The Queen‘s Gambit is Netflix's most recent juggernaut. A limited series generating 62 million viewers and sitting as Netflix's biggest limited scripted series ever. The show's global reach (ranking No. 1 in 63 countries including the UK, Argentina, Israel, and South Africa), and achieving a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes when it launched, provide ample support for both its popularity as well as its cross-cultural reach. 

Although the show is a work of fiction and drama, it holds many lessons to learn that can be applied to all of our entrepreneurial lives. Lessons both about the core ideas involved in making the show as well as core concepts about success in general.

Of course these ideas are the most fun to explore through the lens of Alchemy. The Alchemy of The Queen's Gambit. So let's take a dive into The Queen's Gambit and her top 5 lessons for entrepreneurs, executives, and business in general.

1.) What Are You Doing?

 
 
 

You might think that you are a software company, or a manufacturer, or a retailer, or any of 1,000's of other companies. You're not. The Queen‘s Gambit forces us to realize that EVERYONE IS A MEDIA COMPANY. Yep, everyone. Even if you are not directly involved in production, you are a media company. In today's age, we no longer have the three network channels of the 50's and 60's, and we no longer have the 500 channels of the 80's and 90's. We all now essentially have an infinite number of channels to consume content.

That means that—just like the quote from Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, in a 2011 WSJ essay—”software is eating the world,” we now have a corollary: “Content is eating the world.”

The Queen‘s Gambit made chess fashionable, accessible, and exciting. Mary Higbe, director of marketing at Goliath Games, said that in October (before The Queen‘s Gambit premiere), “sales for chess sets were up 178% over the same period last year.” But then something happened at the end of October when The Queen‘s Gambit was released: “our chess sales are up 1,048%”. That's a 10x increase.

Chess.com saw an increase of 378,000 players in March 2020, but that number pales in comparison to the more than 100,000 per day (yep, that's a per day number) of new signups after the release of The Queen‘s Gambit.

Even Google searches are experiencing a massive increase of 500% for the term “how to play chess” after the show's premiere.

 
 

So what does this mean for you as an entrepreneur?
It means that even though you may not think of yourself as a media company

ALL COMPANIES TODAY ARE MEDIA COMPANIES
 

The Synaptic Alchemy idea of Nigredo—”Destroy something”—comes into full play here. The idea that you are JUST a “fill-in-the-blank” company has to go by the wayside. Having a media strategy (it doesn't have to be a “produce an award-winning Netflix series media” strategy) is VITAL to succeed in today business landscape.

Apply this to your company overall, the project you are working on, or your personal brand. Getting your idea or name in front of a large audience is critical.

 
 
 
 
 

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2.) Fitting in is overrated

If you are doing what everyone else has already done, don't be surprised when you get the results that everyone else already got. And that is the definition of average. If you have read this far, or are part of the Synaptic Alchemy community, I know one thing for sure. You don't want to be average. You want to turn ideas into gold. You want to be extraordinary. You want to be an alchemist.

The costume designer for The Queen's Gambit (Gabriele Binder) understood this intimately, and handcrafted the costumes for the main character to truly reflect this idea.

Gabriele crafted Beth's style to really stand out which is completely apparent when she attends a party with other school girls who all are essentially dressed the same way. Beth's individual style has her completely stand out (she even seems to sit taller than the other girls).

What does this have to do with you, entrepreneurship and your company? Everything. Take a look around your organization, project, or team and look at what you are doing that is designed to fit in.

Fitting in is not always bad. There are times when conforming to norms is what it takes to win. For example, adhering to regulatory requirements may require looking like everyone else.

But could you think differently about fitting in—destroying a norm (the Nigredo idea of Synaptic Alchemy) and creating a new norm where you can shine?

I had this experience when I was running my last company. We were in healthcare tech, a highly regulated industry. There were rules up the wazoo that we had to abide by. Everyone in our industry looked at the rules and did whatever they needed to do just to get by.

That's what is interesting about fitting in.
It means by definition that you are average.


So instead of just doing what it took to get by the regulatory rules, the team decided to kick the rules into high gear and do 10x more than what was required.

I was truly amazed at how a simple difference in looking at the status quo made such an impact on how our customers looked at us.

We went from Fitting In to Standing Out

3.) Finding someone to learn from

 
 

All good leaders have mentors. Finding role models and mentors is part of the spark that moves us from average to extraordinary to alchemical.

