Where a finite-minded player fears things that are new or disruptive, the infinite-minded player revels in them.
To say the least, one could describe the World that we are living in today as disruptive, new and uncharted territory. As we all have been experiencing life under Quarantine and adjusting accordingly to the new norms of society. One thing that is for certain is that how we operate and live our lives on a day-to-day basis will never be the same.
Now is the perfect time to adapt.
Even though we are faced with adversity on a daily basis, there are a number of positives that we can create from this situation. Many individuals have been using this time to double down on their dreams and invest their time wisely into starting a business or learning a new skill.
Starting is always a step in the right direction.
As you begin your journey, no matter the situation, it’s important to have the right mindset that will increase your chances of success. Everyone’s situation is different but we all share the common goal of moving forward after the recession of COVID-19.
Some people will return to a 9–5, some will pursue a newly learned skill and others will continue to cultivate a creative monopoly.
What is a creative monopoly?
A creative monopoly is where you establish a specific market that is distinct to your ‘true self’ and creative talent. This can include brand identity, a creative service or artisan craftsmanship. You have truly established a creative monopoly when everyone has to come to you for that creative service or to attain the value that your brand has created.
With that being said, it is important to understand the game that is being played in concern to creative monopolies. You have players that have finite mindsets and you have players with infinite mindsets. The choice is ultimately yours’ on how you will decide to lead your creative monopoly.
These uncertain times have shown us the importance of time in comparison to money. When you have the ample time to invest in something that will create a better future, will you execute? For many it is more about life’s meaning than mere environmental circumstances.
What does disruption truly mean for your situation?
Does disruption equate to more opportunity and value? Or does it equal more competition and a struggle for survival? Now is the perfect time to plant those seeds that will allow for a more fruitful future. This is the ideal time to adapt and create.
Simon Sinek’s quote drives home a great point. Finite-minded players fear things that are new and disruptive. Routines are great, but what happens when that routine becomes stagnated and certain rules no longer matter?
For many people who are infinite players, disruption creates value, throughout history creatives have always thrived in uncharted territories. For many people who are finite-minded players, now is the time to make the transition to becoming an infinite-minded player.
What is the biggest differentiator between the two?
Finite = compete.
Infinite = create.
In the Infinite Game of a creative monopoly, you don’t have to compete — you can create. We naturally confuse capitalism with competition, one of Peter Thiel’s core points is that we shouldn't seek to be good competitors. We should seek to become really great monopolists.
It raises the question for many as to,
‘What is hard? — What is impossible?’
Merging these gaps is where you will create value. Competition means less value-creation and the competitive arena on almost all levels undercuts innovation. For creative individuals, you have an advantage when it comes to standing alone.
“If you want to create and capture lasting value, don’t build an undifferentiated commodity business.”
Creating something new and unseen has tremendous value. Creating a distinctive brand identity is how a number of individuals have created their monopolies. Don’t get me wrong, having competitive skills in a creative monopoly culture is necessary.
This includes being reliable, having discipline and executing with precision. If you are striving to become a great creative monopolist, some characteristics to embody are independence, alertness and the practice of cultural transmission. A very important asset of the Infinite Game is the transmission of culture.
Are you creating for the next generation?
Will you be bettering someone’s future?
As creative monopolist, if one theoretically wins, We all win.
The next great point that Simon Sinek’s quote makes, is that infinite-minded players “revel” in situations that are new or disruptive. Disruption creates opportunity and the rules of economics has taught us that opportunity combined with preparation can equate to success when properly executed.
Today is the perfect time to prepare and plan for an infinite future. The access to technology as a means of distribution and communication has made individual creativity the dominating factor. This is where a creative monopoly comes into play.
Whether it be creating a brand, artisan craftsmanship or creativity that is cultivated through technological advancements (music, poetry, art, writing, etc.). The power behind ‘creative output’ is that no one is you and you are your ‘true self’.
As an infinite-minded player you are not competing with competition, you are competing with yourself. Creative monopolies allow us to establish a truly distinctive niche market, where we can set prices and control the overall distribution (supply & demand).
“Creative monopoly means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creator. Competition means no profits for anybody, no meaningful differentiation, and a struggle for survival.”
