September 21, 2020


When is the game of golf like the game of business? The answer is — always. Millionaire entrepreneur, investor, speaker and author Joshua Denne reveals certain “tells” on the golf course that can tip you off about what that person will be like in a business deal.

By Joshua Denne, Special to California Business Journal.

They say more business is done on the golf course than anywhere else.  I would put it another way: You can learn everything you need to know about a potential business partner by playing golf with them. Why? Because how someone does anything is how they do everything.

When I’m choosing what companies to invest in, it’s never really about the company – it’s about the people.  I believe that before you do business with anyone, you have to find out who they are.  And there’s no place better than a golf course to do that.

I like to get people in a social and semi-competitive environment to see how they operate.  On the golf course, I’m observing how they play the game – do they cheat, do they get angry, are they throwing their game to be humble?  All these are great tells as to how they will operate in a business setting.  It’s a matter of congruency.  How someone plays a game reflects how he or she conducts them self in life.

There’s something about a golf course that really brings out one’s character.  I like the game of golf because you’re playing against yourself, but others are there for accountability.  I get so much information by watching someone play and listening to the conversation around the game.

For example, does the player ask for a mulligan after a bad shot, or try to cover it up?  Asking for a consensus among other golfers is the smart move. If they try to hide things in golf, they’ll hide things in business, too.

If you’re golfing with a guy who’s married and he talks a lot about other women, that’s a red flag. How is he going to be loyal to me as an investor if he can’t even be loyal to his own wife? At some point, they’re going to be unfaithful to me in a business relationship.

Joshua Denne and Patrick Shaw, CEO of Rapid Funnel, playing at the Brandon Dunes course in Oregon.

Joshua Denne and Patrick Shaw, CEO of Rapid Funnel, playing at the Brandon Dunes course in Oregon.

It’s not about how well you play, it’s how you face the inevitable challenges.

On a golf course, there’s the tee (where you begin) and the hole (where you end), and a long journey in between that may take you through the rough, through sand traps, or even in the water.  Of course you want to sail smoothly to the green, but it doesn’t always happen.  If I see a player get heated and emotional and blame his club or the ball or the course in general, I know that person has an anger problem, and an accountability problem.  They’re not taking responsibility for their own mistakes.  If they don’t own it on the golf course, they won’t own it in business.  When the investment challenges in business arrive, odds are they’re going to have the same reaction.

Another thing I’m looking for on the course is caring.  Sure, I like working with people who are competitive, but I don’t want to win at the expense of someone else.  In my experience, most business owners and investors are Type A personalities, but you also have to have the disposition to care about the other alphas in the room and wouldn’t throw them under the bus for the sake of a dollar.  A compassionate attitude has to be part of the equation so you know when and how to yield to others in the boardroom.

I also look for people who show too much humility.  That can be just as bad as having too much ego.  If a player is purposely trying not to play their best game on the links so they don’t outshine the master, they’re cheating themselves.  Although it may seem altruistic at first, that player is being false and deceptive.  They’re playing the game how someone else wants them to play it, not how they would play it using their talent and potential.  In business, I want someone who will stand up to me, tell me when I’m wrong, and challenge my thoughts and perceptions. It’s a guarantee that I’m going to make mistakes along the way. I want people around me to point them out constructively so we can all learn from them.

Usually at the end of 18 holes, I’ve spent enough time with someone to know if I want to be in business with them or not.  The game of business starts with the game of golf.

Joshua Deene says you can learn everything you need to know about a potential business partner by playing golf with them.

Millionaire entrepreneur, investor, speaker and author Joshua Denne reveals certain “tells” on the golf course that can tip you off about what that person will be like in a business deal.

Five Things to Look for in a Business Partner

Honesty and Integrity

These are the cornerstones of any long-term business relationship.  Actively listen to your potential business partner to make sure they’re disclosing important information about the pros and cons of any venture.  Look for direct eye contact and open body language throughout those critical conversations.


Seek out partners who will own their decisions and take responsibility for good ones and bad ones.  If they’re always trying to pass the blame to someone else on the team, they won’t be a strong link in the chain of success.


You need to know that you and your business partners have each other’s backs no matter what happens.  It’s all smiles and slaps on the back when things are going great, but you also want someone who’s willing to stick it out through the challenging times, and learn from failure.


It’s one thing to be competitive; it’s another to win at the expense of someone else.  A compassionate attitude has to be part of the equation so you know when and how to yield to others in business, especially when you’re sitting in a boardroom filled with Type A personalities.


You want partners who will push you, challenge you, and drive you to success, not ones who nod approvingly and remain passive.  A good partner comes with different skill sets and perspectives, and you’re there to learn from each other.

