Friday Q&A with Ben Feferman, CEO of Amuka Esports

It's Friday, and that means it's Peak Q&A time.

Every Friday we feature someone in the Canadia tech, finance, or startup space doing something cool and pick their brain to get practical and actionable tips and advice for the rest of us. 

This week we are featuring Ben Feferman, CEO of Amuka Esports, a Canadian leader in Esports tournaments, venues, and leagues.

Tell us a bit about who you are, your background, and what you do now.

Ben Feferman: I am the CEO of Amuka Esports, which is Canada's leader in esports venues, tournaments and leagues.  We operate two gaming arenas where people come to play and compete in different video games like Fortnite, League of Legends and Call of Duty. 
My background consists of 5 years as a film producer, specializing in documentary production and another 5 years in venture capital and investment banking.

What's one book that has taught you a lesson that you apply to your daily business life? What's that lesson?

BF: This one is a little out of left field, but Into the Wild by Jack Krakauer.  That was the book that really broke me out of my shell, inspired me to travel the world and live for the moment.  Sometimes when I'm stressed out to the max, I think about the book's subject Chris McCandless, his views on the world and ultimately his (SPOILER ALERT)  fatal travels to Alaska.
What evening and/or morning routines do you have that set you up for success?

BF: I have a natural alarm clock, my kids, so I typically get up around 6:30-7:00am.  I make them breakfast, get them dressed, and allot some time for myself for praying (a daily requirement for Orthodox Jews).  I actually try to avoid any work until they are out the door at 8:30 but its often hard not to check the news or social media in between.

Once at the office, I try to address all social media in the first 30 minutes and avoid using it until the evening.  I'll put out my daily LinkedIn content, answer all messages, see what's the latest scandal in esports and then move on.  I then race through emails, slack messages, WhatsApp threads and then focus on the daily schedule of calls, meetings and ongoing projects.

Every evening I almost do the reverse.  I go through all of the weekends to send out follow-ups or address necessary action items.  I go through all the emails, messages, etc for the day and then usually end up watching some esports content creators and finally fall asleep to an episode of Family Guy.

What are you involved in outside of your company? As in mentoring, boards, volunteering or other activities? How do you recommend others engage in activities outside of work and how do you give and get the most out of them?

BF: Outside of Amuka Esports my priority is spending as much time with family and my kids as possible.  I have 4 kids under 6, so it's a really busy house and I love doing anything and everything with them.  My oldest kids are starting to play video games so everyday Sunday night is Xbox night and we play some Minecraft, Roblox or the LEGO games.

Health and wellness is a huge part of my life and specifically running has been a transformational activity for me.  A couple of years ago I ran my first marathon, which was a huge accomplishment and at some point in my life, I want to qualify for Boston.

Finally, I'm very involved with numerous charities and love to be involved in creating new and innovative fundraising events and campaigns with a focus on esports and gaming.  Charity streams, events, tournaments etc. are an amazing ways for charities to engage their base especially during COVID.

What advice do you have for students or young professionals who are trying to position themselves in a competitive job market. What can they do to make themselves stand out?

BF: During a pandemic, it's not as easy to get out there, go to events, network, etc.  You have to be a little more creative.  In the esports industry, I also suggest the following

1) Be a thought leader:  Get our there on social media and post, comment and educate people about the industry.
2) Participate: Try streaming.  Enter a tournament.  Be in active in Discord servers
3) Volunteer:  Help with tournament organizing or amateur teams who are always looking for grassroots help.

Everything is online now, so it's actually a huge opportunity!

What's one app or another piece of technology that improves your productivity and you couldn't live without?

BF: As a content creator, I would definitely say StreamLabs.  Basically let's anyone easily run a live broadcast or stream.  As an extension of that, tools like restream.io and Discord which really help out as well.