TAKE YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE
Stop waiting for an invitation; poker gives you the confidence to go boldly
“Most men take a job when they’re only qualified for about 50% to 60% of that job.
Most women feel like we have to have 90% to I00% of the qualifications.”
Entrepreneur and Business Investor
By Deb Franklin
You might be wondering what poker has to do with insurance—or business in general, for that matter. After all, it’s historically been viewed as a seedy game played predominantly by men in dark, smoke-filled back rooms.
Yet this game of skill and risk can offer quite a few valuable learnings. Poker teaches you powerful—game-changing—leadership skills like risk-taking, discipline, negotiation, strategic thinking and budget-ing and financial management. These are all skills that easily translate to the business world and give you the confidence and courage you need to sit at any table in business and in life.
These skills are particularly valuable for women in the workforce, especially in a historically male-dominated industry like insurance. According to astudy conducted by the Women in Insurance Initiative, women account for approximately 60% of the industry, but hold a mere 12% of the top officer positions.
“Most men take a job when they’re only qualified for about 50% to 60% of that job,” said April Oury, entrepreneur and business investor, during a recent Poker Power Powher Hour podcast. “Most women feel like we have to have 90% to 100% of the qualifications.” Instead of taking the risk and filling the gap with on-the-job learning like men do, she says, women have a natural tendency to hold back when they shouldn’t.
Leveling the playing field
Poker Power, a PEAK6 company, is working to change that dynamic by teaching women the skills they need to succeed, whether it’s at the poker table or in the boardroom. These skills are taught in a fun, safe-to-fail atmosphere that doesn’t involve gambling with real money. The success and innovation of Poker Power has not gone unnoticed. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management adopted a version of the instruction as a co-curricular pilot program to help female-identifying MBA students gain the leadership skills they need to be successful.
Melanie Weisner, poker pro and Poker Power advisory board member, says that keeping your cool under pressure comes down to strategy, execution and adaptability. “I had to be comfortable with being willing to make a mistake if I thought it was the right move,” she said.
Erin Lydon, managing director and GM at Poker Power, adds, “The decision on who gets in the boardroom doesn’t actually happen in the boardroom. It happens at the poker table. It happens on the golf course. It happens in the hallway. You have to be visible in order to be part of those conversations.”
Applying poker skills to insurance leadership
The applications of poker in the insurance industry, an industry focused on risk, are clear. There’s constant shuffling of markets and appetites to balance exposure. Just like in poker, the goal is to minimize risk and maximize reward. That requires skillfully anticipating the potential outcomes of various scenarios and making the best possible decisions with the hands you’re dealt. Take, for example, the Florida property market, where agents and insurers alike continue to face a hardening market with dwindling options due to a steep rise in litigiousness over the past few years. Being able to adapt quickly is a necessity in a market like that.
Gaining leadership skills from poker play can help you chart your career path. Do you aspire to climb the corporate ladder faster? Poker can give you the confidence to ask for a promotion and ignite your upward mobility. Raising the stakes, for example, teaches you how to read the room and negotiate like a pro. Bluffing can teach you the discipline to stay calm and keep your composure under pressure.
If your goal is to break out on your own as an independent agent, poker can help you learn how to go all-in knowing that you’ve made a sound decision. You’ll know how to weigh your options and evaluate the potential outcomes to assess the risk properly.
Perhaps you want to be your own boss but still want to have the support of a team as a franchisee. Learning how to play the hands you’re dealt helps to hone your strategic thinking and decision-making skills, while placing your bets teaches you to budget and manage financial risk.
Do you hope to mentor other women in insurance? The atmosphere of Poker Power is a great example of how to net-work with other women, while seeking to learn and grow. Simply put, poker, much like business, is a game of strategy and calculated risk. Even if you have the best hand, it won’t do anything for you if you don’t know how to play it.
Even if you never intend to actually play a real-life poker game, the skills you learn with poker give you the confidence and fearlessness to take your seat at any table. You don’t need an invitation. You can, and should, go boldly.
Note: This story first appeared in the special, limited distribution “Florida” supplement to the June 2022 Rough Notes magazine.
Deb Franklin is the co-CEO of PEAK6 InsurTech, the insurance operations and technology subsidiary of PEAK6. As co-CEO, Franklin is combining her entrepreneurial spirit and insurance industry expertise to create a new insurance operation within PEAK6.
PEAK6 InsurTech recently acquired WE Insure, a franchise operation for independent agents; MacNeill Group, a Managing General Agent; Team Focus Insurance Group, a diverse insurance company with operations across the insurance ecosystem; and National Flood Insurance.
To learn more about Poker Power and sign up for lessons, visit www.pokerpower.com.