What is the biggest risk of all?

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When we talk about risk we nearly always think in terms of financial risk – financially what am I putting on the line if this project or job doesn’t work out?

It brings back a simple conversation that I had with one of my bosses many moons ago when I worked in Guinness. This guy was very senior, successful and I guessed very wealthy.

He had all trappings of success, a prestigious home in Dublin, a marque company car and quite a senior and highly respected position in the company.

We were chatting about career, success and life in general and I was asking him about his goals – he had a very colourful career which included some very senior international posts with Guinness and now he was settling back to a senior post with Guinness in Ireland.

In my view the new role he had, while quite prestigious seemed to be a little dull compared to his previous ones – he spoke to me quite eloquently and it was the first time I heard about the concept of a “fur lined mouse trap“.

Basically he was telling me that he wasn’t enjoying what he was doing but the rewards were so good that he could not ever consider leaving the job. What a huge price to pay?

Over the last few years we have had the pleasure of dealing with many new clients who through a mixture of redundancy or choice have jumped off their corporate treadmill and explored new possibilities in their own new businesses. All of them will admit to working harder than before but will also admit to a huge sense of satisfaction and achievement. Quite a common sentiment is “Why didn’t I do this earlier?

I wonder is financial risk the biggest risk of all?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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13 Responses to “What is the biggest risk of all?”

  1. Niall Mc Carthy Says:

    Plenty food for thought there Greg. I’d say there are a lot more people in that ” trap ” than we think !

  2. David Says:

    Interesting sentiments Greg. Having always run my own businesses and taken risks from the perspective ‘you’ll regret what you didnt do’ this is something I’ve reflected upon a lot – as at one stage I left a very cushy public sector job and we then went through very tough times as the recession hit.

    Its very hard to comfortably make a good living in Ireland now – fair play to anyone who can make more than they could in the corporate world once all salaries, outgoings etc. are paid. I’ve gone back into the corporate world and am making more than I did at my business at the peak of the boom- with none of the recent stress.

    At the end of the day all that matters is your ability to educate your children and give them a decent lifestyle. I would guess that that guy at Guinness slept easy at night and his kids have never wanted for anything.

    If you have a true vocation it makes sense to do what you do best – and follow that path. However most small business and startups are struggling – I see people grind away for years, barely surviving – and this is not a good place to be over the long term.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Wow David … thanks for the fabulous post and showing the other side of the coin.

      With your permission I am going to use it in a separate blog post … “The Grind” – I won’t name you, don’t worry.

      Cheers .. Greg

  3. Brendan Cullen Says:

    Hi Greg,

    This reminds me of the goldwn handcuffs I’ve known some people to be constrianed by – whereby their share options only have value for a short period after they leave their employer – hence increasing their inertia.

    There’s a second side though. That man you spoke with may have been professionally bored. But he may have also been insuring his offspring’s education, freeing time for himself to indulge in hobbies, etc.

    It’s all a balancing act!


    • Greg Canty Says:

      A great point Brendan …. as long as you don’t stop living!

      We spend a lot of time at work and if that isn’t doing it for you then maybe its time to put on another record ..

      Cheers – Greg

  4. Larry Ryan Says:

    Interesting Greg; I remember my late dad being aghast at the idea I would consider leaving Guinness to go back to a research agency, and the uncertainty of having to ‘bring in the bacon’ each month. I was determined to do it but unlike him, hadnt experienced the closure of an employer and the loss of pension in my 60s. He worked till he died at 79 as a result but couldnt conceive of my leaving the security, as he saw it, of St James Gate. I am still wondering who was right, himself or me, but at least (I feel) I am somewhat in control of my own destiny, and can make my own luck. It’s a much bigger risk nowadays, but I still prefer the flexibility of being able to make my own luck, rather than the uncertainty of being beholden to decisions taken elsewhere.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      being in control of your own destiny is so important … you’re dad wasn’t wrong either and he came up at a different time when it was jobs for life!

      He worked till 79 … he obviously enjoyed what he did?

  5. Mairead Cummins Says:

    Hi Greg. Very interesting post and comments.
    I finish my job on Tuesday as I have been made redundant so I am considering working on my own for a while. I am curious to see if I could make it! A good friend who has worked for himself all his life cautions against it though and it’s hard not to be influenced by this. He says there is plenty of work; getting paid is the tricky bit! That sounds stressful to me! I might give it a shot for a while … but I’ll keep an eye out for a ‘regular’ job too just in case!

  6. Gerry Hurley Says:

    Hi Greg, thought provoking post and great comments. For me, it all boils down to goals and balance. Determining whats important to you and finding creative ways to make that happen. If financially it doesn’t make sense to escape the ‘trap’, perhaps you can redesign your environment to make it more bearable?

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