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4 Killer Poker Skills That Help Your Business Grow

4 Killer Poker Skills That Help Your Business Grow

Most professional poker players are earning a living from the game precisely to avoid working in a traditional corporate structure. Rather than punch a clock and work for somebody else, poker pros pay their own way while grinding the circuit, living an independent lifestyle while attempting to build a secure financial future.

Eventually, though, many seasoned players realize that the very same skills that propelled their career on the felt can also be transferred to the world of business and entrepreneurship. Modern poker pro players like Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, and Jason Somerville have built their own brands, leveraging good standing within the poker community to pursue projects which are both financially lucrative and personally fulfilling.

The 5 skills listed below not only help poker players overcome variance, they are in fact wholly transferrable in many aspects of life and can have a direct impact in helping you to grow and improve your business venture.

1. Reading People

For all the talk of having an inscrutable “poker face,” the game doesn’t really hinge on scanning your opponent for tells like the movies would suggest. But reading people is an essential poker skill, in the sense of sizing up their demeanor, tolerance for risk, and other intangible factors before proceeding accordingly.

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Even more importantly, reading people in poker involves anticipating their next moves and carefully observing for patterns and trends. The same holds true for successful businesspeople. Whether you’re assessing the reliability of potential clients before signing a contract or monitoring market conditions before making an investment, knowing how to read both people and situations is pivotal.

Max_Steinberg

    Source: Wikimedia

    2. Risk Assessment

    Before putting their entire stack on the line with an all-in bet, poker players run through an array of mental calculations before deciding on the correct course of action. Knowing how to determine the exact odds that a needed card will come or how a particular hand rates against an opponent’s all serve to help poker unlock the game’s sheer complexity.

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    Even with the exact same cards in front of them, certain situations may warrant taking an additional risk, while other scenarios require more conservative play. Assessing the ratio of risk versus reward, which defines every single poker hand ever dealt, is a fundamental skill that separates successful players from break-even or losing status.

    In business, every purchase order and expenditure represents a certain level of risk, and the best businesspeople are capable of continually managing that risk. Knowing when to cut your losses with an unproductive employee or how the pursuit of new revenue streams may impact current productivity levels are just some of the countless risk assessment decisions business owners must navigate on a daily basis.

    3. Money Management

    Whenever a poker player breaks through into the big leagues — winning gold bracelets at the World Series of Poker or playing in the nosebleed cash games running night and day in Las Vegas — they still have a long way to go. After all, money won can just as easily be lost, and seemingly every year a few well-known pros drop off the poker map due to poor money management.

    The same economic traps that can ensnare poker players, such as taking on too many loans or spending more money than they’re bringing in, can also spell doom when running a business. The most enduring poker players, like the most iconic business brands, know when to walk away from a bad deal, how to save money for a rainy day, and the value of scaling back expenditures during a downswing.

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    4. Patience and Planning

    Despite the nonstop onslaught of all-in pots and bad beats you might see on televised poker broadcasts, the game can actually be quite a grind for players. Thirteen-hour days are the norm, and the best players can find themselves doing nothing but folding for dozens of hands in a row.

    For recreational players, the reality of toiling for hours on end in a tournament can lead to boredom, and even a phenomenon known as “punting” in which bored players who simply can’t stand the inaction any longer put their stack at risk with a marginal hand. Top pros, on the other hand, use their downtime to observe their opponent’s tendencies, planning future traps out in their head before springing into action at the most opportune time.

    Every business owner has been forced to weather the slow season when the invoices dry up and the phone calls stop coming. Some resort to impulsiveness, striking out with ill-conceived product lines and advertising campaigns to try and right the ship, but successful businesspeople approach the situation like poker pros — by planning ahead in order to exploit future boom times most efficiently.

    When it comes the time to choose their bet sizing, the best poker pros can work like a computer, adding up the previous bets to find the size of the pot, scanning their opponent’s stack to count their chips, and choosing the perfect bet for the situation. As a business owner in today’s society, you can profit by adopting the same meticulousness with your calculations, mitigating risks but being valiant enough to strike beneficial deals even when there’s no guarantee they’ll be successful.

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    Above all, consistency is key: a regular maintenance of solid business practices will stand you in good stead for those high-pressure moments where you are put on the spot. Your ability to make accurate decisions on the fly just may be the difference between closing a deal and losing an account.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via static.pexels.com

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    Last Updated on April 17, 2019

    10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

    10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

    What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

    Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

    They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

    1. Communication Skills

    Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

    To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

    Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

    Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

    After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

    2. Flexibility

    Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

    Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

    Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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    Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

    3. Being a Team Player

    Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

    What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

    This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

    Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

    4. Positive Mental Attitude

    There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

    Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

    Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

    It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

    Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

    5. A Strong Work Ethic

    People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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    If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

    Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

    • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
    • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
    • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
    • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

    For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

    6. Public Speaking

    Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

    Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

    If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

    For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

    Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

    7. Integrity

    From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

    • Always doing what you say you will do
    • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

    …even when no one is around to check up on you.

    There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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    Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

    8. Managing Your Time

    Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

    A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

    Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

    Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

    These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

    9. Assertiveness

    In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

    • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
    • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
    • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
    • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

    Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

    How do you use this information for yourself?

    It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

    Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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    How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

    10. Creative Thinking

    LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

    Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

    How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

    Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

    These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

    You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

    What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

    Final Thoughts

    The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

    So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

    The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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    Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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