Play Your Cards Right

What does poker have to do with negotiation?

More than one high-level business negotiation has been referredto as a "poker game" populated by "poker-faced"negotiators. Unfortunately, poker may be a poor metaphor for doingbusiness, and it might even hinder your ability to raise capital.You can enjoy poker on a regular basis and run a successfulbusiness. However, people who try to bring too many lessons fromthe poker table to the business table may find themselves at adisadvantage. Skeptical? Consider how poker can never be a win-winproposition.

We're all familiar with the terminology of win-win, win-loseand lose-lose. Wars, especially civil wars, typically turn intolose-lose propositions. In contrast, it's common in businesscircles to focus on creating win-win propositions in which bothparties can win as a result of engaging in mutually beneficialexchange. Poker is an entirely different story, however. It cannever, ever be a win-win proposition, because any money you win atthe poker table is coming out of somebody else's pocket.

Think about it--at best, all the game of poker can do isredistribute existing wealth. It can never create new wealth, aspeople who are engaged in business do every day. Since it basicallyredistributes wealth, poker is similar to a tax system that takesmoney out of one person's pocket and puts it into someoneelse's pocket. Poker is a game of winners and losers, whereasbusiness can be a game of winners and winners.

Excerpted from At Work With Thomas Edison: 10 Business LessonsFrom America's Greatest Innovator

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