry.

If you're not that kind of person, it doesn't mean that you can't work in VR, it just means that maybe you should consider keeping 50% of your work in traditional film and editing or whatever it is that you do and diversify a little bit and have multiple things going on the side. Don't quit your job in something totally different and go all in unless you are passionate about the technology, you believe in it, you are a risk taker and you are resilient.

If you identify with all of those things, or even just a couple of them, then I'd say it's well worth it. Someone once said to me that we know how taking the safe path plays out. Doing the normal thing by societies standard and looking at settling down, getting a house and putting some money away in a pension. It might have been my dad who said it to me because he’s lived a bit of a crazy adventurous life!He’s really led the way and been a role model to me in business and life. But he said, “Well, you know how that story ends don’t you? It's a nice path for a lot of people, but you know how that story ends. Wouldn't you rather have totally crazy adventurous kind of life which is exhilarating and exciting and do something extraordinary, rather than just follow the status quo?” I thought that was 100% more appealing to me than doing the safe thing, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, you just need to know yourself. All of this comes back to being self aware.

So those are my opinions on whether or not you should go all in on VR! I think for someone who’s umming and ahhing about it, my personal belief is that one day, VR and AR will merge and mixed reality will become part of our lives. In fact, one of my favourite keynotes a friend of mine did was titled, The Future of Technologies: The Absence of It. And I truly believe in that, it's no secret we are moving towards more of a blurred line between technology and reality merging. It makes sense that we take the rectangle that is the smartphone out of this equation, and it becomes overlaid, where the digital assets in the real world become seamless. That world makes sense to me, I would bet all of the money in my bank account, that is the future we're going to live in one day! I don't know how long it's going to take. It could take five years, it could take fifty. But that is absolutely where we're going.

As for VR in its current form, I'm not sure. I think the future of immersive is very, very strong, and that combined with things like AI, 5G, all this machine learning, the Internet; every emerging technology is going to rise up together, just like in a dystopian film.

Only, hopefully, we'll keep it under control and build a future where technology and reality are seamlessly interlinked. That's my personal belief.

So that's why I am happy to stake my livelihood and my career on this, because for me, if it works, it works. I did something that I believed in, I did something I was passionate about. I stayed true to myself and I saw it through, and if it goes down in a fiery blaze of glory at least I'll have some stories to tell! Maybe I'll do another TED talk about how I lost all my money by making a stupid bet with a podcast audience about the future being immersive! Who knows?

So that's it for today's episode. If you've got a question, please do send it to me on Instagram or Twitter. My handle is @alexmakesVR, and you can send a longer question to alexmakesvr@gmail.com. If you want to sign up for The Daily newsletters, where I send out reminders when the episodes go live and give you a bit of a recap of what's in the episode, you can sign up for that at Alexmakesvr.com.

I'll see you tomorrow!

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