9 Reasons Why You Must Take Big Risks in Business

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“Learn to take risks. Live life everyday and feel the fear because that’s what brings the passion.”

–Sarah Friar (MBA ’00), CFO of Square, Inc.
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“There is absolutely no career safety – risk can’t be avoided.”

–Professor Irv Grousbeck
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“Risk-taking and boldness are the essence of transformation.”

–Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, Inc.
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“If you are not willing to take a risk, you will achieve very little.”

–Ajay Banga, CEO of MasterCard
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“Trusting employees with the freedom and resources to excel leads to more creativity and risk-taking in the workplace.”

–Professor Joel Peterson
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“How do you connect with people on a gut level? By doing things that are hard and taking a risk.”

–Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist
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"Each one of us has limitless potential inside us to make an extraordinary difference in this world if we can break our mental barriers and be open to the risk and ambiguity that comes with it."

–Ritu Narayan (MSx ’14)
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“Thinking big means taking risks. Own your career path.”

–Maria Renz, CEO of Quidsi
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“Entrepreneurs must learn to fail, get knocked down, adjust their plan, and get back up.”

–Bob Pavey, Partner at Morgenthaler Ventures
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10 Tips to Make You More Powerful at Work

Whether you’re giving a presentation, entering a negotiation, or simply trying to influence a coworker, being aware of power structures and your own power is key for success. Check out our research round-up on how to build, maintain, and demonstrate power at work: 

Don’t make requests that add to your boss’s workload.
You have more power at work than you think you do; it is possible to manage upward in the organizational chart if you do it strategically. Lecturer David Bradford explains how to influence your boss and overcome power gaps.

Make stories a part of your organizational culture.
A story is up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone, and it’s at the heart of making a brand come to life. Professor Jennifer Aaker sheds light on how stories can be powerful persuasion tools. 

Trust your team members with freedom and resources.
How can you build a high-trust culture in your organization? Empower everyone, believes Professor Joel Peterson. But make sure the empowerment comes with terms attached so people know how their results will be measured. “Empowering teams to act means missteps are less expensive and people learn faster.” 

Recognize that workplace hierarchies still matter.
Millennials may argue that the traditional business power structure is changing and companies are becoming more dynamic and less hierarchical, but Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer says they are wrong. The way organizations operate today reflects hundreds of years of hierarchical power structures—which still work. Hierarchies fulfill our needs for order and security. 

Clearly define leadership roles in your organization.
“Problems in management teams go away if team members can reach clear, accepted agreement over roles and standing and continue to reinforce those as time goes by,” says Professor Lindred Greer. Organizations can reduce conflict by following a path toward shared power.


Before giving a speech, rehearse your body language.
When people are forming an impression of you, what you say only accounts for seven percent of what they come away with. Subtle physical changes can have a big effect on how people perceive you, according to Professor Deborah Gruenfeld. 

Don’t shout during a confrontational situation.
If you shout during a confrontation, you’re indicating that the stakes are higher for you and will lose your leverage. Focus less on what you say during confrontations; what matters more is how you say it, advises Professor Deborah Gruenfeld.

Enter a negotiation with a mindset that it’s a conversation, not a competition.
Don’t assume you’ll have to compromise in a negotiation, as both parties may actually want the same outcome. But it’s important to make sure you are meeting with the true decision maker when entering the negotiation. For more tips, check out Professor Joel Peterson’s discussion on the role that trust plays in a negotiation and Professor Margaret Neale’s list of seven common pitfalls to avoid. 

Before a meeting or interview, remember a time when you felt attractive.
Seeing yourself as physically attractive leads you to believe you belong in a higher social class, according to new research from Professor Margaret Neale. When you’re in a situation that requires you to present yourself in the best light, think about a time when you felt attractive. The memory may change how you interact with others by boosting where you see your place in the social hierarchy. 

Share a meal with your counterpart during a competitive negotiation.
Negotiation tip from Professor Margaret Neale: In a cooperative negotiation, sharing food reduces the overall value of the deal. But on the other hand, it can be a good strategy when you’re in an adversarial and competitive situation. 

Thomas Friedman of The New York Times shares the biggest lessons he’s learned writing columns over the past 20 years: http://stnfd.biz/yPmdZ

"The greatest change in the world is made by optimists."

"Ownership is everything. When people have a sense of ownership, they’ll do so much more than you could ever ask them."

"People listen not with their ears, but with their stomachs. You need to connect with people on a gut level."