5 Things Cards Against Humanity Can Teach You About Business


Are you a horrible person?

If so, you’ve probably played Cards Against Humanity. And if not, there’s still time to corrupt you. (You need a twisted sense of humor to enjoy this game.)

If you’ve played CAH before, you can skip ahead to lesson 1. I’m going to briefly explain the game to newcomers.

What is Cards Against Humanity?

Have you ever played Apples to Apples? It’s like that, except the cards are as offensive as possible.

Each round, a new player flips over a black card and acts as the judge. Each black card is typically a fill-in-the-blank statement.

Then, every other player submits a white card — face down — from his or her hand. The judge then reads the white cards one by one and awards the black card to the person with the best response. Whomever has the most black cards at the end wins.

Did you realize this game is highly educational? Here’s what I’ve learned about business as an avid CAH player…


1. Know Your Target Customer

A common refrain among my friends is “Play to the judge!” In other words, don’t play the cards you think are funny, play the cards the judge will like. For instance, I like absurdist humor, while my friend Lisa likes bathroom humor. Whenever I get a card with a poop joke, I groan a little inside… but I know it’s an easy point if I save it for Lisa.

Here’s what this can teach you about business: you need to share a common language with your customer. You have to talk the same way your customer does, and use the same words they do to describe their problems. If you talk like a college professor on your blog, it’ll probably fall on deaf ears because that’s a dull way to write.  But if you connect with your reader and prove that you understand them, they’ll reward you with their business.

It also helps to understand your demographics in general. For instance, did you know:

  • Men like MechaHitler and Natalie Portman?
  • Women like Prancing and Dorito Breath?

It’s true!



(See more fun stats here)

Remember that blogging, above all else, is about solving people’s problems and making a connection. It doesn’t hurt you to throw in pop culture references (hmm, like Cards Against Humanity) if it brings you closer to your reader.


2. Respect The Power of Luck

My friends and I play with a house rule: we include an imaginary player named Rando Cardrissian. Rando’s job is to anonymously submit a random answer for each round.

As you might expect, his answers are sometimes hilarious.

Not surprisingly, Rando wins a lot of rounds. Despite our best laid plans, we’re sometimes less funny than what amounts to a chimp throwing darts.

There’s a lot of luck involved in growing a business. Of course, smart decision making and hard work are even more important, but it’s foolish to pretend luck doesn’t exist. Successful entrepreneurs, however, understand the powers and limitations of luck.

They make their own luck.

Psychology researcher Richard Wiseman has studied the phenomenon of “luck” and reached some interesting conclusions. Among other things, “lucky” people simply expose themselves to more situations where a good outcome may result. In other words, you won’t be lucky if you don’t leave the house. But go to a few dozen conferences or networking events, and you’re bound to have something good happen to you.

People arrive at more creative solutions when they expose themselves to new people and ideas. This is, in part, why Pixar makes such creative movies. The Pixar campus is structured so that employees are constantly having chance encounters with people outside their departments. This allows for a free-flowing exchange of ideas, which leads to more creativity and lucky ideas.

You can do the same thing just by getting in front of new people. Go to those conferences. Become a regular at coffee shops around your city.

Or just use Twitter more strategically. As an introvert, this is a big reason why I love it. It’s networking without the awkwardness!


3. Most of Your “Good Ideas” Will Fail

How many times have you played “the perfect card,” only for the judge to pick something else that isn’t nearly as funny?


This is a really helpful mindset to have in business. Entrepreneurs have no shortage of ideas, and they recognize that something like 90% of these ideas will fail. But, of course, it takes only one home-run  to make up for all these failures.

This is such a fundamental law that I call it the 10% rule. It applies to business, creativity, writing, and just about any other endeavor. Creative people (and successful entrepreneurs) aren’t particularly gifted; they just work harder and don’t view failure the same way as everyone else.

They take chances. They throw their ideas out there, and see what happens. They have fun. If it works out, great… if not, they’re a little closer to that golden 10%.

Just think of how many songs The Beatles must have scrapped. Even Steve Jobs bombed every once in a while. Remember the iPod Hi-Fi? Me neither.

iPod Hi Fi by Teófilo Ruiz Suárez

So just have fun with it. Enjoy the process and don’t put unreasonable expectations on yourself.


4. Get Your Ideas Out There

Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Sometimes you’ll hang on to a great card for ages, just because you’re waiting for the perfect punchline.

This habit is even more dangerous in business. One of my favorite business quotes is by Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

Just as many of your good ideas will fail, you’ll sometimes have to launch something before you think it’s ready. Don’t let perfectionism get the best of you, though — it’s better to just get your idea out there and see how the market reacts. Since most of your ideas will fail, it’s better for them to fail early on.

Don’t hang on to your best cards — or ideas — for too long.



5. You Can’t Win Without Offending Someone

It says it right there on the box: it’s a party game for horrible people. You can’t win Cards Against Humanity by playing tepid cards like “Hope” or “My soul.” You need to bring out the big guns.

“Taking a man’s eyes and balls out and putting his eyes where his balls go and his balls in the eye holes.”

What’s the business equivalent to this?

Fortunately, it’s not as edgy! But you do have to stand for something. You have to offend and piss off some people so you can appeal to your perfect customer.

You need personality. Remember what Simon Sinek says: People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you run a business blog (as you should!), your job isn’t to recite facts and educate your customer. Wikipedia already does that, and they do it better.

Your job is to form a connection. To make the world fall in love with you and your product.

The internet doesn’t need another article on the nutritional information of industrial widgets. But it does need your unique voice.

Don’t worry about offending people. Heck, in this article I’ve already lost the business of little old ladies and other people who don’t find eye-balls funny. I’m okay with that, because this gets me closer to clients who have a sense of humor.


Your Turn

So get your ideas out there. Have fun with business and find a unique voice that some love and others hate.

Are  there any other lessons we can learn from Cards Against Humanity? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Creative Commons Images:

Cards Against Humanity by Madeleine Forbes

Oedipus complex  by Marc Majcher

Richard Dawkins by Tom Bullock

iPod Hi-Fi by Vipersnake151



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