Simple Hacks For Thinking Better From Sherlock Holmes To Professional Poker with Maria Konnikova


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By Matt Bodnar. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
In this episode we discuss several simple strategies for thinking better by looking at lessons ranging from sources as disparate as the methods of Sherlock Holmes to the principles of professional poker. How do you create focus and engagement when you’re trying to solve a problem? What are the potential ways that you can improve your memory to supercharge your thinking ability? How can you train your mind to think more effectively about emotion, risk, and uncertainty? We discuss this and much more with our guest Maria Konnikova. Maria Konnikova is the author of two New York Times best-sellers Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes and The Confidence Game. Maria graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and received her Ph.D in psychology from Columbia University. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, WIRED, and much more and she is an avid poker player as well.Is is possible that a fictional character could teach us how to think and make better decisions?Mindfulness - the thing that distinguishes Sherlock Holmes from any other detective is that he is fully present and sees and observes small detailsThe hidden power of how remarkably quiet Sherlock Holmes is - he’s a great demonstration of the power of contemplative routinesHow do we create focus and engagement when we’re working on something?You carry this real estate with you all the time - your “Brain attic” - and how you can use it to think more effectivelyAny information you remember is only useful to you if you can retrieve it when you need - and that’s why you must store things properly A few strategies for making your memory more effective:Encoding - the moment where we first remember it. If you aren’t paying attention you won’t remember in the first place and the memory will never get encoded. Memories are most powerful when they’re tied to other existing memoriesEvery single point of encoding is an anchor or retrieval point that can retrieve everythingUse multiple senses to encode a memory - not just one - build a rich texture of memories to encode them Encoding is different than rote memorization - it’s much more powerfulHow Maria went from a psychology PhD to becoming a professional poker playerHow poker can teach you how to make decisions under conditions of risk, uncertainty, and emotion You can teach people about biases and yet they still make the same mistakes Poker is a way to teach your mind to think in the right ways about risk, emotion, and uncertaintyThere is no better metaphor for the game of life than pokerWhat enabled Maria Konnikova to go from a total outsider to a professional poker player in such a short period of time?Having one of the top players in the world mentor her was a huge piece of itHaving a beginners mind and being willing to not know and ask simple questions Being willing to study and put in massive hours to learnFully immersing yourself, studying 9-10 hours a day, reading, analyzing hands, watching streams, taking notes, talking to people about strategyThere are no shortcuts, ever. There’s no magic bullet. You must put aside your ego to learn and improveHomework: Single most important thing that you can do is meditate 10 minutes per day every day. It doesn’t matter what’s going on around you. Admit the distractions and then let go of them. It doesn’t need to be a quiet place. That one habit can be life changing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

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