#57 How To Be Smarter About Risk: Karen Firestone

This show may very well save you money, boost your career and help you make smarter decisions.  

It's about risk.

Our guest is Karen Firestone - author of the new book “Even The Odds - Sensible Risk Taking in Business Investing and Life."  She is President and CEO, of Aureus Asset Management, an asset management firm she cofounded after 22 years as a fund manager and research analyst at Fidelity Investments. Karen is a contributor to the Harvard Business Review blog.

"I think that sensible risk taking is something that we should all think more about," says Karen. She argues that most of us are too gullible.  "It's more fun to be enthusiastic and positive about the outcome of something that involves some risk than be pessimistic and skeptical."

Karen shares her personal stories and knowledge about investments, starting a firm, changing careers, surviving in the workplace and raising kids.  

Karen's four principles of risk taking:

  • Right-sizing. Consider how big the risk is before you commit to a decision. 
  • Right timing. Is this the right time to change your lifestyle or career?  For instance, don't open an ice-cream shop in November!Relying on knowledge and experience. Know as much as you can about the risk you are taking.
  • Remaining skeptical about promises and projections. "If you show up at a blackjack table and you don't know how to play, you are going to be out of money in five minutes."

#49 Don't Freak Out About Terrorism: Fixes from The Security Mom

"Stuff happens," says homeland security expert, and mom of three, Juliette Kayyem.

The government has got to find a better way to talk about the threat of terrorism and natural disasters. Most of us need to have a better plan to prepare.

 

"We talked in a way when people would either tune out or freak out," says Juliette of her time as a top official at The Department of Homeland of Homeland Security. "We are all in this together," she tells on this episode of "How Do We Fix It?"

 Her new book is "Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland And Your Home." The book is packed with common-sense ways to think about positively about a difficult subject.

Juliette's solutions:

  • The government shouldn't scare, but prepare. Pretending that America is invulnerable is both unrealistic and unhelpful to citizens.
  • Homeland security is not just about tragedy or terror, it's what all of us can do every day to keep ourselves strong, safe and prepared.  Families should have a "72 on you" plan. If you call 9-1-1 in an emergency, don't assume help will come quickly.  Have 72 hours of vital supplies, including non-perishable food, water, first-aid kit, flashlights and batteries.
  • "You can get yourself prepared for almost any eventuality in a very small amount of time," says Juliette. "You're going to feel better being prepared for something rather than nothing." 

#45 The Case for Children's Free Play: Lenore Skenazy

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You can't have too much of a really good thing.  That's why we decided to invite Lenore Skenazy,founder of Free Range Kids, to make a welcome return to "How Do We Fix It?"  She was a guest on an earlier show. 

Lenore is the passionate and playful campaigner, who says most American kids don't have nearly enough unstructured free time, when they can be curious and engage the world on their own terms. 

"Free time is unsupervised time," Lenore tells us. "It's not a parent sitting there saying 'oh, that was really good, or try it this way.' Sometimes you've got to do things that are really bad and try it the wrong way, because that's the creative process." 

Lenore says parenting styles have changed in the past 30 years, especially for many urban and upper-middle classes Moms and Dads. Risk avoidance seems more important than stimulating a child's imagination. 

"Think back on your own childhood. Your parents loved you and they let you go. And it's a new thing not to give children any freedom."

From the Free Range Kids statement of where it stands:  "Fighting the belief that are children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of the non-organic grape." 

#44 Our Problem with Science. Ainissa Ramirez: How Do We Fix It?

We have a problem in our society.  Too many people don't understand science or the importance of the scientific method.

Many children aren't learning the basics of math and science, which closes off a broad range of career opportunities.

It's also a problem in our civil society.  A broader understanding of how science works would help parents know why they need to vaccinate their kids or what's going on with climate change.

Science evangelist Ainissa Ramirez has some great fixes.  She's the author of "Save Our Science" and "Newton's Football," a lively book about the science of America's favorite sport. Ainissa is dedicated to making science fun for people of all ages.  Her excellent two-minute podcast, "Science Underground," helps spread the word.

"We all start off as scientists," Ainissa tells us in this episode. "If you look at a 4-year-old's hands, they're completely dirty, because they're engaging with the world. But then something happens. School happens"

The science knowledge deficit holds back many girls and minorities. But Ainissa says "girls used to rock STEM at one point."  Find out what happened in this episode of "How Do We Fix It?"