Everything I Know About Business I Learned From MONOPOLY: Successful Executives Reveal Strategic Lessons From the World’s Greatest Board Game by Alan Axelrod


10. The Taxman Cometh

  • It wasn’t until 1913 that the 16th amendment made the income tax a permanent fixture of American life. It was favored by the poor and middle class as it required the wealthy to pay a bigger percent. The wealthy responded by figuring out ways to avoid at least some tax. There are taxes in MONOPOLY too. The luxury tax is a flat $75 and the Community Chest and Chance cards contain other taxes and fees. Most of the Community Chest cards are good and eight of sixteen Chance cards send you somewhere, which can be good or bad.
  • The Income-Tax space requires that you pay either $200 or 10% of your income. Many players are too lazy to add up the value of their cash and property values so they just pay the $200. Serious players, however, take the time to determine their assets. This not only can save them money, but it also sends the message to other players that they are serious about the game. In real business not knowing your assets and liabilities on a daily basis can lead to trouble.

11. On Sitting It Out

  • The Free Parking square on the board is neither good nor bad, but you are idle, which isn’t good financially. Many people put fines that would normally go to the Bank in a kitty for the person who lands there. This is bogus as it increases the element of luck in the game.
  • The other passive square is Jail. When you are sent there, you should pay the $50 on your first turn rather than trying to throw doubles to get out. If you fail to do that for two turns you have to pay $50 anyway on your third turn to get moving. You also can’t collect rent while you are in jail. In the real world, inaction can confer an illusion of safety, but $50 is a cheap ticket and the price of missed opportunity is far more than you can afford.

12. The Virtue of Shortage

  • There are only 32 houses and 12 hotels. There are 22 color properties. Once the houses are all sold, no player can buy another until someone returns it to the bank. When the endgame rolls around, players are frantically trying to develop properties. Trading houses for hotels is a BIG MISTAKE. You need to be aware of how many are left in the bank. Build as many houses as possible. This is where low-rent monopolies can help as houses there don’t cost much. The darkest blindness in business is seeing only how a move you make affects you. Look beyond yourself. How does your move affect others and the environment in which your business exists?

13. Let’s Talk

  • Be it in the real world or in MONOPOLY you ARE in the people business. This strongly comes into play when you try to make trades, which you should. The only things you can trade are title deeds, cash, or get out of jail free cards. The later can be used to sweeten a deal. The essence of trading is to exchange value for value. Your focus should be on persuading your trading partner that you are offering good value. Focus on their needs with no mention of your own. Don’t be the first one to name a price as once a price is named it can only go down. If you can make good deals in MONOPOLY, you can make good deals in the real world.

14. Going Once

  • Auctions in MONOPOLY are not optional. They typically start below the property’s mortgage value (half price). Usually, the sale price is below the printed price, but not always if someone stands to get a monopoly or is trying to block an opponent. You should always focus on value rather than price. Like real life, you need to weigh the cost against the benefit of any action that is part of a dynamic process.

15. Kicking Over the Bench

  • In real life bankruptcy laws exist to give businesses and individuals the financial breathing room they need to scratch out a fresh start. In MONOPOLY when you can’t pay what you owe to another player or the Bank it’s simpler. You lose. The idea of a rainy day fund might work outside the game, but inside risk is always necessary to win. Monopolies with houses are what it takes to bankrupt your opponents so consider mortgaging non-monopolies in order to buy more houses.

Part II: And Then There Are Your Rules – 16. The Real Object of the Game

  • The rules state that the object of the game is to “buy, rent, and sell property with the sufficiently focused and ruthless skill to bankrupt the other players and thereby force them out of the game.” In MONOPOLY and in life success requires that everything you do keeps your objectives in view.

17. Psych (Or, Who’s the Shlub Who Choose the Shoe?

  • The five kinds of information you can have are the rules, the resources of each player, and the goals and attitudes of yourself and others. Like successful generals, you need to know as much as you can about your opponents. Since you usually play with friends and family you should have a head start. Then careful observations of how they play can give you additional information. You can even gain a clue by the tokens they choose and send a message with the one you pick. They fall into domestic, aggressive, whimsical, and loser categories. There are also gender stereotypes. To learn what they are, buy the book.

18. Gain the World and Lose Your Soul?

  • Cheating in life or in MONOPOLY is possible, but it’s not a good idea. You can be obnoxious to try to throw other people off their game, but that is a really bad idea. Neither approach is ethical and a victory gained by cheating or distasteful behavior is a tainted victory. A cheater may make a sale, but an ethical person makes a customer. Ethics is about creating relationships, and it is relationships that create a business. If you play MONOPOLY ethically, you will likely be invited to play again.

19. Hell Is for Nice Guys

  • While you should play an ethical game, the game tests your will to fight to the finish. Resist the urge to be a nice guy. Most competitive endeavors involve, to some degree, succeeding at the cost of another. If you choose to play and win you must sign on to compete and do whatever damage is necessary.
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