What Is Your Wild Card and How Are You Going To Play It?

Wild CardBut I have a theory of life,” said Chumlig, “and it is straight out of gaming: There is always an angle. You, each of you, have some special wild cards. Play with them. Find out what makes you different and better. Because it is there, if only you can find it.” ~ Ms. Chumlig, from Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you realize you have an amazing hand while playing cards?

You slowly and deliberately fan out the cards in your hand — anticipating what’s coming. As you look at that last card, you get that “Holy crap…” feeling.

If you have a good poker face, you play it cool. If not, you squeal with delight.

Your Winning Hand

I’ve heard people call startups a crap-shoot. But as I’ve said before, I consider the entrepreneurial game more like blackjack than craps.

In blackjack, if you have a system, and play it smart, you can win consistently against the house. In craps, it’s all the luck of the dice.

One is calculated risk, the other, just risk.

Yet, unlike blackjack, in the game of life, you have a wild card. It’s that unique something that you bring to the game — your special gifts and viewpoint.

And as anyone who’s played cards with wild cards knows, it changes the whole dynamic of the game.

Playing Your Cards Right

Imagine playing a game of poker with your friends and not knowing what card the dealer declared wild. Chances are good that you’ll end up tossing one of them away, and miss your chance of bettering your hand.

So many people don’t know what their wild card is. They end up trying to play without it, and just struggle along.

What if you know what the wild card is, but because you haven’t taken the time to see how best to play it, you end up making a weaker hand?

Knowing your wild card is only the first step. Making sure how to play it best is second. Trying to use your gifts in a way that doesn’t fit, is like using a wild card to make 2-pair, rather than 3-of-a-kind.

That — both in the game of cards and the game of life — can be a very costly mistake.


  1. Great post. With smaller businesses, customers buy into the personality of the company and its staff far more than they do with big businesses, so having a wild card is essential for start-ups that want to succeed.

  2. Trying to use your gifts in a way that doesn’t fit, is like using a wild card to make 2-pair, rather than 3-of-a-kind.

    That is one of the best lines I’ve read in a while. Excellent topic, Tony. What is/was your wild card?

  3. It’s really important for people to discover their wildcard, and we all need to recognize that it’s a process. You probably have to stick with something for a while before your wildcard appears. They can be slow to manifest!

  4. Sean – Excellent point. For solo/small startups, the wild cards of those involved become part of the culture of the company.

    Jesse – My wild card has always been selling ideas by composing themes – through writing, speaking, art, and design.

    Mark – True. Just keeping track of your actions can help identify it.

  5. Interesting take on the subject, Tony. So many people try to say the same thing, but say it in the same, old way — the “find your niche” and “put your best foot forward” statements. You twisting it by tossing in the wild card analogy is a great reminder that each of us really does have something totally unique to offer.

Comments are closed.