There are many who believe that if you are not taking risks, you are not growing.
In a recent Twitter chat for USA Manufacturing Hour, host Dondi Scumaci, an Author, Speaker and International Performance Consultant, led a productive and interesting risk -taking discussion.
A Risk Poll
Participants were asked to start out by participating in a poll about risks. The choices were outlined for what they saw as the biggest risk:
- Offering feedback
- Presenting an idea to leadership
- Something else
Host Scumaci said, “Conflict seems to be the clear winner of the poll so far! What makes it feel so risky?”
Julie Basello from Radwell International in New Jersey said, “The unknown of what the other person's reaction is when you have to interact with someone in a conflict situation.”
Emily Kite from Obsidian Manufacturing Industries in Illinois said, “Yes!! You never know how that will unfold until it's already unfolding.
Host Scumaci said, “So true. It's like a wild card.”
JD from Cleveland Deburring in Ohio said, “Most people don't want to "rock the boat". There's a reason the phrase, "Go along to get along" exist. I personally don't adhere to it but I have to admit, it's caused me issues in the past.”
Gina Tabasso from MAGNET in Ohio said, “Because usually someone "loses." Often that is a friend or a job or a relationship. Sometimes, compromise is not possible and hard decisions have to be made.”
Rebecca Prox from DSI/Dynamatic in Wisconsin said, “Conflict is risky because there could be so many different outcomes based on how it's handled.”
Host Scumaci said, “Relationships and results are definitely impacted by the approach.”
What Feels Risky
Host, Scumaci then asked participants what feels risky in their world. They were quick to share their thoughts.
Tabasso said, “My health and in turn my finances.”
Valerie Weber from Monofrax in New York said, “Honesty, integrity, empathy.”
Basello said, “Aside from the general world feeling very risky overall, I think making large life changes feels risky for me these days.”
Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing in California said, “Nowadays, creating social media content can be risky. So we have to be careful what to put out there for clients. You can get trolled and also can get blocked by platforms.”
Jasmine Labelle from Velavu in Canada said, “Secret ingredient to success: a fail-forward mentality.”
Kirsten Austin from DCSC Inc. in Missouri said, “That's about the size of it!
Erin Courtenay from Earthling Interactive in Wisconsin said, “In our business world it feels risky to niche or specialize, even though that is consistently recommended by the experts.”
Nigel Packer from PelaTis Online in Wales, UK said, “Idiots in Government playing vanity games and affecting people lives feels risky. We need stability so we can plan.”
Prox said, “Not attending tradeshows is risky in our world right now. They are happening and we haven't been attending much since 2020. But we have FOMO.
Michelle Riccetto from Brash Inc in Canada said, “Everything feels risky! For us, there's a lot of risk is in sourcing components & trying new vendors out when our normal supplier doesn't have what we need. When we find stock, it's either gamble and buy or risk not getting anything with the supply chain crisis.”
Host Scumaci said, “As we take risks, we learn to manage the fear of failure, explore possibility and embrace new ventures. Risk is an opportunity to stretch, remove barriers and face what feels daunting. Reflecting on what feels risky elevates your risk awareness and agility.
What Holds People Back
Next participants shared what they think holds people back and keeps people from taking (more and better) risks.
Packer said, “Getting the information to make informed decisions to mitigate risk. I have been burned too many times!”
Brett from FreightPOP in California said, “I think the fear of not knowing the outcome holds many of us back when it comes to taking risks. That's why risk management is important. Find out what the worst-case scenario is. Then you can determine if the reward is worth it.”
Chase Bodor from Plastics Plus Technology in California said, “Personally, I get into a comfort zone.”
JD said, “Fear of the unknown.”
Packer said, “The unknown is a new land where there is adventure and joy.”
Matt Long from Aviate Creative in New Jersey said, “Fear, of the known and unknown results of taking that risk. For me, it's really a calculation of risk vs reward - if the risk outweighs the reward, I won't proceed.”
