Mills founded ustwo with Sinx, his mate from school. Ustwo has become a digital product studio, a games company and an investment business. They have always worked with the biggest brands in the world and are the team behind the hugely successful Monument Valley.
This is Mills' story, an episode of two halves. The first half being the story of 'ustwo' and the transition from chaos to order, and the second half is the story of Mills who lead the wonderfully creative chaos and as a consequence found himself in the need of new purpose.
Mills is a modern-day emotional adventurer, exploring himself with the same verve he used to grow his company. If you like people who are open and honest. If you like people who are brave. You'll like Mills.
Mills founded ustwo with Sinx, his mate from school. Ustwo has become a digital product studio, a games company and an investment business. They have always worked with the biggest brands in the world.
In part, Neil & I enjoyed this because Mills is from a world we understand pretty well. It’s a world that’s exploded in the last 25 years or so. A world where creativity meets technology, a world where innovation is valued, where work and play, and an excess of both, is baked-in to most successful start-ups because it’s a world full of young people.
And then there comes a point a few years later, where the founders of these successful businesses, have to make a decision. They have to move from the playful, hard-working, youthful chaos of the start-up to the order, discipline and structure required to keep this beast of an organisation stable.
The last thing anyone wants is for people to lose their jobs because the company isn’t being run properly. This process is the process of organisational change but unlike organisational change in large companies where ‘change’ is swapping one flavour of order for another. This is swapping chaos for order. This is a massive challenge because many of the people that have made it successful are the creatives, the right-brain thinkers who are not huge fans of left-brain thinking aka order.
These ways of thinking or lenses through which we look at things are ostensibly the same: left-brain logical and right-brain creative, chaos and order, certainty and uncertainty, rational and emotional - the list goes on.
These ways of thinking are as old as stories themselves. Jordan Peterson has been a big part of the reason that the idea of chaos and order has come to the fore most recently and whilst I think these terms are appropriate for Mills’ story I’m unconvinced they’re the best language to use when thinking about moving towards a life done differently because order sounds positive and chaos does not.
We prefer to use the lens of the known and the unknown where chaos is the unacceptable end of the unknown and a rut is the unacceptable end of the known.
It will become fairly obvious fairly on in this conversation that Mills has a preference, he thrives in the unknown and can cope in what most people would call chaos. I get the impression Sinx is the yang to Mills’ yin or he’s certainly had to find a way to play that role which is how ultimately made is through to the point where they have grown up companies that operate without the day to day involvement of Mills, who like many of us has come out the other side wondering what his purpose is.
Mills calls it three years of introspection trying to find happy again, working hard to let go of his ego. His Investor Deck is a brilliant example of how Mills does things his own way. He cares what people think but being his truer self is more important. His journey is a good old-fashioned quest to find himself.
His personality, he says, is one of never being satisfied with what I’ve achieved. Finding himself is the ultimate challenge and given Mills’ ability to get comfortable with the uncomfortable I’m sure he’ll get there, at least, in part.
Mills went more extreme with ustwo because he thought that would make him happy - he told himself the story that his devotion to building a successful company was for his family but his wife isn’t so sure and as of now, nor is he.
I don’t think you’ll listen to someone who is more honest and open with their thinking and where they’re at with their life.
In terms of moving towards a life done differently, Neil and I believe very strongly that this openness with oneself and others is step one, being bold and brave is step two and with this, you have a good chance of becoming or finding yourself.