Annie Duke

USA Today interviewed Annie Duke on a topic I have touched on several times here (Harmony and Humility, Embracing Variance), the application of the lessons from poker to the world of business. Her strong finish in Celebrity Apprentice provided a more familiar setting to business problems. Many of the most common insights are about accepting failures that are inevitable…

“Q: You were defeated on the final episode of Celebrity Apprentice by Joan Rivers. Any lessons learned?”

“A: The lesson is that business is not always fair. The person who does the best job doesn’t always get promoted. I worked the hardest, I was the most creative and the best leader. Things are not always fair and I know that from poker. You can put your money in with aces and your opponent has fives. You’re supposed to win 82% of the time, but 18% happens. Poker teaches you that there things you have control over and things you don’t.”

“Q: Business leaders wrestle with playing it safe vs. Taking a risk. How do you decide when to fold or go all-in?”

“A: …It’s not about being right, it’s about being right often enough…Shrug you shoulders when you are wrong. Great players free themselves from the worry of being wrong.”

My parents have the notion of the ‘18%’ factor with regards to vacations. Their view is that when you are on holiday, you are outside of your familiar area, your routine, your support infrastructure and your flexibility is limited. As a result, what invariably happens is an out off the blue expense that under ‘normal’ circumstances you would consider to be a ‘rip off’. It can often be distressing. The over charged cab fare, the currency exchange miscalculation, the unanticipated surcharge. My parent’s point is that one just has to accept these extra, seemingly very bad luck costs as just part of the vacation experience. You will realise that somewhere along the trip you are going to have to cough up some extra, unanticipated amount. But if you accept these mini-financial failures, you can move on and they won’t ruin your holiday. They call the ‘18%’ – ‘vacation tax’. And whenever an unfortunate extra charge hits them on holiday, they just shrug their shoulders and say, ‘oh well, vacation tax!’ 

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