Latest comments

  • What an incredible article and SO TRUE !! I love golf! Just like in life….in golf, it’s not IF trouble comes, it’s WHEN !!! The greatest golfers are the ones that can get themselves out of trouble, under pressure, during the hard times just like the greatest people in business and in life have the ability to get themselves out of trouble, under pressure, during the hard times…..great article Josh. I have known u for over 15 years now and YOU are one of the greatest players in life and business that I know.

  • Great Article Josh!!! It flows well. I enjoyed reading it. I think it’s smart to put a potential business partner in an competitive environment to see how they react. It’s easier to find out early than it is too late because it costs a lot of time & money if it’s too late. I’m sure we have all experienced that before.

  • I’ve personally been blessed enough to know, and even more so to be mentored by Josh for the last 10 years or so. These are some nuggets that not only does he embody, but I can tell you first hand, has changed my life. My advice is please read this twice and try to leave what you previously believed at the door and really receive what he is saying it will change your life! Make today great on purpose!

  • Good advice in clear writing, thank you!

  • Josh, What an amazing article. I absolutely agree with it all even though I am not a big golf player. I remember as kid paying monopoly with people and I think back about how they behaved and who they are today and how they correlate. Everyone that plans to choose a mate should first go play a round of golf with them! amazing article.
    Love you Man!! Awesome!!

  • Josh, What an amazing article. I absolutely agree with it all even though I am not a big golf player. I remember as kid paying monopoly with people and /I think back about how they behaved and who they are today and how they correlate. Everyone that plans to choose a mate should first go play a round of golf with them! amazing article.Love you Man!! Awesome!!

  • Great insight. Well done my friend!!!

  • Really appreciate the metaphors you used in this article Josh Thankful I’ve gotten to meet you briefly & am excited to get to know you better on a personal level. Keep, keeping it real man.

  • Good article. Golf, as with many sports, are terrific metaphors for how people live their lives. As detailed in this articlcle, concious observation on the golf course can reveal more about the true nature of a persons character than any formal interview across a desk. Unfortunately, even on a golf course a prepared person can present as something they are not. But you can conclude that person knows, at the very least, how behave if he chooses to.

  • I don’t play golf but this is an incredibly insightful article written by someone who walks the walk.

  • This is gold. You and your insights are spot on Josh Denne and will add value to many. Service to these many leads to greatness, and that’s why you are great.
    Well done my friend.

  • Great Article. Great insights on how to be a great business partner!

  • I’m not an avid golfer but the essence of this article is spot on. A great way for someone to analyze how another may act and or react in business is by playing golf with them. I really enjoyed this article!

  • Josh, Loved your article. I am not a golf player. But the content is a great way to get to know a person that you will need to have a trusting relationship with now and in the future. Your intuition / gut feeling you have about an individual will help you perceive if this person has the qualities your looking for . Your concept can be used in many areas of ones life.
    You have a lot of your Grandmother Czark’s influence.
    Most wonderful , loving & compassionate Aunt I could ever have had.

  • Such wise words in this article! I had a business/golf partner who cut corners on the course and at the time I didn’t think much of it other than it’s his choice how to play the game! But eventually he cut corners in our partnership as well! It’s so true “how someone does anything is how they do everything.” I will keep this in mind from now on! Great piece, Joshua!

  • I know Josh personally and his sincere desire to help others is even more impressive than his many successes in business. Great atrticle Josh. “Build Your Empire” is one of his businesses doing wonders at educating and inspiring entrepreneurs. I highly recommend it.

  • Your ability to articulate concepts through analogy is incredible. Best way to learn. I love what you said about honesty and how even small “cheats” show someone’s character. Maya Angelou said, “ When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Which is exactly what you taught in this article. Great job!

  • Great insights JD, especially the 5 takeaways. As always, you’re very much appreciated!

  • When I read this article Josh Denne wrote all I could do is smile… because every word is exactly how Josh lives his life! Josh is someone I can always depend on, he answers my calls even if he’s out to dinner, even if it’s just to let me know, he will call me back later. He’s one of the biggest givers I’ve ever met! He cares about others succeeding, even if he has to take a back seat to make it happen! He’s real, he’s tenacious, he’s fun, he’s a very hard worker, he’s always connecting people to people, he’s not afraid to work, he’s strong when others are weak, he’s not afraid to talk about the tough times and the best thing of all… I’m proud to say, he’s one of my best friends!

