People are lousy at risk assessment.
There are whole industries based on this. (Gambling, sure. But also insurance, time shares, several categories of banks…)
And in a moment of self pity, I realized that taking too few risks has probably held me back in my career.
- In 1997, I worked for a small subsidiary of a large company.
- I had turned down opportunities to jump to several (then-)startups, committing to go to b-school.
- Most of my co-workers at this small subsidiary left to start their own companies, or to join startups.
- After b-school, I tried my hand at entrepreneurship. I didn’t succeed.
- I rejoined a large company, and have managed my career conservatively. Once my son was born, I prioritized secure income over risk.
- Those co-workers that went to startups? Not all succeeded on the first go-round. But all succeeded, eventually.
- I’m the exception to that group, in that I’m not an executive or retired.
- On the other hand, I’m one of the few that has a pension lined up.
But lately, I’ve been thinking—it’s easy to choose a risk profile at one end of the chart, as I did. But most folks don’t realize where they actually are, trading of risk/reward.