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  • GM Avetik Grigoryan GM Avetik Grigoryan

The 6 Lessons I Learned While Building ChessMood

Explore the six crucial lessons from ChessMood's six-year journey, highlighting the intersection of chess strategies and life's challenges, to inspire growth and resilience.

Improvement Hacks | 8 min read
The 6 Lessons I Learned While Building ChessMood

On Feb 15, we turned 6. Six years… Madre mia! 

To say it was a perfect and smooth journey would be a big lie. 
We had ups and downs, survived clinical deaths a few times, and had many good and bad days. But every time we went through it, we got back on our feet and moved forward and upward.

Looking back to our journey, I wrote down a list of lessons I learned and then stripped it down to 6. Six years, six lessons. 

Next year I’ll write “The 7 lessons”, then 8, then 50! I plan to live a long time, and my last request to the person who takes ChessMood further after me, will be to continue this tradition 😊

All of the mistakes I made, have common things with the chess game and the life game you will play. 

I hope at least one of these 6 lessons will be helpful to your journey.

Lesson 1: Most Rules are Wrong

I don’t remember how the apple fell down on my head, but I was 26 when I realized it. 

90% of the population is unhappy. Another 9.9% pretend to be happy. 

But this exact 99.9% are the ones that always seem to teach/write on how we all should live. 

They write books and articles, “How to be happy, part 27!”, they give talks and lessons. They haven’t figured it out themselves yet, but they teach. 

The same happens everywhere, including in chess. Go to Twitter and you’ll see it.

90% of the chess world doesn’t know how to improve. The other 9.9% pretend to know. And this exact 99.9% writes 99% of Twitter Posts on how to improve at chess. 

And that’s everywhere. It is the human ego that wants to pretend to know, and it is the human ego that loves to teach others to feel better. 

I love Lao Tzu!

For some reason, I had forgotten about this when I started ChessMood. 

The “gurus” teach you how to have 10x growth every year, but they don’t speak about how burned out you and all your team will be. And how much you might all hate your lives despite that 10x growth.

They teach you how to run ads, tricky click-funnels, the five magic marketing tricks of so-and-so… But they don’t speak about how you will hurt your branding.

And finally, most of those talkers have just ideas and haven’t done it themselves. 

And the world has seen enough millionaires who became millionaires by teaching others how to become millionaires.

Understanding that most rules are wrong was a key moment for me and ChessMood to jump from the ongoing river and look for the sun. 

My hope is you’ll be suspicious in your chess journey before taking any advice. 

Most people teach you tricky traps and how to win chess fast, but they don’t tell you how you’ll ruin your foundation and limit your future growth, etc…
And most people haven’t improved themselves but are happy to teach you how to do it.

So what should you do? We’ll see it in lesson 2. 

Lesson 2: Surround Yourself with the Right people

I also love Jim Rohn and this rule.

An example: studies show that obesity can spread through social networks. If one person becomes obese, the likelihood of their friend becoming obese increases by 57%.

57%! Amazing isn’t it? 

Smoking habits have also been found to spread through social networks.  People are more likely to quit smoking if those around them, including friends, spouses, and coworkers, quit as well.

Researchers also found a person’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected!

The attitudes, behaviors, and even OUTCOMES of those we spend the most time with can significantly influence our own, highlighting the importance of choosing our friends and colleagues wisely.

Who are your five? And who are their five? Since success will ripple throughout all of your relationships. 

Initially, I went wrong. I had some wrong people in ChessMood.
I had the wrong partner and I paid too high a price to fix everything he had done to ChessMood.

But then I deliberately surrounded myself with successful and happy people. I surrounded myself with ones that have won games similar to a game I wanted to play with ChessMood. 

That’s probably the wisest thing I’ve done during those 6 years.

My hope is you’ll carefully choose your coach, your online mentors, your training partners, and the sources you learn from.

Lesson 3: Make Smart Bets

I love Will Rogers.

Well, you have a choice to bet on horses or not.
To bet on 32 Red in a casino or stay away from gambling. 
But you don’t have a choice to avoid betting in life.

You’re betting right now, right this second. It was you who bet that this article was worth reading and clicked on it, no? 

It is you who bet on companies, thinking they will be a good place to work. But you never know. When you go on a date you bet on that person. You bet on the bar where you went to hang out, you bet on a person when you get married… You bet every day, every minute. 

I knew it well, especially because of my professional poker, that everything is betting.

In life you will make moves while only having limited information. And you shouldn’t care about the outcome. All you care about is: “Am I making the smartest move based on the limited information.” 

If you do this, you succeed in the long term, regardless of the outcome of any one bet.