Prox said, “Admittedly, fear of what COULD happen is what holds me back from any risk, but sometimes I just move through that fear. Without risk, there is no reward!"
Rusine said, “Well said!”
Tabasso said, “I take calculated risk. I am not afraid of much. Usually, money/resources hold me back. Security, safety, stability. Those illusions.”
Host Scumaci said, “This is insightful. When we raise our risk awareness, we can elevate our risk agility. Knowing what our anchors are is important. This becomes are weighted criteria. We weigh our options in the context of these.”
Kite said, “I am definitely a people pleaser, not my best quality, but sometimes I worry to much about what others will think instead of just taking the risk I want.”
Courtenay said, “Fatigue. It's draining to dive into new circumstances and to shake up the game board. The risk is that you won't have the energy to sustain the new path long enough to see the reward.”
Felix P. Nater from Nater Associates in North Carolina said, “Fear of coming across as mean and offensive.” He added, “I really believe that when it comes to my work not taking a risk reveals a lack of commitment.”
Whitney Koch from Welker, Inc. in Texas said, “Fear.”
Riccetto said, “Makes me think of that Tiger King quote "I will never financially recover from this.”
Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk said, “I am not afraid of taking risks. I just noticed that the common reason for the holdback is FEAR. It includes: -Fear of the unknown -Afraid of making mistakes Procrastination is another one.”
Labelle said, “In the past, as a leader, I have struggled with taking risks due to fear of failure but have been actively working to fix this. Realizing that “perfection” isn’t always attainable and that growth comes from failure are all things that have helped me!”
Host Scumaci said, “Release your risk brake! Here’s what holds us back:
- Amplifying what could go wrong and minimizing our ability to manage, influence or control.
- Emphasizing what we might lose (versus what we can gain) by taking the risk.
- Unfairly assessing risk on scales weighted to the side of loss.
- Failing to consider the cost of doing nothing. (Non-action is an action. No decision is a decision, by default.)
- Fearing failure, looking foolish, making a mistake or being wrong.
The Impact of Taking More Risks
The discussion continued with participants sharing how risking more could impact their results.
Nater said, “In my case it informs others in my space of the realities that need to be faced/addressed. Depending on the audience risk taking has results in a negative outcome when pitching to.” He added, “Risk taking in my line of work is necessary when competing with others who position themselves as the better choice. Looking back over the years, even when my risk taking has been tactfully designed, perception was the ultimate downfall in the non-selection.”
Brett said, “Bigger risks (and more risks) can lead to greater rewards. But that can be a slippery slope if your risk levels/tolerances aren't defined. Risk management is key!”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. in Illinois said, “Taking risks is the key to innovation & innovation is the key to better results!”
Tabasso said, “Bigger wins instead of status quo.”
Prox said, “1 of 2 things can happen: 1. You get a good reward for taking the risk... or 2. You lose something because of the risk.”
Austin said, “In the last few years, I have started to get a little more bolder in communications. As long as you're professional, I noticed, things get done more quickly when you're clear and not afraid to say what you think. You still need to be kind though.
Stepanov said, “Same answers here. I am more of going for a calculated risk than just taking any risks.”
VirtuDesk said, “Risks are bets. The higher you give, the higher you lose or gain as well.”
Courtenay said, “If you look at risk as a gamble - then the answer is obvious (you could win or you could lose!). But if risk itself offers reward by virtue of learning something new or enhancing your engagement in the process... then the impact is positive.”
Koch said, “Good point!”
Julia Gardner from Hourly Insurance & Payroll in California said, “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit... I feel like the safe choice can yield slower growth or the same results. More calculated risks can lead to better rewards!”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “"Risk it to get the biscuit"--love that!”
Nater said, “ Depending on the situation a certain amount of risk taking is needed to show our character.”
