Guest Column | January 22, 2013

Book Review: Taking Smart Risks

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Ken Thoreson Acumen Management

How Sharp Leaders Win When Stakes are High

By Ken Thoreson, president and founder, Acumen Management Group Ltd.

This book had me from the opening chapter. Whether you are an entrepreneur wannabe, a small business owner, a new manager in a complex organization, or a corporate executive, this book, written by Doug Sundheim, is a must-read within your firm. In challenging times as well as times of growth, this book can be used as a textbook to improve your odds of success. I would recommend that you have each of your managers read the book and then discuss it weekly during your review meetings. This book not only explores the emotional and business reactions to making important decisions, but he provides a series of tools that can help everyone make better decisions!

The first chapter titled, “The Dangers of Playing it Safe,” covers a great story of a CNN/Money executive  that left the security of success within a large enterprise to go into the turnaround and high risk oriented opportunity.  When asked why the individual took the risk he stated: “The emotional cost of NOT risking and having to live with that regret was much greater in my mind than any career or financial costs I would incur.” This emotional element of accomplishment becomes a driving factor. However, the author makes it clear emotions and logic must be balanced.  His driving question to the individuals he interviewed was: “When was the last time you felt really alive?”

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