Entrepreneurs make decisions all day, but do successful entrepreneurs make decisions differently? In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn explores the process of effective decision making.
Rob Artigo: Welcome back to another edition of the Tough Things first podcast on your guest host, Rob Artigo, writer and entrepreneur in California. Hi, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hello Rob.
Rob Artigo: Well, you know Ray, there’s really not a single person on this planet who doesn’t make decisions daily, but an entrepreneur makes multi-tiered and often complex decisions almost as frequently. So thinking about small decisions and big decisions, do successful entrepreneurs make decisions differently?
Ray Zinn: Absolutely. So what entrepreneurs can do is, because they are thinking outside the box and are listening to their gut as well as their head, they can make a decision with a lot less information than say a regular person because it’s called process by analysis. The ordinary person who is not entrepreneur tends to overanalyze something because they’re afraid to make a mistake. And as you know, entrepreneurs don’t worry about mistakes, they just move forward. And in fact, people who are good actors, when they make a mistake, it doesn’t show because they just keep going along and you never hear the mistake. I was talking to a professional organist and he said, “Did you notice the mistake I made?” I said, “No, I didn’t.” He says, “Good.” So he was able just to cover it up.
Ray Zinn: So, while it may look like the entrepreneur didn’t make a mistake, he did make a mistake, but he corrected it. So the advantage of being an entrepreneur is that you can make decisions with less information, and if you do make a mistake, you correct it quicker. Whereas if you’re not an entrepreneur and you’re going to analyze it inside and out, what’s going to happen is, is that you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve looked at every single parameter, every single direction before you can go back and move forward. It’s kind of like they walk into a room that’s completely black and they just stop. Whereas an entrepreneur, if he walked into a black room, would start… Or dark room, would start putting his hands out and start feeling his way around, and when you get to the other side or wherever he had to be, whereas an ordinary person who is risk averse would just stop dead and say, “Hey, turn the lights back on.”
Rob Artigo: I was thinking about Ginger Rogers when you were talking about somebody making a mistake and going with the flow, and Ginger Rogers being a dancer who danced with Fred Astaire frequently. The big thing about her was that she did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards. There are some famous dances, routines in movies that are still played today where she admitted that she had made a mistake and you’d never even know unless you looked at this specific moment over and over again and analyze the specific step, because, like you said, an actor or a dancer or somebody is going to make the adjustment needed in real time so that… The process, it’s an instantaneous thing. Does this take a long time to learn to be that quick?
Ray Zinn: Well, again, let’s talk about the attributes of an entrepreneur. Number one, they’re bold, they’re confident, they’re passionate, they don’t give up easily and they just have that ability to see what others don’t see. Kind of like looking outside the box. If you are risk averse or you’re not bold, you’re less likely then to want to move forward until you understand and have all the answers. The average person can make a decision, 50/50. In other words they’ll be 50/50 right. In other words, 50% of the time, like flipping a coin. Whereas an entrepreneur can make a decision with the same information and be right 60 or 70% of the time, so that’s what the differences is, that an entrepreneur can make the same decision with the same information but be correct more often. And the reason is, is as we talked about, they can correct on the fly. In other words, being able to change direction or to, as you reported about Ginger Rogers, she would seamlessly and flawlessly correct the mistakes and nobody would notice it. That’s a sign of a real good actor by the way, is their ability to seamlessly correct a mistake.
Rob Artigo: I’ve been doing some work lately with a radio station, just helping them out here and there in writing some of the news and producing some of the newscasts, and I think that there are other people who’ve come in without as much experience in doing news as I’ve had, when they come in and they’re asked to make a decision, they’re paralyzed, like you said, paralysis by analysis. They’re trying to think of all these different scenarios of how they might be criticized or questioned about their decision making process, but when you have experience and you have to make a decision, you can confidently know that you are making an educated decision, not a guess,
Ray Zinn: That’s exactly right. Entrepreneurs make probably the same number of mistakes that everybody else does, but like an actor, they can cover it because they’re so quick to recognize a mistake and then move forward.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, and I think that that’ll be great for another podcast, is just simply talking about how to deal with a mistake or a bad decision. You know, this subject to me seemed interesting, particularly for the part of the audience that is in the… The young entrepreneur, the Zen starter type of crowd. The young entrepreneurs who have their… They put together their businesses and they’re trying to make decisions. The inexperience and making big important decisions can tend to make somebody like a younger entrepreneur have that paralysis by analysis. How does a younger… What advice would you give to a young person, or let’s say just a new entrepreneur who’s taking on these risks and has to make big decisions? What advice do you have to them how they can avoid paralysis by analysis and move forward confidently?
Ray Zinn: Well, by just knowing and understanding, if you’re passionate, if you really have confidence, if you’re not risk averse, if you’re bold, as they say, then of course you know you’re just going to keep moving forward as opposed to… As I talked about in the example of walking into a dark room. You just keep moving forward as opposed to stopping, because when you stop and you don’t move, like deer in the headlights, and then you’re… Everything else is going to stop and so just learn to keep moving even though… Like Ginger Rogers, keep moving even though you’ve made a mistake. Pick up your timing and keep moving forward. That’s about the best advice we can give as opposed just to stopping and saying, “I’ve got to go back recalculate or rethink this whole whole process.”
Rob Artigo: If you’ve heard somebody… I’ve heard people say this in politics, it was like, “Well, you know, we have to do something.” So somebody comes up doing something is better than doing nothing, and it’s almost like, even if it’s a bad decision, it’s better than just sitting here. Do you prescribe to that thought, thinking about what you just said there?
Ray Zinn: Well it’s like playing football, at the line, if the offensive or defensive line moves, the offensive line has to move with it. If you just stopped and said, “I don’t know what they’re doing. I’m confused.” Then they’re going to break through and you’re going to lose your quarterback. You have to move, you’ve got to be always moving and moving with what’s happening, as opposed to just stopping because that does no good. Because then, of course, like in the game of football, the defensive lines are going to break through and they’re going to sack your quarterback. You have to be able to understand, know where they’re going, and then know how to shift your position to counter what they’re doing.
Ray Zinn: And that’s the way it is in business. You’re constantly going to see things change and you have to be able to move with the change. Change is always with us and entrepreneurs don’t mind change, whereas people who aren’t entrepreneurs hate change. They want everything to remain the same, but they don’t remain the same. Good entrepreneurs know that change is always there and they just keep moving with it and it looks seamless. It looks like nothing’s changing because they’re moving and shifting and just like a good offensive lineman does, he moves with the defense is doing so that he can perform his function.
Rob Artigo: So successful entrepreneurs do make decisions differently. It sounds like they make decisions differently out of necessity.
Ray Zinn: Yeah. You have to be willing to change. You have to be willing to move with the change. That book about Who Moved the Cheese? If you’re not able to move with the cheese, you’re going to starve to death. So if you remember that book, I forgot the name of the author. Who Moved the Cheese? It’s kind of like that.
Rob Artigo: All right. As always, you can reach out to Ray Zinn with your questions at toughthingsfirst.com. Continue your education and the conversation with all of the podcasts, blogs, and links to the information about the book Tough Things First, and Ray’s new book, the Zen of Zinn, that is a collection of writings on interrelated topics of entrepreneurship, leadership management, discipline, determination, society, people in life. That is the Zen of Zinn. Thanks, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Well, thanks Rob, and again, appreciate you joining me today on this podcast and keeping our listeners interested.