Tips for Success

The Gambling Trilogy [Part 1]: What you can learn from Blackjack

What’s the draw to this crap (pun intended) called “gambling”? 

This is the first of three posts to help you look at your professional and personal life from the perspective of the inner workings of a casino.

This week, I bring you blackjack: my gambling gateway drug, and previous addiction (until I discovered craps).

In blackjack, while on your mission to have the sum of your cards equate to 21, your only competition is the dealer – not the other players at the table – just you, the cards you’re dealt, and the man or women across the table anxiously waiting and hoping to take your dignity. You have tunnel vision and are aiming for 21… you’re aiming to hit a blackjack – to be dealt the perfect hand and feel the sweet satisfaction of immediate success.

Well, here comes a bubble burster: the odds of getting dealt said blackjack are 4.8%. That’s it. 95.2% of the time, you’re going to have to put in a little bit more effort if you expect to truly find success!

So, for your life, what’s the deal? (Pun intended…again)

If you’re only up against the dealer, then who are those people sitting next to you at the table?

Those people are in the same metaphorical situation as you. They are playing with the dealer and only the dealer. They have their own knowledge of the game, their own experiences, and their own views about gambling, just like you do. These tablemates may make a stupid decision like taking a hit with a 13 against an upright four on the dealer’s side (essentially causing you and the rest of the table to epically fail and want to punch him or her in the left eye), but you can’t really do anything about that.

All you can do is play your cards as they were dealt, and play strategically by what your dealer has presented you with.

To quit with the cryptic messaging in this scene, the dealer is your interviewer and potential employer, and your tablemates are your fellow interviewing candidates. Don’t worry about them! Yes, they are technically your competition, but in the end, all you can do is the best that YOU have to offer, and your competition can’t change that.

Now that the players have been identified, and we’ve got the dealer, the tablemates, and yourself, what am I proposing?

The more money on the table, the more you can pocket or lose, right? (Right). I propose that you put yourself out there and take a professional gamble! Don’t be meek or shy about your goals and job search. If you want a particular position, GO FOR IT. If you want 21, take that hit (unless you’re already above 17…then you may want to call it quits). Take big risks, and the rewards may surprise you.

Maybe there is a job you feel you’d be perfect for, but it says that you need 3+ years of experience. Maybe you’re looking to change your career, and you’ve got ample amount of professional years under your belt, but not in this direct field.

Well, amigo… you have to start somewhere.

Apply for the friggin’ job. You can’t get hired without the application, even if it does attempt to deter you by way of listed qualifications.

As Joel Runyon states on his Blog of Impossible Things:

Rules matter far less than you think, and oftentimes, they don’t matter at all. Qualifications are supposed to level the playing field. They make things “fair”. People with the same qualifications are supposed to be rewarded the same, get the same things and act similarly. Those are the rules. That’s how we know it’s fair. One problem. Life is not fair. Read that again. Accept it. Then screw qualifications and break the rules.


What are the odds of the dealer winning? What are the odds of “failure?” That depends on how you choose to look at it.

Your hand as the potential candidate needs to wow the dealer (potential employer) in order for you to take home the dough (or for sake of the blackjack metaphor, just be closer to 21 without busting…and get the job you’re applying for).

Here’s the up side: your internships and college experience can be considered. If you impress the company with an outstanding resume, great references, and a SPAHKLING personality, who’s to say you’re not qualified?

I’m not suggesting that you apply for the Vice President of Communications at a Fortune 500 straight out of college; I’m just saying to take a chance on that “three to five years of experience” position, even if you’ve only been out of college for two years.

Potential outcome:

You could bust. You could get a 20 and you could be thinking you’ve got this one in the bag… but then the dealer could take hit after hit, statistically destined to bust, and then pull a 21, completely destroying your hopes and dreams (or just taking your money). Basically, the company could take a look at your resume, see the year you graduated, laugh, and toss that sucker in the trash. Fine. That company was weak sauce anyways.

ORRRRRRR, they could call you in for an interview, you can wow them with your charisma, guts, and ambition, and you could pull that sweet 21. Whatever happens, take the chance. You won’t get anywhere by sitting stagnant, and you’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing you played the game and did it to the best of your abilities.

What gamble are you going to take this week?


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