Playing the Game: Right Brain, Surfing, And Tyson’s Right Hook

“Ain't how you play the game, it's how the game plays you.” – Charlie 2na

This morning one of my favorite songs came on and I heard the above quote poke through the lyrical masterpiece hip-hop legend Charlie 2na puts out. I re-wound the song to see if I heard it correctly. I stopped dead in my tracks. In that one sentence, everything came together. Everything I've been trying to crystalize explained in one amazing line.

If you've followed this blog for a while or have read through my posts, you probably noticed that over the course of my app journey, my posts have shifted from nitty gritty app details towards a more broad, personal growth tone. This wasn't really a strategy of mine, it just sort of happened. I always write about what is really happening in my world and that's just how it's been.

Recently, I've actually felt a little disconnected from you all (my readers) because I don't have more great app tips or case studies to give you. I don't want to keep piling inspirational stuff on you when maybe what you really want is just the 1-2-3 magic of getting apps to make money. I had a hard time with this because I always want to provide value to you guys but I also only write well when I'm passionate about something.

Why have I become less about the details and more about the attitude? More importantly, why do all the success books I read basically talk about this attitude stuff? In case you haven't read them, they will mostly say:

1. Work your ass off and be relentless in your drive

2. Believe in yourself and what you're doing

3. Fail a million times

They don't say “Here is exactly how I built a successful company. It is because of these repeatable steps that this succeeds. Anyone can walk off the street and do this. The end.” That's what instructional courses do – courses designed to teach you skills. Books written by guys like Tony Hsieh and Richard Branson are different. They talk about the struggle and the growth of their company. The obstacles they overcame and the triumph of winning.

This morning I realized why. It's not how you play the game, it's how the game plays you.

The Pillars Of Inspiration – Greatness and Perspective


I think all inspiration has two cousins – greatness and perspective. Certain people are drawn to certain types of inspiration and everything is individual. No matter how you get it, I think being inspired is one of the most precious and valuable moments in life.

Being inspired by greatness is when you see someone do something so insanely awesome that you can't help but want to follow in their footsteps. When I was a kid I would watch Michael Jordan's “Come Fly With Me” and feel something I couldn't explain. I was watching a man do things on the basketball court that defied all logic as easily as I could walk turn on the television. The list goes on – Steve Jobs, Wayne Gretzky, Ghandi – people who have exceeded humanity's limits in a way that shook the Earth.

I'll never forget the first time I saw Mike Tyson fight. It was on some ESPN highlight reel and they were doing a 15 minute piece on him. They showed about 10 boxers fighting, illustrating moves and showing different weight classes. Then they showed Mike Tyson as they interviewed one of his many opponents who said “I've fought everyone. Nothing compares to the hits he drops.” Tyson walked in a circle at the age of 20, about to catapult his career in the heavyweight category. The bell rang, he attacked, dropped down and delivered the most powerful and dominating right hook probably in the history of mankind. In 9 seconds the fight was over.

Seeing greatness gives you goosebumps. It energizes you, it pumps you up….but it's hard to sustain because it's derived from the left brain. It's about seeing the best, not seeing something new. It's dialed into the left brain, the world where everyone and everything is on the same track, just at different points.

Being inspired by perspective, however, is a different story. What I mean by perspective is having someone completely blow your mind in a way that opens up new possibilites. I think it's safe to say that a lot of you probably felt that way when you read Tim Ferriss' book The Four Hour Workweek. I felt that way when I read The Fountainhead and The Slight Edge.

Everything changes in life. Ordinary people creating extraordinary results. Seeing that allows you RELATE to it. On some level, you can connect to this type of inspiration. And it doesn't go away…it actually grows inside you. It's like finding out you had a superpower that no one ever told you about and now you get to spend the rest of your life using it.

This is tapping into the right brain. You feel the energy start pouring into you in a way that's not amplifying, but liberating, like being set free. It's a paradigm shift for your life and one that you will always be able to invest in.

Why am I talking about this?

Because winning in the app store (and in business/life) is about shifting to the right hemisphere of the brain in a world that is run by the left brain. Especially in business, the people that are real success stories are the ones that understand how to use that style of thinking to play with a completely new set of rules.

