Summer Reading Book Series

Summer Reading: Jennifer Shanley

Jennifer Shanley Aug 4, 2011
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Summer Reading Book Series

Summer Reading: Jennifer Shanley

Jennifer Shanley Aug 4, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: Our book series this summer is premised on a fairly ordinary question: What do you do for a living? We’ve been asking that of people who do a whole lot of different things, and then following up with what books they might have read that helped get ’em there.

In the case of one CEO, a work of prose helped turn the page on a career. Here’s Jennifer Shanley.


Jennifer Shanley: I’m not a big reader of self-help books, but I discovered Ronna Lichtenberg’s book Pitch Like a Girl: How a Woman Can Be Herself and Still Succeed, while at the bookstore. But first, let me tell you a little bit about myself: I’m a designer and creator of video games for girls. I’m a CEO of the company Zwirlz, Inc. And, I know you may be thinking: Video games for girls — do they make those? A lot of people have a stereotype that video games are male and violent. But the games I design are positive, active, social, collaborative games.

So back to the book. It’s the subtitle that made me buy it: How a woman can be herself and still succeed. That’s really important to me — how to succeed without selling myself out. The author, Ms. Lichtenberg, identifies the differences in what she calls pink, blue and striped skills and styles, rather than referring to genders. So how did that help me?

Well, when I first started this project, I had to convince a team of very blue-styled, computer-code writers to jump on board with my girly project. By blue, I mean folks who are a little more analytical and task focused. This team had just completed a post-apocalyptic shooting game. Now that’s a far cry from my girl-power, fun-with-friends, dance game. They weren’t so sure the market needed games for girls.

So, I demonstrated that the market was growing by leaps and bounds. I stuck to facts and figures. I showed them the current fashion, makeup and princess games for girls.

And, then I gave them a demo of a game aimed at girls that has completely missed the mark — a game offensive on so many levels that you can’t help but have an emotional reaction. The premise: to buy as many shoes as possible while using your boyfriend’s credit card. They were shocked. I was able to convince them that my dance game would fill a huge void in the market.


Ryssdal: Jennifer Shanley is the CEO and founder of Zwirlz, Inc. Got a book that helped you pick a career? Write to us.

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