Betting on Yourself

I think I can learn something from anybody. I think there is a lot to be learned from James Holzhauer who has won $1,691,000 on Jeopardy and is still going strong.

I don’t watch the program, but I have seen it on occasion and remember Rosie Perez in the movie White Men Can’t Jump prep for the show like her life depended on it, hoping for her chance to make a big score. It is a quiz show competition with a betting component which is the perfect combination for James Holzhauer, a 35-year-old Chicagoan who is a trivia champion, math whiz, fast-twitch buzzer, and professional sports better.  He is the archetype of the Jeopardy savant that Rosie Perez dreamt of becoming.

His winning approach naturally depends on his breadth of knowledge and quick-twitch ability, but what sets him apart is his aggressive and unconventional strategy. James starts with the most difficult questions, trolls for Daily Doubles, and bets boldly, often risking his earnings in an effort to quickly put away his opponents.  He knows he is on a streak and so do most of his opponents, which gives him a big psychological edge.

His mantra is “all I have to lose is money,” and he knows he’s the smartest dude on the block, so he continually overwhelms his tentative opponents no matter how skilled they are.

I think there is a lot to be learned from Holzhauer.

I love his confidence and boldness. He believes in himself and that is vital to be a consistent winner. Intimidation can be a huge factor in sports and business. It does not have to go with obnoxiousness. You know when your opponent knows in their heart of hearts that they are going to win.

What really sets James Holzhauer apart is his audacity, his calculated chances in the betting.

In my own business career I have usually been cautious. My son Noah delights in questioning most of my business decisions, often challenging me for hedging my bets. Having seen a million things go wrong in my long business career I have good reason to be cautious, but I know I can learn from the aberrant tack that Holzhauer takes to bet big when he thinks he has superior knowledge.  This is how you win in sports betting and Jeopardy and probably in business over time.

A fascinating complement to the James Holzhauer story is the spotlight on Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy since its inception.  He is battling pancreatic cancer at the same time he is hosting the show and pulling in big ratings. Alex is showing supreme confidence in himself as he does five shows in a taping session while dealing with chemotherapy.

My hope is that he and James keep charging boldly into the dark nights of uncertainty.

Question: What is the best bet you’ve ever made?

Share this post

6 thoughts on “Betting on Yourself

  1. Jeff

    Starting several businesses while having super partners and employees
    also heavy on the 7 horse in the Derby last Saturday – except he was disqualified 🙁

  2. Don

    I agree with Frank, Starting my own business 34 years ago. Now the best bet I made was I was at an auction where there 4 cam screw machines there, Now body knew what they were. A nice Brown & Sharp OG chain drive, and 3 old Traubs, I bought all 4 for $365.00 back in 1987.
    I had no clue how the run them. I cleaned up the Traubs and sold them. I cleaned up the Brownie plugged it in and just watched it cycle through while watching to see what does what and when. I never ran one but saw them run before. Someone gave me a book on B&S set up and making cams. I made my own cams and set up and ran it on one part for a couple of years. Got into CNC turning around then. I then sold the Brownie for $7500 and the 3 Traubs earlier for $3500 So I spent $350 and made $11,000 Sure wish it was a semi load of them as I would have bought them to resell.

  3. John Griner

    Best and riskiest bet
    Buying our 1st HYDROMAT in the mid 80’s
    Ford was 70% of our business and told us they would kick us out of the vendor base if we didn’t cut our prices in half. They had even sourced one of our main parts to a competitor who I determined couldn’t hold the +- .0004 tolerance using the process they had chosen. We won the bet. Competitor couldn’t deliver

    Worst bet
    Starting a 32,000 sq ft plant in Mexico for an auto starter manufacturer who pulled the work in house before we shipped the 1st part

    Obviously starting a business 41 years ago was a good bet however I had no debt and a customer/ former employer who promised me all the work I wanted. The GE jet engine quality rep even wrote our 1st quality manual.

  4. Lloyd Graff

    Best and probably riskiest bet was to come back to work soon after a heart attack that almost killed me, 13 days spent on a ventillator, quadruple bypass surgery amidst the awful recession of 2008. Not just the machinery business but a money losing magazine.

    Seems nuts in retrospect but it probably kept me alive, certainly motivated and eventually afforded me the opportunity to be in business with Noah. Could have only done it with my wife Risa’s support.

  5. r in nyc

    bought a used CNC at auction for a significant price 25 years ago.

    needed a lot of love to get going, but still going strong today!


Comments are closed.