No, this isn't a Texas Hold 'Em advice column. I pretty much stink at cards because as soon as I get a good hand, my ears turn red and I start laughing. Needless to say, I've lost a lot of $20 bills in friendly games with a group of guys gathered in a garage around a bowl of cheese puffs and piles of brightly-colored chips. But not last night. Last night, I won the entire tournament.
OK, it wasn't really a tournament, but it was a local networking event called a poker run. You show up, get a card, and then you hit up four of the businesses housed in this large office building to get the other four cards to complete your hand. At 6:30 PM, the best hands get into the finals. One twist in the game was that you could trade with other people. I guess that's the idea at a networking event, right? To talk with people?
Through the luck of the draw, I ended up with a jack, queen, and king of spades. Not too shabby. I then bumped into web traffic expert named Merv and had a great conversation with him about his business and SEO ideas. I noticed he had the ace of spades and he generously offered it to me for my king of hearts. Funny what happens when you just talk with people. find out what drives them, and listen. They may hold the ace up their sleeve that you've been looking for.
Now I had a really good hand. All I needed was the ten of spades to have the best possible hand you can have in poker: a royal flush. I spotted the card in the hand of a realtor, Angie. She had her guard up from the moment I approached her and after a minute of talking, she had revealed to me that she had never gotten a referral from a mortgage broker. She already had a good friend she was working with at Regions Bank, and she wasn't interested in giving me her ten or really even the time of day.
I started asking questions. Funny how people let down their defenses when you take an interest in them. Next thing I knew, she had invited me to come speak in front of all of the realtors in her office. Still no ten of spades though, but I was fine with that. I had made some new friends, so I was already a winner. As the emcee came over the speaker announcing that it was time for anyone with a royal flush to come up to the front and play in the finals, Angie walked up and gave me the ten of spades. She smiled and said, "I guess you need this more than I do."
I went on to win the whole contest (my wife is thrilled with the manicure/pedicure/Swedish massage I won). Now I'm not claiming to be some networking wizard or the Dr. Phil of the real estate world, but what I do know is this: there is a better way to play the game. You hold your cards close, don't take any risks, and refuse to have fun, well, I think you'll end up getting royally flushed. But if you put yourself out there, truly enjoy people, and give with no regard to getting, it is then that you'll head straight to the top. It will certainly suit you well. OK, I fold.