Risk Management

Risk and Asking the Right Question

I recently watched the first episode of the new Inc. video series titled: Ask Marcus Lemonis. Marcus, who is the CEO of Camping World and stars in CNBC’s “The Profit,” interviews Elizabeth Frank, founder of a modeling and talent agency called Eye5 Mktg & Talent. Their conversation is about risk – and how to frame it.

Risk can mean different things to different people, and our respective tolerance for risk varies. What one person sees as a risk, another regards as a necessity. As I listened to Marcus and Elizabeth talk, it was clear that Elizabeth is very successful, having built a profitable company over a period of 13 years. As she contemplated hiring more full-time employees, Elizabeth was looking for guidance about whether it was the right move for the company. Should she take the risk?

While Elizabeth saw herself as being somewhat risk-averse, Marcus easily pointed to the risks she’s taking every day that have helped her grow her company and lead it so successfully. After asking a few questions, he quickly helped her reframe the risk – not as a risk to the business so much as a personal risk. It came down to whether hiring more people would actually require more of Elizabeth’s time and potentially take her away from what she really wants out of life.

So the real question Elizabeth was struggling with wasn’t, “Should I take the risk?” It was “What do I really want?” By taking the conversation in the right direction – and asking the right questions – Marcus helped her get to the heart of the issue.

This is a wonderful example of what happens in countless peer advisory groups each and every day. It’s not really about getting answers at all. One of my fellow Vistage group members once told me, “I don’t come to Vistage to get my questions answered, I come to get my answers questioned.” Elizabeth didn’t need Marcus to tell her whether she should hire more people or not. She needed Marcus, or someone like him, to make sure she was addressing the right question before making and owning her own decision.

Before you make your next big move, don’t ask someone for the answer until you find out if you’re asking yourself the right question. Once you do that, you’ll know the answer.

Category: Risk Management

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About the Author: Leon Shapiro

Leon was named CEO of Vistage effective March 31, 2013. He is also a Director at The Advisory Board Company (NASDAQ: ABCO) and eTouches Inc. Between 2007 and 2011, Leon served as Senior Vice President, Strategy and Operations, at Warner Musi…

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