  • My man Tristen posted this on his story and I knew I saw it was from Mr Denne so I had to check it out! Great stuff. Keep this coming

  • The golf etiquette advice is simple and sensible and the related business advice is even better. In fact, this atricle offers a good distillate of the best business advice when choosing whom to do business with. The use of golf as a premise for this advice really does make for fun and recollection of the lessons. I suspect that Denne is a very good golfer and he is certainly a business man to whom I would listen. The article is clean, quick, fun and literate.

  • Glad I played golf with my husband before we got married to find out his character! It totally is true that you can tell a lot about how people conduct themself on the golf course is an insight into how they will handle other things in life. Great article!!

  • I’ll forever cherish my memory it playing golf with Josh in Palm Springs years ago. I wish to this day that I had his degrees of intellect and ability to learn “in the moment “ from those around him. He is a master observer! Love the article!!!
    Let’s go golfing ️‍♀️ again.

  • I thought poker was the game full of tells! Thank you for this informative piece, makes me want to take some golf lessons ASAP and work on my Golf (poker) face.

  • Josh Denne, you are full of wisdom and grit and a true example of a what a remarkable human should act like.

  • What a great read! Though there are various instances where one can decipher if people are good potential business partners, it is still very interesting to note that such a tedious sport can be used as a platform for professional relationships. I have never golfed, but seeing this outcome motivates me to try golfing at some point in my life for my future business endeavors. Love it ❤️

  • Incredible read. 5 powerful takeaways. You could rightfully call this “The Blueprint”

  • Joshua, amazing article and insight!! Your perspective on what attributes are looked for in a business partner are dead on. I’m posting your takeaways where I can read them daily, great stuff!!

  • Wow. Simply amazing how when you look at the fundamentals of something how simple everything can be understood. It can take people years to learn what their looking for in a business partner but playing a game of golf can give it to them in just an afternoon.

  • Prepare to have your mind blown again by the one and only josh Denne! I golf from time to time although I am not very good but I would never put two and two together(business and golf) you always hear business is done on the course or ceo and executives are always golfing ? Maybe there is something behind it and not all fun and games after all! I took some time to red and think on what josh was saying and it’s genius. If some has a bad few holes and they get very mad or give up you could see what would happen when business got rough. Trust is another like josh said do they cheat just to win because that also means you can trust them to do the right thing in business! So many good analogies on there to mention but wow josh blew my mind again! I will never think of gold the same and never forget this article. Such talent never fail to impress!

  • Wow!! This is amazing. I love his perspective on this. Josh is amazing

  • Honest evaluation is required for long-term growth to even be possible. It’s real, and it’s useful, and it’s smart. Good points. Love it!

  • My Father taught me the game of golf from a very early age. He also told me growing up that more business deals would be done on the golf coarse than anywhere else.

    This resonates with me on a very high level. I agree that how one does anything is often how they do everything. Especially in a “game” environment. A lot can be observed about ones attitude and behavior.

    This is very well put and a great reminder of how to observe those you want to enter into business with and what one should also strive for in themselves.

  • Very great article and well written. Even though I don’t play golf, it is definitely on point to what you want in a solid business partner. Thank you Joshua for reminding us all.

  • Josh,
    I can testify that Josh plays the game of golf same way plays the game of Life. With Zeal, Passion, Honesty and Joy.

  • “How you do anything is how you do everything” – this is so true! Also really love the golf analogy. A lot of good insight in this article. Great read for anyone.. even non-golfers such as myself. Well done!

  • Wonderful article, insights and takeaways!! Very true on statement in regards to how you do anything is how you do everything!! Great work JOSHUA!

  • Joshua, you’ve got a keen sense of what makes businesses successful. Now I know where you get your insights. Keep your golf scores low and profits high. Proud of you, brother.

  • Great article Josh! I love the analogies and how golf is the game of life! People show their true self when challenged by a small ball and hole.

    I appreciate your knowledge & insight. Till we play again my friend.

  • I’m Asian and I play golf a lot. As a matter of fact, I did play golf with Joshua and got to know him more. What he says in the article is 100% true. It was thru a round of golf that our business partnership developed!

  • Josh,

    Thank you for writing such an informative article! You are spot on with your keys on what to look out for and the comparison between golf and business!

    I couldn’t agree more with the “tells” that a person gives off when they are playing golf and how that translates to how they will be in business dealings.

  • This article could not be more spot on about truly understanding who a person is. The five key indicators are so accurate. Thank you for such an insightful piece. Well done, Josh!

  • I enjoyed this insightful. Reminded me how important good sportsmanship is and how it relates to life in general. Do you get in a huff, swear up a storm and beat yourself up over the game and inevitable mishaps or do you react with more grace and patience and acquire the skill set to play a better game? All of it is more fun with a better attitude and sense of humor! Thanks for a good read today!

