Risk. It’s a part of everyday life, from something as basic as getting behind the wheel, telling someone “I like you”, to taking a more calculated, lifelong leap in our careers.
Earlier this year, Andy Wright from For The People gave a talk on the idea of risk, and how it informs our decisions based on what we stand to gain or lose.
Luckily, the risk of the audience suffering a caffeine crash while Andy gave his chat was seriously curtailed, because it happened at CreativeMornings Sydney – our new favourite concept – where a creative person gives a talk on a given subject. Oh, and the talk is free. Aaaaand it comes with free coffee. Awesome.
Andy began his talk with one of the best illustrations of risk that humankind has ever seen – Felix Baumgartner’s freefall leap from the edge of the stratosphere in 2012.
It’s a great way of emphasising the way the saying ‘fail fast’ has been skewed. As Andy reminded his audience, fail fast has become a cop-out:
“It’s an excuse not to do your homework. Could Felix have failed fast? He’d be pretty screwed if he failed.
“Actually what it’s about is don’t waste time failing. Identify that you might be failing, learn from it very quickly and move on.
“But first, do everything you can not to fail.”
Andy continued on to discuss how For The People embraced risk as an opportunity to create a different kind of media agency.
They left an estimated half-a-million dollars on the table by not taking jobs they didn’t think were right for them. They won’t operate in silos, instead aiming to create projects in a completely integrated fashion across strategy, design, and dev.
The agency’s three founders also often communicate via podcast, because “we’re much better when we have to commit things to being recorded than when we’re just in a room.”
But as Andy said of businesses that aren’t taking risks, it’s competency that holds them back – “they’re protecting what they have, versus growing what they don’t.”
Of course, that’s a risk as well – doing something new is scary, but sticking with what has always worked could see someone else coming along, seeing what else is possible, and doing your job better than you.
Andy closed the talk out with a discussion of risk with regards to his personal health, dealing with depression, and anxiety. He reminded us that doing nothing is a risk we can choose, so instead, “The risk you should take is for something better. Something you’ve always wanted.”