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5 Things Playing Blackjack Taught Me About Business

5 Things Playing Blackjack Taught Me About Business

I enjoy blackjack. I’m not a professional blackjack player, nor did I ever make millions or even thousands off it. It was a game I’ve played for years just for fun.

But blackjack is not just a game of pure chance. There is a science and strategy behind those cards, and the same rules which helped me in blackjack can help you in business. Just look at Jeff Ma, who has attributed his success as a businessman to the things he learned playing blackjack.

Here are five important rules which you can learn at the blackjack table which are just as important for a business:

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Don’t look for a single, decisive winner

Every businessman knows about this rule, but it is harder to follow than it sounds. And this is true in blackjack as well. No matter how good you are at blackjack, you will have plenty of moments when you find yourself down by a lot. The temptation at that point is to make one massive gamble which will recoup all of your losses in one swift stroke.

That is the absolute worst thing which you can do. If your gamble succeeds, you are only at zero. But if it fails, you are in a huge pile of trouble. When you are down at a blackjack table or running a business, the only way to recover and get back into the black is with slow, steady bets.

Risk is not bad

One important element in blackjack is the double down. In double down, the player doubles his bet in exchange for only getting one more card.

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Blackjack specialists will tell you to always double down if you have an 11, and probably if you have a 10 or 9. But all too often, blackjack players will hesitate to do that. They worry about taking risks or think that they may need just another card after the double down.

But when the odds are in your favor, you have to strike while the iron is hot. Of course there are many ways to stack odds in your favor. Every blackjack player knows how card counting can turn the tables on the dealer, and there are similar techniques you can use in business.  When you spot a good business opportunity, you cannot just wait and fret about what might go wrong. It is said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity, which means your business has to seize the opportunity when it comes.

Don’t let success get to your head

The story of leaders who became arrogant after tasting a period of success and then fall is as old as human history itself. And in gambling, players will think they are on a hot streak and make risker bets.

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There is no such thing as a “hot streak”, and a basic probability class can tell you that much. Success does not automatically beget future success. And in business, a period of good deals does not mean that you can relax and assume things will continue to go your way. Just a slight misstep or some increased carelessness, and you can find yourself back at step one both in gambling and in business.

Never lose your temper

Blackjack is ultimately a game where people should enjoy themselves. But as stories like this shows, players who lose react by venting their rage out on the dealer, other players, and absolutely anything else which they can blame for their loss besides themselves.

Behavior like that is a sign of poor leadership and character, and is just as ugly in the business world as in blackjack. There are times when a business screw up will happen because an employee or colleague made a bad decision. But the employer who reacts to that by screaming and berating them is one who will not be an effective leader. A truly effective leader can stay calm even when everyone is panicking, and find a way to fix the problem.

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Know when to fold ‘em

Sometimes, you have a bad streak at the blackjack table. No matter what strategy you use, the fates themselves appear to be conspire against you and you are falling more and more behind.

On nights like that, the hardest thing to do is to accept that you’ve lost and leave. But if you don’t want to lose far more than you were prepared to spend when you sat down, you have to get up and walk away from the table. This is especially so because after such a string of defeats, your nerves and emotions will be badly frayed and prevent calm, rational judgment.

And this is true for a business. Whether it is knowing to end a certain business deal or in the worst case closing down the business altogether, there is a point where you can do no more and trying is just shoveling more money into a hole. You have to know when to stop and admit that it is over.

Featured photo credit: Images Money via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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