It's about creativity, it's about faith, it's about believing in something bigger than yourself. By doing this, you flip the script on the entire model of “working hard.”

Don't worry, I will explain this further.

Get Hurt and Look Stupid – Best Day Of You Life, Guaranteed!


That should be surfing's tagline for anyone just starting out. Man, I love surfing. I don't do it as much as I used to, but catching a wave is about as good as it gets. What's so crazy about surfing is that it's the only activity that I know of where people actually don't complain about failing. Pretty much any other sport, interest, hobby, whatever, the first time someone does it and they totally suck at it, they're not saying how incredible it was.

Surfing is different. A lot of it is because you're in the water and usually with friends, but it's also just a simple exercise. Lie down, time it right, pop up. Once you do this about 10 times, you understand what needs to happen, but you still suck at it.

So you do it again and maybe you catch 2 waves. Epic.

Next time you catch 5. And so on.

The reason I bring up surfing is because of the following example. Imagine walking up to Kelly Slater (top surfer in the world) and saying “dude, how do you surf so well? Like what are the special tricks you are doing that NO ONE ELSE knows about? You must have some because you're awesome and I suck. Soooo tell me please.” I think we can all agree that his reaction would be:

1. “…I'm calling security.”

2. He would say to you, “You should probably just surf more.”

There's not some gangster tricks or hacks that he has, he just surfs more. More importantly, he's gotten rolled by waves a lot more. The skills and tools he has are NOT different than what you have. Of course, they're better in the sense that he's in better shape and all that, but it's not like he's doing anything fundamentally different than a beginner. He lies down, times the wave and pops up – no secret there.  But his experience, confidence and attitude is in a different solar system. That's why he's on top.

When you take a step back, you realize how much of this is happening all around us – there's not a sizable amount any professional “knows” that is so different than a well educated beginner (in most cases). The professional has just been in the game longer.

They know how to stay on their surfboard while the waves crashes on them. They know how to keep charging even after everything in the world says they suck.

They believe in what they're doing more than whatever the day throws at them.

The most important point is that it's less about your skills and much more about your drive. At least that's what I've found.

Playing the Game With Mad Skillz

Going back to the quote, I want to touch on the idea of playing the game vs the game playing you. The reason is because I get a lot of emails and messages from people asking me for help or advice or guidance. Honestly, I really try to respond to everyone but it's tough, because this is what I really want to respond with and I don't really know what to say in a quick few sentences.

Getting really good at “the game” (which I will refer to as The Game, in reference to making money in the app store) means that you can re-skin apps super quickly and pick the best keywords and the best theme, etc. It's all the things that people learn when they get into apps. It's about honing your SKILLS as an app marketer. Of course this is extremely important and the foundation of everything – you need to be able to play before you can get in the ring.

The problem is a lot of people think that this is where the money is. They think that all the success stories that are coming out from people, especially people who has re-skinned apps and made a lot of money, did it because they are just way better at all the SKILLS. Somehow all these people have better keywords, right?

95% of the questions I get are about how to play The Game better. Questions come in from people worried that if they buy the code they're going to mess it up and pick a bad theme. Or their app isn't getting enough downloads and they're freaking out. They're asking me how to ride 50′ waves when they're falling down on 3′ longboard waves.

My response is usually: just try it out. Keep pushing.

In fact, I think if you ask anyone who's been really successful in the app store using re-skinning and flipping apps, they'll talk about the business model for 2 minutes and about mindset for 60.

Skills are left brained. They can be written down on a piece of paper with instructions and handed to you.

When it comes to app flipping and re-skinning, it's pretty simple. Buy low, re-skin, make money. The skills you need can be learned in a few weeks. It's not highly complex like user acquisition and analytics and advertising. It's just build more, do it fast, do it cheap. The aggregate will win in a market like this. If you don't know about the model, or you don't have skills at all, yes of course you should get them. But if you're doing a good job with learning it already, trying to highly fine tune your skills is not what will save you.

