You’re reading What They Said, a project by Chris Gallo since 2014.

Annie Duke


Annie Duke went from academia to become a professional poker player that won the 2004 World Series of Poker bracelet. Duke recently wrote, Thinking in Bets, where she provides guidelines on how to make smarter decisions. Highly recommend her newsletter as well.

This is a long conversation hosted by Jordan Thibodeau with Talks at Google. I recommend reading these books notes and listening along to the conversation here. I found these tibdits from the Q&A section at the end most interesting because here’s an expert giving human answers. It was refreshing to hear no one has it figured out.

How to address imposter syndrome and overconfidence 1:01:51

I think the overconfidence piece is a little bit easier to deal with because if you have a really good decision group, they’re going to check your overconfidence. That’s going to be part of the conversation all the time. Are you feeling overconfident?

Imposter syndrome. It’s a hard one. I feel it all the time. I feel about this book. I feel it when I get up and give talks. Why am I even opening my mouth?

And I think that, again, it’s like get other people to talk to you. You know, what they can do is they can often see things more clearly.

I’ve actually had conversations where I’ve said, I can’t believe I’m such an imposter, I don’t know what I’m talking about. And people will say, well people keep hiring you for speeches, they’ll actually go through it. They refer you out, they’re buying your book.

Have other people look at you in a more objective way, it can get you out of you own head. I really feel like that is the way to do it.

I highly recommend everyone read the Power of Habit because it really teaches you how to change your habits. Not just like going to the gym. Your habits of mind, the way you think.

Remember, when I said I had that conversation with Erik Seidel, now when I went to the table, I was thinking about what Erik Seidel might say later. When you have a really good decision group that’s checking your bias, whether it’s overconfidence, underconfidence, or imposter syndrome, the group gets in your head in a really good way.

Trust me, when I leave this room and I’m in the car, I’m going to think about what a bad talk I gave. So, maybe I did? Now, I’m in my head.

When I do that, hopefully, I have a group of people that I can sort of offload that to and they can offload things like that to me. And hopefully, they’re talking to me. Not physically, but I’m sort of running that conversation.

That’s sort of what happened at the poker table. If I was processing the world in a way that was irrational, I would run the conversation with Erik, or my brother, or John Hennigan, or whoever it might be later, where they were telling me, oh come on.

And that would help me when I was kind of on my own. So, I think about it as what are the rewards you’re getting and how are the people around you sort of helping to shape those habits of mind.

I think it’s so hard to do on your own. I think we all really need help with this.


Self compassion 1:04:35

I think another mistake is if we know about, like if I know about imposter syndrome or if I know about overcondifence, and I’m really smart, problem solved.

High IQ correlates positively with motived reasoning. And you can think why that is, right? Like how do you slice and dice the info?

If you’re cognitively agile, you’re going to be able to slice and dice a story that sounds a lot more convincing to yourself and others about why everything you believe is true. Why every prediction you have is 100 percent.

I’m smart, and I know about this isn’t exactly a solution.

I’m telling you I’m going to walk away from this and think about what a bad job I did.

I don’t want you guys to think that you practice these things and somewhow it’s ever solved. It’s not.

It’s do I catch myself doing it more often? Do I do it less?

Just doing it less and catching myself more often is huge.

Instead of berating yourself for all the times that you screw up, you get to celebrate that you did it one fewer times.

It’s such a more self compassionate way to live. I’m trying to get there.


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