Monopoly Vs MBA - Five reasons why you should play with your kids rather than save for business school

Today I played a solid game of Monopoly with my two kids and ended up teaching them some important life lessons about entrepreneurship. In 90 minutes I showed them more than an MBA for about a millionth of the cost! Read on to see  the five ways Monopoly could teach your kids (and you probably) about business better than an MBA. 

Those that follow my blog will know I'm a pretty active guy. I like to get outdoors and particularly love going to the park with my two son's to kick the footy, hit a ball or just run around. But what to do when one your kids is under the weather and you are trying not to have an iPad gaming marathon to rival a Tokyo teenager. I know break out the board games of course! 


Once you find them and brush the dust off, they are as good as I remember when I was a kid. However, these games should come with a warning to only play with boys if they have run around for a good hour and are over five. Until now, my five year old would have chucked a wobbly and threw the board ass over when he got board. I do love his ADHD for the fun we have, but trying to get him to sit still is a little challenging.  The eldest has an incredible attention span for things he loves to do - but how to make it important for him?

In one word, competition. 


I recommend getting the game started with a gigantic Vietnamese coffee (see picture). But if you don't have a gorgeous girlfriend to make you one, then break out the instant and get yourself sharp. These kids get creative in their counting! I also recommend roping in some other players to break up the brotherly rivalry. I was lucky enough to have my girlfriends sister staying so she had to play. No play, no stay!

How do you hide some education in there so the kids don't notice? Hopefully more successfully than when I tried to hide mushrooms in the pasta sauce - mass revolt ensued!  I know, I know I can't help teaching and preaching. But it was too good an opportunity to miss. Spend some quality time with them and teach them a thing or two about life in the business world.

You might think this old school game doesn't have what it takes to compete with video games. But think again. Or perhaps you can't see the entrepreneur connection. Well read on and you will be surprised by the 5 lessons we learned in that 90 minutes.


Here are my five reasons why Monopoly kicks MBA's ass.

1. Fun

Full disclosure here. I started an MBA about 10 years ago and managed a whole 2 years before I transferred to the Masters of Entrepreneurship. I can tell you first hand, it wasn't much fun. Monopoly 1, MBA 0.

2. Cost

I bought the Monopoly on sale for about $25. My company invested about $20k in my MBA. Monopoly 2, MBA 0.

3. Experiential

Whilst doing my crazy 14 years of business school I did a lot of simulated competitions. None prepared me better than that simple board game. Monopoly 3, MBA 0.

4. Kid time

If you want to spend time with your kids, a game like Monopoly is great. It takes ages and everyone get's really involved. My MBA took me away from my kids whilst at Uni and studying. Monopoly 4, MBA 0.

5. Business lessons

Sure an MBA can give you a load of useful training on how to be a manager in large businesses. But it doesn't help much with small business or entrepreneurship. As an ex corporate guy, now small business owner and entrepreneur - I don't use much of what I learned day to day. But I did learn to partner, build assets, fail, be resilient and deal with cashflow everyday with Monopoly. Let's explore more.

Partner: During our game my oldest son steamed ahead and got the first full set of properties and promptly put houses on them (well coached by me!). No one else had a full set and they wouldn't swap, so we were at a stalemate. That's until I explained that if we don't work together we are all going to lose. My other son decided to partner with me and he lent me the money to buy a set and we were off. Partners can help you grow faster than on your own.

Build Assets: Once we had an alignment, I let my partner off my rent and he gave me the missing properties to get more sets. We worked together which was nice to be on his side. Not so good for the other son - he almost left in tears until he realised he could partner too and got money and property from the other player. After a short while we had two teams going hard at it. My team started to get some assets together and get back our lost cash. You don't make cash without building assets.

Failure & Resilience: At one stage I had to mortgage all my properties except my set to pay my oldest son for landing on his property. Similar to paying the tax man, it can hurt.  It came down to the wire, but a few things fell to our favour and we ended up winning the game. Learning how to deal with failure and then bouncing back is probably the biggest lesson for my kids, small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. If you are not in the game, you are not going to win. Keep going when you get a few knocks is paramount.

