What do chess and business have to do with each other? Well, it turns out quite a bit- the art of strategy! Chess, in its current form emerged from Europe in the 15th century when it was played among intellectuals, royalty, and generals and has proliferated throughout all ranks in society. Good chess players think several moves ahead to gain strategic advantage over their opponents. In business, just as in chess, if you can think critically about strategy- instead of just ‘jumping’, you’ll have an advantage not just over your competitors but with regards to whatever outcome you desire.
I had the good fortune of seeing Bob Rice, successful entrepreneur, corporate titan, angel investor, and yes- a chess player- and a very good one at that! He just came out with his book, “Three Moves Ahead,” and was speaking to a group of entrepreneurs here in New York City where he applied the lessons of chess to business. It’s all how the pieces are played even if it appears that your opponent has the advantage. It’s how he or she makes the next move!
For me, a big take-away that I have been able to apply to my business life is ‘the check.’ When I joined in a chess match that day- I’m a complete novice- I was immediately called out for not seeking a check right away when it was available. More than likely, I didn’t realize that it was available and I instead chose to move other pieces. I was chastised in front of everybody in the room by my opponent, the renowned Asa Hoffman, who accused me of wasting moves, which translates to wasted time and energy. He told me to understand how the pieces move, to think critically about the possibilities and then move to my desired outcome- a check! The truth, as painful as it can be, is always better, especially when there are valuable lessons to be learned. I started thinking about my earlier days about when I first made the leap to entrepreneurship from corporate America and all the mistakes I made. If only I had looked for the ‘check’ back then, I could’ve saved myself from all the heartaches that nearly put me out of business. Chess may not be your salvation but it can help you think more critically and strategically, so that you can apply those game-changing principles to your own business. So, let me suggest a friendly game of chess!