- The Productive Solopreneur
- TPS #48–My Weird Rubik's Cube Hobby Led to This Crucial Skill
TPS #48–My Weird Rubik's Cube Hobby Led to This Crucial Skill
I didn’t have many friends in my awkward middle school phase.
It was probably on me and my social anxiety, but I spent all my time (that I can remember) mastering two main hobbies.
Rubik’s Cube speed solving.
Doing magic tricks for strangers.
Of the two hobbies, one taught me skills for talking with strangers and building rapport, and the other, I was just obsessed with getting the lowest possible time.
Little did I know that solving a Rubik’s Cube as quickly as possible would translate into some serious skills I could use as an entrepreneur.
My Quest to Solve This Puzzle
I was first introduced to Rubik’s Cubes by a couple of band friends who would spend their time solving this puzzle instead of going outside for recess.
My socially awkward self thought it was the perfect place for me, too.
I studied different solving techniques and algorithms developed by "speedcubers." I drilled the techniques relentlessly until they became muscle memory.
My first attempt took me hours and hours to solve by following a YouTube tutorial.
Gradually, as I learned more and more algorithms, I got my solve times down below a minute.
Eventually, I could consistently solve any cube handed to me in under 30 seconds.
My best record was 12.8 seconds!
(I got lucky lol, no, I will not do it again.)
While I didn't realize it then, mastering the Rubik's cube imparted crucial systems thinking skills that stuck with me for life.
How, you might ask?
The Systems Lessons Revealed
It was only long after my speedcubing days that I realized what the Rubik's cube had inadvertently taught me:
Having a clear, measurable goal (solving the cube in under 30 seconds).
Understanding the step-by-step system required to achieve that goal reliably. (mastering algorithms or Inputs)
Repeating the system over and over until solving the cube correctly became automatic and effortless.
This was systems thinking at its core - having a concrete goal, then building and internalizing a process to hit it consistently.
These same principles now power how I build automated operations systems and streamlined workflows for clients.
Systems Thinking In Business
Whether it's solving a Rubik's cube or running an efficient business, the same systems-thinking rules apply:
First, identify the desired outcome. This must be concrete and quantifiable, like solving a cube in under 30 seconds.
Next, break down the exact repeatable process to achieve that goal every time. For the cube, it was understanding the solving algorithms and when to use them.
Systemize and automate parts of the process wherever possible. For the cube, it was practicing algorithms so many times that they became automatic.
And I mean automatic…
To this day, I can solve a cube, but I can’t do it slowly.
It’s all muscle memory at this point, second nature.
Continuously refine the system through repetition until success becomes inevitable. Hence, solving thousands of sample cubes to master the techniques.
Now, I apply this same approach when building systems for clients. We start by defining a concrete goal we want to optimize for - like client onboarding time.
Next, we map the workflow steps - from contract signing to gathering materials to setup. Then, we systemize repetitive portions by creating checklists and templates to standardize each project.
We automate what we can, like sending templated welcome emails when new forms are submitted. And we track metrics to refine regularly.
Soon, flawless and rapid client onboarding happens automatically every time. Just like solving a Rubik's cube.
The Results Speak for Themselves
By applying systems thinking, I was able to:
Cut client onboarding time dramatically
Reduce slack messages by almost half
Complete projects that used to take weeks now in days.
All thanks to identifying goals and then building the systems and templates to achieve them rapidly and reliably every time.
It took me hundreds of hours of repetition to become a "speedcuber."
Now, my systems allow me to shortcut the path for clients.
So, while I've long since forgotten my record cube-solving times, the problem-solving mindset stuck with me forever.
I'm thankful that the obsessive hobby of my youth taught me systems thinking skills that continue to propel my business today.
Just goes to show you never know what unlikely activity might spark lifelong abilities.
That’s all I got for you today, folks!
Until next time,
PS: Whenever you're ready, here are two-way I can help you: