Not Taking a Risk is a Risk

Join Tom Mendoza as he talks about the importance of taking risks in life, how to reward those who attack risk with passion and why you must overcome the fear of failure to achieve greatness.


Tom, thanks for sharing, I really like your blogs. Again, so true what you are speaking out there. Comfort zones are not the places to grow personal or in business.

So true and we can all benefit from listening to this advice and letting it impact our lives, both personally and professionally.

Great video and great advice. Thanks for posting!

bhogue Netapp Alumni


Thanks for sharing your insights on Risk!  This couldn't be more true from my experience as well.  It is very easy to turn away from making the tough (risky) decisions in both personal and professional circumstances.  I know that I regret not taking more risk on professional moves early in my career.  Things have worked out in the long run, but NOT taking those risks always leave you wondering what could have been.  I have learned from these mistakes and embrace these risk moves now.  Fortunately, I have taken some risks in my personal life that have blessed me for my tenacity. 

Thanks again for sharing your wonderful perspectives.  They are greatly appreciated.



I appreciate all of the responses to my risk blog. I found your particularly interesting, thanks for sharing.

I recently picked up on "Tom Talks" through twitter feed.   Very insightful.   From this post, the things that jumps out are leaders not not need courage and discipline but also the authenticity to back their "troops" they send to "climb the hill", irrespective of the outcome - positive or otherwise.   Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing these talks Tom. You were an excellent motivation speaker way back in 97 when I first started NetApp. I listened diligently to everything you said 9 years long and took it to heart. Now that I am in my own start up world, I look back at the talks you had given us (when kick off was 40 people), apply so much of what you taught and I see the results. You really changed my thinking, the way I live and my entire professional career has always been inspired by you. NetApp was one of the best times in my life and I would not trade it for anything. Keep up the good work, you do inspire people.

When I think back on "YLF" I have to say, YES I am! For having someone like you coaching the sales team and being able to learn.

Sorry, there is no edit here. I have to correct the sentence "....97 when I first started at NetApp"

Why do executives motivate individuals to take risks? Taking risks is not the primary objective. Perhaps, the objective is the expectation of asymmetric payoffs.

An executives can foster a company culture that promotes the formation of hypotheses and conducting experiments. There is a notion of small bets and an acceptable number of failures. A relatively small amount of time and resources are allocated for experimentation. A set of experiments should produce learning. A set of experiments should improve the capability of the team.

Other opportunities may be postponed for a short time.

An asymmetric payoff occurs when the profits from one of these experiments covers more than the combined costs of all the 'failed' experiments. One of the small bets provides a large win.

To manage a portfolio of risks, the leadership team evaluates factors such as the market opportunity and the execution risk. At the same time, the individuals should learn to make persuasive presentations. Both of these depend on preparation.

Preparation goes beyond the apparent 'qualifications' of those involved. It includes factors such as due diligence and deliberative practice. All new projects have unknowns. The more disruptive the idea, the greater the potential that success will be impeded. Can the individuals, the team, the company produce value by committing to a new project before a competitor capitalizes on the opportunity?

There are some examples of individuals that exemplify something better. Sun Tzu describes this in "The Art of War." Mushashi was undefeated. John Boyd was dubbed "Forty Second Boyd" for his standing offer as an instructor that beginning from a position of disadvantage, he could defeat any opposing pilot in simulated air-to-air combat in less than forty seconds. He was never defeated.

What is better than taking audacious risks? Being certain to win.