The main plot of the James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’ takes place, naturally, in a casino.

Bond stands to win or lose many millions of pounds on a game of cards.

If he wins, he will have foiled a bomb plot, if he loses Britain will have funded terrorism.

Bond loses the first hand but explains it’s okay, he lost purposely so he could discover what his opponent’s ‘tell’ was.

He explains that the ‘tell’ is a subconscious signal card players give that ‘tells’ you what they think of their hand.

They might raise an eyebrow, they might cough, or scratch their nose.

They aren’t aware of it, but it lets you know how strong they think their hand is.

Bond explains that professionals play by learning to read their opponent’s ‘tell’.

So, we are told the secret to good card-playing is knowing what your competitor thinks.

But I heard a professional poker player being interviewed on the radio.

Over the course of her career she’d won many millions of dollars.

She was asked the secret of her success, was it learning to spot her opponent’s ‘tell’?

She said no, that was for amateurs.

She said it was nonsense (and this is the brilliant part) she said that all a “tell” could reveal was what the other player thought about their cards, not the truth.

She said, early in her career she had been playing against an opponent for a quarter of a million dollars.

She had learned to read his ‘tell’.

She could see he thought he had a great hand, and she knew she didn’t, so she folded.

When the cards were revealed he didn’t actually have a great hand at all, her cards could have beaten his easily.

But he wasn’t a good player and thought he had a good hand, so he was confident.

She had folded because of his opinion, not the facts.

He had read the cards completely wrongly, so he thought he had a great hand.

That was the last time she ever placed any faith in the ‘tell’, because it was just someone else’s opinion.

And that other person may not be as good as you, so their opinion is worthless.

From then on she always relied on the facts.

She knew which cards had been played, which cards were left, so she knew exactly what the odds were.

She played the odds, not the other person.

She said that was why most people lost, they treated it as a macho battle between human opponents, bluff and counter-bluff.

She’d learned the hard way that it was about playing the numbers, the percentages, the facts.

She’d learned that other people’s opinions are just that, opinions. Not facts.

It’s the same in our business.

In any meeting, any discussion about strategy, any presentation of thoughts, any review of work, other people may be more articulate, they may be able to speak louder, they may be more plausible, even get more agreement.

All of that makes them appear confident.

And if we are impressed by their confidence, we may begin to doubt ourselves.

We begin to believe that maybe they are right and we’re wrong.

Because we see they are confident and we assume they know something we don’t.

And we fold even when we shouldn’t.

But what if their confidence is misplaced, as it was with that poker player’s opponent?

What if they aren’t as good as us and they don’t know what we know?

What if they’re wrong?

Why would we trust someone else’s opinion over our own?