Your Business is Not Powerball

Lottokugeln rollen auf blauem HintergrundOver recent weeks, the Powerball jackpot has been climbing and is back up around the $300M mark — very close to the level experts say creates a “positive-expectation” for players.  People start to come out of the woodwork to buy tickets in the hopes of winning the big Jackpot.  They rationalize, “although the odds are stacked against me, it’s well worth the minimal investment for the chance to win big!”

In the case of Powerball, this may make some sense.  But unfortunately, I’ve found some business leaders using the same approach without even realizing it!  Here are 3 Powerball realities that simply aren’t real in business:


1. Betting on luck

The odds of winning a prize in Powerball are 1 in 32.  That’s not too bad, huh?  But these wins are usually around $4 and basically just offset the cost of the ticket. The odds of winning the Jackpot are a different story:  1 in 175 million.  So why do so many people jump in to play Powerball when it reaches the $350M level?  They have one primary strategy – they’re betting on luck.

But playing to win and betting on luck is not a strategy to win in the business world.  In fact, studies show that businesses consistently fail to achieve 4 out of every 5 goals they set.  Why?  They rely on the past. They rely on assumption. They rely on activity.  They rely on luck.  Winning in business requires more than luck.  It requires a deep expertise – in market needs, value-added products and services, solid strategies and flawless execution in the face of competition.  And it requires engaged and recognized leadership to empower progress and manage talent ongoing.

2. Quantity vs. quality

In Powerball, the higher the number of matches, the higher the payout.  Matching 1 number pays out $4 dollars, matching 4 numbers pays out $100 and matching 5 numbers pays out $1,000,000.  As a result, placing your bets on as many “good numbers” as possible is key to winning.

I see many leaders today trying to employ this same strategy in their businesses.  Faced with a number of different internal or external opportunities, they spread their available resources across all of them believing that this increases their odds of winning something somewhere.  Unfortunately, all this does is increase their odds of winning the $4 prize, not the jackpot.  Jackpot winners in the business world do just the opposite.  They use real data to make deliberate choices — both on what TO do and what NOT TO do. Then they wisely invest the resources they have to capture value where the potential return is the greatest.

3. Business is not a game

Here’s a startling fact for some people from a Washington Times article early this year: “Powerball is a game, not an investment strategy”.  In fact, it quotes Powerball’s Website description that “Lottery games are just that – games…  [They] are designed to be enjoyable entertainment for adults… Never spend more than you can afford on any lottery product.”  As a result, playing Powerball is a “no harm, no foul” type of activity with some possible upside to your wallet.

Business, on the other hand, is not a game.  Winning and losing in business affects more than the bottom line.  It affects employees, stakeholders, families, communities, and the world.  That’s the definition of “serious business”.   I see lots of good leaders who understand this and who commit themselves wholeheartedly to their roles and to the organizations they serve.  But unfortunately, I also see a lot of others who don’t.  They “play” at business by failing to take responsibility, invest, inspire, make choices and provide the leadership needed to win. They “spend more than they can afford” in the hearts and minds of their teams and decrease their odds of winning substantially.


Clearly, there are big differences between Powerball and business, but the key difference has everything to do with mindset.   What is your leadership mindset?

QUESTION:  Which do I spend more time thinking about?


Powerball Mindset Business Growth Mindset
Minimizing Risk Maximizing Success
Tracking Activities Driving Results
Spreading out Resources Investing for Change
Motivating Myself Inspiring my Team


Share your experiences & answers with me below or on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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If you would like help in developing a “winning mindset” in your organization, please contact Jill for more information.  Also, check out our website to see more about our services and successes.


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