When The Game Plays You


Realize this: we live in a capitalist society. Capitalism is based on markets, which have market forces. Without getting into economic theory, the most important market force to think about is the one that stands between your first app and the app that makes your portfolio profitable. Maybe that number is 30. Maybe 100. Maybe  4.

The Game is that market force. You need to realize that it is doing EVERYTHING it possibly can to shut you down. It doesn't want you in the app store – that force is built by millions of developers and apps that are all trying to keep you from getting in there. They collectively create the “upside” of the market and so somebody has to be the “downside.” That's you when you first start.

I don't care who you are or how smart you are, if you are starting from scratch, you're not better than The Game. It's incredibly strong. It will stand over you like David and Goliath. It will flick it's finger and end you by giving your app 5 downloads a day. Then The Game will laugh and go to it's catered lunch, waiting for you to come back so it can crush you again.

So you come back with something a little better and The Game says “Nope” and tells you your app sucks again. This goes on and on. Most people quit at this point because it is gut wrenching. The market forces just sit there spinning and you feel hopeless.

All your SKILLS aren't getting you anywhere. That left brain kool aid doesn't seem to be working. You search for “tricks” and “hacks” but no one seems to know of any. Shocking.

This is the point when The Game is playing you. This is no longer about what your keywords are or your theme or any of that shit. It's about you deciding that you're stronger than The Game.

When you feel this, something happens. If you know what I'm talking about, I bet you're getting the chills right now. It's this electrifying moment when you realize that, yes, The Game is strong….but so are you. The Game has had years to evolve and grow, so you have to work even harder to break through it.

The Shiftfight

“Fail as much as possible” is probably the most repeated advice in the success/guru community, but I think it's never explained well enough. If I could rephrase it, I would say “Get in the ring with The Game as much as possible and learn what punches it throws.” The first round will be a monster right hook KO, but the second won't be. The fifth definitely won't be. In fact, by the 30th round, you'll still be getting uppercuts, but they don't affect you anymore. The Game loses it's power. Nothing really changes – you might get better at some of the skills, but it won't be drastically different. You're just not afraid anymore. You start pushing harder. That's when you start getting control of your destiny and the fireworks start.

It's not failing that's important, it's becoming a gangster that is. It's being able have someone punch you in the face twenty times and being able to smile back. The only way to get there in business is to fail, so that's why people tell you to do so. The reason? Because The Game is not going to give you little jabs and say “You can do it!” It doesn't care about you. It shouldn't care! Because when you're the new Game, you don't want anyone else in your party either! You have to earn a spot at the table.

When you realize all this, you see that your skills are not going to help you win the fight as much as being able to take the punches will. Of course skills will help, but it's more like dodging punches than winning the battle.

The Tenacity

It's all well and good to talk about getting to your 30th re-skinned app and being iron clad, but you can't do it on your own. If you think you'll be able to keep that energy alive using the same fire that you learned the skills with, you're in for a tough ride. The left brain cannot handle that kind of stress – you will break at some point, I promise you. The people I see going down this path are the ones that can't leave their computers or phones for 24 hours in fear of something going totally wrong. It's the feeling that if you stop, you'll lose everything. Fear lives in the left brain.

To get through this path, you need a purpose. You need to have a reason for doing this that's bigger than your own emotions and daily bullshit. Maybe it's money, maybe it's your family. Maybe it's fascination. It doesn't matter – the important thing is that it's more important than you.

The litmus test is this: someone asks you “What's the #1 thing that can pull you out of an emotional pit?” Whatever you answer, that's what you need to be doing this app thing for. You need to be able to believe in something so deeply that you'll never allow your emotions to stand in the way.

For me, it was pride. It still is. There is absolutely nothing more important to me in this world than being able to say I did something great and changed lives for the better after I'm gone. I wanted to build something so badly that I could share with the world that I couldn't sleep at night. To be able to wake up and look at something that I created with my mind that has fundamentally helped people is the greatest gift I could ever imagine. I build apps to share information, connect with others, and make money to provide for the people I love.


