I just returned from the FUSE conference and heard, as I have heard before, that in order to succeed one has to embrace risk. One of the hardest things for companies to do, especially large ones, is to take risks and as a result many of the changes that are implemented are small step changes rather than major leaps forward.
As I thought about the benefits of taking a risk, I couldn’t help but harken back to one of the greatest risk takers that the world has been presented with in the past 10 years; Susan Boyle. Susan wasn’t risking massive wealth when she first went on the stage at Britain’s Got Talent, she was risking something far more significant; her self.
Looking ridiculous in the eyes of the world at large, and being laughed at by most who saw her, she put herself completely on the line in a way that most of us wouldn’t even dream of doing – either in a professional or a personal context.
What was her reward?
She has become the one of the most popular singers in recent history.
What makes this example of risk taking so unique and significant is that against all odds, she stood by her beliefs and defied everyone who was inclined to put her down. Part of the magnitude of her success was driven by the fact that she came from nothing and shocked the world into recognizing the problems with sticking to tried and true stereotypes. She was literally a type of brand that the world was crying out for but we didn’t know it until we had seen it.
In the world of brand and product innovation, too many great ideas fall by the wayside because they seem to be in conflict with the status quo of the category or guaranteed consumer acceptance, and would therefore likely be rejected at first glance. However, if the creator of the innovation, be it an individual or a large corporation, sticks by its beliefs, sooner or later it may gain traction.
Ultimately great risks are taken based on convictions and a clear vision, rather than on research and numbers. There is a great risk – and a great reward – waiting out there for most of us, if only we could convince ourselves to take it.