Why I’ll Never Graduate


In June of this year I crossed off a major item on my bucket list by playing in the 2016 World Series of Poker held at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas.

It was the culmination of a journey that started 10 years ago, when a teammate from my university soccer team coaxed me into signing-up on an online poker site so that he could redeem a $25 referral bonus — something he had exploited so well that it was helping him pay his way through college.

After a quick crash course in the rules of the game I deposited my first $50.

An hour later it was gone.

Anti. Climatic.

Of course I couldn’t go out like that — so I deposited my second $50.

This time I managed to hang onto it for a few days, watching it rise and fall like the stock market: ‘$75…$85…$35…$90…’

But eventually….ground zero.

At this point I realized I had two options: (a) continue putting money in and losing, or (b) become a student of the game and learn how to win.

I chose (b).

You’d know that if you visited my childhood home where the basement book shelves are still lined with 50 odd (dusty) poker books covering every aspect of the game. If you opened them you’d find that they were underlined and highlighted with chicken scratch note-taking filling the margins.

12 months later I won my first poker tournament online, beating out a field of 650 players to win a prize pool of $10,000. I was a university student with $350 to my name. It was a big deal.

Losing it all was an even bigger deal, but I’ll save that story for another post.

I came to realize that most poker players were lazy when it came to studying the game. They learned the rules and quickly settled into a certain style of play, but they didn’t evolve. They fell into a pattern, repeating bad habits day in and day out.

When I started my career in sales I loved the thrill of chasing deals. But after losing my first few deals I found myself reflecting on my poker days. I could continue losing deals or I could become a student of sales and learn what it takes to win.

I chose (b).

How many sales professionals choose (b)? In my experience, not many.

That’s good news for you.

If you want to separate yourself from the pack, find time to stop and assess your sales game openly and honestly. Examine your strengths and weaknesses, observe those around you, read, study, practice. Become a student again.

I never learned how to swim as a kid. Last month I went on YouTube and searched for “how to swim.” I found a great video with over 10M views. I’m going to set it up next to the pool this weekend.

I’m going to become a student again.

I’ll never graduate.

By Ryan Paugh

Hi there!

With decades spent exploring the outer world and the inner world, I share some of the insights I have learned along the way.

Topics include mindfulness, spirituality, growth, perspective, and career.

Start Here