In your book Crazy Is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags, you mention that everyone needs to act like an entrepreneur, including employees at large companies. How do you take smart risks without risking it all?
Our companies, our jobs are no longer stable and secure. To survive, we need the skills to continually reinvent ourselves. So, yes, everyone needs to think and act like an entrepreneur. Whether you work at a Fortune 500 company, a nonprofit, or a mom-and-pop, you need to take risks today or risk being left behind. But how do you know which risks to take?
The image of the swashbuckling entrepreneur gets it all wrong. The best entrepreneurs are not risk maximizers; they are risk minimizers. They don’t bet the farm or max out their credit cards. Two thirds of Inc. 500 companies were started with initial investments of under $10,000. Today, crowd funding platforms have made this goal easier. As for entrepreneurs working in large companies, a key to minimizing risk is to build support for your ideas first from below, occasionally working in stealth mode, rather than rush to put a PowerPoint in front of the boss. That’s how successful innovation happened at companies like Clorox, Pfizer and MTV.
Most of the things you read about at this time of the year are either looking back or looking forward - “2014, was a year that saw…” Or, “in 2015, we predict that…”
Like most people, when I read the year in review it feels like a Google search result for the top news stories in 2014. They’re interesting to look at, but not very informative. They read like a very busy family’s holiday card.
On the flip side, the predictions for the upcoming year are either a step and repeat from last year’s, or they’re so vague that I’m not really sure what to do with them. Maybe it stems from a fear of being wrong. Once you’ve said it, it’s out there.
But there is one thing that I’ve heard both as a prediction and a review that has been consistently 100% accurate year-in and year-out: Be bold, now.
To be fair, I first heard it in my first year of college in a debate and persuasion class. On the first day the professor walked in without saying a word, walked up to the board and wrote: “Be bold, now.” He said, “That is what I will judge you on, how you’ve been judged before now, and how you will be judged in life.” That was advice that came long before the iPhone and social media. It was sound advice then, and possibly even more so now.
Recently we had an interview with leadership expert Linda Hill, who was part of this year's World Business Forum New York. Get to know more about her ideas on innovation and leadership, and why these two aspects are deeply connected.