That's what Beth does in The Queen's Gambit. She is always reading books, watching games, talking with other players. She is completely obsessed with chess and is constantly learning from others. Even from Benny when she plays against him and he was the champion last year at the U.S. Championship.

I can tell you, I have a ton (and I mean hundreds) of role models and mentors that I constantly learn from. None of whom I've ever met. They are all between the pages of books, in the audio of podcasts, or in the blinking bits of videos.

The old business adage “Leaders are Readers” really brings this home.

Especially for me. I adore consuming knowledge and ideas. I've been made fun of for this trait. As a kid I wasn't out partying as much as everyone else. I was more like Beth, constantly absorbing (I even played chess while in college, although I haven't touched a board in many years).

That's what made the difference for me. The mentors between the pages in the books and now in audio and video that I constantly poured into my head.

As an executive, a leader, and entrepreneur, a business person, find a few mentors and CONSUME EVERYTHING THEY CREATE. Get obsessed with the concepts of thought leaders. Some of the things they discuss may not work for you, you may not agree with, or you may think are pure garbage. But study them, jut like Beth studies her chess.

4.) Scale matters

 
 

Beth, our chess prodigy in The Queen's Gambit, is never satisfied with staying put. She is constantly on the lookout for ways to expand her circle of influence. She is constantly working on getting to larger events and tournaments.

Moving from local Kentucky where she wins the state title, to the U.S. Championship in Ohio, to the U.S. Open in Vegas and eventually to an international tournament to play the biggest game of her life. Beth is always looking for ways to play more competent, higher-ranked, more well-known players, and to get in front of larger audiences.

As Beth's chess career explodes so does her notoriety. That's what scale is all about—being able to expand your circle of influence.

This is what the third step (Rubedo) in Synaptic Alchemy is all about and its description really speaks to the point: “Scale Something.” The sound bite for Rubedo has always hit me: “Create something Simple enough for Anyone to use & Available enough for Everyone to find.”

In your alchemical journey how can you build scale? Scale = Awareness. Scale = Story. What story can you use to describe you personally, your team, your executive leadership, your entrepreneurial idea, or your company?

5.) You're only as good as your last game

 

Oh that's a hard one. Once we have an idea, once we have a win, it is tempting to just sit back and reap the rewards.

While there certainly is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor, as a leader, executive or entrepreneur, knowing that the wolf is always at the door, pushes us to do the next great thing.

Beth knows that. She's written up in the papers after winning tournaments or beating high-ranked players, but that doesn't stop her.

 

Beth's appetite for becoming the best, her passion for pushing herself is what fuels the series. Yes, that passion and obsession come with a price (addiction, loneliness, awkwardness), so obviously I'm not advocating that level of obsession. However, personally having an eye on future growth, while at the same time vision for your future steps is always a winning combination.

This plays out in Synaptic Alchemy when we talk about Big Picture &&& Little Steps. Always seeing the future while taking the small steps of the present necessary to drive towards that future.

What is your last big win? Was it recent or in the distant past? If it was recent ensure that you use scale to build audience recognition of your win. If it was in the distant past, start planning now for your next win.

 

Those are just 5 of the business and entrepreneurial lessons you can learn from The Queen's Gambit.

  1. Cultivate the mindset of a media company
  2. Work on Standing Out not Fitting In
  3. Discover mentors where you can
  4. Build a bigger audience
  5. Cultivate a Big Picture &&& Little Steps mindset
 
 
 
 
 

New Ideas and New Courses are about to be unveiled. Don't Miss Them

I invite you to explore the next steps and see what's under the covers of Synaptic Alchemy.
Envision HOW TO BECOME A SYNAPTIC ALCHEMIST for yourself.

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THE NEXT SYNAPTIC ALCHEMY COURSE

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New Ideas and New Courses are about to be unveiled. Don’t Miss Them

I invite you to explore the next steps and see what’s under the covers of Synaptic Alchemy.
Envision HOW TO BECOME A SYNAPTIC ALCHEMIST for yourself.

CLICK HERE TO GET ON THE WAIT LIST FOR
THE NEXT SYNAPTIC ALCHEMY COURSE

Remember Synaptic Alchemy courses are only offered once in a while.
Get on the waiting list so you don’t miss anything

Exploring the next step is FREE and could be the next step in your evolution towards success and in your path towards Turning Ideas Into Gold.

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