Marketing Lessons The CEO Of Absolut Learned Playing Video Games
The topic of how video games can improve a wide range of human skill sets has become an extremely popular over the past few years. As the gaming industry continues to expand, there have been debates on both sides advocating for and against the impact games have on our tendencies, habits, and relationships. There are plenty of TedTalks that cover the topic, as well as books and even research studies that have explored the value games have on our brains. According to TIME, author and game designer Jane McGonigal is cited as saying, “When people play games, they are wholeheartedly engaged in creative challenges.”
But she’s not the only thought leader who believes there are significant value in playing video games. It’s not every day that an established CEO attributes a handful of their lessons learned to an adolescence spent playing video games. But according to Anna Malmhake, CEO of The Absolut Company, gaming as a teenager (and still to this day) has had a significant impact on how she thinks about business.I was talked with with Malmhake and talk about this topic, and she shared three important lessons learned from gaming:
Get Rid Of Negative Teammates, ASAP
The parallel to finding great teammates in competitive gaming would be to hire phenomenal talent within your company. Great hires build great companies. Bad hires cause companies stress. “From games you play in teams online, to building a company: you have to get rid of people with bad attitudes as soon as possible,” said Malmhake. “Otherwise, they will work tirelessly to make themselves and their teammates fail. That one person will turn your workplace into a hamster wheel, where everyone is constantly occupied with drama rather than work.”
Games have a knack for bringing this issue to the surface quickly, since games are intended to be “fun.” But often times, this lesson is forgotten in the workplace—since people think of their jobs as “work.” She went on to add that fortunately, in business, many people put forth a great deal of effort to carry themselves in a professional and respectful manner. However, it’s not uncommon for bad apples to appear—and when they do, they can do real damage to the inner workings of a company.
Don’t Get Sucked Into What Requires “Immediate Attention”
“Inbox zero is a terrible goal,” said Malmhake. She explained that, especially in online strategy games, the easiest thing to do is focus on details and routine tasks that seem to require immediate attention, but ultimately detract from the larger, more important mission. “You will get little dopamine kicks from these routine steps,” she said, “but you need to force your comfort-zone-loving brain to stay engaged with the bigger picture and the long-term goal. Having beaten the barbarians at the city gates (or having an empty inbox) is of no use if your team is behind and destined to go under.”
Metaphorically speaking, this would be the equivalent of a company that hasn’t launched a new innovation in quite some time, and is losing market share—while simultaneously thinking they’re being “productive” on a day-to-day basis. Checking off tasks doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making meaningful progress
Stop Memorizing Data And Start Prioritizing Relationships.
One skill competitive games teach many people is what real leadership looks like. Leading a team of players through a challenging dungeon requires many of the same qualities needed to lead a business team to success. “It is astonishing to me how many CEOs take immense pride in memorizing numbers or frivolous statistics,” said Ron Goldstein, President & CEO of CaliforniaChoice. “Memorizing details on a tactical level and making them easy to analyze are what computers are for. What is far more important is prioritizing building and nurturing relationships—both within the company, and with their customers. He added that too many business leaders get locked into building things that are easy for their company to make, instead of questioning the relationship they have with their customers and how they can provide even more value.
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