Cash Flow: Finally the lifeblood of small business is cash. It's vital. I leveraged myself to the hilt to pay off a debt (landing on his properties) and had to borrow cash from my partner to continue. I got enough cash to build some houses and I left the others in mortgage until I had a few wins. At the end I had better properties and way more cash than anyone else. Keep cash, invest it wisely but you have to gamble a bit to get ahead. I didn't learn that in business school, way too caught up in spreadsheets and risk assessments. Monopoly 5, MBA 0.


There you have it Monopoly is pretty good for teaching kids about life and business. It's quality time with them too, costs nothing and you never know you just might learn something as well. I'm keen to continue their business education, anyone got some other great ideas? Love to hear them!


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Andrew Ford

Marketing expert Andrew Ford, the founder of Social Star, has discovered the secret of ‘Powerful Branding’. With a fire for unleashing people’s inner brand and developing business models to generate profit from an individual’s passions, Andrew leverages ground-breaking digital and social media marketing techniques to create digital strategies for clients to attract maximum opportunities. Having established a strong name for himself in the field, Andrew blends traditional business techniques with now-necessary tools for entrepreneurs to achieve scale, quality, and influence in their niche. Andrew’s comprehensive business background and qualifications consist of a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (RMIT 2003), a Graduate Certificate in Management (MBA Executive Program, University of Sydney 2005), and a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Swinburne University 2011). Continually on the cutting edge of his own education, Andrew has tested his marketing theories in forums such as the BCG Business Strategy Competition, which he won in 2005 against all Victorian MBA schools, and the Venture Cup Business Plan Competition (Swinburne University 2003), which he won in the Masters category. With experience working at Hewlett-Packard, Sensis (Telstra) and IBM, Andrew also has mentored dozens of junior staffs to help them achieve their professional goals. Meeting and influencing high-profile public figures helped Andrew to realise just how many professionals require more understanding and control of their public brands or appearance, and need help with the skills to use the many amazing free tools at their disposal to generate success. At Social Star, Andrew consults with clients to uncover their personal brand – both where it is today and where it can be tomorrow – and refine and define how that should be displayed in social media in order to attract their perfect target audience. Andrew mentors his clients to rapidly grow their business’ audiences, resulting in larger potential client bases and higher revenue. Applying formulas that integrate over twenty years of Andrew’s business experience and fifteen years of formal business education, Social Star specialises in building clarity and velocity for clients’ brands using the ‘Understand, Build and Leverage’ methodology. ‘Having a Personal Business enables people to have an authentic, congruent connection with their valued clients and partners, using their brand as the bridge,’ says Andrew. ‘I’m highly driven to work with the new breed of entrepreneurs and small business owners – people who have a passion for making the world a better place. Traditional business models are stepping aside as people follow their innermost dreams and my role is to see them operate within their values while creating wealth. Some people think you have to sacrifice what you love to be successful in your business, yet it is actually the opposite. Follow your passion and success will come.’ Lecturing at Swinburne University from 2009 to 2011 on brand dynamics and digital marketing, presenting at numerous conferences, and consulting to hundreds of clients, Andrew has seen his philosophy work that if you follow your unique path, based on your skills, experience, values and goals, you will automatically attract the opportunities you desire and achieve the success you deserve. Living his mantra, Andrew has created a successful business and attracts high-profile clients including musicians, athletes, authors, models, entrepreneurs, professionals and small business owners, helping them find their ‘why’ in their business and fulfilment in their lives. Business for Andrew is more than work, it’s personal. Running a personal business means that he is able to fulfil all of his values rather than separating his life from work. It supports his two boys while providing social opportunities, educational development, fitness opportunities, spiritual fulfilment and many valuable friendships. Social Star has now become the vehicle for Andrew to crystallise his mission in the world, to help people love what they do, supporting his ‘why’, that if more people loved what they did, the world would be a better place.