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Hold'em and Fold'em

Updated: May 9, 2023

Not only is there a song about this, but many life lessons apply to the concept of Holding and Folding taken from the strategy in poker.

Playing poker is a strategy game, and knowing when to hold on and when to walk away is crucial to winning. It's important to understand that not every hand is a winner, and sometimes it's better to fold and wait for a better opportunity.

I've had a few conversations recently recounting past events and how I got to be where I am today, at this moment, and others have shared the same. It’s such a fascinating game, this life business and the older I get, the more interesting it becomes.

I am preparing for a keynote this week, and while I was at the gym, I was running through some storylines about how to share my story and which parts I would talk about to have the most significant impact in 30 minutes.

In business, it's an ongoing game of knowing what to hold and what and when to fold.

In my business adventures, most of my wins have been when I've held on when all I wanted to do was fold. I just needed more time or resources and sometimes a break, a fresh perspective, and a bit more energy!

And conversely, I've lost out when I hung on too long to something that I should have folded earlier than I did. The key is to know which way to go in any situation.

I failed on some of these decisions previously because I didn't have the right (or any) people in my corner at the level I needed to help guide me through these scenarios. I was inexperienced, had no network, and was stubbornly independent, naive, and young, with a giant ego.

It was a perfect storm. I was a perfect storm, and it hailed regularly.

My inability to grow through my inexperience and find the right help flooded my dreams of being the next Sarina Russo. I was always focused on where or what I wanted to be, not on how I would get there or what I needed to build to make it a reality. She was the only woman I knew with a name on a building, and I wanted that. I wanted my name up in lights; I wanted to be clever, successful and influential. She was also TV - which was fancy before the internet.

I wanted success but wasn't clear on a pathway to get there. I'd never heard of the concept of building for growth, expansion and longevity. I just knew how to work hard. Planning was a new concept for me - back then.

I knew what I knew; I was a hard worker and terrible at delegating and sharing the load. It was an era before freelancing, so any help came from employees. This was a stretch for where my early businesses were, so my growth and evolution were hindered by a lack of resources and different strategies to empower diverse ways of doing things.

On a side note, She (Sarina) was and still is the only woman with her name on a building in Brisbane.

Why is that?

Sarina and Stefan were icon entrepreneurs who shaped Brisbane's city and business culture the 80’s.

During those early years of my first business circa 2001/2, I desperately needed help and advice to learn how to ask and find it. I did most of my early business discovery and learning alone. My friends were at University; startup ecosystems didn't exist, and business advice came in the form of consultants at a hefty fee, both of which I didn't have access to.

I also hated failure, and asking for help represented that for me. I had a ridiculous expectation I should know what to do at the ripe age of 21.

I wish 45-year-old Peta could mentor 21-year-old Peta; I would have loved her, helped her and guided her.

I’d love to be in her corner today.

She was driven, bullish, arrogant, creative, energetic, positive, and a force to be reckoned with.

There were a few wobbles and a few dents in the armour in those early years that shaped me today. Mostly an inability to manage finances, do projections and understand contracts, legislation and governance, which generates an overdraft pain of $50K that, TO THIS DAY, still lingers in the shadows like a reminder of what happens when you don’t seek help that has your best interest at heart with good guidance on knowing when to :

  1. Hold - Timing is everything; sometimes, it just needs more time.

  2. Fold - Know when product market fit isn't right. Sometimes resourcing is too little, too late.

  3. Mold - this is also PIVOT! Who knew that was a thing? To listen, grow and twist and turn with the market. Change isn't failure; it's adapting to customer /market needs.

  4. Evolve - Learning, growth and transition. (it’s taken 20 years to learn this one)

On the REAL poker front, if you came here for that, here are some tips on when to hold on and when to walk away ( the same lessons could be applied to businesses, too, as most of the time, it's about being able to read the play, the players and anticipate what's coming next.

Hold 'em

  1. When you have a strong hand: If you have a strong hand, such as a pair of aces or kings, it's usually a good idea to hold on and see if you can win big.

  2. When you have a good position: If you're in a good place at the table, such as being the last to act, you have a better chance of seeing what other players do before deciding whether to hold on.

  3. When you have a read on your opponents: If you've been paying close attention to the other players at the table and have a good read on their tendencies, you can decide whether to hold on or fold.

Fold 'em

  1. When you have a weak hand: If you have a weak hand, such as a low pair or two cards that don't match, it's usually best to fold and wait for a better opportunity.

  2. When you're out of position: If you're in a bad position at the table, such as being one of the first to act, you're at a disadvantage, and it's usually best to fold.

  3. When you're facing a big bet: If another player makes a big bet that you're not comfortable matching, it's usually best to fold and wait for a better opportunity.

Poker aside, the key to winning is having the right tribe around you. Let your guard down and ask for help, guidance, information, learning more, upskilling and seeking information from those with your best interest, not theirs.

It's not always about knowing when to hold on and when to walk away. By following these mantras, you can make more informed decisions and increase your chances of not just coming out ahead but staying in the game.

Good luck in the arena!

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