Host of The YES Effect podcast, possibility hacker and fire captain Shelli Varela has been blazing trails both figuratively and literally for over 2 decades. As well as a veteran firefighter and podcaster, Shelli is a published author of a children’s book and a public speaker, having presented for TEDx twice.
But Shelli has a particular trick that helped her achieve all these goals, a technique she calls Possibility Hacking. Shelli has used it to coach badass women to say “Yes!” to their greatness and live life on purpose, not autopilot. By the time this episode goes to air, Shelli will have unleashed her signature online program called YES University onto the web, and in March her inner circle membership site will be launching.
Shelli and I have a great chat about going from a 108lb. artist to her city department’s first female fighter, the danger of taking on the labels other people’s place on you, how she discovered possibility hacking through reverse engineering her techniques for learning fire fighting and the power of the question: “Why not me?”
Cosplayer and game master Kimi is better known as the Golden Lasso Girl, which ought to tell you that she’s a full on geek. She absolutely loves Wonder Woman, not just as an arse-kicking superhero but as an icon of feminine empowerment. Naturally, Kimi’s enthusiasm for cosplay has led her to attending many conventions in various iterations of a Wonder Woman costume, but also for creating a YouTube channel for which Kimi records tutorials for cosplay and crafting. Kimi’s skill is such that one of her cosplay designs for a “bombshell” version of Big Barda was adopted by DC Comics as Barda’s official outfit in their Bombshells comic!
On to of that, Kimi loves tabletop roleplaying games, so much so that not only has she assumed the role of game master for her friends, she’s also become co-host of the Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast. This show features a crew of gamers getting together to answer listeners’ questions and have an enthusiastic chat about RPGs over a few bevvies. (Yes, that’s alcoholic.)
Kimi and I have a great chat about her interest in metalworking, getting into cosplay by wanting to show the professionals how to make a Wonder Woman costume, being one of the cool teachers at school, the joys and struggles of game mastering, sharing your hobby loves in podcasts and how-to videos and the wisdom of deciding not to monetise your passions.
Professional prop-maker Steven Meissner owns and operates SoloRoboto Industries as a full-time business. He makes custom and replica props, weapons, and accessories for cosplayers and collectors, and has occasionally made trophies for other companies, as well as worked on projects for the odd TV commercial.
Steven and I have a great chat about discovering that other people will pay you to make cosplay costumes for them, running the maths on your passion business, teaching yourself your craft with the help of a community, and what it means to live in a city that no one grew up in and where everyone’s pursuing a dream.
Veteran video game designer and roleplaying game master Steven Lumpkin has worked for some of the biggest names in the online gaming industry, including Red Storm Entertanment, the makers of the Rainbow Six franchise, and Funcom, the makers of Age of Conan, Anarchy Online and The Secret World, as a level designer. His job was creating the tense action scenes that have challenged players across the globe as they venture through these games’ vast virtual worlds.
Steven is now working on the Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise, but has gone from creating levels to working on the basic infrastructure of the game itself as a game designer.
Steven is also a lover of tabletop roleplaying games. He’s been a game master for the RollPlay team on the Twitch channel ItMeJP, where he ran the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition campaign, The West Marches, which featured a huge rotating roster of streaming and YouTube celebrity players. While Steven was on hiatus at the time of recording, he’s since returned to gaming with a new campaign on his own Twitch and YouTube channels and is looking forward to GMing for the Misscliks and other channels!
Steven and I talk about having a day job in gaming while pursuing a musical hobby in his off hours, the reality of working quality assurance in the video game industry, taking out the trash in online game encounter design, how to manage the “crunch” cycle at the end of pre-release game development and staying chill when gaming with some of the biggest names in live streaming.
Podcaster and creative TDot, also known as Anthony Sargent, is all about helping folk get out and stay out of the nine-to-five rat race and being the best themselves they can be. He created and hosted Bursting Through the 925, a weekly podcast where we interview a different entrepreneurial minded guest to see what they are doing to get or stay out of the nine-to-five, and is working on a new chat-format show, Six Hundred Degrees of Separation. He may even be starting a Fillipino import-export business!
