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Thursday, March 10, 2011

What Kind of Game are you Playing?

It's good to know what kind of game you are playing.  I'm often surprised how well the game metaphor plays in life.  Whether you are a founder considering bootstrapping, an angel round or an institutional VC round, each game has it's own rules, rewards and tradeoffs.  In this example, no game is better or worse than the others, just different.  Part of what I enjoy about working with founders is making sure they know what the consequences of their financing choices are.  Too often founders will take OPM (other people's money), not realize the consequences and then have what should have been avoidable regrets.

More broadly in life it is helpful to make sure you are playing 'good' games.  What is a good game? Let's look at two examples.  In the first, a recently married professional couple play a game called "Whose Career is More Important."  Each tries to out work the other to show how important his or her career is.  How many winners does this game have? Zero. Not a good game to play.

Now let's look at another game.  Let's imagine two friends having a bench press contest to see who can lift the most weight. Each trains for 30 days and gets much stronger as a result.  How many winners does this game have? Two.  Everyone who plays is a winner.

Make sure the games you are playing are designed so that you win merely by playing.