— Peter Thiel
For most people, it’s about making a conscious decision to switch from a finite-game to an Infinite Game. In a finite game, you have set rules, players and usually a predetermined environment. In an Infinite Game, the players are known and unknown, the rules aren’t set and the environment is ever-changing.
The biggest difference is competition, competition means less profits. In a creative monopoly, you are your only competition. It’s more about sustainability and not letting certain circumstances cause you to self-destruct.
Resilience combined with consistency are the key factors in the success of a creative monopoly. It’s a situation where you can have 100% confidence that the process will work, it is just a matter of when. The benefit of a creative monopoly is that the process of creating never changes.
When starting a creative monopoly it’s important to identify your main focus and key in on simplicity to maximize value.
4 Tips On Starting A Creative Monopoly
Peter Thiel offers great advice on dominating markets. He believes that all companies should strive to create monopolies.
In regards to a creative monopoly, this is situation where you can strive to create value, build a brand and set your own prices. He essentially raises the question: What valuable company isn’t being created?
For creatives, this can be applied to:
What creative value can be produced?
How can you stand alone?
Here are 4 tips in assisting you in your creative journey.
1. Micro to Macro (Start Small)
Starting small as a creative has its advantages. It allows you to focus on a niche market and fine tune your approaches. Thiel cites this as one of his early mistakes with PayPal, originally focusing on users with PalmPilots (Global Market).
He ultimately had to pivot to focusing on eBay auctioneers (Power Sellers/Niche Market). A smaller and more accessible group of users who were easier to reach. Micro to Macro allows you to naturally grow as a creative and concentrate on serving a particular market. This process allows for lessons that will add value to your overall brand.
Ultimately, establishing your creative monopoly.
2. Scale Upwards (Micro to Macro)
Once you have established your creative monopoly, it’s time to expand and say ‘yes’ and seek out those bigger opportunities. Creating a solid foundation puts you in position to ‘scale up’. Thiel uses Amazon as an example, citing their dominance in online book-selling.
Once they were established as the go-to book retailer, they expanded into selling CDs, software and video. Presently, you see where Amazon is today.
For creatives, this could be the type of business model that you pursue. You can collaborate with fellow artists — ultimately — forming creative monopolies and benefiting from the value that your brand creates.
For example, H.E.R featuring. Missy Elliot for Pepsi
3. Focus on Innovation not “Disruption”
Thiel doesn’t hide the fact that he doesn’t relate to the word disruption and that it has been thrown around ‘loosely’ in Silicon Valley.
Citing it has become something totally different from when he started out. He stresses that as creatives, the real value lies in innovation.
“Disruption has recently transmogrified into a self-congratulatory buzzword for anything trendy and new. This seemingly trivial fad matters because it distorts an entrepreneur’s self-understanding in an inherently competitive way.”
— Peter Thiel
There’s the famous story that Simon Sinek tells of his cab ride back to hotel with an Apple executive, after presenting at a conference in which Apple and Microsoft were both in attendance.
When showing off his new Zune to Apple executive this is how the conversation played out.
“You know . . . I spoke at Microsoft and they gave me their new Zune, and I have to tell you, it is SO MUCH BETTER than youriPod touch.” The executive looked at me, smiled, and replied, “I have no doubt.” And that was it. The conversation was over.
Exemplifying the importance of having an infinite mindset, less than 2 years later. Apple released the first iPhone, rendering both the iPod and Zune obsolete. Thiel goes on to say,
‘Creation is far more important than competition.’
4. Start With The Endgame
For creatives, having a clear understanding of where you want to go is all the difference in establishing your creative monopoly. Thiel speaks of the ‘last-mover advantage’ versus the ‘first-mover advantage’.
The last-mover in a market allows you to create clear-cut goals. In an infinite game, you can’t copy someone’s true self but the advantage is that you can identify what works and adapt accordingly.
For example, who are some well-established writers? creatives? artists?
What were their initial steps? What blueprint did they follow? What mistakes can be avoided? What can be learned to make your journey more beneficial?
As the famous Chess Master José Raúl Capablanca put it,
“You must study the endgame before everything else.”