And on any day of the week, at any time, I could be mad or angry or upset and I think about what I just wrote. I look at a piece of art that inspires me and bring me back to that place of faith and gratitude. Everything melts away, every time. I re-focus and start crushing shit. It's like taking a drink of water from the fountain of life.

This is the right brain at work. It's amazing to see what effects it can have on people in business. This will open you up to huge reserves of energy and will be there for the rest of your life. But you have to really be  honest with yourself about why you're building apps. Whatever it is, really own it. If you want to quit your job and get financial independence, that's awesome, but don't do it half ass. The Game will play you and break you. The Game does not have time for people who sort of want to win.

Tenacity is what determines success – the ability to take a hit, get back up, and breath fire back at the dragon.

It All Starts With Demanding More Of Yourself

And that's really the point of all this. I've realized that through this journey, it wasn't about the apps. At first, I loved understanding how it worked and peeling back the onion, but once I had to stop consuming information and start producing assets, it got hard. The Game was playing me.

I would imagine for a lot of you, you're going through the same beginner cycle – wide eyed and excited about the possibility, especially with flipping apps, then you step into the lion's den and launch your first one only to be crushed.

When that happens, you have to get real. I had to get real with myself and realize that this app thing on it's own wasn't going to make me happy, but building a community and having financial freedom would. You need to have that purpose because having a purpose in life is the #1 way to open your right brain at any moment, any time. And that right brain provides the energy you will need to beat The Game. You have to be able to summon enormous amounts of it to get in the door and stand tall in the face of a seemingly impossible task.

I urge anyone who's building apps, even if you're making all the money in the world, to reflect at some point and really be honest about why you're doing this. When you have that conversation for yourself, I think you'll realize two important facts of life:

1. You deserve to achieve everything you want.

2. The fact that it is challenging to “make it” is a bad reason not to still kick some ass.

So, that's what I wanted to say. The Game is waiting for you, licking its lips and ready to deliver a huge punch.

Take it.



Keep the heads ringin,



  • Phillip Kelly-Ayo June 14, 2013


  • Ashish June 14, 2013

    Dude I’ll come up with a summarized short post of your this post, and I hope you’d post it for people who’d like it skimmed, even though I would advise people to read it fully. But still, people looking for pointers and seriously wanting to absorb them for their betterment would find that shortened post helpful.

    Now onto the awesomeness of this post –

    Most other people or gurus etc, in the app business, would probably rather have sprinkled the whole fuckin’ genius of a post like this with more images and probably some charts and other bullshit, and sold it at $19.99. They would write about stuff, slowly build up the audience, and then at some point start charging for their words – “courses” or “makeover ebook” or “N-days life turn around” etc.

    Trust me, that’s what the others do. Although I don’t disrespect that, since it’s their intellectual property and experience in there, but even then – when something comes straight from the heart, and so seems so damn personal as if you were right here in my room talking just with me and me alone, damn! I’ve gotta say – it’s way better than a priced copy of motivational shit you’ll hop on to Amazon to get. Because it’s free – you feel really the truth. Not that that’s why it seems truthful. But it adds to the veracity and truth-fullness. So thank you again, dude. I fuckin’ hope with all my might that I meet you someday in the ‘States if I ever come, and personally thank you for so much inspiration and actual practical advice that’s applicable and makes you want to remember it daily.

    Also, the explanation of stuff – simply awesome. I just hope I stick to it. I already posted a quote from this article on my timeline on Facebook, so that my friends could see it and probably be inspired and may it help them.

    Damn. So much I wanted to write about I just forgot it. Anyways, dude, I’ll message you a short sumarized copy of this post hopefully soon enough on Facebook. One hell of an inspiration this post has been.

  • Judy Wong Dobberpuhl June 14, 2013

    Wow Carter! Totally totally totally love this shit! You are on it! And on FIRE! Thanks for continuing to inspire all of us! Really appreciate all of your words of wisdom you ROCKET MAN GURU OF ALL THINGS APP! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you!

