Oct 14, 2022
In today's conversation, I am
joined by Annie Duke, a former professional poker player (widely
known as one of the best female players in the world) who also has
an impressive and fascinating background in psychology, which she
will talk about on the show today. I've been wanting to have Annie
on for ages, she has two other fantastic books called
Thinking in Bets
and How to Decide, and I am so delighted that she wrote this
additional book, Quit, which we are talking about today (and really,
she talks about all three books in our conversation).
I am so honored and delighted
that Annie took the time to chat with me for this interview. We had
a great conversation and ended up chatting for over 90 minutes
(with about 80 of those recorded). Here on the show today, we are
cutting that conversation down to fit in under an hour but if you
want to hear the full conversation in detail, come on over to the
BE Thoughtful Revolution membership group -- it's our free
community of behavioral economics enthusiasts from around the
world, and you can check out the full video interview and
conversation. Annie is a wealth of knowledge and insights, so you
will want to glean every extra moment just like I did, I'm sure –
be sure to stick around for monkeys and pedestals!
- [00:40] In today's
conversation, I am joined by Annie Duke, a former professional
poker player who also has an impressive and fascinating background
- [03:07] Annie shares her
background and how she found herself in the world of behavioral
- [04:41] Her brother was the one
who suggested she play poker and she ended up playing poker for 18
years as her profession.
- [06:05] After eight years as a
poker player she started getting asked to give talks. The first
talk she gave was to a group of options traders and she talked
about how poker might inform your thinking about cognitive bias.
From there she started getting referrals and spending more time
speaking than playing poker.
- [07:11] In 2012, she retired
from poker to spend more time on the business side of things and
started consulting and speaking full-time.
- [09:13] If you look at anything
on Annie’s journey from the time she entered graduate school, it is
all decision-making under
- [11:09] The more ways that you
are thinking about problems and the different frames that you have
to ponder these issues you end up bringing something different to
- [12:54] Premortems can be very
effective if you combine them with other good decision-making
- [15:14] If you use prospective
hindsight instead of just forward planning, research shows you will
generate 30% more reasons for failure or success if you didn’t do
- [17:14] Self-serving bias is
that when bad things happen to us as individuals we tend to blame
them on things that are outside of our
- [19:49] Other researchers
suggest that premortems need to be done in groups to be
- [22:42] Thinking in Bets was a book that she had really wanted to write
for many years, which is about making decisions under
- [25:27] One of the things she
really talks about in Thinking in Bets is resulting. Resulting is when we look at
other people and assume if they have a bad outcome then they made a
bad decision and a good outcome is from luck (whereas when we have
a bad outcome it is luck and a good outcome is from our good
decision making – this is very similar to fundamental attribution
- [26:55] She wrote
How to Decide
as a companion, which had more
practical tools for making decisions.
- [28:23] Annie shares about
writing her new book Quit.
- [30:44] Most of the decisions
you make you can actually probably make faster. The way to decide
if you can go faster is by looking at the consequences of getting
the decision wrong.
- [33:01] We are really bad at
exercising the option to quit when the time comes. The option to
quit is very valuable.
- [35:02] She shares the many
Zoom conversations with influential behavioral scientists she had
prior to writing her new book about
- [36:36] Science shows that when
we quit, we are usually doing it too late.
- [38:45] One of the problems we
have is that once we set a goal we are immediately in the
- [39:20] Annie shares about the
California Bullet Train.
- [41:51] After getting the
project approved once starting the project they realize they have
two big problems… (Why didn’t they “see” them
- [44:22] Instead of stopping the
project, they approved two pieces of track that don’t address the
gigantic engineering problems.
- [46:13] Monkeys
and pedestals is an
incredibly helpful framework for trying to figure out how you
approach projects to find out the information you need to find out
the fastest so you can figure out if it is something you want to
- [47:26] She shares the monkeys
and pedestal's story. You have to start with the monkey (the hard
part) of the problem first.
- [49:11] When you do but up
against hard things you tend to turn to pedestal building rather
than to quit (similar to bikeshedding).
- [50:28] You should definitely
tackle the monkeys first.
- [51:51] You follow the
premortem by looking at the monkeys and pedestals. You figure out
what the monkeys are and then you change your plans according to
- [53:20] Kill criteria are what
you could see or find out in the future that would tell you that
you ought to quit.
- [55:01] There is no point in
tackling any low-hanging fruit if you can’t train the monkey.
Figure out the hard problem first.
- [57:34] Winners quit a lot.
That is how they win. Winners sample a lot of stuff, settle on a
course of action, tackle the monkeys first, and if the world gives
them another signal they switch.
- [58:41] Winners pick the right
things to stick to and they abandon everything
- [60:52] Melina shares her
- [61:08] Thoughtful quitting,
stopping doing things that aren't serving you anymore isn't a
failure -- that is a win. That is a sign of doing great big amazing
things! If you never quit, you can never win because you will be
spread too thin.
Thanks for listening. Don’t
forget to subscribe on
Android. If you like
what you heard, please leave a
review on iTunes
and share what you liked about the
I hope you love
everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was
independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you
know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That
means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon
or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or
Learn and support The Brainy Business:
Get the Books Mentioned on (or related to) this
- Thinking in
Bets, by Annie
- How to Decide,
by Annie Duke
- Quit, by Annie Duke
- Superforecasting, by Dan Gardner and Philip E.
- How to Change, by Katy Milkman
- Power of Regret, by
Connect with Annie:
Top Recommended Next Episode:
Game Theory (episode
Already Heard That One? Try These:
Other Important Links: