Entrepreneurs are often not great students and like to hone their skills through trial and error. Many times this attracts them to games as a way to sharpen their skills. Find out the top games entrepreneurs learn from and who likes to play them.
It’s commonly noted that successful entrepreneurs are not necessarily successful students. There has long been a popular image of “dropouts” who found their way in Silicon Valley, and some of the most successful business people on the planet today openly espouse the benefits of practical experience compared to traditional education. As a piece at Entrepreneur.com put it, people who start businesses “value experiences over speculation.” Rather than studying hypotheticals through textbooks, they prefer to “build their knowledge through action.”
Now, this kind of process is meant to refer largely to business and financial experience. Successful entrepreneurs hone their abilities through trial and error. They learn to manage companies by stretching their money, trying ideas, and often failing with early concepts. Beyond business-related endeavors, however, there are other personal, practical experiences that can influence entrepreneurs as well. And over the years, it’s become clear that these experiences often include gaming.
Consider, for instance, the following:
There are lots of big-time entrepreneurs who are known to enjoy video games, from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Google founder Larry Page. And while it’s difficult to say with certainty what any one person has drawn from this kind of hobby, an interview at NBC News some years back shed light on the business-related benefits entrepreneurs might enjoy.
The interview was conducted with one Dmitri Williams, who was the chief executive for a social gaming company. And Williams suggested that there are three main things that entrepreneurs can learn from gaming. The first is that work should be fun, or at least engaging; Williams reasoned that games are “jobs” that people pay to do, challenging themselves to think critically, organize, and manage problems –– and that if work is similarly rewarding or entertaining, the same tasks will be more appealing. The second lesson is that there’s value in risks –– something one can learn in anything from a sports game to a collaborative online multiplayer adventure. Finally, the third is that diversity is smart business –– something gamers learn through collaboration and cooperation with other people (or other types of characters in some games).
Again, we can’t always say how a given individual businessperson might have benefited from gaming. But the lessons just mentioned are clear and wide-ranging, and speak to how gaming experience can benefit entrepreneurial thought, strategy, and management.
Poker is known to be popular among entrepreneurs and businesspeople –– including such prominent figures as SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg and Earthlink founder Sky Dayton. To some extent, it’s fair to assume that this is partly a function of wealth. That is to say, successful business owners with money to spare sometimes look for activities like poker in which they can wield their wealth for entertainment. At the same time however, it is also clear that there are a few things poker can teach entrepreneurs.
Some of these aspects of the game are made particularly clear in a Poker.org article about how people actually go about getting better at poker. For instance, one suggestion is to find poker friends to play and network with. This can not only teach aspiring entrepreneurs how to network effectively, but can also help them to build connections directly. Another suggestion is to focus on mistakes, rather than triumphs –– something everyone in business must learn to do if they’re to manage companies successfully. And finally, the piece also recommends that people seek to learn and train away from the tables. Through this effort, businesspeople playing poker can learn first-hand that –– college and “book smarts” aside –– making a continual effort to learn strategies and improve areas of weakness pays off.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its reputation as a game for intellectuals, chess is also a popular activity among business leaders. GroupMe co-founder Jared Hecht, Grid Dynamics founder Victoria Livschitz, and Amicus CEO Seth Bannon are just a few notable figures who play competitively (and even have posted ratings). And here as well, the link between the game and business success appears to be no accident.
This has been further explained by chess master and Ensighten founder Josh Manion. In a piece at Inc.com, Manion explained that much of his own business success can be attributed to chess. Specifically, Manion discusses three strategies he carried from chess into business. The first is that when you see a good move, you should wait because there may be a better one. The second is that success requires thinking ahead several moves. And the third is that time management in chess is crucial (and can be related to cash management in business). Other business leaders may articulate the benefits of the game differently, but what Manion makes clear is that there are aspects of chess that correlate with business leadership.
Final Thoughts on Games Entrepreneurs Learn From
In the end, we know that there are a lot of practical steps to take care of when you’re launching a business. You need to get your finances in order, write up a business plan, and make those early hires. You’ll also need to set up your online presence, as we covered in our piece on “Small Business Websites” last year.
Alongside practical steps though, you’ll need to rely on real-world experience and intangible processes in order to set the business on a path toward success. Whether it is gaming or something else, it pays to stop and think about some of the things you’ve done and some of the hobbies you have –– and what they might have taught you that can help with business.