Annie has leveraged her expertise in the science of smart decision making to excel at pursuits as varied as championship poker to public speaking. For two decades, Annie was one of the top poker players in the world. In 2004, she bested a field of 234 players to win her first World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet. The same year, she triumphed in the $2 million winner-take-all, invitation-only WSOP Tournament of Champions. In 2010, she won the prestigious NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Prior to becoming a professional poker player, Annie was awarded the National Science Foundation Fellowship. Because of this fellowship, she studied Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. While Annie’s career began in 1987, it has further developed into 2017.
Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Annie Duke:
- Creating a culture where employees truly feel comfortable taking risks requires a systemic normalization of dissent. Leading companies say they want employees to take risks and are prepared to positively reinforce failure after smart risks were taken. The issue is that this approach by itself will limit the potential of the occurrences of risk/failure for the greater growth projection of the business. If a company does more week-to-week, back-end work (whether leadership chats, role playing) demonstrating that dissent is a mainstream part of the company, then that will lead to more risks being taken overall.
- Create opportunities to get feedback on a real-life decision but make sure the feedback is objective. The tendency is to want to describe a challenging situation, share the outcome and then ask for feedback about whether the decision was the right one or not. Annie calls this “infection bias”. If we truly want to learn about different approaches to decision making, describe the challenge, provide the data and thought process leading up to making the decision and ask for feedback before you share the outcome.
- When interviewing candidates for a job, it’s useful to ask questions that are extremely tough and vague by design. This creates an uncertain environment and will help identify those that show grace under pressure versus those that feel cornered and react in a way that shows discomfort with uncertainty.