Life is a Game of Bullsh*t: How to win at it

My thoughts on this TEDxColumbiaUniversity talk by Genevieve Gregorich. A no-holds-barred title with a real-life perspective.

Life is a Game of Bullsh*t: How to win at it


I just had a listen to this during my lunch break. An awesome TEDx talk that is punchy, and has a no holes barred title.

Nb. There is some strong language, in line with the speaker's message. All with well-meaning intentions 🙏

It's just been out 7 days ago, but has over 300k views. I have no doubt it will pass the half-a-million mark soon. Why so popular?

Video of TEDx talk

12 minutes of great talk.

Context and why bother

It speaks about what a lot of millennials and Gen Z are experiencing right now. As they have been in the workforce, or coming into it - there is a mismatch between expectations and reality.

Not one of these again, you moan... No, I'm not getting into the factual, data based, boomer biased topic.

This is about the new generation's approach to the game of life.

Go listen to the talk, it's only 12 minutes but all real talk.

David's Takeaways

My quick bullet summary / thoughts:
  • Relatable story about getting slighted, being unrecognized for effort and skills just for a 'random' reason
  • A great story arc in the talk, explaining about a card game of BS - but actually speaking about the real-life BS game that we all play
  • Looking out for the important cards in life - focus on the treasure, specific cards. Cards that light you up, not someone else. Listen, observe, and note where these cards; are they on the deck, in your hand or someone elses' hand.
  • Calling out BS, early and often. Do this regularly to reset yourself, and not get caught up in someone elses' nonsense narrative.
The treasure is everywhere, right here and right now. (The game) requires you to choose the right cards, and add them to your hand. - Genevie Gregorich

Game of BS

Genevie explained the rules of this card game during her talk.

At first, I had thought she was on a tangential rant. But, she deftly linked and tied her talk to this card game.

Does it even exist? I needed to look it up.

Hey it turns out to be a fun and easy-to-learn party card game.

Basically each person starts the game with a set number of randomized cards. And the aim is to empty your hand.

Each round you can choose to bluff your way or call out the bluff of others.

You can imagine that this game sucks people into deception, and bluffing to get ahead. Sounds familiar anyone? Fake it, till you make it.

The new meta

Who knew, there is another way of winning. Using transparency, and winding pathways - that seems like back tracking even.

Transparency - This goes against that grain. So much that others can't believe it, that they stumble over themselves trying to call you out.

Winding pathways - This one is not so intuitive, so stick with me here. It is to sometimes take two steps backwards, to get one step forward.

Huh? Yes, sometimes a detour of picking up more cards can be a strategic move for the long term.

You might need these cards at a later stage, where it would be difficult to them up without adding too many to your hand.

So, keep a watchful eye. Don't be afraid to pick the right cards early.

In real-life, this might involve calling out other bluffs more often and earlier than you'd like.

I'm trying to brainstorm when I'd apply these tactics.

How should I use this?

Just listing down a couple scenarios where I think the above approaches might work.

They're pretty counter-culture, which brings the novelty and edge to the table.


  • Getting a promotion, raise or negotiation for benefits - just remembering that progression isn't always linear.
  • Setting long term goals - taking stock of what cards are already on hand, then identifying which ones will be the most useful to seek out.
  • Being in a competitive environment - but not feeling the pressure to succumb to what seems like uncomfortable, yet usual practice. Being transparent or counter-culture itself could just be the edge you'll need to stand out.


There is quite a few things we can take away from the talk and the card game.

  • Life is a game, drawing parallels to the card game. Don't always take it too seriously but stay watchful.
  • There is usually an approach to the situation which one hasn't thought of. And it can be quite differently from the usual.
David Tang