-NOUN /dəˈsiZHən ˈstradəjəy/
Annie brings her background in cognitive science and poker together to understand how we make decisions, the systematic obstacles that prevent us from making our best decisions, what these obstacles cost us in the workplace and throughout our lives, and how to create practical solutions that make decision making more rational.
How Annie Applies Decision Science
- First-class education in human behavior, active and continuing dialogue with the academic community on human decision making.
- 20 years of experience in the real-world behavioral lab of professional poker. Using her behavioral approach to understand that the thinking patterns and traps into which most players fall, and what the BEST players do different and better.
- Each speech is a custom presentation. Annie consults with the organization representing the audience to choose the best message, examples, lessons, and visual materials. Examples come from poker; daily life; business and enterprise life; the latest developments in news, politics, and sports; family life and child raising; health and lifestyle choices; and marketing and consumer behavior.
- As a consequence, her talks are grounded in behavioral science, tested in a real-world laboratory, reviewed with experts in economics, psychology, and neuroscience. Her talks connect with audiences.
Facts, Beliefs, and Probabilities
We live in an outcome-oriented world, nowhere more than in the workplace. Enterprises reward positive outcomes and discourage negative outcomes. This follows the human tendency to feel responsible when things go well, and blame factors outside our control when they don’t. Because the correlation between decisions and outcomes is, at best, vague, living through outcomes is an enemy of learning, innovation, and risk-taking.
Our deliberative minds are capable of great things. Experience, backed by leading scientific research, tells us that our brains rarely get a clear shot at decision making. Emotion, systematic bias, and competing neural processes interfere. For instance, winning and losing conditions produce different feelings, even to the point that identical results can feel different. Our impulse can be the opposite of rational: feeling good about quitting with small wins, yet chasing big losses in unfavorable conditions. We can’t change our feelings, but there are practical methods to keep them from influencing our behavior.
We think we are capable of evaluating and incorporating new information. Our process, as we imagine it, is that we are exposed to new information, decide if it is credible, and incorporate it into our beliefs. In fact, most of our beliefs developed in a less rational way: we were exposed to a piece of information, believed it, and later decided on its credibility. This gives our initial beliefs an unearned validity, even to the point where we actively and selectively marshal information to confirm them and discredit contrary information.
Our decisions have consequences that differ over time. For very fundamental reasons, we overwhelmingly favor the present and discount the future. As a society, this is evident in our dieting habits and the state of our retirement planning. Whether it is returning a phone call or negotiating terms with a customer, our workplace choices systematically sacrifice the future for the present. To guard against this impulse, enterprises and individuals need strategies and processes that align short- and long-term goals.
“Annie showed us how to scale thoughtful risk taking in a complex organization and in so doing realize the dream of Collaborative Agility! And she helped me hold up a mirror to my own biases and self-limiting beliefs, helping me let go and grow toward becoming the leader I have always wanted to be.”
Jeff Westphal, CEO and Co-Owner, Vertex Inc.
“We should be thinking a lot more about decision making and the feedback loop. Especially in my industry, I’m in real estate so I have very long feedback loops, so never really sat down to think about how are the decisions I’m making going to yield what feedback and she really gets you to think about that.”
Bill Glaser, Real Estate Executive
“There’s a lot of advice that I’m actually going to take into my day-to-day from … as a manager at a startup we constantly talk about our wins and losses, but we never really talk about the bad decisions within the wins, and I think that’s really important.”
Jenna Flateman Posner, Sales Executive
“Annie Duke’s presentation at our law firm retreat was one of the highlights of the weekend. Her message focused on how to best benefit from feedback to assist in critical decision making. Her presentation was lively, informative and fun. Annie’s background as a champion poker player and her studies in cognitive psychology provide a terrific example of how an academic foundation can infuse and inform business practices. Annie’s tales from the poker world provided an interesting way to think about good decision making.”
Nicholas J. LePore III, Attorney, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
“She was one of us, an Entrepreneur, willing to sit down with a group of strangers (all be it fellow entrepreneurs) and share a life line of the ups and downs and the wisdom gained from the journey. What a gift."
Erick Slabaugh, Attendee, Entrepreneurs’ Organization Seattle
"Annie Duke’s extraordinary life experience combined with her incisive brain and her clued-up attitude all combine together for unique and compelling listening."
Mike Faith, Owner, Headsets.com
"Annie Duke was a homerun at the Mid-Year Meeting. The title of her presentation… had people intrigued even before the program began. Her engaging style and informative insights on how lessons learned at the poker table might be applied in the business arena, including the trial of cases, kept her audience of lawyers, spouses and guests riveted from start to finish."
Herman Russomanno, President, International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL) Mid-Year Meeting
"Annie is a master at delivering an engaging talk that leaves the attendees thinking about the message and how it applies to their world long after her presentation concluded.”
Maria Himebaugh, Vice President, Revenue Management, Marriott International
“Annie Duke’s presentation at our law firm retreat was one of the highlights of the weekend. Her message focused on how to best benefit from feedback to assist in critical decision making. Her presentation was lively, informative and fun. Annie’s background as a champion poker player and her studies in cognitive psychology provide a terrific example of how an academic foundation can infuse and inform business practices. Annie’s tales from the poker world provided an interesting way to think about good decision making. The presentation resulted in energized discussions throughout the evening.”
Nicholas J. LePore III, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
“Annie’s entertaining presentation and discussion provided thoughtful insights into decision making and continual learning that were informed by her cognitive research and her experiences at the poker table.”
Wayne Schug, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Midcontinent Independent Systems
“Annie Duke has led two lives that intersect in a manner few would imagine, but make insightful sense once you hear her. She pursued a PhD in cognitive psychology—but she used it to become a world champion professional poker player—and now she is using her experiences in poker to expand her understanding of cognitive psychology. She can make you aware of thoughts and emotions of which you were never conscious, but recognize the minute she explains them. The more I think about what she said, the more real life lessons I learn and practical insights I gain.”
David C. McBride, Delaware State Chair for the American College of Trial Lawyers