How to Establish a Strong Risk Culture

Cars have seat belts and airbags for a reason: they’re there to protect us. And so are speed limits. Until Google perfects the self-driving car, accidents will continue to happen, but these safeguards reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities. But what about our financial system, which impacts the fate of the entire world? Where were its safeguards back in 2005, 2006 when it seemed like the good times could never end?  


Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sat down with Big Think to share the lessons he learned stemming the panic of 2008. As painful as things have been, they could have been a lot worse, he explains in his book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises. Geithner and a team of other unlucky financial experts worked around the clock as Wall Street was finally brought down by its own hubris. No one had prepared for the good times to end. Is your company being run the same way?

In this exclusive workshop for Big Think Edge, Geithner shares his insights into how companies can avoid being blinded by overconfidence. He breaks down how to build a strong risk culture. And it begins with humility—a sign of strength in the post-panic world.

“The right way to deal with that uncertainty is to build in a greater cushion against the risk of the bad event,” he told Big Think. “It’s just a way of thinking about trying to build into the culture of decision-making a greater sense of humility about what you can’t know and a greater sense of caution about the uncertain future, to look at, yeah, maybe the low probability event but the event that can be existential in its cost.”

To learn how to apply Geithner’s insights into managing risk, subscribe to Big Think Edge to take his workshop. A free 14-day trial will give you access to online lectures from leading experts sharing their personal case studies and strategies.

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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3 ways to find a meaningful job, or find purpose in the job you already have

Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.

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  • There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
  • "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
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Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
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  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
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UPS has been discreetly using self-driving trucks to deliver cargo

TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.


PAUL RATJE / Contributor
Technology & Innovation
  • This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
  • UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
  • TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.
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