Kite said, “I think taking risks shows you that it's okay to be uncomfortable in the moment and there is always a benefit or something to learn at the end.”
Host Scumaci said, “This is the belief about risk that will set people free to explore.”
Bodor said, “In injection molding, there are many risks we consider: a) The safety of our employees b) Financial risks c) Risk to the end-user of products d) Risk to our customers ( we supply their product) e) Environmental impact risks The list goes on…”
He continued, “Taking a risk can impact several things (revenue, morale, growth, relationships, and more). I think for me - taking a risk will help me achieve goals and live happier.”
Koch said, “It could lead to better (or worse) results.”
Riccetto said, “In terms of marketing (and life), putting yourself out there to get noticed is SUPER risky. When you fly under the radar, you aren't as much of a target for scrutiny. But the more public you get, the louder you are, thats when impact happens (and risk).”
Long said, “When you take a risk, the results are going to be either positive or negative: You'll either get what you wanted/expected, or you won't. So taking a greater risk might mean greater positive results, or worse negative results.”
Ingor van Rooi, The Networking Ninja said, “The bigger the risk, the greater / better the results.”
Host Scumaci said, “That's a fair assessment for sure. The higher the risk....”
Kaia Fowler from StratMg in Illinois said, “I think we have to be open to risks resulting in unwanted outcomes -- otherwise, they aren't true risks. If we learn in the process, we still gain from the risk.”
Labelle said, “It’s all about the risk/reward ratio. Bill Gates took a huge risk when he dropped out of college to build Microsoft. Imagine a world without word?”
Tabasso said, “Different personality types. Doers and dreamers. Big picture and tactical. Risk takers and solid grounded . Takes all kinds. I am not like my bosses. They are big idea people. I am more tactical. I like doing. I like solid and tangible.”
Rusine said, “It’s a defining, distinguishing skill set. As you put yourself out there in relevant ways, you are becoming constructively disruptive. You are an agent of positive change and growth whether people see it or not.”
Packer said, “If the founding fathers had not taken the risk of fighting the British then you would still be a colony of the British Empire. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.”
Host Scumaci shared, “Risk taking is vital for innovation because new ideas are often inspired by stepping into the risk arena. In the space of risk we find ways to innovate, create and improve.
She continued, “Ultimately your risk-ability sets you apart from the crowd. It’s a defining, distinguishing skill set.”
The discussion turned to participants thoughts on where their risk opportunities are and how they recognize those opportunities.
Long said, “You would find these sorts of opportunities through tactics like conducting a SWOT analysis, or perhaps in strategy meetings to discuss new products or services.”
Prox said, “Often there's a significant gut feeling when risk presents itself.”
Tabasso said, “I used to war with head and heart. Now, I listen to my gut. It's right every time. We are taught to ignore our intuition and use reason.”
She continued, “At work in my job with clients I do a SWOT analysis often. I've learned to view my life and work through that same lens. I'm working on my opportunities and aware of strengths, weaknesses and threats. I work on those, too.”
VirtuDesk said, “SWOT is a great way to identify risks!”
They continued, “You can break it down from a bigger picture into smaller chunks. For example, identifying risks to your organization which includes, location, physical, operations, security, etc. Or, you can also seek help from professionals.”
Stepanov said, “I agree with Gina on conducting a SWOT analysis. Also, you can conduct internal and external research to identify these.”
Packer said, “I took a risk 2 years ago when I started sharing my experiences on a chat hour. I have found so many new friends and have increased my following from 1200 to 4200, My next risk is to start podcasting.”
Gardner said, “"New things" are risk opportunities. So talk to your team about a wild strategy they've always wanted to try or a tip they heard on a podcast and don't be afraid to give it a shot!”
Labelle said, “One of my favourite things to do is chat with people or learn from others who may have taken that same risk! Podcasts are so helpful, agreed.”
Rusine said, “You don’t have to be a genius to recognize opportunities. You can find it through a practical approach. Anyone willing to do the legwork can find opportunity.”
