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May 15, 2012


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Somewhere along the way, I jotted down the quote: Are you going to be safe and be good, or are you going to take a chance and be great?

Staying safe happens so often because it can be hard to convince others to take a risk especially if you are yearning to do so within the confines of a conservative organization.

David Meerman Scott

Hzhealy - I love the quote. Many thanks for sharing.

Daniel Rojas

I couldn't agree more with your post. I live in Colombia and recently our government approved a regulation about companies' workers doing their job from home. This law allows employees to have the same rights as they were working at the headquarters. The point is, here in Colombia most organizations are afraid to send their people to work from home because they still think they will be occupied in personal matters instead of dedicate the full day to do their job. Despite they know that people working from home is cheaper for organizations than having all of them at the office together (and don't forget about saving costs for transportation, quality of life, etc.), the prefer not to implement those kind of initiatives soon. So, the risk of not trusting people may be countless. How risky it is for them not to do this? Mi twitter account is @derojasm, I'm following you.


David, I learned this the hard way-and I'm starting my own marketing strategy consulting business this year. Being one to advocate change in a conservative company never made me popular, and increased my personal risk tremendously-status quo is very powerful. Conversely, I think by being even more aggressive advocating change and showing how to implement it, and then marketing across many companies should really minimize MY personal risk and allow me to contribute a greater amount to more comanies. Thats my theory at least-we will see how it works out!

David Meerman Scott

Daniel, part of the perceived "risk" at companies is about trust. It is risky to trust employees instead of just doing the easy thing and making many rules and regulations.

Badanfoth, That's the path I have taken. I worked for companies for about 15 years and for the past ten I have been on my own for the reasons you cite. Good luck with this stage of your career.


David, This comment may be a little off the mark but your post piqued my interest as I've been thinking about risk lately. I believe the quote "if the risk is great, so is the reward" though I'm not sure who said it. I also understand you are referring to personal development. But aren't there "risks" inside companies as well. Weren't the "hedge" managers at JPMorgan trusted / taking personal and corporate risk for great reward? or would the "risk" have been not taking the questionable chances they did? They were clearly trusted to make the call so where is the error? In the oversight by the government, the company, the individual? Balance of risk and responsibilities must be considered - I'd love to follow U2 around on tour however my happiness would be at risk with my family.

Tony Faustino

David, after reading your list of "the flip side of risk" and your concluding sentence, I thought I'd contribute this quote by your friend and colleague, Seth Godin (from Purple Cow):

"Safe is Risky."


There are a number of situations where people fail to look at the flip side...

That software/equipment/engagement is too expensive! -- But how much is it costing you to not have it? What's the opportunity cost?

If I offer training and development to my team members they will get smart and leave. - You you'd rather have them remain dumb and stay?

If we do it like everyone else (buy IBM, hire a big name consulting firm, etc.) then we're safe. -- and you will get the same results as everyone else. Is that safe?

I wonder what it is about humans that makes it so hard to see the costs of non-action?

David Meerman Scott

Biasforaction - The risks that financial traders make is actually their job so it is a little different. They assume the risk on behalf of the firm and the reward is a bonus and the personal risk is that they get fired. I think that is different than other jobs. If you REALLY wanted to follow U2, you could make it your job. For example, I love the Grateful Dead and wrote a book about the band and have had many exciting interactions as a result. While not a full time job, I have turned my passion into part of my income stream. You can too.

Tony - YES. Safe is very risky.

Blfarris - Excellent point on hiring the same consulting firms as everybody else.

Raúl Colón

For years I worked in the IT Security field doing IT security risk assessments to help regulated companies decide where they needed to invest in protecting their key assets.

Funny enough with many risk professionals they would only see the negatives and how it would impact them. I rarely saw the evaluation that was a 360 view.

Now that I am helping companies communicate online my background in IT Security and Risk Management helps me comfort them in trying new things by giving them as many scenarios on the positive and negative side as possible. And guiding them into how you ended this post there is probably more risk if no action is done.

Analysis Paralysis is the biggest risk I see in small and large companies.

Doug Sanborn

If you limit yourself to what the lawyers approve - you'll do nothing.  In today's world, doing nothing pretty much guarantees failure.  

Don't get me wrong, lawyers can be very helpful in accessing a new venture, policy, etc.  But you hand them a veto card at your own risk!

David Meerman Scott

Raul - Exactly. When given an opportunity to evaluate risk, the results are frequently one-sided.

Well said, Doug. Thanks.

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