  • james gooch June 14, 2013

    Awesome! Hands down. That was one of the most unique perspectives I have ever seen about the topics you touched on. I liked how you went one step further in explaining failure to succeed. That was a really great depiction. It is one thing to have knowledge but when you can convey it to others by painting them a great picture, that is a gift. That is definitely a gift that possess.
    I am right with you. Mindset will carry you through to the finish line. You have to have a rock hard mindset to keep having motivation to attain new skills, accept rejection, and start all over again. No doubt.
    Thanks for the time you spent on this blog. It rekindles the fire from a whole new arena.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 14, 2013

    @Ashish – Thanks for your words man. I think it’s good to balance instruction with inspiration. More than anything, I think there is a responsibility to follow through when you’re talking a big game about making money or living well or whatever. It’s less about selling things that bothers me as it is people that don’t give a shit if you succeed or not. I appreciate your response, a lot.

    @Judy – Thank you so much! You are also becoming a huge part of the app community and I know everyone appreciates as your positive energy.

    @James – The fire is what gets people to where they want to be. I think what is also important is that becoming a driven person doesn’t mean you have to become a mean or closed person. Using a positive influence will draw you upward, whereas a negative influence (fear) will make you feel like you’re being chased by an impending doom. Thanks for your response.

  • Sean June 14, 2013

    I like. You really touched upon something that is so simple yet so hard to comprehend for most people – which is the fact that in order to make something happen you just need to jump in and get messy. It’s not always going to work out the first time or the tenth time.. but tenacity will make you prevail. Until one believes that, they’ll never get anywhere, unless they get ridiculously lucky.. but still, the success wont last long if they don’t believe in it.

    I think that the biggest problem people have with the whole app flipping game is the money issue.. I highly doubt that millionaire entrepreneurs are worried about losing $1,000 on a reskin – but the average joe who’s been saving and saving to try to make an investment that will hopefully pay off and help to get him out of his shitty job, may have a bit more anxiety about the loss. It’s not as easy for someone like that to learn by simply pumping out apps and taking losses until they finally find their own secret formula (simply because they could very well lose all their money)… YET the only way for them to get to their goals is by messing up.

    I love this site and I like your approach to the way you give advice in your articles. Personally I think that a way you can you can add even more value to the site would be to sticky an article (or make a new page) that tells people from A-Z what they need to do to re-skin apps. Tell them how to find good code, tell them how to find a good developer, tell them how to negotiate, tell them how to come up with a good theme, tell them how to market it, tell them up front “Hey.. if you’re not willing to be a bad ass and take a hit, then stick with your day job”. After that what else can you do but offer the occasional case study, news story, and inspiration? (BTW I know you’ve already covered all of those subjects, but to see it in a list, rather than digging through the articles would be phenomenal).

    Regardless of what you decide to do, Keep up the AWESOME work brotha.

  • Laszlo June 15, 2013

    I didn’t know Chali 2na before, cool song. I had to read the lyrics to clearly get his rap. 🙂

    I read a lot of self improvement books to motivate and better understand myself so I agree what we are is more important than what we do. As one of my favorite teacher Jim Rohn says “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

    I like that you share your thoughts and not just technical stuff (which are also priceless and helped me a lot).

    I was thinking why you’re taking so much time writing this blog helping people but now I understand.


  • Mike T June 15, 2013

    One thing I would like to add, that I think is sprinkled into this article at various places is that you have to find something you are passionate about. This is something I have struggled with the last few years of my life. I meet new people, and the things they are passionate about, just jump off the page. And whatever the passion is, love, work, etc. they are all damn good at it. As I watch them, I become jealous because I can not think of one thing that I am truly passionate about. I’ve never met any truly great sports stars, but I can guarantee you they are extremely passionate about their sport. As Carter mentions above, if you go into anything with a “I want to make it” mindset, you will NOT make it unless you get extremely lucky. If however you go into it with “I WILL make it no matter what”, then you will eventually succeed. And because it’s your passion, the success will taste soooo much sweeter. I’m moving that direction, found something I feel strongly about. I think it’s leaning towards passion. I don’t yet feel the passion the way I see it in others, but I’m working myself towards that. I wish all of you the best and I hope you find that one thing you are truly passionate about and crush it!

