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What Michelle Obama Has Taught Us About Taking Risks

Our former First Lady can teach us a thing or two about getting outside our comfort zones and recognizing (and embracing) opportunities that can make people love or hate us.  This woman knows how to take risks.  She’s constantly putting herself in the limelight to further the mission of the White House.  Whether it’s showing up on the Biggest Loser, talking about much-disputed haircut on Rachel Ray or interviewing Big Bird in the White House kitchen, FLOTUS knows how to take intelligent PR risks. Her most recent example is joining up with Jimmy Fallon on his Late Night show, surprising the audience with their humorous ‘historical depiction’ the Evolution ofMom Dance over time:

Not only did it get 2 million hits in 2 days, it blew up on twitter:

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Reid Hoffman, Chairman of LinkedIn, gives a breakdown of how to determine intelligent risks for you and your organization:

1. Remember your negativity bias will cause you to exaggerate your evaluation of certain risks. Whatever it is you’re thinking about doing, there’s probably not as much risk involved as you think.

2. Identify—and take on—risks that are acceptable to you, but that other people tend to avoid.Go find a project with these sorts of risks. It will differentiate you from others.

3. Say “yes” more. What would happen if you defaulted to “yes” for a full day? A full week? If you say yes to the conference invite you were tempted to skip, might you overhear a comment that ignites your imagination for a new business or new research or a new relationship? Perhaps. Might it also lead to some dead ends, mishaps, and wasted time? Sure. But trying new, small things every day introduces regular risks that, over time, build up your resilience to big disruptions.

What if we all took more risks like our former First Lady? While it may not be dancing with Jimmy Fallon – your risk could mean just as much for your organization’s cause as it did for her “cool” factor with the nation.

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