Some friends recently invited me out to their house on Lake Chelan in eastern Washington. They'd mounted a 30-foot ski lift onto their dock and installed a high-dive platform to the top of it. No joke.
Needless to say, we all felt the need to climb this thing and jump off it. I thought I knew the right strategy. Don't look down. Just climb up and immediately jump. No waiting, no deliberation. Just do it.
Problem was, I couldn't. As soon as I got to the top, I froze. It took me 10 minutes to work up the nerve. Plus, my friends had their cameras angled to capture the exact moment I launched myself, which didn't help matters. And once I took the plunge, I was in the air a lot longer than I planned. It was exhilarating, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared. (And to all of you who think a 30-foot platform isn't that high, you're sorely mistaken.)
Clearly, I survived. I ended up jumping off a few more times just to prove I wasn't a total chicken, But it really got me thinking about taking risks. When is it a good idea? And when should we play it safe and watch from the ground?
You can probably recall those times when you've taken a risk or two. Maybe it was an honest conversation with a client or colleague. Maybe it was a new idea that was so completely out of left field that you thought everyone would figure you were crazy. Whatever the case may be, there are a few guidelines for evaluating whether a risk is healthy, or just plain stupid.
I did a little research on the subject of risks and came up with some interesting bits of info. Along with the bonus of discovering new ideas, risk apparently makes us happier.
Granted, we're in the business of performance marketing. We avoid going off gut feelings, and focus more on analytics, research, and things we measure and evaluate to make decisions. But that doesn't mean we don't use risk like a good seasoning. Small doses is the key.
Part of what defines a risk is that it's risky. You haven't evaluated all the ins and outs, the fear factor is there for what could potentially happen, However, I offer these tips for going halfway with a potentially risky business decision.
As you've probably guessed, I like a good risk. Whatever business risk you're weighing, it's probably more likely you'll regret not going for it. Keep me posted. What can I say? I get a thrill out of listening to other people's endeavors.
Shane is off this week. Today's column appeared earlier on ClickZ.
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In 1998, Shane co-founded ZAAZ to advocate a different approach to Web services — one that respects and delivers on the power of the individual and the promise of Web technologies. As CEO, Shane leads the company's long-term strategic vision of working with leading financial service organizations, consumer brands, startups, non-profits, and community-based organizations, helping each realize the potential of the Internet and its meaningful impact on their business.
March 19, 2014