My Prime Lesson: How I Learned to Always Make the Optimus Decision

Ben Kalkman posted this in
Inside Rocket Media
on July 9th, 2014

Most people don’t know that each of the computers at Rocket Media’s office are named after a transformer. Or that, as a company, we go see each of the Transformer movies in the theater when they come out (like we did last week).

To the outsider, it might just seem like we’re big fans of the franchise. But it really goes much deeper than that. These things are small reminders to me of a big lesson I learned early in life.

Here’s the story of how I learned that lesson…

When I was in my youth (a seemingly long time ago now) I was a huge Transformer addict. I watched the weekly cartoons religiously and loved the action figures.

However, for those that don’t remember these toys, there were two kinds – the smaller action figures that only sorta transformed and the larger, more detailed and intricate Transformers that I considered the “real deal” versions.

I, sadly, only had the smaller versions. And in order to get a full-size transformer action figure, I had to pay for it myself. So I set my sight on Optimus Prime and began saving my allowance. I carefully saved for weeks (which might as well be years to a kid), counting down the days until I could have Optimus in my hands.

That day finally came. I had enough money to purchase my first real Transformer.

I vividly remember standing in the aisle looking at all of the options. I had planned and saved for this glorious day. Oddly though, I slowly lost my focus. I had one hand on the Optimus box ready to roll out, while the other hand… well, the other hand began to notice the amazing blue Decepticon, Thundercracker.

Standing in the aisle, I agonized over this now overwhelming, life-changing decision I had before me. Should I purchase my prized Optimus, whom I had always wanted. Or should I get this new item that had just caught my fancy?

Decepticon or Autobot? Which one would you have chosen?

I remember being knocked from my trance by my parents telling me we needed to go. I had to make my choice right then.

So I did. I walked out of the store that day the proud owner of my very own… Thundercracker, the shiny blue Decepticon jet.

At home I carefully began to unpack this amazing new action figure – my first real Transformer. I inventoried every part, note and sticker—everything was important. I thought this was it – this was the best thing ever. My life was now complete.

And then the inevitable happened. Like a bolt of lightning it hit me—this was not Optimus. As great as Thundercracker was, it wasn’t what I had really wanted. I fell into a horrible case of buyer’s remorse and I no longer wanted anything to do with this Decepticon.

I begged to return it, but no luck. I was stuck.

This decision haunted me for a long time. In fact, I never purchased another Transformer. I’m not sure if I was punishing myself or just worried I’d make another bad decision. Whatever the case was, I never owned my own Optimus Prime (although my son does now so I can live vicariously through him).

Ever since that day, I now go with my gut and try not to let things distract me from my original goals. Life is full of distractions and shiny objects are everywhere, all designed to throw you off. You have to fight the urge and stay the course to see your dreams come true.

So that’s why our computer drives bear the names of Autobots. That’s why we go see the new Transformers movies (even when they get terrible reviews). And that’s why I share this story with others – to remind myself and my team not to make another “Optimus mistake”.

Plus, Transformers are just awesome, right?

Ben Kalkman


Ben Kalkman is the CEO, founder and owner of Rocket Media. When he has down time from running a successful company, being the father to 6 kids, running half marathons and purchasing every new Apple product that comes to market… eh who are we kidding, Ben has no down time.