Calling risk “America’s greatest idea,” Slate reporter (and prolific twitterer) John Dickerson is writing a series on Slate on risk taking. The financial crisis has made the notion of risk seem toxic to many people, but Dickerson wants to rehabilitate it.
In articles about rock climbers, entrepreneurs, a band, and a Marine General, Dickerson explores risk taking, what makes it so great, and the ways in which people take risks. Only the first three stories are online. Dickerson is smart about it, tearing down the idea that risk-takers are people who are reckless, showing rather that they are people who have a different perspective on the tradeoffs they have to make to reach their goals. Dickerson shows that the best risk-takers are those who are very cautious in how they go about taking what may be the biggest risks.
The startup article, about Silicon Valley startup Redbeacon, is actually the least interesting because it explains lots of things about running a startup that will probably already be familiar to this audience — although the story of Redbeacon itself is certainly interesting.
In our view, the best story is the first one, about two rock climbers. Dickerson shows how these guys literally risk their lives on a daily basis just for fun, in part for the thrill of it, but also how reasoned and controlled they are. The second part of the story is great as well, showing how the fearless rock-climbers suddenly become anguished as they decide to start a business and struggle through the recession, showing that what risk-taking is like is pretty much in the eye of the beholder.
But all stories are great. Really, you should check them out. >>>
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