My guest today is , who was previously one of the best poker players in the world and is now a renowned public speaker and best-selling author. If anyone has the perfect background to discuss decision-making, it’s Annie. She pursued a Ph.D. in...
My guest today is Annie Duke, who was previously one of the best poker players in the world and is now a renowned public speaker and best-selling author. If anyone has the perfect background to discuss decision-making, it’s Annie. She pursued a Ph.D. in psychology at UPenn before starting her poker career, and when she stepped away from poker in 2012, she was the leading money winner among women in the World Series of Poker.
Our conversation today focuses on both her books, Thinking in Bets and How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices. We discuss both causes of bad decisions and ways to make better ones. She explains the issue with analyzing decisions based on outcome (which she calls resulting) and uses real decisions made by Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, and Bill Belichick as examples. We also discuss best practices for group decision making from the standpoint of a coaching staff or front office when scouting or drafting a player.
(1:20) — Episode begins with Annie’s background from UPenn to becoming a professional poker player
(7:30) — Explanation of resulting, her term for focusing on the outcome over the process, with the Pete Carroll play call in the Super Bowl that led to Russell Wilson’s game-losing interception as an example
(28:50) — Best habits for group decision-making from the point-of-view of a Head Coach or General Manager
(46:40) — The importance of using precise verbiage and percentages when making forecasts
(56:30) — End of episode questions
1. What’s 1 book every coach should read?
The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing by Michael Mauboussin
2. Who is one person you’d want to hear as a guest on this podcast?
3. What’s one area you’re looking to improve in over the next year?
Limit negative self-talk and be kinder to herself
4. What’s popular advice you hear people say that you think is wrong?
You make your own luck
5. What advice do you have for young coaches who are listening to this?
Focus on improving your decision-making process
6. What’s the darkest moment you experienced professionally and how did you overcome it?
Being sick while finishing her graduate program at UPenn
“Whenever you do something that’s unusual, you’re risking idiot, and most people would prefer to risk bad luck than idiot. If I hand it off to Marshawn Lynch, my risk is people say I have bad luck. If I choose a pass play and it doesn’t work out, even if it’s the better decision, and it doesn’t work out, I’m risking idiot. People don’t want to risk that because that’s career risk.”
“Here’s the interesting thing about Belichick: When you look at the early part of his career, he wasn’t doing those things on fourth down. He’s really famous for going for it on fourth down in places people don’t understand. Guess what? The first few years of his career, he wasn’t doing that. It wasn’t until he had a ring when his job wasn’t at risk anymore…that he started to make those fourth down calls.”
“The goal of having a bunch of people to come in and give their perspectives is to inform everybody of the different ways you can model the data you have, the different ways that you can think about it and view it and the different perspectives you have. And then the person who can ultimately decide (like the GM) then is now the best informed to make a decision.”
“This is step one: when you’re thinking about do you want to recruit a player, and you’re eliciting the opinions of those on the coaching staff, make sure they’re giving them to you independently and that they don’t know your opinion.”
“The things that matter is not so much the things you agree on, but the differences of opinion. To be a good part of a team, it doesn’t mean that being on the same page means agreeing.”