Seek Out Low-Risk Opportunities With A Potential For High-Reward

This past Saturday, I auditioned to be a contestant for “Deal or No Deal” at The Millennium Centre in Southfield.

Deal or No Deal is a TV Game Show on NBC where the contestants play for a chance at one million dollars. Although it’s unlikely that a contestant will actually win the entire million, it is practically guaranteed that anyone lucky enough to be selected as a contestant will walk away with several thousand dollars.

This is why I, along with over 8,000 other people, auditioned on Saturday.

“You won’t get selected,” a pessimist suggested, “so why bother trying?”

It’s true that the chance of a casting director selecting me was quite low. Auditions were allegedly only 20 seconds long, and it would be difficult to convince a stranger that you’re fun and unique in such a small amount of time. In addition to that pressure, there were rumors spreading around the line that less than five people among us would be selected as “callbacks.”

Regardless of these ideas, whether they were truthful or not, I still wanted to audition. After all, there was little to no risk involved, but the potential rewards were outrageous. Opportunities like that shouldn’t be ignored.

Auditioning for Deal or No Deal caused me to begin thinking about the risks and rewards involved in all opportunities. There are four different classes of opportunities resulting from each possible combination of risk and reward:

  1. Low-Risk opportunities that yield Low-Reward.
  2. High-Risk opportunities that yield Low-Reward.
  3. High-Risk opportunities that yield High-Reward.
  4. Low-Risk opportunities that yield High-Reward.

I understand that this is a very broad generalization, especially since the amount of risk involved in an opportunity is subject to extreme variation between people. In order to strengthen your understanding of each combination, I came up with the following examples:

1. Low-Risk, Low-Reward — Easily the most abundant “opportunity” there is, the Low-Low combination describes most day jobs. It is the “safe” choice recommended by nearly everyone already doing it. You show up to work, and receive pay in exchange for your time spent there. The risk is low because you’ll always be paid so long as you keep showing up.

Unfortunately, day jobs operate on a business model. In other words, your role as an employee is to earn the business more per hour than you are costing the business. Therefore, the reward is also low.

People regularly insist that the Low-Low combination is their only option, or resign to the belief that it is “just the way the world is.” Truth is, these people believe they cannot afford to take risks. The looming requirement to pay the bills and/or support a family keeps them firmly planted at the same stage of their life for years.

2. High-Risk, Low-Reward — Given the undesirable traits on both sides, you’d wonder who would willingly pursue a High-Low combination. Fact of the matter is, in each of these “opportunities” the low-reward is masked by a promise of high-reward. The High-Low combination is therefore the home of scams, gambling, and crime.

Having attempted a career as a professional gambler, my recommendation to anyone that views a High-Low opportunity as attractive is to recognize that you’re not invincible. When there is high-risk involved, you are seriously endangering yourself when you don’t fully consider the potential consequences of your actions.

Before diving into anything that could be a High-Low opportunity in disguise, assess the situation, count to ten, and remember what is said about things that seem too good to be true. If I took just ten seconds to really think about the real purpose of casinos, I would’ve understood that nobody builds extravagant buildings where they simply give away money.

3. High-Risk, High-Reward — Like #2, the allure of a high-reward opportunity has the ability to blind someone from the incredible risks involved. When it comes to the High-High combination, though, it doesn’t necessarily refer to drug dealers making a living selling cocaine. A person who invests in real estate could just as easily fit into this classification.

In other words, opportunities of the the High-High variety are not available to everyone. It’s not possible to invest in real estate, the stock market, or your own business without first having money to risk. This is why the last combination is the most desirable:

4. Low-Risk, High-Reward — These opportunities are the type you should constantly be on the lookout for. Opportunities of the Low-High variety cause you to think: “what’s the harm?” — “what’s the worst that could happen?” — and “there’s nothing to lose!”

To me, auditioning for Deal or No Deal was one of these scarce opportunities. The auditions were being held only 12 miles away, the only thing I had to do to participate was wait in line for my turn, and the worst that could happen is someone tells me “No.”

The best that could happen is someone tells me I’m going to California to be on the show. When you compare this potential reward with the limited risks involved, it seems silly not to audition.

Convinced I had nothing to lose, I waited in line for ten hours to audition for twenty seconds. For the audition, I talked about how I recently moved from New Jersey to Michigan to seek a new life with my girlfriend.

The casting director quickly told me I was free to go home.

It was the worst that could happen, but it really wasn’t so bad.

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