Taking Smart Risks

How Sharp Leaders Win When Stakes Are High

Life is uncertain. Whether in the business world or at home, we feel an increasing loss of control over our future, and find ourselves paralyzed by indecision. Fear prevents people from taking chances and making game-changing moves. Anything other than the status quo appears inherently risky and reckless.

About the book

In his groundbreaking book, TAKING SMART RISKS: How Sharp Leaders Win When Stakes Are High (McGraw Hill, 2013), Fortune 500 leadership expert, Doug Sundheim challenges and redefines what it means to take a risk.

Smart risk-taking involves passion, planning, active learning, communication, and the ability to embrace and reward the inevitable small failures along the way. The application of Sundheim’s smart risk paradigm can transform businesses and personal lives. Counter-intuitively, we can gain more control by taking smart risks.

Smart risks empower you and spur innovation. Smart risks ultimately give meaning to what you do.

Most business leaders already know what needs to happen to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. People need to take chances and test new ideas. However, the frustration has always been how do you encourage people to take smart chances, and teach them to be smart risk-takers?

TAKING SMART RISKS addresses this perennial challenge, and helps readers get clear on the long-term costs of NOT taking a risk. Although not immediately felt, sometimes the consequences of playing it safe end up being much greater than the dangers of the perceived risk. In fact, behavioral psychologists have proven that understanding how much you might potentially lose by NOT acting is the most important driver of action.

Sundheim, a respected consultant to many Fortune 500 companies, will share with you behind-the-scenes stories of smart risk successes, and a step-by-step, proven methodology for how you can make small, meaningful changes to promote smart risk- taking that will empower you and result in more control and satisfaction in your life.

A must-read book for the serious executive, entrepreneur, and frankly everyone, TAKING SMART RISKS offers specific examples of smart risks and easy-to-implement strategies to transform your thinking about the nature of risk. Engaging, informative, filled with real-life Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial anecdotes, detailed exercises, and illustrative graphs, the book features in-depth analysis of Sundheim’s five essential elements of the smart risk.

Readers will learn to

See the Future Now
  • Ask questions, understand concerns, test the concept behind your ideas, and predict as many fail points in advance that you can
  • Have an open, honest conversation with trusted people around you to determine what is the worst that could really happen
Act Fast Learn Fast
  • Start before you know where to start, fail early, often, and smart—build learning into everything, and stay humble
  • Accept that you have to live with failure—since it is an inevitable by-product of taking risks, even smart risks. Failing smart is the best way to learn
Communicate Powerfully
  • Expect communication to break down and plan accordingly
  • Share thought processes, meet regularly, and don’t avoid difficult conversations
Create a Smart Risk Culture
  • Define a smart failure—the acceptable boundaries within which it is okay to fail
  • Reward both the successes and these smart failures

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