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Whether It’s Luck or Math, We Really Don’t Get That Much Chance to Win a Lottery

Whether It’s Luck or Math, We Really Don’t Get That Much Chance to Win a Lottery

Do you ever dream about what it might be like to suddenly have millions of dollars? Do you run out to the nearest gas station with your heart aflutter to purchase a ticket when the Powerball jackpot reaches a certain amount? If you are nodding your head in agreement, you are not alone. In 2014, the allure of striking it rich was strong enough to entice Americans to spend over $70 billion on lottery tickets.[1]

As fun as it can be to participate in these drawings, figures from the National Weather Service suggest that you are more than 20,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than win the MegaMillions jackpot.[2]

Is winning a matter of luck or math?

Lotteries are games of chance. Your odds of winning are determined by a number of factors, including how many winning numbers or combinations you need to get and how many people are playing the game. The greater the number of ticket-holders, the less likely you are to walk away with a chunk of change.

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The odds of winning MegaMillions or Powerball, two of the most well known lotteries, are a dismal 175 million to one.[3] As you can see, winning is a matter of math and luck, and most of the math points toward a lack of luck.

Why do you need to know your chances of winning?

Many people invest in lottery tickets without understanding the odds. In fact, in low-income communities, buying a lottery ticket is often viewed as an investment, a form of entertainment, and a possible ticket out of challenging circumstances.[4] There is a complex set of socio-economic factors that contribute to this perception of lotteries as investments. If you are foregoing setting up a stable form of savings to play the lottery, your chances of coming up empty-handed are high.

How can you increase your chances of winning?

There are a few ways that you can increase your chances of winning should you choose to play. [5]

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  1. Play the right games. When we talk about national lotteries with massive jackpots, your chances of winning become minuscule. Playing a state competition or buying a chance in a smaller competition will increase your odds. Scratch-tickets for smaller games may have lower rewards, but they are also more likely to yield a win.
  2. Participate in second-chance games. Even if your numbers aren’t selected initially, they may come up in a second-chance drawing. To maximize your chances of winning, keep your ticket for the second chance round.
  3. Don’t change your numbers. Even though buying lottery tickets doesn’t require the same skills as sitting at a poker table in Las Vegas, there is definitely some strategy involved in choosing your numbers. Seven-time lottery-winner, expert in how to win the lottery, and author, Richard Lustig, recommends playing the same numbers over and over instead of switching them. He also recommends avoiding “quick picks” and using numbers besides birthdays and anniversaries, which limit the spread of numbers you can use.[6]
  4. You can’t win if you don’t play. Richard Lustig recommends keeping up with the game you are playing. Pay attention to drawings, and play consistently to increase your chances of winning. Every year there are winners who fail to come forward because they didn’t follow up to see if their numbers won.

But still, don’t fall into the gambling trap!

Just like other forms of gambling, the lottery can be addictive.[7] Participants may mistakenly think that because the lottery is sanctioned by the government, it is not as harmful as other forms of gambling. The same risks apply.

If you have a history of gambling addiction, playing the lottery could draw you into unhealthy behaviors. The hope of victory, occasional small wins, and the thought that your big win awaits around every corner drive the lottery.

The most important thing you need to know about playing the lottery is that you need to set a budget before you play and stick to it.[8] Playing the lottery can be fun and harmless, but if you start to use funds you would normally reserve for food or bills to buy more chances, then you’re in dangerous territory.[9]

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Even winning a lottery can’t bring you happiness.

The mathematics behind the lottery show that you are almost always guaranteed to lose. Assuming that you hit the jackpot, there is no guarantee that the windfall would make you a happier person. Numerous studies have shown that lottery winners do not fare well with their newfound wealth.

Even knowing how to win the lottery doesn’t prevent loss. You can use mathematical strategies, and you can follow the advice of successful players, and even this may not be enough. When you play, let it be for the fun of it. Purchase that ticket so that you can have that moment of fantasizing about buying your mother a house or traveling the world. There is always a chance that you could be one of the fortunate few, but even if you don’t have winning numbers, at least you’ll be entertained.

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Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

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Angelina Phebus

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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