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Seeing through the game is not the same as winning the game.


The book, North Dallas Forty, was made into a movie in the seventies starring Nick Nolte and Mac Davis.  Lots of great character actors in there, too, like Dabney Coleman and G. D. Spradlin (who you might also know as the Senator who tries to extort Michael in The Godfather: Part II).

In Business:

Have you ever been amazed by a magic trick?  Then, when you find out how it’s done, you can’t believe anybody would ever fall for it. 

It’s the same in business.  Think about the first place you worked when you were in high school — let’s say it was a burger place:

In the beginning, you think, “This place is great!  The burgers are ‘rad’ (we’re living in the eighties in this example).  It would be so cool to work here!”

Then, you get the job and discover the handful of simple ingredients and no-brainer system they use to make the burgers.  “Wow — that’s all there is to it?” you ask, a little disappointed now that you’ve peeked behind the curtain.

After a short time, you adopt “the attitude.”  You can’t believe what fools people are to walk in here and plunk down $5 for a bun with a meat patty and some veggies on it.  Now you know better.  You’re enlightened, aren’t you?

You’ve officially “seen through the game.”  But you sure haven’t won the game, have you?  You’re actually heading in the wrong direction.  Your newly adopted attitude keeps you from winning.

In business, the name of the game is “customer experience.”  People aren’t just paying for a product; they’re paying for an experience.

The magician is well aware of how the trick is done.  After all, he’s preformed it a thousand times and, right now, he’s got a bird squirming in his pocket.  The true magic is in the experience he creates for his audience.

A great magician’s act, routine, shtick (all another word for “system,” by the way) is simply his ability to repeatedly deliver a spectacular experience to his customers at will.

That’s what a great business does, too.

In Life:

 What does a “win” look like when you’re dealing with people on a personal level?

Sometimes it’s easier to start with what a win doesn’t look like.

A win is not, “I proved I’m right and they are wrong.”

A win is not, “I’ll agree to it, but I’ll make sure they know I’m not having a good time.”

A win is not, “I’ll be critical, and if anybody calls me on it I’ll claim I was joking and turn it around by accusing them of being uptight and unable to take a joke.”

To me, a win with people is similar to what Jerry Seinfeld used to say when he’d do The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  “When you go on Carson, you’re main goal is to get asked back.”

So how do you get asked back by the people in your life?  Be pleasant and remember my golden rule of interaction: “It’s not about you.  It’s about how they feel about themselves when they’re around you.”

So remember…

Seeing through the game is not the same as winning the game.

— “Conrad Hunter” (from North Dallas Forty)

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