February 9, 2016

Meet Reid, The Newest Member of Our Advisory!

This is Reid. I call him “Reidsy-poo”, but no one knows that. He’s my old college roommate and one of my favorite people. And now, he’s the newest member of our Advisory. Ooohh yyyeeeaaaahhhh!

*Note that he also bears a striking resemblance to Shaggy from Scooby-Doo (click here for proof).

I have a lot of respect for Reid and he’s someone I seek advice from often. He’s a fantastic person – a very unique blend of genuine kindness, quirky hilariousness, and creative talent. But, rather than tell you all about him, I figure it’d be more fun to do a little interview of sorts. Like Oprah, basically.

But, first, I asked Reid to send me his bio. So, he sent me this (note the title):

“Biography of Reid ‘Third Person’ Young”

Reid is the CEO of Fangamer, a gaming merchandise company based in Tucson, AZ. He dropped out of Purdue University’s engineering program and switched to Graphic Design partly to justify spending even more time making video game websites. In 2008 he co-founded Fangamer, selling shirts online and shipping them from his bedroom as the global economy crumbled.

Reid is an optimist who loves steady, small doses of chaos. He fears confrontation and tends to procrastinate, but he’s getting better.

Reid proposed to his wife Camille, an accomplished artist and sculptor, with a piece of copper wire. His newborn daughter refuses to laugh at his jokes, but his toddler has learned to occasionally offer a meager laugh in order to build the social capital necessary for extracting favors and sweets.

Now, for the interview we’ve all been waiting for!  (*But, while you read it, imagine that Reid  is answering every question while holding that gigantic pizza over his head.  It’s more enjoyable that way, I think.)

MATT: Reid, first, do you admit to stealing all my wint-o-green Lifesavers and Red Vine licorice while I went to do homework during college?  If you admit to this heinous crime(s), I’ll continue with this interview. Also, tell Camille hi for me. 

REID: I admit nothing.

Camille says hi. Well, she doesn’t, but she probably would if I mentioned it to her.


MATT: Since this is a pre-scripted interview, I’m assuming you just gave a deep, heartfelt confession.  I appreciate that.  So, next question – what was it like to have the world’s coolest and best-looking college roommate?  

REID: You had integrity. That’s not to say you followed the rules – I can easily recall a dozen major house/university rules that you broke with joy and impunity – but there was no lag between your moral compass and your actions. If you screwed up, you admitted it, and if someone was doing something wrong, you confronted them (regardless of rank or seniority).

I generally thought about these things in the midst of digging through your belongings to eat all of the candy you hid from me.

MATT: Fangamer – you started it from scratch – why?  What’s your passion behind it? 

REID: When I was a kid I made a website about a video game I liked[1]. A big community grew around the site, so I decided to make it my personal Macguffin[2]. I’ve spent most of my life organizing that community, so Fangamer started as an attempt to support myself while I worked on it.

1: It might feel more socially-acceptable if it was a band/sport/political ideology instead of an obscure video game, but hey.

2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin

MATT: What were your first few years in business like compared to today?  

REID: Like every small/bootstrapped business, I worried constantly about money. The company was perpetually on the verge of collapsing. I used to save the packaging for everything we bought, in case I had to resell it on eBay after we went bankrupt.

I give “Not Scrambling For Survival” 4 stars out of 5 – it lost a star because it took 7 years to happen.

MATT: You’ve built something way cooler than a successful company – you’ve built a really powerful, loyal community of people who genuinely love you and love Fangamer.  What’s the special sauce? 

REID: Love! That’s all. I love the game and I love interacting with fellow fans. Everything else follows from there.

MATT: Do you still wear those jeans that are held together by safety pins? 

REID: I threw them away in a fit of rage after a pin jabbed me in the leg. Let that be a lesson to all you millenials who think its cool to wear your baggy jeans and your safety pins and listen to your ska music.

MATT: At Camp Fangamer’s “EarthBound Bash” in Tuscon last July (which, by the way, was the most fun I’d had in a LONG time!), you and your rock star crew raised over $35,000 for SYS (holy cow, thanks again so much dude!)!  How and why do you think it was such a smashing success? 

REID: Mostly because EarthBound fans are super-generous people. And that whole convention was basically a hobby run amok – think of me as Peewee Herman and Camp Fangamer as my weird, impractical house. We spent a ton of time, money, and resources putting together the kind of event we always wanted to attend, so everybody was feeling the love.

(Above is a video after the first $30,000 was raised at Camp Fangamer’s EarthBound Bash.  Matt missed the moment to film… so he asked the group to “fake enthusiasm for a video” to recreate the moment of celebration!)

MATT: What’s the single most important piece of wisdom or advice you’d share with me, whether about life, business, or other? 

REID: I know you asked for something important, but I’m going to share a really dumb quote I saw on a statue of Davy Crockett while I was stranded in Ozona, TX: “Be sure you are right, then go ahead.” Does such an obvious thing need to be pointed out, much less engraved in a plaque?

“Don’t try to breathe while you’re underwater.”

“…OK. Thanks, Davy Crockett.”

It’s comforting, in a way, that such a great man could be memorialized by such a dumb quote. If he can get a statue for saying that, imagine what they’ll build in your honor!

MATT: Remember when you and Bill dressed up in awesome robot costumes and Slater and I put jack-o-lanterns on our heads and we interrupted lectures to dance to “Mr. Roboto” and we got a standing ovation?  That rocked.

REID: I like to think that our disruptive behavior is part of the reason college tuition has soared over the past 15 years. 

MATT: Welcome to the Advisory, Reid!  I’m grateful and honored to have you, man.  You’re a blessing.  (Poor sucker – now you have no choice but to respond to my incessant questions via text message!) [*Matt belts out loud, evil “Hahahahehehehehohohohuhuhuhuhu!!” laugh]

REID: I look forward to receiving your texts and not answering them immediately since the light just turned green, and then finally remembering to respond later when I see a guy with big teeth. “Hey, that guy sure has big teeth. Who else do I know with teeth that big? That’s right – it’s my old friend who runs a deserving charity and humbly approaches me for advice. Whoops, he needed to hear back from me like two days ago, I better wait until he asks me like 3 more things and then answer everything at once.” (Love you, buddy.)