  • Aron June 15, 2013

    Congrats man, this is a really great, and inspiring article!
    Actually these are the words(thoughts) that I was always missing from the Internet/App marketing products. For example, they tell you to write a blog, put ads in it, get guest bloggers, guest blog, etc… and you will earn a 6 figure income in no time. BUT they don’t tell you that you probably suck at writing, and you have to practice it for a long time, it takes serious social skills to connect with other bloggers on the net, especially when you’re starting out, that you have to have a sense of mission with your blog, so you don’t fuckin’ give it up, etc…

    When I write on my game design blog, I try to give some universal principles, some guidelines, some sort of frame, that my readers can fill out with their own imagination, their own creativity, their right brain. And it is hard to grasp these things, and put them into words, and teach them, as they come with experience, and usually you just do these things intinctely, not always knowing why do it so well, and even these principles can change from people to people, and from time to time.

    So, I can absolutely relate to what you’re writing, and I’m glad that someone has put it in words this way. I also love it that this article came us an inspiration from a hiphop song, as hiphop is one of my favorite genres, and some rappers really inspire my life/personality.

    Last but not least this line “It’s how the game plays you”, inspired me aswell, but in sort of a different way. I took it literally, and thought “Wow, yeah when I create a game the most important thing won’t be the actual game mechanics(how the player plays the game, the rules of the game), but how does my game play the player, meaning what kind of feelings I want to evoke, what kind of skills I want the player to develop, what will be his experience, how will he Feel about my game”.

    So…. thanks 🙂

  • Jane June 15, 2013

    Purpose with a passion! Thanks so much Carter for writing this right now! It’s not easy but it feels right. Overcoming sometimes the impossible to follow your heart path. I don’t mean that in a Carlos Castaneda esoteric way. I mean right now, today, to hell with it and even though it seems like it’s still so far away, go for it with all your tenaciousness, don’t give up! Don’t think it will happen tomorrow, the decision you make right now, will change your tomorrow. Its amazing in all I do now, I look for inspiration , without it my soul is dead. You so aptly explain that in your blog. You are gifted and have a strong message to help people. Gratitude pours out when I read your stuff. It hits the spot, the sweet spot that makes me want to eat these Apps and overcome any crap holding me back. And there is a lot of crap! I rise with pleasure when I see my App brothers and sisters succeeding. It makes me realize I can do it too! Apps have it all, they delight, they make people happy, they challenge, they educate, they connect you to remarkable people. They are kinda like Art, an enigma, some magical thing that people make money from and yet live on a virtual skyline. Left brain creativity with right brain precision. You keep writing about inspiration and attitude and drive Carter. I for one benefit enormously and thank you with all my heart for everything you do for this community.

  • Orlando June 15, 2013

    Wow – Great read. Don’t need to add to it except just read it all.

  • tasnim ahmed June 15, 2013


  • Arash Eskandari June 15, 2013

    Let me just say that this article came along at a perfect time for me. Our app has been in the store for a week and after a long struggle and so much hard work we had a disappointing 22 downloads the first week. I woke up this morning feeling beat down and very negative. I know it’s early and we still have a lot of marketing ideas to explore but I still felt defeated. Your article tells it like it is with no BS. Very motivating article and helped me get my inspiration back. Time to get back in the ring. Thanks for all you do.

  • Glen Kirkham June 15, 2013

    There is no need to buy success books, go on coaching classes or suckle on the nipple of ‘gurus’… All you need to succeed at ANYTHING in life, is written above.

    Superb article Carter 🙂

  • Kathy Nielsen June 15, 2013

    Carter, you have an uncanny way of getting out of your head and putting on paper, how The Game works, and for the reader, I become so engaged with the experience that I am fueled to fight my way through the fire. I am getting a better understand of the importance of knowing why your in The Game when the dragon is winning. Your posts are long, and I like them that way. It gives me time to pick-up the finer points on my own. Many times I will read something multiple times to assure I make the connection. You are a gangster!

  • Michael Tesalona June 15, 2013

    Excellent – thank you for the post!