But with ChessMood somehow I had forgotten this. I was trying to make perfect moves. I was trying to make sure I was 100% right before making a move. As a result, often I would get paralyzed and never move forward. 

Luckily my poker player blood started to circulate again, and I started to bet with limited information. Bet on people, on projects, on sources I learned from.

Often I made bad moves. Often bet on the wrong people. Often picked bad sources. 

But that’s life. Rarely do you have all the information, and you should move forward in the darkness, you should bet. All you can do is make smart bettings. 

My hope is you’ll not get paralyzed from fear of making a wrong move. You’ll not spend a year researching for the Right Coach, the Right training partner, the Right book, the Right course, or the Right website, and never make a move. 

But you’ll analyze your information, and make a smart bet in the darkness.

Lesson 4: Study - Practice - Fix

I love Benjamin Franklin.

As I shared in the article “How to get better at chess: The 3-step formula and the secret sauce”, there are many strategies to improve your chess, but all vary from level to level, the time you can spend on chess, and many other factors.

The only formula that is unchangeable is Study - Practice - Fix.

You miss one of those steps, and things will go wrong. 

During these 6 years, when things went wrong with ChessMood, often it was the same story. I was missing one of the three - “Study”, “Practice”, “Fix.”

Either I would be too obsessed with learning the “xyz” topic before going forward and as a result, never do it, or I would do the “abc” thing without necessarily learning about that topic, or I would repeat my mistakes because I didn’t check the data and didn’t know I was doing wrong.

My hope is you’ll have the right balance of study, practice, fix during your chess journey, and the secret sauce - the right mindset will always be turned on.

Lesson 5: Take Care of Yourself

I love Ryan Holmes.

Initially, I didn’t understand that to make ChessMood the home of anyone who wants to improve their chess and life, would not be accomplished in 1 year, or 2, and not 5. It’ll take many many years. 

As a result, often I would get very close to burnout.
Only this year did I learn this.  

Kamal Ravikant’s “Love Yourself” and James Altucher’s “Choose Yourself” found me at the right time. 

I started to practice James’ “Core Daily Practice”, which he also shared during the ChessMood Podcast Episode, and I started to take care of my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

(If you are interested in my other book recommendations, I wrote this article on “10 Must-Read Non-Chess Books Every Chess Player Should Explore”) 

Business is running a marathon and the same is chess improvement. 

My hope is you’ll prepare for a long run, prepare for setbacks, prepare to hit plateaus, and overcome them during your chess journey.

Lesson 6: Have Fun

I love Richard Branson.

When I learned that 90% of startups fail, it didn’t scare me. I knew I was different and that ChessMood would be different. 

But only two years later when ChessMood was in a coma and was close to death I realized how arrogant I was, and subjective.

Luckily, with the help of one of our ChessMood students, ChessMood came back to his legs. 

Later, my baby got sick several times, and we healed him. But I took the lessons, and I am not as arrogant as I was.

You never know what will happen. How you’ll be hit, from whom, and how strong. 

When you’re 100% sure you’ll succeed, it’s just your subjective opinion. 
Maybe you’ll not. Many things aren’t in your hands. 

But what is in your hands is the journey. In your hands is having fun and enjoying the process, the sunshine, nature, others you surround yourself with, all while you climb to the top.

My hope is you’ll not get obsessed with your goals of getting to the 2,000 level, having a title, or becoming a Grandmaster, while forgetting about having fun in your journey. 

Love,
GM Avetik (or Avo as my friends call me)

P. S. You can share your thoughts and birthday congratulations here.  

And I want to thank our entire ChessMood family!
To the ChessMood team, to our investors and advisors, to each and every one of our thousands of students, to each and every supporter and ChessMood friend.
Your support, feedback, gratitude letters, surprises, cakes, and pizzas…
We all would be different without you. ChessMood would be different without you.
Thank you!!! 

P. P. S. Celebrating our 6th anniversary, we are going to unlock all our 500 hours of Grandmasters-made courses for 6 days, from Feb 15-21! 

You can improve your tactics, build opening repertoires, improve your middlegame, endgame, and any aspect you struggle with.
The course you’ll start with - will be your bet. Make a good one and have fun.

If you’re not sure where to start, go to the study plan page, pick your level, and follow the instructions.

If you’re curious about which are our most popular courses, here they are.

1. Tactic Ninja - Sharpen Your Tactical Arsenal with a Grandmaster


https://chessmood.com/course/tactic-ninja

2. Endgame Roadmap - Your Compass to Navigate in the Endgames


https://chessmood.com/course/chess-endgame-roadmap

3. 100 Strategic Masterpieces


https://chessmood.com/course/chess-classical-games

Good luck! 

Originally published Feb 12, 2024

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