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Playing slots is like business

How many passions do you have in life? Just one? Two? Three or more? I have a handful, but two that I find among the most enjoyable are running my businesses, and – you guessed it – playing slots. Think of some of your passions for a moment. Do they have any similarities? Or are they dramatically different? I’d venture to say that they are quite similar in ways that you might not even realize at first glance. I was recently thinking about why I’m drawn to both business and slots, and when I contemplated more deeply, I realized it was because the two share many, many similarities. First, they both involve risk. And on the flipside, they both often involve frequent failure. But gosh, when you win big on a slot machine, it feels like it was all worth it, doesn’t it? Well, the same definitely holds true in business. At least, that’s been my experience.

First, let’s talk about risk: This is probably the most obvious similarity between the two. Playing slots has obvious risk. Chances are, you’re going to lose whatever you put into a slot machine. It’s happened to me countless times. But too often, people forget about the risk involved in starting or operating a business. For example, when one of my businesses had a serious sales slump years ago, I had a decision to make: Start laying people off to save money? Or dig into my savings to pay them and stay loyal to them, so that I’d be able to retain good, appreciative personnel if there were to be an eventual upswing in business again? Sure, laying people off during tough times is the less risky option, and that’s why most companies do it. But I’m a risk-taker, and keeping these people onboard made more sense to me – and it definitely paid off long-term… Hiring people with an unknown track record to replace good, productive employees is a time-consuming and expensive process that I didn’t have to go through when this situation occurred. And that’s a business jackpot for me, and a handpay for my staff!

Speaking of handpays, if you’ve played slots at all, or watched some of my videos, you’ll know that handpays are extremely rare; in slots, most of the time, people lose. And that’s true in business too – the vast majority of new start-ups fail within their first year. I’ve been fortunate enough that many of my businesses and business speculations and investments have done well, but certainly not all of them, and the successful ones can become unsuccessful fast, depending on the decisions I’ve made and/or market trends. Did you know that I did over $108 million in sales in 2008 on my ringtone business alone? And you know what my sales are for 2019? Zero point zero zero dollars. Nobody buys ringtones anymore. That de-escalated quickly, right? And when everyone was talking about real estate investments, and more recently, marijuana grow opportunities, I got involved too. I was very careful and very smart about things, and even still, a lot of the marijuana investments I’ve made have performed very, very poorly.

But boy, when it pays off, it can pay off! I took a huge risk with my co-registration email and health item companies, but the long-term rewards were well worth it. Of course, good things don’t last forever. Even the thrill of a massive jackpot handpay wears off quick when you lose it all on the next ten machines.

But just like in slots, so too in business is it important to save for a rainy day. I have kids now, so I’d never risk their future on a shaky business venture, or worse yet, a shaky slot machine. And I hope you’ll do the same. Ultimately, I’ve learned this: Never put money into a slot machine – or a business – that you’re not willing to lose, because chances are, you will.

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