The risk is in your head

freestyle-ski-tricksOur twelve year old son walked into the lunchroom at Sugarloaf ski resort a couple weeks ago and said quietly, “I learned how to do a 360.”

I said, “Awesome! That’s pretty cool. How did you learn that?” He said he just decided to do it. Within 24 hours our ten year old and his buddies were all spinning off jumps. Will admitted that the first time was scary but he knew he could do it. He just knew. What yesterday he thought was really risky, suddenly today wasn’t.

I learned something similar about mentally removing entrepreneurial risk from Harris Rosen, founder of Rosen Resorts. Anyone seeing him in the hallway of the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida, picking up bits of trash and straightening plants might mistake him for a custodian or perhaps a fastidious guest. Harris Rosen, founder and owner of Rosen Hotels and Resorts might just be the hardest working man in the business. In person he is quiet, thoughtful, and generous with his time. Well dressed, but never ostentatious, and in excellent health, Rosen swims most every day of the week to remain fit and alert.

Rosen says he purchased his first hotel in 1974, after being fired from a number of companies because he was told that he did not fit comfortably in their corporate structure. He decided it was best that he strike out on his own and has never looked back. With diligence, care, and an indefatigable work ethic, he has built remarkable hotel and resort properties in the Orlando area. Starting with a premonition in the 1970s that the Orlando area would become a much sought-after leisure and conference destination, he worked hard to develop and grow his hotel and resort company to cater to both the meeting and the leisure markets.

From his very first property—a Quality Inn—to his most recent luxury hotel, Rosen has sustained a remarkable curiosity, which enables him to remain vigilant about changes in the marketplace and to adjust his strategy accordingly. In an interview, Rosen talked to me about the importance of marrying hard work with risk-taking:

How do you teach someone to take a risk? For those of us who do on occasion take risks, you must first convince yourself that everything will turn out OK because you will do whatever it takes to ensure its success. For instance, if you don’t have the money to fly to New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts to meet with potential clients, you hitchhike.I think the message is…first have a dream, don’t give up, and always be honest and respectful—and work harder than anyone else, to ensure success.

Of course I stopped launching off jumps a couple years ago. Way too risky.