While many people get their business experience around a conference table, I learned a few key lessons at the poker table that no class or meeting could ever have provided.
Everyone who sits at a poker table puts on a poker face. That’s not to say players try to look as blank as possible — in many cases, it’s quite the opposite. By adopting a specific persona, players encourage their competitors to make decisions on the basis of that attitude, in the hope of leading them to call bets they shouldn’t or fold to bluffs.
In business, the point of keeping a poker face (aka “brand identity,” for the purposes of this article) is to encourage consumers and competitors to make choices that benefit you, without having to directly nudge them into making those decisions. They have an impression of who you are and what you will do, but the final move is always your decision. This allows you to control the narrative — and thereby their decision-making — in a passive way, with you playing the controlling role as an outside observer.
When you engage or respond, you’re able to do so from a high-level, bird’s-eye view. You will know how the public and competition see you and the point of view they’re coming from. You’ve established a brand they’re playing off of, and you know how to talk to them and convince them.
This post will introduce five distinct types of poker faces that I’ve seen utilized in business, along with a few pointers on how each type can help maximize the effect of your brand identity.