The Musical Chair Game of Exclusion and Inclusion

On the road to success, there is always ‘we;’ not me.

Let me explain that to you with a small story that I came across.

The story is about how a group of children played ‘musical chairs.’ It is often a favorite game at picnics and parties and is most often played by children. Say if there are 10 children, the game organizers will bring out 9 chairs. Some kind of music is played and when the music stops, each child must find a chair and sit on it. Just because there is one chair less than the children playing the game, one kid finds himself or herself without a chair and is asked to go out of the game. After every game, a chair is removed and the game continues with the rest of the children till one child remains seated in the last chair and is declared a winner.

Though the game is fun and every child taking part in the game aims to be the winner, not everyone can be a winner.

This game is quite common and is played the same way across the world. But the Japanese (with their innovative minds) decided to bring a small change to this game. The play still had 10 children, 9 chairs, and the music to accompany the game, but there was a difference in the rules. They told the children that if any child playing the game remains without a chair, everyone loses the game. The children shifted, shuffled, and hugged other to ensure that no one lost because they didn’t have a chair to sit on when the music stopped. So you had 10 children sitting on a 9 chair and when each round of the game saw yet another chair removed, they still held on to each other in some way or the other to ensure all 10 were seated.

Now you have two versions of the game. In the first version, where each child learned that to be successful, you need to remove/exclude others.

In the second version, the children learned to include everybody in their quest to find success. They knew that if anyone of them failed, they all failed together. If they won, the rest of them won the game too. That is the culture we need to imbibe – “I CANNOT succeed without the help of others.”

The story lies close to the heart of each investment. Irrespective of whether it is the start-up or the investor, business success is a team game/effort. With every investment, we try to ensure that the start-up, and the people involved – the team behind the start-up, all find success at the same time. Everyone must remain seated together in that single chair even when the going gets tough and vice versa.

The story works in more ways than one here. So sometimes, as an investor, you realize that the start-up needs more funding than you can or would like to invest in, a different kind of advice or help. For a good investor, the key to ensuring success is doing everything in their power to ensure the success of the start-up or business. Sometimes, this may mean networking with other investors and funds to get the going smoothly as possible. The end goal is about making a success of great ideas and in turn making the country a vibrant start-up nation.

So that is how this story keeps on inspiring me to make more and more investments and help start-ups with funding (95 investments, 17 successful exits so far, and a passion to help more businesses become the next success story). Do you know someone with a great idea that needs the Japanese musical chair game for success? Do share.

Let me know if this story inspired you. Oh yes, if you have another story that is equally inspiring, I would love to hear it in the comments.