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.
MONOPOLY VS MBA
Here are my five reasons why Monopoly kicks MBA's ass.
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.
I bought the Monopoly on sale for about $25. My company invested about $20k in my MBA. Monopoly 2, MBA 0.
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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