Posts Tagged ‘differentiate’

10 Strategy Tips From……

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Tony Hsieh, a man who has taken a company from a start-up and sold it for multiple millions of dollars – and who has done it twice.

You really can’t argue with those kinds of results. While doing it once may involve some luck, I think doing it twice meets the important criteria of consistency.

Hsieh spent some time between building LinkExchange and Zappos.com learning how to play poker. He realized that there were many similarities between the game and business and so he made a list of the lessons he learned from poker that can be applied to companies.

Here are the ones that deal with strategy¹ :

  1. Don’t play games you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.
  2. Figure out the game when the stakes aren’t high.
  3. Don’t cheat. Cheaters never win in the long run.
  4. Stick to your principles.
  5. You need to adjust your style of play throughout the night as the dynamics of the game change. Be flexible.
  6. Be patient and think long term.
  7. The players with the most stamina and focus usually win.
  8. Differentiate yourself. Do the opposite of what the rest of the table is doing.
  9. Hope is not a good plan.
  10. Don’t let yourself go “on tilt”. It’s much more cost-effective to take a break, walk around, or leave the game for the night.

I particularly like #5 for 3 reasons.

Firstly, it’s particularly relevant – therefore easy for people to accept – given the current global economic situation.

Secondly, it makes the point that the need for flexibility isn’t new – it’s been around for at least as long as poker (Wikipedia says the game was first reported in 1852) but in reality much longer.

And, finally, flexibility is only one of the 10 points – you also need the other 9, for example long term thinking and differentiating yourself, to be successful.

Hsieh goes on to talk about the second biggest business lesson he learned.

He realized that the game had started before he joined it. So the most important decision he could make was which table to sit at. In business, one of the most important strategic decisions a business owner or CEO has to make is what business to be in.

But Hsieh had a further insight. In poker, while you can always change tables, you can only choose from the tables which already exist. However in business you can define your own market – which is what, for example, Southwest Airlines, Apple’s iStore – and Zappos – did.

My son gave me a copy of the book for Christmas and I’m only mid-way through it. But if you haven’t read it, get a copy. It’s an easy read packed full of wisdom. And, yes, I may have another post or two from it.

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¹Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion and Purpose, page 65

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