By now, you’ve most likely heard of, or seen the viral Netflix show, ‘’Squid Game’’. The limited series shows how 456 individuals in an unsustainable economic situation compete in highly deadly children’s games to win an economic prize in a dark, compelling game of survival that could change their lives.
Squid Game has since become one of the most viral shows of 2021, and, perhaps surprisingly, it offers some significant life and business-related insights. It is well made, timely, full of suspense and has indeed become an absolute global phenomenon. The show has become a viral sensation, as Netflix shows often do, with memes, viral TikToks and so much social media discussion that it’s hard to ignore.
Interestingly, the story of how writer, Hwang Dong-hyuk had the script for Squid Game for over 10 years but was rejected by studios, investors and actors has resonated with the online community. At one point, he even had to sell his laptop due to financial struggles. Then Netflix took a bet on him – and the rest as they say is history. The once rejected script has now gone on to become the number one show in 90 countries. Ironically, Squid Game had virtually no press or marketing in the U.S. before its debut compared to all the other big Netflix shows, but it still managed to become the topic of the year. Squid Game has somewhat redefined what is possible and broken past publicity records.
Squid Game is more than a compelling survival game series that entertains. The show does not only focus on the game itself. It also encapsulates different life lessons that can be practised and applied in the real world.
1. Live within your means
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While all 456 players came from various walks of life, they all have something in common. That is – ‘’Debt’’. Overspending, addiction and other poor decisions led to 456 players joining Squid Game out of desperation, without knowing its deadly consequences. In the case of player 456, Seong Gi-hun, he joined the game in an attempt to pay off his debts, support his mother’s hospital bills and his daughter. For the sake of money, he toiled through nerve-wracking games and encounters that saw him at the brink of death many times in the show. So remember to always take stock of your expenses, and never spend more than what you have.
2. Red light – green light: Work smartly
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This game clearly shows that moving fast is not as important as moving forward. When fast is fatal, stop, think, re-evaluate, move with a plan and move according to instructions. Move with a plan towards your goal. Just moving fast is not important, as everyone will have a different pace to reach their goal.
3. Honeycomb: Be dynamic
The Honeycomb game emphasizes the need to dare to challenge conventional methods. To survive, prepare to think outside the box. If you can leverage your knowledge, to envisage the future, use it (one of the players chose an easy game, as he was aware of the game beforehand). Also, in order to achieve your goal, dare to think outside the box.
4. Tug of war: Be Agile and know your strengths
One of the most interesting games in the show was the tug of war where competitors had to form a team of 10 and assign roles based on strengths. In the game of tug of war, Oh Il-nam (#001) coaches the team on how to win, stating, “All you need is a good strategy, combined with good teamwork.” When building teams, having a good leader is vital. You also need to have someone strong and dependable to serve as the anchor of a ship. Then, it’s all about how you arrange your team, with each member playing an important role in helping to secure a win. Having this strategy in place was critical to their success.
Reminiscent of Andy Stanley’s quote about strengths, “Your fully exploited strengths are of far greater value to your organization than your marginally improved weaknesses.” Always place the right person in the right seat. They will be able to feel fulfilled and serve much better. Those who chose roles compatible with their strengths won the game.
5. Marble Game: Play to your strength
Deok-su almost lost when he was playing odds or even with his gangster friend, so he requested that the guard let them play another game. Permission was granted, and Deok-su suggested a throwing game, knowing he would have a better chance of winning. And he was right. The lesson from this game is to play to your strengths.
6. Glass stepping stones: Finishing last does not translate to failure
The Glass game was more a matter of luck. Yet, it gives an important lesson. Finishing last does not mean failure. In fact, there is the advantage of learning from other people’s mistakes and making better-informed decisions. People ahead of you could fail first because they were ahead and faced obstacles earlier and unprepared. You can always learn and grow from them while fighting better prepared and experienced.
7. Don’t rush through life
Most people who competed in the Squid Game were in a hurry to finish every competition, and they paid a heavy price for rushing. We live in a world that wants our continual attention. Our life becomes a series of tasks and this continuous haste forces us to think about things before people. It is important to have a plan, but don’t lose sight of the most important things in your life.
8. Word-of-mouth marketing reigns supreme
Word-of-mouth is considered a classic marketing technique and Squid Game proves that it can be the major leading factor in advertising and product marketing. The show had virtually no press or marketing in the U.S. before its debut compared to all the other big Netflix shows, but it still managed to become top release this year.
Virtually everyone heard about Squid Game from friends and close acquaintances who could not stop talking about it, and even more so, the countless memes have been flooding the news feeds on every social media app and this results in one thing for sure: It gets you interested enough to watch the show so you can understand the context and relate to the jokes being told. The lesson of the story is that no paid advertisement campaign of any scale could accomplish the achievement that Squid Game obtained using just word-of-mouth.
“In the greatest achievements of the world, no important endeavour that required innovation was done without risk. Rejection has to always be an option in art, in creation and in exploration, because it is risky and requires a leap of faith. So no matter who you are – an artist, a creator, or an entrepreneur – remember that failure and rejection are always options – but fear is not,” a post by Christel Quek, co-founder of Bolt, read.
So, Are you prepared to do anything to win?