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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: May 2010




INSPIRE YOURSELF TO take more risks, get better results from the risks you take, and advice for mingling at wedding events.

Try This: Expose Yourself

One of the main arguments of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s best-selling book The Black Swan is that the biggest rewards come from the deep unpredictability in life. Indeed, he says the reason free markets work is because they allow people to be lucky, thanks to aggressive trial and error, not because they reward skill. The best strategy, then, is to always tinker and to expose yourself to as much “good” uncertainty as you can.

“Maximize the serendipity around you,” Taleb advises. “Go to parties. Live in the city. Seize opportunities. Don’t be ashamed of making mistakes as long as you learn from them.”

Be random. Go to seminars no one else in your field is attending. Read books no one else is reading. Talk to people no one else is talking to.

Do not, he admonishes, be like the turkey, a bird that extrapolates from a wealth of daily experience that it will always be well cared for — until one dark day in November.

No Risk, No Reward

This simple principle is at the heart of all capitalist endeavor.


Of course, the flip side of risk is failure — and it’s the specter of failure that holds back most businesspeople from achieving their full potential. Here are a few ideas on how to deal with the fear of failure and how to harness the benefits of risk-taking.

  • Take calculated, not stupid risks. Gather data and test, test, test.
  • Then comes the moment of truth. Focus on what could go right — and then make that leap. In the words of Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel: “You have to pretend you’re 100 percent sure. You have to take action; you can’t hesitate or hedge your bets. Anything less will condemn you to failure.”
  • Don’t brood if things do go wrong — they will. Stay upbeat. Repeat the old clichés: Even the best hitters fail 7 out of 10 times (See Babe’s stats below).
  • Be willing to admit when you get it wrong. If the project, line, marketing initiative flounders, start another.

YouTube Training

YouTube isn’t just for bored teens, says Stephenie Bjork-man, president of Sami Fine Jewelry, Fountain Hills, AZ. “We have been finding sales tips, videos and training videos and showing them to our staff.”

Mingle, Mingle

Memorial Day marks the start of wedding season — events that are prime networking opportunities. Men’s Health says the best time to work the crowd is before the new couple enters and you get stuck in a seat. Go slow on the snacks and drinks. Keep one hand free to gesture.

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When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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