10 Lessons Nintendo Can Teach You About Success
If you haven’t heard of Nintendo, then you’ve been living under a rock for the last 40 or 50 years. The single word is almost synonymous with the home console video game market. But there was a time when becoming a multibillion-dollar company was the last thing on Nintendo’s collective mind.
In fact, there was a time when Nintendo itself had no link or connection to video games whatsoever. Did you know that it has been around since 1889? No one knew what video games were 131 years ago! So what were those early days like, how did Mario come into the mix, and what lessons can you learn from it all? For the answers to these and other questions, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s begin!
1. Your Mistakes Need Not Define You
While it’s tough to think about Nintendo not doing most everything right these days, there was a time when the company didn’t know what business it wanted to be in. It started as a playing card company, which was successful enough for the first few decades. However, they started branching out into other businesses by the 1930s and had quite a few failures under their belt by 1960.
One of their most embarrassing missteps was entrance into the “love hotels” market, which got their names because they were largely used for an hour or two at a time by sex workers in Japan. At any point on its journey to “find its way,” the company could have thrown in the towel but didn’t. They chose not to let their mistakes define them and have come out the other side winners.
2. It Is Never Too Late
Again, video games are what the company is primarily known for today. However, it is the business they’ve been in the least since being founded more than a century-and-a-third ago. Nintendo didn’t actually get into the video game market until some time in the 1970s. They created software for fledgling video game platforms before moving into their own consoles in the 1980s.
Around 1986, they “landed” in the United States, becoming a global phenomenon, influencing the development of the marketplace, and not slowing down for over three decades.
3. Try New Things
Nintendo’s willingness to try new things could be blamed for getting them into the less-successful cab services business during the 1960s. That said, it’s also the extra bit of ingenuity that took them into the video game world. So, yes, trying new things comes with risk and you won’t always succeed doing it. But if you keep it up, there’s a good chance you’ll find your calling and achieve success that may be even beyond what you would hope for or envision.
4. Your Future Could Be in Your Past
As a student, there will be times in your life where you feel uncertain about which new path to take. You’ll worry that you’ve lost your way or that there isn’t anything in which you excel. When those moments occur, take special care not to fall into despair. Instead, go back to your initial strengths and see if there is a new way to frame it. We see this in the example of Nintendo.
In 1889, it started with a simple concept: games and amusements. At that point, playing cards were the easiest and most-used concepts for creating that experience. After several missteps throughout the early- and mid-20th Century, Nintendo went back to basics (games and entertainment) and approached it with a new mindset and psychological tools. The results have spoken for themselves.
5. It Is Okay to Think Outside the Box
Students should always do their best to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to “break things” or fall flat on your face. The world of Nintendo has been one built on entrepreneurship and imagination. Sometimes those qualities can take you to some pretty unexpected places!
Take Mario, for instance. The little Italian plumber got his start in the Donkey Kong game as the hero trying to save a damsel in distress. He would appear in additional games before breaking out of the mold in the classic Super Mario Bros. This was a time when Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, and Harrison Ford were big draws at the box office. No one would have ever thought a pot-bellied, mustachioed leading man would catch on in the States, but it did.
6. You Do Not Have to Be First
Nintendo certainly wasn’t the first company in the video game market. They weren’t even the first console manufacturer. Atari had the most success early on, while Nintendo honed its craft on the software side. They steadily found their niche and enhanced their knowledge of hardware until rolling out their first systems (the “Family Computer” aka “Famicom”) in 1983. The Famicom was essentially an early version of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which rolled out to US audiences two years later.
1985. A full 11 years after the Magnavox Odyssey became the first commercially available home video game console. The lesson here: you do not have to be first as long as you do something better than the competition.
7. Success Is Repeatable
As massively successful as the original Famicom and NES were, they weren’t the end of Nintendo’s story. The company would go on to score big console wins with the Super Famicom/Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Game Cube, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, and Nintendo Switch. That doesn’t even factor in the successes they had with handheld consoles like the GameBoy and 3DS.
Each new product built on the knowledge and ingenuity of the last to the point that we now have Switch, which serves as a home console you can play on your television or on-the-go in a handheld form. The lesson: just keep building on what you’ve done that has worked for you. Look for new opportunities along the way. Commit to becoming a life-long learner.
8. Find New Ways to Innovate
Innovation has been the driving force behind Nintendo’s success, and they’ve been doing it to varying degrees of success since first opening the business. Of course, nowhere has the proof of their innovation been more apparent than in the video game market.
Nintendo has tried everything from being a distributor of other company’s systems to creating their own handhelds before the market was ready for it. They were one of the first companies to take their product line international and find success with it. They were able to develop creative franchises to go with their impeccably crafted hardware offerings. They were the first to merge handheld and console gaming into one unit.
The lesson is to always be trying to reinvent yourself for the greater good. Think about ways you can accomplish this as you go along.
9. Know Where the Needs Are
Success means finding the right ways to solve problems. You can’t do that if you are always living selfishly inside of your head. You have to get out there and see the world. Experience its problems first-hand. Talk to individuals. Nintendo realized there was a need for home console gaming as home computing started to pick up steam.
They went all-in to this market, leaving behind virtually every business offering that had sustained them for the previous 85 years. The lesson is to search for problems that you can solve in your school, community, or workplace. If you pride yourself on being a problem solver, it will become easier to do so.
10. Embrace Tech, Do Not Be Afraid of It
Up until the 1970s, Nintendo had remained in very traditionally-styled businesses. They were virtually indistinguishable from their competition. It wasn’t until they learned to embrace technology that they were able to break free from the pack and forge their own identity.
Much has been made about the rise of artificial intelligence. A natural fear of technology could arise from that. Don’t allow it to happen. Technology can take you to new heights as an individual if you simply stop allowing it to intimidate you. Younger generations have learned this lesson pretty well, but if you’re a non-traditional student weighing a career-change, it might not be as easy in coming. Give yourself over to it!
Nintendo Has a Lot to Teach
Nintendo may not be the first place you turn to for help in planning out the rest of your life. But don’t overlook it either. The company has been through much in its 131-year history with more to come. Through it all, they’ve forged a reputation for innovation, perseverance, and mobility that can work wonders for anyone trying to apply them to their own lives. Good luck as you consider these lessons, and may you have equal success!
[Featured Image by Wikimedia Commons]