The Value of Productive Paranoia
Before you buy a house, before you buy a car, before you start acquiring things, first put away enough savings so you could go a year without a job because you might have to.
Jim’s book, GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... And Others Don’t, attained long-running positions on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week best seller lists, has sold 3 million hardcover copies since publication and has been translated into 35 languages, including such languages as Latvian, Mongolian and Vietnamese.
His most recent book, HOW THE MIGHTY FALL: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, was published on May 19, 2009.
Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts research and teaches executives from the corporate and social sectors.
Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at over a hundred corporations. He has also worked with social sector organizations, such as: Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Leadership Network of Churches, the American Association of K-12 School Superintendents, and the United States Marine Corps. In 2005 he published a monograph: Good to Great and the Social Sectors.
In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made one-day ascents of the North Face of Half Dome and the Nose route on the South Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. He continues to climb at the 5.13 grade.
I’m not sure productive paranoia is healthy entirely, in the sense that it can make you very much on edge, but it can be very productive. So think about it this way:
Suppose you’re playing a game where are you going to get heads or tails, and tails is bad and heads is good. And at some point you get six tails in a row and let’s suppose you’re going to get a heads at seven. But suppose that at the sixth one you’re out of money, you’re out of the game, it’s over. It doesn’t matter that you’re going to get a heads at seven. What productive paranoia means is to say "wait a minute, we have to always be building our setups such that we can absorb one, two, three, four, five, six, maybe seven, eight, or nine tails in a row because if we get knocked out at six it’s not going to matter that it’s going to get better at ten."
Before you buy a house, before you buy a car, before you start acquiring things, first put away enough savings so you could go a year without a job because you might have to. And not only that, once you have it—protect it. That’s your reserve fund, that’s your shock absorber fund.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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