This episode is a great, straight up chat, where TDot and I pretty much go on about what comes to mind, including television shows, a three-year struggle with the Philippine authorities to get his wife and child to the States, getting present in everything you do, the “newness” of Kevin Hart, growing vegetables and why aiming to be better than your idols is the best compliment you can give them.
Geek collectable company owner Shaun Paulet decided to take a slightly different approach to the collectable market than most vendors. Instead of sourcing all the usual lines of stuff from the producers for the toy and collectable business, Shaun levered his passion for affordable collectibles to create, in conjunction with a collection of top Australian artists, a line of limited edition collectable prints available online or nationwide at Australian conventions for his company COMICS2MOVIES.
But after finding success within the artistic world of prints, Shaun decided to bring his own creativity and passion for comic books to the table, and thus was born XCT, a comic book series about clones of mythical monsters and ancient warriors like Spartacus fighting to the death for an audience of billions in the Xtreme Champion Tournament. XCT was successfully launched in Australia, New Zealand and the US in 2014.
Shaun and I have a great chat about high school sporting achievements, being the most funded Australian comic book crowdfunding project on Kickstarter, letting other people play with your stories, competing with the iconic American comic books for shelf space in Australian stores and ensuring your daughter shares your love of comics!
Creative Director for Paizo, inc., James L. Sutter, is one of the privileged few who helps us geeks combine board gaming, improvisation and flights of imagination via the hobby of the tabletop roleplaying game. He co-developed the rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, which lets players adventure through dungeons and slay dragons, and was recently appointed as the Creative Director of the upcoming Starfinder Roleplaying Game which will shift the high fantasy world of Pathfinder a few thousand years into the future and add starships, lasers and cyborgs to Pathfinder’s elves, dwarves and magic swords.
Not only does James write for RPGs, but James is also a keen fiction author. He manages the the Pathfinder Tales novel line for Paizo and has written two novels for it; Death’s Heretic and The Redemption Engine, as well as a multitude of short stories for other publications. James enjoys playing with high-concept ideas like the meaning of atheism in a world where deities are objective fact.
James and I have a great chat about a high school teacher who encouraged his students to create their own RPGs, getting his arse handed to him in Wheel of Fortune, evolving timelines in game products, the joys of communal living and the spirit of adventure at the heart of tabletop roleplaying games!
Online fiction authors and multimedia producers Birdy and Mike Diamond follow a concept they call “Fiction Isn’t,” which they discovered whilst exploring psychic channeling. It’s the idea that, when authors say that their characters suddenly started telling their own stories, that’s what’s really happening: the author has made a mental link to actual people in realms elsewhere from ours. Instead of creating stories, authors are writing the biographies of these people.
Birdy and Mike are making early ventures in getting paid to play under their brand, JourneyBirds’ Wonderland. They’ve created a Patreon page to support their works, which include Arrows in Flight, an Arrow-inspired vigilante story; Church of the Guardian Angel, where two unlikely servants of a cat goddess quietly work to keep the world sane; and Crosswell’s Flying Circus, an unusual airshow company dragged into a dark conspiracy (all of which feature readings by yours truly)! They’ve also developed some tools to help writers find inspiration and crank their daily word count out!
I chat with Birdy and Mike about getting serious about writing whilst being trapped in a hospital bed, psychic hyperlinks, the struggle to be open about yourself in a society that frowns on the unusual, warbird outfits, winning NaNoWriMo, minimum viable perfection and how fiction facilitates the conversations we need to have about the issues that truly matter.
Cosplayer and YouTube show host Feisty Cuffs has been in love with the cosplay community since her very first convention. She enjoys the creative process of constructing her own costumes and props, and picks her next cosplay projects based on whether she can learn a new technique or skill.
Feisty loves attending conventions as a cosplayer, panellist and cosplay judge, and connecting with like-minded geeks. You may even recognise her as one of the hosts and of the Kapow! Comic Book Show on YouTube.
Feisty and I have a great chat about being that friend you invite to a fancy dress party, a love of European comic books, meeting those crazy people you just click with, the awesomeness of being asked to host a cosplay competition at the Rooster Teeth Expo and her favourite comic book character of all time!
Keep listening after the chat wraps for a retrospective on the first 100 episodes of The Paid to Play Podcast!