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Poker Legend Annie Duke on How You Get Good at Quitting

Annie Duke, who gained expertise in quitting from her successful career as a professional poker player on the world stage, advocates for quitting things more frequently. In our interview, she delves into the science of quitting and teaches us how to overcome our obstacles and develop the ability to quit when it’s necessary. We discuss her latest book: Quit The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away.

When faced with difficult decisions, individuals and organizations often struggle to abandon failing products or strategies, even when it’s clear that they are not working. As Annie Duke argues, this reluctance to quit is a significant obstacle to success. It affects not only business leaders, who may lose millions of dollars on unsuccessful ventures, but also governments, which may persist in unwinnable conflicts. Even in our personal lives, we may continue in relationships or careers that no longer benefit us.

The problem is that waste is not a backward-looking problem. It’s a forward-looking one.

Annie Duke

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In This Episode, Annie Duke And I Discuss Her Latest Book, Quit, and Why Quitting is Integral to Success

Annie joins me to explain why quitting is integral to success, contrary to what we may believe. She dispels the notion of “quitting while you’re ahead” and instead emphasizes the importance of quitting when the expected outcomes are no longer favorable.

In our interview, Annie Duke imparts the skills necessary to become proficient at quitting. She cites examples from the experiences of accomplished individuals such as elite athletes like Mohammed Ali, leaders of major companies like Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack, and successful entertainers like Dave Chappelle. Duke argues that quitting is crucial to success and offers techniques for deciding when to persevere and when to abandon a pursuit to save time, energy, and money.

The interview with Annie Duke covers the following subjects:

  • ​The paradox of quitting, which can affect decision-making: quitting at the right time feels like quitting early
  • The obstacles that hinder effective quitting behavior, including escalation commitment, the desire for certainty, and status quo bias
  • How to use expected value thinking to make better decisions, along with other strategies such as setting flexible goals, creating “quitting contracts,” anticipating alternative options, and performing premortems and backcasts.
  • How not quitting can be detrimental, as shown in the example of Mohammed Ali incurring unrecoverable injuries before finally deciding to retire from Boxing.
  • Why, ultimately, it’s better to quit when the sacrifices we bear become too high?
  • What if our long-held beliefs and diligent effort aren’t enough when new information surfaces?
  • What if you are making false progress?
  • Have you ever thought about enlisting a quitting coach?
  • And much, much more!
  • Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share? Drop us a line at [email protected]m!
255 | How You Get Good at Quitting | Annie Duke | Passion Struck with John R. Miles

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More From My Interview with Annie Duke

During our interview, I asked Annie what she hoped the audience would take away from this episode.

Annie Duke explains, “I think the takeaway is just that quitting, the ability to quit and quit well, is at least as important a character trait as sticking to things. Because your goal in life is to stick with the stuff that’s worthwhile and quit everything else, and what that means is that over the course of your life, there’s going to be a lot more quitting going on than sticking.

Quit by Annie Duke for Passion Struck podcast recommended books

And I think that just the popular narrative around grit has been that we believe that the human condition is one of not sticking to things enough, that we’re all kind of quitters. And if you’re not eight years old, that’s just not true, like if you’re 28 instead of eight or 38. Your problem is you stick to things too long. So you need to flip that script and stop thinking that sticking in a job with a toxic boss somehow is showing character. That continuing up a mountain, a snowstorm is somehow showing character. That continuing to box after getting these adverse medical reports somehow shows character. It’s not.

Because in that case, you’re just slowing yourself down because you’re sticking to something that is not working. And that is sacrificing all the gains you could be getting from other things you could be doing that would actually be getting you to achieve your goals.

So if you want to be quicker to achieve your goals, you need to start being a better quitter because you have to quit the stuff that is not getting you to achieve your goals so that you can switch to something that, if and when you find that thing that’s going to help you achieve your goals, then you want to be gritty, but only that.

Thanks, Annie Duke

If you enjoyed this interview with Annie Duke, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout on Twitter:

Click here to show Annie Duke your thoughts about today’s episode on Twitter!

Click here to let John R. Miles know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

And if you want us to answer your questions or you have a topic you would like John to discuss on one of our upcoming weekly Momentum Friday episodes, drop us a line at [email protected].

Resources From The Show With Annie Duke

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About Today’s Guest, Annie Duke

Passion Struck podcast album cover episode 255 with Annie Duke on knowing when to quit

Annie is an author, speaker, and consultant in the decision-making space. Special Partner focused on Decision Science at First Round Capital Partners, a seed-stage venture fund. Annie’s latest book, Quit The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away. Her previous book, Thinking in Bets, is a national bestseller.

She has won more than $4 million in tournament poker as a former professional poker player. During her career, Annie won a World Series of Poker bracelets and is the only woman to have won the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions and the NBC National Poker Heads-Up Championship. She retired from the game in 2012. Before becoming a professional poker player, Annie was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to study Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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John R. Miles is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of Passion Struck. This full-service media company helps people live intentionally by creating best-in-class educational and entertainment content. John is also a prolific public speaker, venture capitalist, and author named to the ComputerWorld Top 100 IT Leaders.

John is the host of the PassionStruckPodcast. The show focused on exploring the mindset and philosophy of the world’s most inspiring people to learn their lessons to living intentionally. Passion Struck aspires to speak to the humanity of people in a way that makes them want to live better, be better and impact.

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