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James Holzhauer is on his way to becoming the most successful contestant in the history of Jeopardy! Besides winning over a million dollars so far, he has broken the record five times for the most amount of money won on a single episode of the show. He is a brilliant, talented phenomenon, and if you use the following strategies that he does, you may very well triumph in your field the way Holzhauer has.
Take Big, Calculated Risks
In a fascinating interview with The New York Times, Holzhauer explained why he bets such large sums (both on the show and in his day job as a professional gambler):
[M]y strategy actually minimizes the risk of me losing a game. There’s times in a football game where a team goes for a big TD pass. If you don’t take a risk like that, you’re not going to win. Really, the big risk is never trying anything that looks like a big gamble.”
But Holzhauer doesn’t take big risks just for show. Everything he does, he does intentionally. His risks are big, but they’re calculated. He knows what the stakes are and what the consequences will be if he fails.
Lead like a Jeopardy! champ. Take big, calculated risks.
After Holzhauer writes his wager for Final Jeopardy, the portion of the show that usually determines who the winner will be, he sends good wishes to someone who has made a big difference in his life. As Alex Trebek reads that acknowledgment, Holzhauer places his hand on his heart and smiles.
On this portion of the broadcast where he broke the record for a single-episode win, he looked skyward, closed his eyes and sent a kiss. “This one is for you Granny” he wrote underneath his winning wager and added a heart symbol.
Gratitude is a crucial quality of successful, high-character leaders. Would Holzhauer have won less money or fewer games had he not expressed gratitude consistently? Possibly, but it sure makes him winning in another sense.
Grateful people are nice to be around. They bring out the best in others. When you regularly thank others for the ways they’ve enriched your life, it strengthens your connection to them. Gratitude makes you more likable.
Lead like a Jeopardy! champ. Be grateful.
Note: the best leaders are grateful for its own sake, not for the sake of anything else. They give to give, not get, as Suze Orman would say.
Keep Your Cool When You Lose
Holzhauer has lost big money both on the show and as a professional gambler. He doesn’t let those losses get to him, however. “The fact that I win and lose money all the time helps desensitize me,” he told the Times, “so I can write down $60,000 as the Final Jeopardy wager and not be trembling at the thought of losing that money.
Watch his face when he loses a Daily Double. He grimaces, nods his head as if to say, “I should have known,” and then keeps plowing on. This is a contributing factor to his jaw-dropping success.
Lead like a Jeopardy! champ. Be dignified and keep your cool when you lose.
There is no substitute for hard work. As a veteran of Las Vegas sports betting, Holzhauer may be better suited to gamble in public than other competitors on the show are, but that advantage wouldn’t matter if he weren’t knowledgable in a wide range of subjects. And that took years of study.
This doesn’t mean that you too have to be well-read in a variety of topics to succeed in your field. It does mean that you have to be willing to woodshed it day in and day out.
That focused effort doesn’t have to be boring, however. Holzhauer’s preparation for Jeopardy! involved reading children’s books.
I was thinking, what is the place in the library I can go to to get books tailored to make things interesting for uninterested readers? Boom. The children’s section.”
Lead like a Jeopardy! champ. Work hard in the area where you want to excel.
Prepare A Bold Strategy
Having a strategy for success is another reason why James Holzhauer has won over a million dollars on a game show that does not depend solely on luck. For Jeopardy!, Holzhauer decided in advance that he would attempt to answer the most difficult (and most lucrative) questions first.
Many contestants prefer to begin with the easiest ones first and gradually work up to the hardest ones. But because Holzhauer has studied and retained so many facts in so many areas, and because he is cooler about the gamble, his unusual strategy has worked for him.
Holzhauer recognizes that his approach isn’t for everyone. As he emphasized in his Times interview:
You have to be comfortable. Some of the opponents I’ve been playing, you can see they are visibly shaken by what’s going on onstage. Of course, you’re not going to play well if you’re up there trembling. And if you make yourself tremble by playing more aggressively than you are comfortable with, that’s so much the worse.”
Call To Action!
Commit to doing these five things consistently:
- Take big, calculated risks
- Be grateful
- Keep your cool when you lose
- Work hard
- Prepare a bold strategy
Write these rules on a sticky note and put the note on your computer or wall at work. Do it now while you’re thinking about it. If you keep these strategies front and center in all that you do, you will be well positioned to triumph in your world the way James Holzhauer does in his.
April 27, 2019 at 11:53AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs