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You have to be a shark sometimes

Here’s a little anecdote about something I learned along the way about business and the good in people.

Almost 20 years ago I had a contract with a gaming company for programming a game AI. You see, I’m almost 20 years into AI, you don’t stand a chance… 😂

They cleared with their publisher based on milestones and so did I with them.

It’s normal with such projects to be delayed because everything takes much longer than expected. Sometimes delayed a lot. So did it happen with this project. What was meant to be done by me in 3 months took 9 months. My fault.

When I was done I sent them my final invoice. Was around 6k back then.

I waited for the money coming in, which I was in need of badly because of the huge delay of the project.

But it didn’t come.

A week passed, two weeks passed.

I asked them about the invoice and the owner said he will transfer it now.

A week passed. Another week passed. Nothing.

I believed in the good in people. Why should they lie?

I asked them again.

“Our published didn’t send the money on time. But now it’s there, I’ll send it to you this weekend.”

The next week. Still nothing. 😂

I got suspicious.

This went on for a while. I talked to the owner in private. I wrote an email where I made my point clear.

I wrote a letter with a deadline to make it official.

He always promised to pay now.

Still nothing.

It turned out they hadn’t reached their own milestone with their publisher yet so there was no more money coming in for them until they finished the next milestone. They were actually out of money. Barely able to pay rent and employees.

I still believed in the good of people. I liked the owner. He wasn’t an asshole.

Until I realized,

“Ralf, what are you doing here?”

“This is business. He’s not your friend. Never will.”

“He straight up lied to you multiple times. You can’t put his problems ahead of yours.”

That’s when I took a lawyer to sue them.

It took another 2 months and an executory officer.

Finally they had to pay more than 12k.

Take away

I assume you reading this are a good person too. You don’t want to harm anybody. Deep down you also believe in the good of people.


This is business. It’s not your problem if someone else is drowning. You have to prevent yourself from drowning first.

No matter how long you had a client, no matter how much you like him, always keep in mind that most people will screw you to prevent themself from drowning.

Business is full of sharks.

Stop being a fish. Be a shark.

When you feel that someone tries to screw you, let him feel your teeth.

Good luck.

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