Lessons about Business and Life from a Simple Game

By John R. Aberle | Small Business Management

Apr 28

Have you ever played the Solitaire game, Spider, on your computer or mobile device? Did you know that you can undo all the cards played all the way back to the start of the game and continue? What is your average for all the games you’ve played? Do you play more than one suit of cards? If more than one, do you play two suits or all four? And what does this have to do with success in business and in life? A lot, as you will see shortly

Screen capture of a Microsoft version of Spider with the words "Lessons about Business and Life" on the screen capture.

Just so you can appreciate the points better, my favorite is to play with two suits, the mid-range of difficulty. By the way, this game is available in different variations, like the Simple Spider in 250+ Solitaire Collection on Android or the Spider version on the Microsoft Solitaire Collection. On Android, you can choose to restart and continue the same game. With Microsoft, you must undo all the way back or you will forfeit the game even if you replay the same one. Using the appropriate method to return to start when you’re stumped, you can continue to play until you win.

The main point relevant to business, especially on the Internet, and life is that you rarely win the first time through at anything. But you can make a change and continue. You may need to undo things several times until you get it right and score the win you’ve been striving for.

Persist Until You Win

One of the major cliché’s in the business inspiration and motivation industries is persistence. As E. Hinton put it, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Just so in Spider, if you persist, you will often will after a significant amount of time. For instance, some victories come after 1 hour and 20 minutes or even 1 hour and 40 minutes.

On the other hand, when you are persisting, keep trying something different. As Albert Einstein’s famous quotation about needing to try something different every time is that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Meme about Edison's quote re finding 10,000 ways that won't work

Strong Motivation and a Clear Vision

A favorite inspiration in America about persistence comes from Thomas A. Edison: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” That definitely sounds extreme by most people’s standards. However, remember here that he was strongly motivated and had a clear vision of what he wanted to bring into this world. He knew there was an unfulfilled, commercial need for what he was trying to invent. Notice too, he found 10,000 ways. He changed something every time. He didn’t just try the same thing expecting different results 10,000 times.

Meme John Aberle created about a Napoleon Hill quote about patience, persistence and perspiration

Reinforcing the idea that finding your dream solution, whether product or service, will take work is Napoleon Hill’s admonition that “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”

A man who knew more about persistence than most people ever thought possible was Abraham Lincoln. He told us, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” So, if your vision of your dream is clear like Edison’s and Lincoln’s were, keep changing something until it works for you.

Try Different Elements in Your Marketing Copy

Interestingly, highly successful Internet marketers constantly tell the stories of how changing a headline or a color or graphic made huge differences in the appeal of their copy (written material for marketing purposes, i.e. sales).

This is where Spider provides an important less about knowing when to quit. You may find that 80% of the games you play you can ultimately win if you keep trying. There is about 20% that will deny you victory because the cards are just aligned with no way to make the changes you need to. At that time, fold your hand and play another one.

How the "Dead End" Applied to Service Business

In business, this happened to a friend, Frank Robertson. He had a printer maintenance business in El Paso, Texas servicing the large line printers and the thermal transfer printers across the border in the maquiladoras (“Twin Plant” manufacturing plants) and scattered plants in El Paso and southern New Mexico. The timing was such that printers kept getting cheaper and more reliable combined with the larger digital printers based on copiers being sold and maintained by copier dealers in Cd. Juarez. His business was declining with no way to reverse it so it was time to sell his assets and change businesses.

One of the most brilliant marketers around today, Seth Godin wrote The Dip that address the need to know when to quit (and when to stick). He gives great tips and some examples of companies that knew they were facing a dip and not a dead end.

Before you decide you’ve reached a dead end in your business and that there is no need to persist any longer, be sure you aren’t just bouncing around from a “sure thing” that you now think wasn’t really a sure thing to what you now think is a “sure thing.” Remember the example of the Spider solitaire game, try, try again but change something every time. And look at the wealth of advice from the greats like Napoleon Hill: “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”

Open your heart in selling,

John's signature in Rage Italic script

​John R. Aberle


To get a better insight into whether it’s a dead end or just a deep so you need to continue, to persist a little longer, get a copy of The Dip. Seth Godin’s books are always fascinating, usually containing a twist to the standard viewpoint.

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About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.