Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shooting the Moon with Xceleration Labs and Being Contrarian
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shooting the Moon with Xceleration Labs and Being Contrarian

Every so often Xceleration designs and distributes new T-shirts to share with Xceleration clients and friends. Many of the recipients of these new T-shirts also include Aki's belay buddies in the Taipei climbing community. (More on belay buddies and their importance in a future blog).

Kudos to excellent Xceleration team creative director, Haichen Hsu, who you can follow on Behance. Out of the various designs (there were four) and through informal polling it was pretty much a good spread, but in the end I settled on the "Climber with Moon" background design.

I'd love to tell you that we had this profound concept when we came up with the shirt design, but basically, I choose the one that was most aesthetically pleasing. And as with most things in life, after we choose something, I'll now give you the whole theory and concept behind the design, cause we after all have to ascribe meaning to everything. If you're going to do so, might as well be something empowering.

So what came to mind is the the expression "Shooting the Moon," which comes from the classic cards game - Hearts. For those of you growing up in the internet, smartphone gaming age, this is pretty old school stuff. If you know the game or remember the game Hearts, you'll be able to follow along (for everyone else the rules are clearly explained in your handy wikipedia entry)!

Jesus going for it with a climb at Y17
while wearing his "Shoot the Moon" Xceleration T-shirt.


So what is Shooting the Moon? As defined in Wikipedia, it is:

  • "Shooting the moon, in card games is to obtain the highest possible outcome through the very risky strategy of achieving the lowest possible score."

Love this idea. So yeah, of course, in startups we want to do that old Casey Kasem classic sign off from his American Top 40 radio program, "Keep reaching for the stars." Totally, admirable and something we should certainly strive for.

But I think Shooting the Moon is more apropos, as it requires you to be "contrarian." Let me explain. The basics of the game is not to end up with any of the cards in the deck with the hearts suit (and also the Queen of Spades), in doing so you end up with points. You'd play the game for several rounds and the more points you get the more you're "losing." But one actually interest facet of the game is to the do the contrarian strategy of capturing all of the hearts, called "Shooting the Moon." In order to do so, you can NOT "advertise" that this is your strategy, for it is easy for someone in the group to "sacrifice" and take a heart, thereby loading you with the rest of the hearts and pushing your score way up (which is bad), instead of "shooting the moon",  and thereby gaining negative points, putting you ahead of the others.

"Shoot the Moon"
Translate this into startups. My general take on startups is to work diligently and away from the limelight, potentially using a contrarian strategy, instead of following the herd. Not necessarily to be secretive, but rather not running around telling everyone of your "how to" strategy, but justing working it. Many times the other folks in your community will be contributing to your success in ways they didn't even realize, as with the game of Hearts, many folks in the community unwittingly become your helpers and supporters for you to reach the greatest height that you can reach.

So when you "shoot the moon", it'll be a bit of a surprise! Think about all the ways, you may try a contrarian strategy in your startup venture. Perhaps this will open up new avenues of thought and help with your "out of the box" thinking.