Taking Smart Risks – Book Review
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 9, 2013
Doug Sundheim of Clarity Consulting, a leadership and strategic management company, wrote me and then sent me a copy of his newest book, Taking Smart Risks, asking if I’d read it and review it. Since we’ve talked a few times on Twitter I agreed, of course, thus this is the review of his book, and yes, that’s my affiliate link to purchase it from Barnes & Noble.
By the title, you know that this book talks about taking not only risks, but smart risks. There are 3 basic premises in the book. One, no one ever progresses without deciding to take some kind of risk. Two, employing the concept of smart risks minimizes the mistakes one makes if those risks don’t go well, or when they go badly learning from them so that you don’t make those critical mistakes again if you still have the courage to push forward. And three, you have to reach the point in your thinking where you decide on the SWFF factor, which stands for “something worth fighting for”.
There are 17 chapters in the book and each chapter is replete with actual business tales, most of which you may not have heard of, and occasionally a story with the name changed. Some of the stories involve someone who almost failed yet kept looking at things with a critical mind, and some have people who failed for one reason or another, were able to figure it out, and still pushed forward. Doug is absolutely right when he says that no one grows without taking a risk every once in awhile. Even if it might not feel like growth, we all grow because we gain knowledge whether we fail or not. And it’s not true failure if we never give up.
To me, there are two pivotal chapters in the book. The very first chapter is called “The Dangers Of Playing It Safe” and he talks about why people won’t take risks, the fears of failure and the safety of allowing things to go as they always do, even if they’re starting to go bad, because a person might not want to be held accountable or might not have enough faith in themselves to take a chance. I identified with that one because even though I’ve taken my chance by working for myself, often I hold back and go the safe route in marketing because it’s the norm, rather than breaking traditions and actually working more on selling; two different things.
The second pivotal chapter is chapter 14, titled “Expect Communication To Break Down“. I felt that one strongly because over the years I’ve written about the need to be as clear as possible when talking to others to make sure that everyone is on the same page and, as Doug writes, sometimes it’s just inevitable that there’s going to be a breakdown in communications somewhere along the line, and that we should expect it and figure out how to deal with it when it comes. That’s critical, and though I’ve always known it, I’ve never wanted to acknowledge it. Even the greatest wordsmiths fail to get their actual point across here and there. Knowing that helps you to stay on course and not shrivel up and tuck tail when controversy comes, or when something goes wrong because everyone’s not on the same page.
There’s a lot in this book, over 260 pages worth, and I have to say that it’s a very easy and quick read; at least it was for me. I’ve always said that if you want people to understand what you have to say you tell stories when possible. There are a lot in this book and I came away with a lot. Go ahead, take a look, then buy this one.