  • I love the way that Josh relates business to an everyday sport such as golf. Josh is one of the most down to earth and passionate entrepreneurs I know and I’m beyond privileged to have him as a mentor and close friend. I value the way that he seeks to know his potential partners on a personal level before a professional level because it allows for the ability to clarify their character.

  • What a brilliant articl. A true stroke of genius! Josh broke it down so masterfully and I’ll be putting all of what he said to use! Thank you for the words of wisdom Mr Denne!

  • Loved the article. Having golfed for over a decade on and off I have never made this analogy and I can’t believe I haven’t! Thank you for sharing, I will most certainly be paying attention to all these tells on my next round.

  • Great article. And it is so true, how you do one thing is how you do everything. As a trainer, I see this every day. I can tell somebody’s work ethic and sooooo much more, simply by how they go into their workouts.

  • Josh is one of the most amazing entrepreneurs I’ve ever met! It’s facinating to me that the most successful people are the most humble! What an amazing read! I’m forwarding this to my young entrepreneur mentees

  • Wow this is spot on! I have had the chance to play golf with Josh and now I am trying to remember it all lol! Well said life is a game and golf is a game and after reading this it reminds me even more to always be true to who you are ! The last time we played the other person passed away like 3 weeks later of a massive heart attack it was an eye opener. Life is short and not promised so it’s best to always be true to yourself cause it can end with out warning. Till we play again Josh!

  • Joshua Denne, I couldn’t agree more! A golf game is a fine litmus test for how someone will behave in business, and in life. A very good insight into someone’s character. And the five characteristics to look for in a business partner are spot-on, I use these almost daily not only in business, but in personal relationships. The world moves too quickly these days to waste time or money on the wrong people. Great article.

  • Joshua’s five truths are so timeless yet so often over looked in modern day business dealings. I’m grateful for these lessons on dealing with character issues over financial, power and positional gains!

  • Wow! This article is amazing. I never thought to compare someone in business to the game of golf but you definelty did an incredible job. So much truth here. Thank you for sharing this and for your insight.

  • What a great perspective! Very interesting and logical. Now I feel like I should probably learn to play golf!

  • If you want to know how a person will conduct themself in the future whether in business or in life watch their behavior during a round of golf. Josh Denne dissects the mental game behind the physical game, “how someone does anything is how they do everything.” – a great read and useful tip the next time you’re out hitting the links with a buddy, colleague, or future partner.

  • Wow, great article! I love golf and I believe you can learn so much about yourself and others on the course as well!

  • Getting to know your partner through thick and thin is everything, what you sweep under the carpet now will come out sooner or later exponentially, ALWAYS! don’t let the deal or the size of it blind you from who’s standing in front of you… ever

  • Amazing content thank you for sharing

  • Great read, well written, and in my experience completely accurate. The 4 hours on the course together is enough time to really get to “peak under the hood” of a business partner, or even get an inside look under your own hood, and see areas for personal growth. I’m feeling inspired to hit the range and work on my game 🙂

  • Great article! What a great analogy between the ‘game of golf’ and the ‘game of business.’ He lays out in logical terms how and why what you see in how a person comports them self on the links will determine how they will comport them self in business. I liked how he ties it all up in “Five Things to Look for in a Business Partner.’ I’ll pass this article along and I look forward to reading future articles by Mr. Denne.

  • This is pure gold. I’ve been golfing seriously for about ten years now and man is this analogy so very true. Have you ever been golfing with someone who’s losing their temper on every other shot? Or drooling over the cart girl? Man it can be exhausting and frankly annoying. Especially if youre married and love your wife! If you take the game seriously in any sense of the word then you don’t want people who behave like that around you because they can really turn what’s supposed to be a fun and challenging time on the course into something you can’t wait to be done with, which, can really ding your scorecard! And aside from that it’s supposed to be a gentlemans game. Conduct yourself accordingly! This is a very well stated article and I’d use this as a template for choosing a business partner. Perfect analogy. Nice read Josh!

  • Agree 100%. Assessing potential business partners is challenging because anyone can be on their best behavior during a meeting or lunch. To see someone’s true character, there has to be some “squeeze” applied… Golf definitely does that!

  • If there is any great success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other persons place and to see things from his point of view- as well as your own- Henry Ford

  • Amazing insights. Love the 5 takeaways!

  • This article was amazing! Josh gave true insights into what it truly means to find good business partners! Outstanding article.

  • Love the analogy … only problem is I will never play another game of golf the same again.

    ”It’s not about how well you play, it’s how you face the inevitable challenges.”

    Thank you for this reminder!

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