I don't know how many people will read this, but it contains two hugely important life lessons, so skip at your own risk.

The first is my own, one I've learned over 40-plus years on this planet: Be open to finding inspiration and wisdom in unexpected places. 

The second comes from James Holzhauer. Three words: Take big risks.

I'm guessing 75 percent of readers will see that and say, wait, who the heck is James Holzhauer? The other 25 percent will say: How could anyone in America right now not know about James Holzhauer? 

Regardless, please see Lesson No. 1, "Unexpected places." Because the Holzhauer lesson is the big one. 

He's the professional sports bettor who has, over the past two weeks, broken nearly every record on the television game show Jeopardy! 

As I write this, he's won 16 games in a row, taking home more than $1 million. If you had to summarize his strategy, it's to pick the highest dollar categories, bet large, and move quickly.

Or, as he put it to The New York Times in an interview this week, take big risks over and over and over.

NYT: "Would you describe the traditional way of playing Jeopardy! as overly risk-averse?"

JH: "I would definitely say it's too risk-averse. The funny thing is, my 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 in never trying anything that looks like a big gamble.

Those last 13 words are key. And I admit, I hadn't seen Jeopardy! in years. I think my wife watched it, or at least read about Holzhauer, and clued me in so that when I saw the Times article I knew who he was.

Thank goodness, because this lesson, my friends, is life. We all know so many people who never have the intestinal fortitude to take big risks. 

I could go on and on with examples from my own life: How I set my pride aside to tell my then-future-wife how I felt about her (it was pretty dramatic). How I gave up my safe chance at a career as a government lawyer for something more fulfilling. How I left the amazing company where I was employee No. 3 to launch something of my own.

OK, the jury is still out on that last one, but I have an insane level of confidence, and if it works out, it will be because I took the big risk. 

Same thing with you, I'm betting.

Even the math works: Taking 10 shots at a $100 million idea, where each idea has a 10 percent chance of success, has a much higher rate of payoff than a single shot at a $5 million idea, no matter what the odds. 

Take big risks. Or in keeping with the Jeopardy! theme, I guess I should say: "What is taking big risks?"

Regardless, who cares. Either read and implement, or read articles about other people who make the choice. I have a feeling I know which side you're on.

Published on: Apr 26, 2019
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