2020: Making Lemonade and Writing a Book

Ludovic Bodin
9 min readFeb 3, 2021

“After 15 years in China, we are moving to Europe!”

That was how we started in 2020. In December 2019, we sold everything, our house, our business. My wife, two daughters, and I were finally ready to move to Europe — and for a good reason. I made the shift from gaming to investment in 2019. I had all the intention to get with my partner, David, our European Fund, up and running in 2020.

In January 2020, the whole family went to the sunny French Riviera in the South of France. We immediately started shopping for our new home. We had it all planned out: the international school, the great food and weather, the proximity to the international airport of Nice — allowing all my business travels in Europe and even a direct connection to China.

We only needed to buy a family home. My oldest daughter Miya’s #1 requirement was — it needed a great pool. So all of the 23 houses we visited had pools. Yet, we could not decide on which one to buy. Each house was more beautiful than the next, but no love at first sight, no “Coup de Coeur.”

It could have been that the COVID had just started in China. While visiting houses in France, Covid created anxiety and made the decision process difficult. Every morning, my wife Jiang would wake me up in Cannes with the latest numbers of infected cases in China, freshly received on WeChat. Our friends and family members in China were not at risk. Most of the cases were concentrated in a city, Wuhan, yet, with the scars from SARS still fresh, everyone in China knew this could get worse quickly.

While enjoying a delicious coffee nearby the Antibes’ marina with our friend Nicolas, we decided to extend our stay in the South of France and enjoy the opportunities to visit our friends from California now living in Aix-en-Provence and go skiing in the Alps.

Life is beautiful, “La vie est belle,” in France. Yet, Covid was only getting worse. The number of cases kept rising. My friend Adam, a serial entrepreneur and viral growth expert, asked questions and raised the hypothesis — numbers on hands — that this will get really bad real soon, and not only in China.

March: we still had not decided on our dream house in the South of France. By this time, we were even seriously considering buying a property in Normandy to surround ourselves with the family and get a soft landing into Jiang and the kids’ French culture.

We had some important business in China that Jiang and I could not delay anymore, so we decided to have a quick trip to Beijing. We planned it to be two weeks; then we would go back to France.

Once we landed in Beijing, life became surreal. Astronauts welcomed us at the airport. We had to fill out forms and wait for a shuttle to bring us back to the city. No private cars or drivers were allowed. We patiently waited and started our quarantine at home. On that day, France declared an emergency state as Covid was officially spreading all over Europe.

Fast forward, what should have been a two-week business trip far away from the kids became a six-month separation as international borders closed down.

By April, it was pretty clear that we would not be able to travel freely for a while. That also meant we were unable to continue to raise and close our Fund. Suddenly, the perspective of moving back to Europe was questionable.

By May, it became clear that China would be less affected than other countries. By then, our number one priority was to get the family back together. Our kids spent one week of class in January in China and one week in Normandy before schools in France shut down.

I was getting obsessed with getting the family back together. At the same time, I knew that I had to start something new. But this time, creating a new venture or a fund did not come as the obvious choice. It was not business as usual time. I knew we were lucky, but I also knew that many were not. More importantly, I knew that many would likely be in trouble soon. And that the lucky and privileged ones needed to think and care for the others. I started asking myself how I could help. What can I do to help the most?

By early June, I jumped on a Zoom call with my old friend, Fredrik. Fredrik is from Sweden and lives in Singapore with his wife and three kids in one of these beautiful colonial houses — when not on one of his own islands in Sweden or the Philippines. He has been living the life of a published author and international public speaker since I met him in Beijing in 2005. With Covid, his industry was on stand-by. No more international traveling and speaking gigs for a while. So meanwhile, he enjoyed writing, spending time with his family, and taking care of himself.

We got on a call and caught up. I asked Fredrik about his plans, he asked me about mine. By then, I had made a few investments in startups ranging from a prop-tech play to a fan engagement platform in sports and gaming. They are all personal investment — and were/are doing well. I was not focused on making more investments since I made a significant number already in 2020. I was concerned about how I could help, beyond the angel investment and advisory work I am doing for startups and large companies to think and grow like game companies.

