On the clock: Andre Akkari, the great delegator
This is a story of delegation and going to the dogs.
Andre Akkari, the face of poker in the poker-crazed Brazil, has 28 Golden Retrievers. If you've ever owned one dog and know what it takes to manage it, multiply that by 28. Now try to figure out if you have enough time to decide whether to slow play a set of fives in your next hand.
Now, consider this: not only does Akkari breed dogs like most of you open Sit & Go windows, but he also owns and operates a very successful dog hotel. He's also got interests in a massage chair company, an ice cream factory, and a Japanese restaurant. He runs a 14,000 square-foot poker stable, The Akkari Team, where he signs poker grinders to a one-year contract of instruction and money-making. He also conducts workshops for businesses and teaches executives how to use poker skills in their work.
And yes, he is a Team PokerStars Pro. He plays more than 80 tournaments a week online. Busy doesn't begin to describe most of his days.
"Thats the reason that I go to sleep at two or three in the morning," he said.
And, oh yeah, he has a family, too.
This week, we've been taking a look at how some of PokerStars top players are able to manage exceedingly busy lives. Vanessa Selbst spoke at length about how she was able to earn a law degree at the same time as she was becoming one of poker's biggest stars. On Wednesday, Adrienne Rowsome discussed how she handles a brand new baby along with her responsibilities as a member of Team Pro Online. Both women found ways to manage their exceptional lives in ways that any person with the right will, desire, and discipline could emulate.
But, Akkari? His life is beyond what most people would consider reasonable...or even possible. When he stacked up his responsibilities and sorted them out by urgency and and importance, he discovered he had a lot of things that fell under both "urgent" and "important." If he tried to do them all himself, he would almost certainly fail. What's more, if he tried to do them all, it would leave no time for family, healthy living, or anything he considered fun.
So, he did the only thing he could do: he delegated.
"Finding the right people is the secret," he said. "Life and business are not about ideas, money, or how hard you can go. It's about finding the right people and putting them in the right spot."
Ask Akkari to tell you how he manages his life, and instead of naming strategies, he names people. He has partners who help him with The Akkari Team and his other business ventures. The dog hotel is a family affair.
"Our dogs hotel, WIN DOGS, is managed by my wife. I am there all the Mondays, Thrusdays and Saturdays, probably six hours a day," he said. "She is great to take care of our customers. They love her, and our structure is probably the best in Brazil. We are sold out for December and January, so our connection is working."
Still, that's something that can't be particularly easy. If you've ever been married, you know know the challenges he must face.
"We avoid business conversations in home," he said, and the laughed. "But it doesn't work every time."
Because he's found a way to delegate some of the most urgent and important matters, he still has time to play poker. He says it's how he relaxes.
"Probably once a month, I turn off everything and take the flight to some place around the globe to play and promote PokerStars and poker in general," he said. "I try to extract the maximum from any trip. This is the time where I try to stay away a little bit from my business routine and relax."
It's not always easy. He sleeps five hours a night. He saves three Saturdays a month to spend time with friends and family. He keeps two hours a night reserved for hanging out with his wife and daughters. It's not enough, but they find other time, too.
"The days that I am at the dogs hotel, my daughters and my wife are there too," he said. "So it's great."
Indeed, Akkari has become a successful guy, one who understands that a big part of being a success is putting good people around you and taking care of them.
"If you find the right people and assign them to the right mission, its vital that you reward them," he said. "They have to see not just the future. They have to be rewarded now."
So, what is he? A poker player? A family man? A businessman? He's all three, to be sure, but he has come to think of himself another way.
"Today I consider myself a head hunter. Everyday I try to find more people who are proactive, creative, and restless like me," he said "When you have this formula, most of the time you'll succeed.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging