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Does Jenga Contain An Essential Key To Entrepreneurial Success?
By Quiet Light
Two week’s ago, I gave a riveting presentation at PubCon Las Vegas about buying and selling sites. Meanwhile, my brokers were manning the QLB convention hall booth rustling up business. Most booths have a marketing gimmick, and ours was no exception. We offered passersby the chance to win $250 by constructing the tallest “Jenga” tower.
Our pieces were not official Jenga pieces, and were more like long skinny bricks. We explained these rules and suggestions to participants:
- You can only handle one brick at a time
- You may use two hands.
- Once the tower falls, your turn is forfeited.
- Once you ask the officiator (me) to measure your tower, your turn is over.
- No leaning the tower against anything.
- Other than that, think outside the box.
How Entrepreneurs Approach Jenga
What we gleaned was that most participants approached the tower-building in the same way that they build their business (this was exactly the metaphor we were hoping to prove). Some people were very stuck in “Jenga rules” and only stacked blocks horizontally even though we told them no specific rules about how they were allowed to stack the bricks. These people tended to build solid structures, but with very little height and no chance to win the prize.
There was a gentleman who assiduously studied three or four people building towers before he took a turn. He was obviously trying to learn the best ideas and then implement them. He did pretty well, but ultimately placed 3rd. He had good ideas, but was a bit too cautious in his implementation.
Our winner, Chuck Mullins (shown in the picture) created a tower that was nearly three times the height of the starting structure. He stepped right up, stacked bricks vertically, dealt with some wobbles, but ultimately won the prize. Coincidentally, we know Chuck and his Jenga-style is similar to his entrepreneurial style.
Take Risks & Copy What Works
There are lots of ways to build something. It seems that to be successful and to build something that breaks out of the realm of normalcy, it requires a combination of thinking, creativity and most important, taking some risk. Our winner was focused on a single goal – building a very high tower. He used his creativity and calculated risks to win his prize. A Jenga structure, like a business, requires a solid foundation. But it also requires just the right amount of opportunistic risk-taking to break away from the herd.
Our second place winner also showed that by watching what works, you can build something just as big (she was 2″ shy of Chuck’s tower) with a clear path to success. She was our last participant and had studied several other participants to see what worked and what ultimately collapsed.
Building your business, just like in Jenga, requires that you take calculated risks, and, when possible, look to others who have taken these risks before to see just how well they work.