  • Dustin McKay June 16, 2013

    Thanks for this post, well timed, and well written. Of the 30 odd printed quotes stuck to my desk, and wall, about 25 are on the importance of failing. Your post, was the perfect explanation of how I feel about apps. I told my wife when we started this in October, that I was going to make a stand until I succeeded making apps. Reading the slight edge, was all it took to convince her, that I could do it, and your thoughts bring into perspective the truth, that failing is important, not only for the cold hard data, but also for the feeling, the gut instinct and the insight it gives you into what you are doing. The sense of wave if you will.
    My first business failed in large part, because it was literally an overnight success. We had an idea, built a site, faked photos of a product we didn’t have yet, turned on adwords, and boom, we were selling stuff that we hadn’t even seen or built yet, just imagined. 4 years later, competitors crowded us out of our own market, and because I hadn’t learned how to fail, hadn’t understood the writing on the wall and hadn’t been hungry, we stopped innovating, stopped being worthy of the money we were making, and lost it.
    I guess my point is, thanks for being so freaking cool. I got an email from Trey the other day (no doubt others got the same one) saying his students have now had over 100,000,000 downloads…. While I don’t know the stats of everyone you have helped, if you are keeping track, you can add another 300 dl’s a day from me 😛

  • Cinaea June 16, 2013

    Great blog post! I really love how raw and authentic you are and how you ‘tell it like it is’. It is learning to fail and failing well – then getting back up again. Get knocked down. Get back up again. Really like how you talked about the battle between right brain and left brain – so true!
    Carter – you are making a difference to many appreneurs. Thank you for your posts. Thanks for talking about ‘the battle of the mind.’ Surfing is cool – learning to ride the waves. And learning the app business is cool too – you just have to get better at riding The Game waves. I myself am new to it all – but loving it. Am paddling out to catch another set of waves again, but this time I know I will get a little better each time I have a go. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement and Never Give Up attitude! 🙂

  • solomon June 16, 2013

    Carter you are really speaking directly to the audience. Being inspired by perspective is the real thing as only that makes ordinary people extra-ordinary.
    Thanks for adding the fuel that keeps the flames to last longer

  • Nick June 16, 2013

    Carter, long time reader, first time poster. Truly inspirational. Thank you for what you do and who you are.

  • Lat June 17, 2013

    Carter..THANK YOU, man… as someone who is in the ring and feeling those punches (and revelling in the punches that I get to take) – this post is s timely and true. In the beginning, there was so much more nervousness and anxiety, and lately, much more peace and also determination. Great stuff!

  • nazir June 17, 2013

    Awesome Article..Thank You

  • Justin June 17, 2013

    Hi Carter,

    Great post. I love seeing inspirational talk thrown in to the mix of the detailed app/numbers stuff. From my own experience, I totally agree that we need that combination of left-brain/right-brain. And your quote, “having someone completely blow your mind in a way that opens up new possibilities,” really hit home for me. I recently discovered methods to acquire active users/installs myself consistently (months at a time) for way under $0.50/user (recently read your $0.50 article, and it’s one of my favorites). I would love to share with you how I’m doing that. Based on being able to keep my own app in the Top 250 for over 4 months straight, I really think this should be heard, because this was a mind-blowing event for me. I’d love to share the story with you and get some feedback.


  • Adrian June 17, 2013

    Great article once again man. I feel like every time I’m down, you post something like this to lift me back up.

    Thanks man.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 17, 2013

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment – wow. Really means a lot. I appreciate that you all read through this (I know it’s long) and even more appreciate your sharing your own thoughts. That is so awesome!

  • Garon June 18, 2013

    Hi Carter,
    Im a thirteen years old and i am wondering if as a thirteen year old if im able to legally submit apps to the app store. And im also wondering if you could point me in the right direction on how to submit apps on an ipad because i dont own a mac computer.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 19, 2013

    Hey Garon – you need a Mac computer to have Xcode, etc. There are ways to run virtual machines but everyone I’ve talked to has had a big problem. The other option is to just have your developer do all the work and submit it for you under your developer license. Good luck man!

