Archive for the ‘Risk’ Category

Service of Adventure: Food, Physical or Business

Thursday, July 5th, 2018


When I read Charles Passy’s article about his distaste for a Japanese delicacy—natto–I knew I wanted to write about his predicament. Last April I’d covered the topic of the foods I’ve tried and can’t force myself to eat again and I’ve not added to the short list that included grouse and animal entrails. I’m game most of the time.

Passy admitted in his Wall Street Journal article, “As someone who has spent a good part of his journalistic career writing about food, I take a certain pride in the fact I will eat anything and everything… such as a taco stuffed with chile-dusted fried grasshoppers and ice cream made from durian, the infamously pungent fruit.”

Natto. Photo:

But he can’t tolerate the odor and texture of  Japanese fermented soybeans—natto–regardless of how they are prepared and what accompanies them. He wrote: “It smelled like a stinky cheese left outside the fridge for at least an hour too long. But even more notable was the texture: If you think okra is slimy, imagine okra that, on a scale of 1 to 10, goes to 11.”

I’ve often heard adults admit that they take no chances when it comes to food and won’t accept even a tiny taste of unfamiliar fare. Many claim to be meat and potatoes enthusiasts.

Tatsu rollercoaster. Photo: the

At the same time they may be far braver than most when it comes to putting themselves in physical danger by gliding in a hot air balloon, riding upside down in a Tatsu roller coaster or putting their life in the hands of a cable and pulley for a zip-line trip down a mountain.

And then there are those who take huge chances in business.

Have you tasted natto? Are you adventuresome in some ways and apprehensive in others? In your work has there been one thing that you dislike, as Passy does natto, even if you’re pretty happy with the other 99 percent?

Fried grasshoppers. Photo:

Service of Judgment and Reputation: Flaunting the Rules

Thursday, July 14th, 2016


Some must feel immune to scrutiny or enjoy taking tremendous risks–even though they make a living based on equal parts image and talent and are or were top of their games. Ethics aside, they are willing to jeopardize everything for the short term and even stir the hornet’s nest.

It’s In the Bag

In “Flap over Jacobs purse in THR star’s exit,” New York Post reporter Keith J. Kelly wrote “One $750 handbag from Marc Jacobs may have hastened the exit of well-known fashion writer Merle Ginsberg from The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year.” The writer denied claims by former colleagues that she’d received other “expensive fashion items over the years.”

JudgmentAccording to Kelly, Ginsberg boasted about the handbag on Instagram. It “arrived the same day THR ran a favorable story she penned on Marc Jacobs,” wrote Kelly. “Ginsberg acknowledges the Marc Jacobs gift, but insists there was no quid pro quo in her coverage.”

The magazine’s policy for staff is that they not accept gifts worth over $200. Wrote Kelly, “Ginsberg said, ‘It’s pretty normal standard operating procedure in fashion and beauty — gift bags, etc. — and yet other editors outside of fashion raised eyebrows over that.’”

I’ve not worked in this area and don’t know Ms. Ginsberg, but can attest that there were editors in industries I cover who put the squeeze for freebies on clients/manufacturers and they were known by their colleagues and the PR practitioners in their field. Those who won’t accept a crumb or cup of coffee are also known.

How Are the Grandkids?

So your wife is running for President. One of her previous decisions—she had installed and used a private server for government business when she had a top secret clearance and handled top secret info—is under scrutiny. You see the attorney general at the Phoenix airport. Any American who has served on a jury—or has watched moves such as “The Verdict,” [1982]–knows that a juror can’t speak with a lawyer, plaintiff, or defendant during the trial: No wave, no smile, no thumbs up or down, no “hi.”  Maybe so—but you’re safe, you’re not a juror.

No rulesYou take advantage of the coincidental meeting to chat about the grandkids for 20 minutes alone with the director of the department that is examining your wife’s potential culpability. She’s an old friend. For that reason she’d understand why this wasn’t the best time to share the brilliant things an almost two year old and infant had done. Chatting isn’t illegal. What’s the big deal?

If you’re going to break the company policy by $550, why blab about it? If you’ve done it once and claim you’ve not done it before, will people believe you? If all you’re going to do is update an old friend about the family, why not wave and promise to send an email or text with a photo of the kids? Why add fuel of uncertainty to the fire of “the rules are not for us,” that exists and potentially cripple a spouse running for office?





Service of No III

Monday, April 28th, 2014


I’ve covered this powerful two letter word from the viewpoints of saying and hearing it. This time I’m addressing people unable to absorb the concept.

It’s a Landslide

Take the citizens of Oso, Wash. who built homes where they were told not to because the area was a potential landslide zone. Build they did, the horrific natural disaster happened and now we read headlines such as “Leveled by Landslide, Towns Mull How to Rebuild” datelined Oso. I scratch my head.

Can’t Top This

The old saw about climbing Mt. Everest because it is there has a questionable ring to it after 16 sherpas died in an avalanche. mount everestSome love taking risks. I get my thrills from juggling too much work and meeting deadlines, so I don’t relate to the need to put my life in jeopardy to feel alive. I’m glad the sherpas are on strike, closing down mountain climbing for the season, although I don’t think better benefits and pay can mitigate the potential of death for a frivolous cause.

Trying to Be Cool Can Kill

I landed on an obituary for a 37 year old Wikipedia editor who died from head injuries in a rock climbing accident in Joshua Tree National Park. Adrianne Wadewitz had only begun the sport “in the past couple of years.” What was this brilliant scholar of 18th century British literature trying to prove? According to Noam Cohen who wrote her obituary in The New York Times, she “became one of the most prolific and influential editors of the online encyclopedia.” Cohen wrote: “She described the thrill of creating ‘a new narrative’ about herself beyond that of a bookish, piano-playing Wikipedia contributor.” What a terrible loss. Maybe there were more sensible, 30-something appropriate ways of doing this.

Didn’t Like You Then, Won’t Like You Now

yelling bossRob Walker counseled Laurie in his “The Workologist” column in the New York Times Business section. She had asked for a reference from a former boss with whom she didn’t get along figuring enough water had passed under the bridge since they’d worked together. Laurie was surprised by the unenthusiastic recommendation [which she learned about when she didn’t get the job]. What happened to her “no” reflex, when going through the list of potential candidates to ask for a recommendation. Laurie claimed to have “28 years experience in [her] field and a strong track record.” Apparently common sense isn’t necessary in her line of work.

Can you share similar examples? What is it that inhibits the “no” or “not a good idea” response in some especially when there are so many other more sensible options?

bad idea


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