Fredrik then told me,” That’s it. I said, “What’s it”?. He said, “Why don’t you help many more entrepreneurs and executives re-invent their business — to think and grow like game companies?

What about if you could bring the collective wisdom of your industry, gaming, to the tens of thousands of business owners and millions of companies around the world — who need to adopt a new blueprint to do business online? Why don’t you write a book?”

A-ha!

It was like a light bulb had switched on. I then realized something important. At that moment, it was about how many people’s hearts I could touch.

I started re-imagining the future where all kinds of businesses run as a gaming company — starting with revenue models and free-to-play. Imagine a world post-covid where access to the best healthcare could be available for free for billions of people. Or education, transportation. I was now on a mission to provide what I could from my decades of gaming industry knowledge and contacts as an entrepreneur and investor.

From that point on, I started writing. Instead of suffering from the forced distance between our kids and us, I entered a safe area in my mind. I would go through fifteen years of experience with my gaming venture, which became the #1 social shooter game on Facebook with 1.5 million fans.

I would recall the discussions, interviews, keynotes, conversations with founders and CEOs of some of the most successful gaming companies in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Writing kind of became my cave where I would take refuge for blocks of six or seven hours a day for three months.

I gave myself daily objectives of three thousand words. I pulled together enough research materials and ideas to start organizing and re-writing. I discovered a brand new world, with its tools like Scrivener and Grammarly that I used daily to organize my notes and correct my words.

By the end of August, I had the first manuscript that I proudly printed with the local printer in Sanlitun, Beijing. “Sixty thousand words, it is. I did it!”

I started sharing the first manuscript to a few friends, some of them from the gaming industry and others successful business authors. Feedback was generous, but one struck most “It’s a great start! You have excellent materials here. But that’s not a book.”

I then spent September, October, and November collecting more feedback, experimenting, and delivering the content I created through webinars.

I also discovered a brand-new world — online education, online marketing — and a company that combined them both, Clickfunnel. It is now one of the fastest growth for a SAAS business in the USA. They grew to over one hundred million dollars in revenue, with no outside capital raised, teaching first online marketing to tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and then selling their funnel creation software. I even participated at their first live event with Tony Robbins, one of their business partners.

Meanwhile, I also grew the number of companies I invested in, with Chiliz having raised over 67 million dollars. Lila Games announced its series-A. A Beijing-based company I invested in is getting ready for listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. I invested in a Paris-based enterprise AI software provider, kind of c3.ai for Europe. They acquired another startup, moved to a bigger office near the Champs Elysees, and closed Series-A. Qualtrics — which my friend Jared started with his brother Ryan and dad in Utah, listed on Nasdaq with its stock popping +51% on Day One, now valued at over 27 billion dollars.

By December, I knew I was ready to write the new manuscript. This time, I would do it with the help of a coach, Brian Tracy. Brian has published more than fifty business books. He has many best-sellers such as “Eat That Frog!”, (I take no offense as a Frenchman 😉). That book alone has sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 42 languages.

I started learning the skills of being a true writer. Not only did I get comfortable with the writer’s tools, but I also started learning more about storytelling techniques such as the Epiphany Bridge Story, the Heroes Journey, and the Hook Story Offer.

I also discovered the mind mapping technique to organize a book, called the Dandelion framework, show-not-tell, and the left brain-right brain Windscreen Wiper method.

Happy to report that the family is reunited back together in Beijing. The kids are enjoying their time with their friends and neighbors. We renovated and moved into our new home, in a residence where close to a dozen families like ours live — including my friend Pascal with whom I train four times a week on runs and at the gym. And my daughter is happy because the pool is also brand new, and the water temperature comfortable at 31 degrees.

And I am writing. I am writing every day. And I continue to interview contacts and key players in the gaming industry. Together, I want to bring the best practices and voice of an industry I love. I want to help others.

One page at a time.

From our family in Beijing to yours, Happy (Chinese) New Year 2021!

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Ludovic Bodin

Author of "Atomic Scaling", Investor & Entrepreneur. I was raised in France, I lived in Canada, California, Latin America and China.