Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.


Counting cards

Q: How much does achieving success rely on luck vs. skill? This week a Western Maryland lumberjack named Darvin Moon won $5 million in the World Series of Poker. He insists he is no more skilled at cards than any recreational player. What do you think?

For poker players, I think it is pure skill that leads to success. There is strategy involved in poker. As they play, the players are constantly doing calculations in their head: "I think the queen of hearts and two jacks are still in the deck . . ." And while they do this, players are looking at their opponents for "tells" -- the facial expressions or fidgeting of the other players' bodies that give away who is bluffing and, therefore, nervous. Not many of us can earn a living playing poker.

But, in one sense, life can be like a game of chance. We are all counting cards and gauging people as we present proposals and work on business deals. We are using whatever luck we may have and combining it with our professional skills every day as we work to make the sale.

When I led the fight to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, we succeeded because of the different skills of the members of our group and extraordinarily good timing. Maybe luck had a small role in our success, too.

Luck to me is a rare commodity in business and to be exploited whenever it rears its head. Luck is entirely the reason one wins the lottery. So, maybe it is time for me to buy another ticket.

I am feeling lucky!

By Jan Scruggs  |  November 13, 2009; 2:03 PM ET  | Category:  Skill versus Luck Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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