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  • Toby Sinclair

Summary: Quit by Annie Duke

Updated: Feb 6

⭐ Toby's Rating: 8/10

Quit by Annie Duke Summary Image

Why read this? 📚

Quitters lose. There is a stigma with quitting. I write often about the importance of consistency. Quit by Annie Duke was a reminder that rather than being a losing game, quitting is exactly what you need to win.

"Quit what you are doing and read this now"

Richard Thaler, Noel Prize Winner

3 Big Ideas from Quit by Annie Duke 💡

Here are three big ideas that business leaders can apply to lead their business and team more effectively:

  1. The Science of Quitting: Quit by Annie Duke delves into the psychological and physiological underpinnings of quitting, highlighting how neurotransmitters like dopamine play a crucial role in decision-making processes. It outlines the positive effects of quitting on the brain, leading to increased creativity and productivity, and provides strategies for overcoming the fear of failure​.

  2. Strategic Quitting and Kill Criteria: One of the book's central themes is the strategic approach to quitting, which includes conducting a pre-mortem to establish "kill criteria"—specific conditions under which one should abandon an initiative. This approach helps identify potential failure points and creates a rational framework for deciding when to quit, mitigating the impact of emotional or irrational attachments to failing projects​.

  3. Overcoming Barriers to Quitting: The book discusses several psychological barriers to quitting, such as the sunk cost fallacy and escalation of commitment, illustrating how these biases lead us to persist in unfruitful endeavors. Through examples like the California Bullet Train project, she demonstrates the detrimental effects of continuing investment in failing projects and the importance of recognizing when to cut losses​​​.

2 Best Quotes from Quit by Annie Duke 💬

“By not quitting, you are missing out on the opportunity to switch to something that will create more progress toward your goals. Anytime you stay mired in a losing endeavor, that is when you are slowing your progress. Anytime you stick to something when there are better opportunities out there, that is when you are slowing your progress.”

“Contrary to popular belief, winners quit a lot. That’s how they win.”

Toby's Top Takeaway from Quit by Annie Duke

Quitting is not just about stopping; it's about making informed, strategic decisions that pave the way for greater success and fulfillment. Annie Duke's "Quit" dismantles the stigma around quitting, offering a comprehensive guide to recognizing when persistence turns counterproductive. For leaders and individuals alike, adopting a mindset that acknowledges the power of timely quitting can be transformative, enabling a more flexible, resilient approach to challenges and opportunities. The insights challenge us to reevaluate our relationship with failure and success, urging us to embrace quitting not as a last resort but as a calculated strategy in our decision-making arsenal. The lessons from "Quit" are invaluable for anyone looking to optimize their decision-making process, ensuring that their efforts are directed towards the most fruitful endeavors.

Turn Your Knowledge into Action 🛠️

Here are three exercises you can do based on the lessons from Quit by Annie Duke:

Exercise 1 - Self-Reflection


To identify and establish clear kill criteria for personal or professional decisions.


  1. Think of a project or goal you are currently pursuing.

  2. Reflect on the reasons that would justify discontinuing this project or goal. Consider factors such as time, resources, progress, and alignment with overall objectives.

  3. Write down specific, measurable conditions under which you would consider stopping or pivoting on this project or goal. These are your "kill criteria."

  4. Reflect on how these criteria help clarify your decision-making process.

Estimated Time:

30 minutes


A list of clear, actionable kill criteria for a current project or goal, aiding in rational decision-making and preventing sunk cost fallacy.

Exercise 2 - Try this at work


To apply the concept of kill criteria to a team project to ensure efficient resource use and goal alignment.


  1. With your team, select a current or upcoming project.

  2. Discuss and define specific conditions under which the project would be considered no longer viable or worth pursuing.

  3. Document these conditions as your project's kill criteria, ensuring they are specific, measurable, and agreed upon by the team.

  4. Plan regular review sessions to evaluate the project against these criteria.

Estimated Time:

1-2 hours (depending on the project complexity)


A clear set of kill criteria for a team project promotes effective decision-making and resource allocation.

Exercise 3 - Do this with your team


To foster a team culture that values rational decision-making and understands the importance of kill criteria.


  1. Organize a workshop with your team or group.

  2. Present the concept of kill criteria and its importance in avoiding sunk cost fallacy.

  3. Break the team into smaller groups and assign each a hypothetical project or real projects if applicable.

  4. Each group defines kill criteria for their assigned project, focusing on when it would be rational to reconsider or terminate the project.

  5. Groups present their criteria and reasoning to the larger team, facilitating a discussion on how these criteria can guide decision-making processes.

Estimated Time:

Half-day workshop


Enhanced team understanding and appreciation for the use of kill criteria in projects, promoting a culture of rational decision-making and efficient resource use.

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1 Comment

Anna Myagkaya
Anna Myagkaya
Apr 24

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