  • David June 19, 2013

    Hi Carter

    Great post, thanks for putting this up, it’s just what I needed. I bought some of your source code, my Apple Dev ID just come through. About to kick off my first game production and a couple of reskins. Go big or go home 🙂 It does get a little overwhelming, but as you said you have to take the punches. I haven’t had a single minute to myself for the last few weeks and it’s time I started pushing out apps rather than becoming an App keyboard warrior, let the game begin.

    Again thanks for this post!



  • Bruno June 19, 2013

    I start to shake reading your post because we think so much alike and I’m living the dream just by falling and standing up. I have 10 apps and an audacious goal of publish 100 apps until november.
    I was struggling on a job I hated and now I’m happy working “hard” on my apps full time and fully recharged. My purpose is the same as yours.
    I read everything you post at least 2 times. Like always, great stuff! You’re the man Carter, thank you for share you thoughts and knowledge.
    You got yourself another brazilian friend and fan.

  • Garon June 19, 2013

    Hi Carter,
    Im following up on what you last said. How much do you think that the developer would cost if i was to pay him/her to submit the app to the app store?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 19, 2013

    @Bruno – awesome man! Keep up the fire. Kick some ass. yes.

    @Garon – Hard to say. Sometimes they’ll do it for free if you hire them for other work. Last year I had a team that was helping me and they charged about $40 per app for uploading.

  • Garon June 19, 2013

    Okay thanks Carter! Your the best!

  • Garon June 19, 2013

    I have heard that i need a support website inorder to sumit my app to the store. Is that true and if so then what are the requirements for the page and and what company would you reccomend going with?

  • Oliver June 20, 2013

    I thought of this article when I was watching Game 5 of the finals. Van Gundy was talking about how Popovich kept telling Spurs to keep pounding the rock. You might have to pound it a hundred times, but at one point it’ll break.

  • Harald June 30, 2013

    What an inspiring read… consume less info and start producing assets.

    From inspiration to perspiration to $ucce$$.

    Paddling out for another set 🙂

  • Jeff August 21, 2013

    Fantastic article Carter! Very inspirational and motivating to say the least! Keep rockin’ man and continued success, you deserve it!

  • Matthew Knippen September 4, 2013

    I was wondering what Ad platform you use for the “More Apps” button. I have looked into a couple different options. Ideally, I would like it to be a mix between my own apps and ones that would pay. Do you have any suggestions for this?


  • Karen September 5, 2013

    Matthew: The “More Games” button is with Chartboost. You can add your own apps + apps of advertisers.

  • Martin October 3, 2013

    Hey Thomas. Great post. I’ve recently been going through some rough patches with my game business. I know this is normal and every business has it’s ups and downs. Reading this cheered me up. I must keep going and keep persisting. Thanks for the words.

    Here’s my post about my experiences on

    All the best

  • jkreddy October 27, 2013


    thanks for posting it. You must have taken so much time and brain crunching to post this. I myself feels like in the same situation(punched down by monster), every time i make a new version of my app. I keep thinking about it all the time, what is missing and what do i need to do, to make it to new & noteworthy. Keep improving my app with revision after revision in hoping to enter that list.
    Those days are gone, when we just achieve the functionality and get few bucks. Probably even those days are gone, when we achieve great UX and earn few bucks. Probably its the time for big marketing muscle or smart ass for viral marketing to do the trick.

  • David December 2, 2013

    Thanks, Carter, for such an inspirational post.

    I only found your site a few days ago, but I’m devouring it like crazy.

    I just reached this page now … and … WOW, what an article.

    I’ve read many of the inspirational books over the last 30 something years that I’ve been in business, but NOTHING has set it all out so clearly a this one post of yours.

    AWESOME … it should be required reading for every person on earth!

  • Adrian January 23, 2015

    6 stars out of 5 for this post

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 23, 2015

    @Adrian – Thanks man!

  • Ronald Ruben Aszkenasy September 3, 2016

    Hi Carter,

    I really enjoyed reading your Playing the Game article. As far as I can tell you are the first one to explain what ‘failing’ means – taking a hit and getting back up. I also liked your comment: “Using a positive influence will draw you upward, whereas a negative influence (fear) will make you feel like you’re being chased by an impending doom”. Many thanks for very interesting reading!

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