Nater said, “Spot on, Ruby!”
Riccetto said, “Everywhere! Risk is unavoidable, even in routine. Something can always go wrong. But the more something is aligned with our passions, the more opportunity for risk taking because we are open to seeing it & evaluating it because of its degree of importance.”
Courtenay said, “I have never thought about "risk opportunities". One place to look is to think about what you might regret if you never took the risk. “
Fowler said, “I tend to recognize opportunities in bursts of insight or inspiration - that "Ah ha!" idea moment. (I jot it down so I won't forget!). Risk awareness may come as a gut feeling or the result of analysis of data, or both!”
van Rooi said, “Opportunity-risks are everywhere! For me, it's anything outside of my comfort zone. One that I've leaned into was showing up on video and now I have a live show that is very well-attended and supported by my community.”
Nater said, “Stepping up for the sake of the experience and learning from it.” He continued, “Not backing down out of fear of being made a fool of. I’ve since ordered a fool proof outer garment outfit.”
Labelle said, “Risks are everywhere. However, the more you care and the more you have on the line, the bigger the risk.”
Host Scumaci said, “Take risk on purpose and with purpose. Not every risk is worthy of your attention and energy. Effective risks are strategically aligned with organizational priorities. They solve problems and exploit opportunities. They drive tangible value.”
She continued, “The best risk takers operate in the context of the big picture. They don’t take risk in a vacuum or and make decisions in an isolated way.”
Best Risk-Taking Advice
The discussion concluded with participants sharing their best ‘risk-taking’ advice.
Gardner said, “Do a costs-benefits analysis but be fearless, it might just pay off!”
Prox said, “The biggest risk is not taking ANY risk." (That comes from Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas and it's worth every penny.) Try it and see what happens. If it fails, you've learned something.”
Tabasso said, “Listen to your gut. Do what brings happiness and what is healthiest and in your best interest. Do your homework and work hard. Network. You are only as strong as your crew. Learn from the pros.
Rusine said, “Try. That would likely achieve more results than most people simply set out to do nothing.”
Fowler said, “You don't have to take risks all by yourself. Get your team - or support network - involved. It helps to have more perspectives through the process, and it's better to celebrate wins and mourn losses together!”
Koch said, “Community is so important.”
Packer said, “Plan A for success and plan B for mitigation. Get as much data as you can so you make informed decisions. Get the right tools for the job. Learn everything you can about the technology you will be using and calculate the payback/reward.”
Brett said, “Be prepared and trust yourself/your plan! Know exactly what you are risking, and make sure that you don't risk what you can't afford to lose!”
Amy.M.Anderson, an Engineer, said, “Some big companies have failed due to failing to take a risk, or being to slow to capitalize on the obvious opportunities in their realm. Hindsight is 20/20...”
VirtuDesk said, “Our best advice is to crush your fear of taking risks. Remember, there is no right or wrong when taking them, only opportunities to learn more to become smarter in the process.”
Kite said, “I would say my best advice for risk-taking is go outside your comfort zone and try something new!”
Labelle said, “What if it turned out better than you imagined, all because you took a chance.” A quote I will continue to live by.”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “Don't overthink it!”
Long said, “Minimize the risks!”
JD said, “I simply ask myself, "what's the worst that could happen?". If I'm ok with that possible outcome, I move forward.”
Host Scumaci said, “Develop awareness for the risk potential around you. Learn to identify, assess and be decisive with these opportunities.”
She continued, “Do the postmortem on the risks you take. What worked? What didn’t? How could you have been more prepared and more effective? What questions would have served you well? What didn’t you see or take into consideration? How did you grow through this risk?”
She then encouraged participants to share their greatest takeaway in the comments.
A closing thought from host, Scumaci: “As you put yourself out there in relevant ways, you are constructively disruptive. You are an agent of positive change and growth.”
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