This might seem like a boast post, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s a somewhat embarrassing story of what I once did, and what I once was. Then I’ll be converting that into a stretch of a business metaphor, and bam, first blog post out the door.
My dad raised our family on video games, and not only that, he actually helped create the graphics on some of them so it was just part of growing up. Atari, Dreamcast, Philips CD-i, and the 3DO were all common place in our home. Yeah, exactly.
With all those platforms, and hundreds of games to choose from, I somehow ended up picking Minesweeper on the PC as my go-to “video game” of choice… or maybe… it picked me. Jokes, all jokes.
But this wasn’t one of those diehard situations where I thought about it every day and strategized about it, it was more like, “Hey I’m on the phone talking to my buddy so I’ll just play Minesweeper while I’m at it.”
All of a sudden I was one of the best in the country, then the world. These ended up being my best times:
Beginner – 1 second
Intermediate – 12 seconds
Expert – 49 seconds
Just to completely contradict my previous statement about not being a diehard fan, I posted my times to a Minesweeper Community Blog-like thing and all of a sudden I was getting contacted by random Russians and foreigners who were asking for strategy tips and advice. That’s when I knew to take it down a notch. Luckily I was only about 13 at the time so it wasn’t too hard to start pulling some of those stakes out of the ground.
The “Stretch Of A Business Metaphor”
Minesweeper is all about that first click, taking a step into the unknown and seeing where you land. From there it’s about knowing your current environment, understanding the risks (bombs), identifying the risks (flagging the bombs), and then avoiding them, thus leading you to a safe path to the finish line.
I legitimately find that product management life, and more specifically within the App World, has some similarities to that strategy. You can use words or phrases like “launch & learn”, pivot, etc. but all it means is that you are aware enough of the end goal and focused enough on your current initiative to make it safely past that current grid of bombs. After writing this out, I feel like I could take it a step further, but then you would continue judging me even more.
The bottom line is that I believe Minesweeper taught me to take quick, confident decisions after assessing my surroundings (to the best of my ability) and that mindset is vital in the tech world, as the surroundings are ever-changing and those “bombs” can come out of nowhere.
I have since left my gaming days far behind, but that’s mainly because my wife and kids are far more interesting to me than trying to avoid pixelated bombs.