The First Rule of the Game

The First Rule of the Game

The first rule of the game
is to know what game you are playing.

“I have this problem. What is the best thing to do?” a busy entrepreneur asks me. “Well, it depends,” I tell them.

The answer depends on your situation, what you are trying to accomplish and what’s working in the world these days for your type of problem that would work for you.

The answer depends on what game you are playing right now.

The game of entrepreneurship and growing up a company is pretty much a game of learning and mastering new games – as fast as you can. Then leaving the old games behind.

The startup game. The fundraising game. The sales game. The B2B recurring revenue financial modeling game. The marketing messaging game for a big company. The book publishing game for consultant. The email marketing game for a non-profit. The 5-employee company game. The 50-person (or 500-) employee game. Your head game. (Yep, that too). Whatever.

Many of the biggest challenges come from not playing the right game:

  • A big company CTO is hired by a startup and doesn’t get stuff done quickly. Playing the big company game in a fast and flexible startup doesn’t work.
  • A small business owner with 20 employees runs the business like they did back when there were five employees. Different game.
  • A marketing leader trying to run a social media campaign like they do a paid advertising program. Not the same thing.
  • Baby Boomer managers treating Millennials like young Baby Boomers. It’s a different game, in case you haven’t noticed.
  • The visionary founder struggles to run the bigger company when the market is more mature.
  • Some people don’t want the book publishing business to change (or the newspaper, taxi, retail, or venture capital businesses). Those games are changing fast – in front of our eyes.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just a different game to figure out and play. Get on with it.

It’s figureoutable.

It can always be figured out. (You can quote me on that, too.)

If something isn’t working, either:

  • you haven’t figured out what game it is you are playing, or
  • you haven’t decided to play that game

Which one is it?