Understanding How to Take Risks with Leonard Brody

by Herbert Lui

Passed off with a difficult time slot (the post-lunch hour), Leonard Brody began by reassuring us that confusion is normal. “If you are not confused today, then you are not paying attention,” he chortled.

He first dismissed the use of five-year plans, saying they were a waste of energy. “We barely have visibility in the next 365 days,” he explained. He wasn’t going to make too many predictions; what he did want to do was give us historic context and looking at where we’ve been, and observing changes in human behaviour.

He also noticed our current fascination with “how?” The human mind is a machine for problem solving, so we need to ask it the right questions. We should be focusing on “why?”

We can't predict the future based on the past because it’s so different. Nothing like this has ever happened before.

He compared the 1972 Paul Henderson Team Canada victory with the 2010 Sydney Crosby Team Canada victory; he pointed out that we would likely be celebrating with three or four people in 1972, whereas there were 3.5 million status updates across Canada in a span of 30 minutes in 2010.

We are two people: our physical self and our virtual identity (not face-to-face). Bizarrely enough, we are more trusting in a virtual world than in the physical world, which is why we upload so much private data to our virtual identities.

Brody then shared an observation of online dating. A few years ago, it would have been an awkward situation if you told a friend that you were seeing someone you’d met online. Now, online is not unnatural—in fact, 50% of weddings in 2014 are projected to be from relationships that originated online.

He pointed out that the internet was only going to continue to get bigger; when you’re in a party and the room keeps getting bigger, what do you do? Start looking for smaller rooms. This explains why private social networks like Path and Pair are popping up, and allowing for more intimate spaces between smaller groups of friends. (Great analogy.)

He then pointed out other rewritings of the human code: Kickstarter to funding, Dream:ON to sleeping, Tupac Shakur hologram to music performances.

Instead of being smart, people need to understand how to take huge risks, he concluded.

This post is part of a series comprehensively examining The Art of Leadership 2012 in Toronto. Have a look at Marcus Buckingham and Chester Elton’s keynotes.

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Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui loves startups, creativity, and innovation. He has been actively blogging about technology and consumer electronics since the summer of 2007, and still enjoys every minute of it. Herbert immerses himself in everything he wants to learn more about. He studies Consumer Behavior at the University of Western Ontario. In whatever spare time he has, Herbert can be found with his friends... more

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