I had a meeting with the Chief Sales Officer (CSO) of my company yesterday. During that meeting the CSO told me he really wanted some analysis done on a particular aspect of our company’s sales cycle, though he didn’t give me a deadline because he knows how ridiculously busy I am. I spent some time after the meeting getting the necessary data together and conceptualizing what the report would look like. On the bus ride home I worked on the assignment long enough to realize I had pulled the wrong data set and would need to start over…which I did once the kids were in bed at 8pm. I spent the next hour downloading new data and running the numbers through my spreadsheet, and I came up with some interesting findings. I crafted an e-mail to various managers and executives in the company with some embedded charts and an attachment. Then I paused and thought for a moment:
“Do I really want to send this e-mail tonight? I think the work will really help the company and will probably impress folks…especially since I’m working this late at night…but that’s also a problem. It’s late and I’m tired; what if there is a mistake somewhere? What if there is an aspect of the business I have not taken into consideration? Is the chance to impress people worth the risk of sending out inaccurate analysis?” (Note: Accuracy is the bread-and-butter of analysts. It’s no small thing to risk accuracy for the sake of speed; in fact, many analysts discourage it.)
In the end I sent the e-mail; I decided it was worth the risk. But to be completely honest with you, after I sent the e-mail I worried that I’d made a mistake. I went back to the spreadsheet several times to confirm that my formulas and logic were accurate.
When I got to work this morning, I had a surprise waiting for me in my inbox. My boss, his boss, and the CSO had all reviewed my analysis.
They loved it.
The analysis was so thorough and compelling that the CSO sent it to our Regional Sales Managers, who then each had mandatory calls with their sales teams today. I received at least half a dozen e-mails from various people in the company praising my work, and at one point the CSO made a point of swinging by my desk to personally thank me for my hard work. I believe that we will see the impact of my analysis on sales results as early as next week.
But nothing would have happened if I had not taken a risk.
Turn your attention to your own life now. Is there a decision in your life you are afraid to make because of the risk involved? What is holding you back? If the reward outweighs the risk I want to encourage you: Be bold!