How Risk Taking Informs the Future

The Critical Importance of Risk-Taking in Your Genomics and Genetics Career

We just leaped forward on the clocks this weekend in our semiannual time shift, and we just had a leap day at the end of last month, so maybe it is a good time to think about what it would take to make a giant leap forward in your business.

Have you ever wondered how your health, life, auto and home owner’s insurance rates are calculated?  It is not magic.  Those wealthy companies are not just pulling numbers out of a hat.  

Peak behind the Progressive and Mayhem curtains and you will find an actuary.  These analysts are like Oz.  They are behind the scene wizards calculating everything they can about the financial implications of future events.  They try to predict the good and the bad and the probability of each.

Actuaries exist to measure and manage risk.  The data they provide allows their clients to make confident decisions and to take intelligent, calculated risks leading to profit, savings, stability and success.

One thing every actuary will tell you is this – there is no such thing as “risk-free”.  This applies to our lives as well as insurance.  Every decision made, every action is taken, regardless of size, carries inherent risk.

When thinking about taking a Leap, you need to understand the importance of managing calculated risks – those that should lead to improved health, increased wealth and greater happiness.

The ancient world was a forbidding and frightening place.  People lived by their wits, surrounded by mortal risks.  These included predators, fires, floods and enemies.  No wonder they looked to the gods and invented myths to explain the unknown and to seek protection from harm. 

When we began to better understand the world, we began to control it as best we could.  Hence, things like the biannual tradition of time-hoarding Daylight Saving Time and leap years.

Now, thousands of years later, human ingenuity, invention and innovation have made the world a much safer place, yet we still retain that risk-averse nature of our ancestors.


Like its cousin failure, risk has an image problem stemming largely from a lack of education and experience handling it.  Let’s address this by creating a clearer understanding of risk and risk-taking.

No mountains can be climbed, no revolutions won, no opportunities seized and no victories celebrated without risk.  Still, many of us have a negative perception of risks, and we go to great lengths to avoid taking them.

Unless we fully understand and respect risks as integral to success, they will remain feared and perceived as unnecessary and objectionable.  Risks perceived as threats, roadblocks and barriers hold false power over your performance, and it is in your best interest to reframe your perspectives and discipline your thoughts around risk.

Types of Risk Taking

There are two types of risks: 1.) intelligent, calculated risk-taking – a learned skill; and 2.) unintelligent risks.  By taking the intelligent, calculated risks, you will grow, expand your skills, learn, and exceed goals.  So, what exactly is an intelligent and calculated risk, and how can you begin to master the skill of taking a leap…risking well?

Taking intelligent, calculated risks is healthy and empowering.  It creates a shift away from the negative view of risk and frees you to do more than your contemporaries, more quickly.  Such risks are based on the twin principles of certainty and probability.  These are risks that, when measured, indicate the upside far outweighs the downside.  For sales, it is walking through the door that says, “No soliciting”.

We all know it is a horrible idea to take unintelligent risks, like drinking or texting while driving, like cheating, or like running up high-interest loans.  These are just a few of the unintelligent risks people take with their minds, bodies, finances, and reputation.  

It is equally unintelligent to pass up an intelligent risk – one where the expected outcome has a high probability of success and the potential downside is very limited.  These are the risks you should leap headlong into…..

The Strategy of Risk Taking

To become comfortable with risk-taking, become familiar with an important strategic weapon called the minimax analysis.  It is a decision theory concerned with minimizing the biggest possible loss while maximizing the greatest possible gain in any given situation.  

How it works is simple while maybe counterintuitive.  When presented with a decision to take a risk, engage in a worst-case scenario analysis.  Here are the steps involved:

  1. Identify and analyze the worst and best-case scenarios.  An example might be walking through the door that says, “No Soliciting” to ask for a prospect’s business.  The worst thing that could happen is, they could see you to the door.  The best thing that could happen is they become your biggest client commanding the largest referral base with whom you form a lifelong professional relationship.
  2. If the worst case is completely unacceptable, then walk away.  This will save you a great deal of time.  Everything has upside and downside risks.  If you cannot live with a bad outcome, save your energy for something better.
  3. If you can live with the worst case, take the Leap!
  4. Then minimize the potential downside.  Do this by being proactive.  
  5. And maximize the positive potential.  You are most powerful in controlling this.  You have the opportunity and immense responsibility to create the outcome.  In sales, this is what we train for….

Identify all the best actions that can and will increase the probability of success, that will tip the scale in our favor, and maximize the potential of achieving the positive, upside result you desire.  Rather than seeing your fate as linked to forces outside your control, take charge, work hard, persist relentlessly and passionately and you will create success.

That is intelligent, informed risk taking in action.  From here, the rest is smooth sailing.

How Risk Taking Informs the Future

Armed with this knowledge, become acutely aware of the risks you have taken in the past have formed your current reality.  Knowing this, be clear the risks you take today will shape your life and your tomorrow.

Remember, every decision has risks.  Procrastination, negativity, resistance to personal development, dodging responsibility, and focusing on problems versus solutions may feel like risk avoidance, but these are all forms of unintelligent risks.  The potential downside of these risky behaviors far outweighs any downside of taking positive, informed action.

Risk taking is not an opportunity to be avoided, rather, it is an opportunity be exploited.  Take the leap!

Therefore, your challenge today is:

  1. Identify all the important decisions on your plate.
  2. Run each through the minimax analysis.
  3. Once you have identified the best risks worth taking;
  4. Proactively create the best outcomes.

Take the leap!  Such opportunities expand your horizons, increase your personal power and unleash your greatness.

If you don’t take a chance, you don’t stand a chance!

Scott Rivers is the Managing Director of Cerca Talent+, a talent agency for the Diagnostic and Life Science Industries. Scott’s recruiting experience extends into the areas of Diagnostics, Life Sciences, Oncology and Genetics. His team manages recruitment for all levels within the commercial area of these businesses. 

As a leader who has worked at all levels of commercial, medical sales, and global marketing, Scott is an intense professional who works with organizations to fine-tune talent branding. If you are a leader looking to expand your team with professionals who are focused on delivering work in which they take pride, and you can be proud of, every day, then Scott would be privileged to help you in the process. Having been a professional in the fields where you focus, Scott knows the ins and outs of the companies, the business and the customers you are working to come alongside. 

Cerca Talent+ is a full service Executive Search Firm with a strategic focus in the the areas of Clinical Diagnostics, Molecular Diagnostics and Oncology, Genomic and Genetic Medicine. Our clients choose to work with Cerca because of our deep understanding of the industries we serve. They continue to work with us based on our extensive market knowledge, vast connections and quality of results. 

That’s a good match for any company. Partner with the group that can talk shop and gains rapport with the pros who will help your business leap into the future. Email Scott Rivers today at, or call direct at 201-594-2101, and we will begin the process of finding you Allstars that help you set records.

Adapted from Gary Ryan Blair