My Dad, Poker, and Management Lessons:

Full admission, I come from an eclectic family history. My biological father was not around to see me grow up, and only came into my life when I was a young adult. A mother, a string of stepfathers and a grandfather that would have given me the world raised me. Almost all of my family was in the casino gaming industry in Nevada while I was being raised, which is only relevant because my biological father, who is brilliant in all things game and odds based, became a poker champion.

We are all shaped to some degree by our upbringing, and while mine was odd, it was not difficult. Also advantageous was that some of the lessons I learned growing up in this dynamic environment helped set my management style and expectations for people that I carry with me today. Some of those better lessons:


The world is what it is. Expend your energy making it better:

You won’t get to pick your managers, your projects or outcomes in most situations, and trying to do so will wear you out. If you use that energy making your current situation better, regardless of how you got there, you will be much happier, less tired and far more successfull.


Question authority, respectfully:

I feared my grandfather, but not in the way that he was an X-Navy man and hence uber-rigid. He was also a good cook, a mentor, a fisherman and an all out amazing guy. I actually feared hurting him, doing things that broke his trust in me. Build a mentoring relationship to your employees rather than just being a strict disciplinarian, and when trust evolves in both directions real collaboration begins. If you feel you have to question authority, do it from a position of mutual respect and not attacking. You will learn more and the relationship will improve instead of deteriorate.


Try to take criticism as a positive thing while being realistic with yourself:

A couple of years ago my dad was visiting me and we held an all night poker party with several of my friends. At the end of the night my father and I were standing with one of my better buddies and we asked him about our styles of play. My father gushed about my friend and told me that I’m O.K, but I could be better if I applied myself. My friend competes in poker tournaments and plays frequently at structured casino events and I do not, however, I thought my style of play was pretty good. This criticism was intended to make me a better player and point out what I could do, and compared to the better players standing in front of me he was right, I do not commit myself as much as these two have. If you are going to ask the question take the advice as positive before being offended, which I was until I was honest with myself.

My dad is visiting this week as well, and as I write this he is playing poker at the Peppermill Casino. With all my love dad, todays blog is for you.

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