Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan


Yes, that’s right—begin reading PLAY BIGGER at Chapter Ten, “How You Can Play Bigger.”

What?? It’s not because the first nine chapters are bad—not at all. There are a ton of ideas in this book--written by a TEAM of authors. I struggled to clearly see the main points. But--If you first go through Chapter Ten (then start the book at the beginning) you will have a “roadmap” of the main themes of the book. You will be miles ahead.

PLAY BIGGER is an interesting perspective on how to become a huge “game changer” in your field. The authors call this creating a “New Category.” Throughout the book, they emphasize that you want to do something DIFFERENT—not just something BETTER. “The most exciting companies create. They give us new ways of living, thinking, or doing business, many times solving a problem we didn’t know we had—or a problem we didn’t pay attention to because we never thought there was another way.”

There is a huge advantage to being "different" compared to better. Something that is different has an “exponential value of different versus the incremental value of better.”

These game changers are called “Category Kings. These kings "create entirely new categories of business, or entirely new ways of doing things.” For example, the big startup Uber is not just a better taxi service—they created a business quite bit different, because they gave a new solution to a current problem: “Uber made all of us aware that we had a taxi problem—and that the problem had a new solution.”

There is something in this book so special, that if you just got this one idea, you have made a good investment. Here it is:

“You can position yourself, or you can be positioned.”

You can be at the mercy of business—getting pushed around a “positioned,” or you can be the one doing the positioning. The authors tell a funny story about how Dave discovered he was being positioned. “Dave discovered then that Christopher was making ten times more than he was.” So, he complained to Christopher. “Christopher, as only Christopher can, looked at Dave with a straight face and said, “Well, Dave, you have two choices in business and in your career. You can position yourself, or you can be positioned. And I’ve positioned myself as a CMO in this company, and you’ve been positioned as the lowest person on the totem pole.”

Ha! Well said. One person was on the bottom being “positioned” by the one at the top, who happened to make 10x more money.

Even outside business strategy, think of different versus better: “When thinking about your personal category strategy, always remember different versus better. When you seek better, you are moving into someone else’s territory, always fighting for attention and having to prove that you’re better. When two people say, “I’m the best,” one of them is lying. When you seek different, you aren’t climbing someone else’s ladder—you’re building your own ladder.”

Of course, this book is written by a TEAM of authors; in most places that works, but sometimes the ideas are not presented in the clearest fashion. The authors have chosen to use personal stories and anecdotes as a way to present concepts. This is okay, but I found myself wishing they would sometimes just say their points clearly, without so much storytelling.

Nevertheless, I think the ideas presented in PLAY BIGGER are worth some digging and pondering. So all in all, I thought the ideas PLAY BIGGER are genuine and insightful. As noted above, the recommendation on getting “Positioned” is outstanding.

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