Special Offer For Educators

Are you teaching THE GRAY RHINO, LOCKOUT, or WHY THE COCKS FIGHT as required reading in your high school or university course? Would you like a free 20 to 30 minute Q&A session with your students over Skype?

If so, please send a copy of your course syllabus to michele@wucker.com, along with the time and day of the week that your class meets and a few suggested days, the number of students in your class, and any other information that might be helpful. Your class must read the book ahead of the session and have prepared questions.

I’ll do my best to accommodate your top preferred dates around my other commitments and travel schedule, so the more flexible you can be, the more likely we’ll be able to find a time that works.

LinkedIn Pulse: What’s Your Gray Rhino?

Recognize or TrampleOne of the things I’m enjoying the most about the launch of The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore is the way people are embracing the concept and applying it to their work, to their personal lives, and to the policy challenges facing their communities and the planet. We all face highly obvious gray rhino threats, and we all could do better -often MUCH better- at dealing with instead of denying them.

In recent workshops in Milwaukee, Phoenix, and San Francisco, I enjoyed and learned from lively discussions about gray rhinos from transportation and workforce challenges to family financial planning; to geo-economic issues like China’s economy, the clashing threats of deflation and asset inflation, the impact of volatile oil prices on the Middle East and on the global economy; the impact of disruptive technologies on various industries and the employment outlook; safety and transparency problems that now look to be widespread across the auto industry, not just isolated to a couple of companies; and ongoing business issues like evolving customer preferences and cost of customer acquisition. I loved that one workshop group even came up with a new term: limping hippos -for the things that appear to be gray rhinos but turn out to be false alarms.

Scott MacDonald of the University of Connecticut has written on LinkedIn Pulse about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis as a gray rhino: “International financial markets have already seen the problem of a slow motion train wreck with Greece’s debt problem and the European Union; hopefully we are not going to relive it with Puerto Rico and the U.S. municipal bond market.  More likely than not, a portion of Puerto Rican debt will have to be written off.”

Regina Rodriguez-Martin wrote on her Chicana on the Edge blog about how we can apply gray rhinos to personal life, not just to business and policy issues. “The ending of my marriage was probably a gray rhino,” she says. I often mention Regina’s quip at book talks and the audiences just love her perspective. On another serious note, she mentions a friend whose mother was dying, but her father only got past the denial stage when she passed away.

Dr. Aldemaro Romero Jr wrote “Academia is now facing a lot of gray rhinos,” in the Edwardsville Intelligencer. He cites the vulnerability of state educational institutions to falling funding and of private institutions to challenges involving diversity, access and endowment management. Students and parents can add to problems when they let a sense of entitlement get in the way.

In Norway, leadership consultant Lise Strand Bjarkli uses the gray rhino to talk about how businesses face market disruptions including the Fourth Industrial Revolution and “the awareness, willingness and ability each and one of us could summon to act upon swans, elephants or grey rhinos.”

A reader who emailed me this week feels that nuclear weapons are an important gray rhino, a conclusion that many respondents to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Risks Report certainly shared.

Questions from audiences and readers always give me lots of food for thought. One of the first questions I nearly always get is whether Donald Trump is a gray rhino. (Look at all of the failed attempts to stop his rise; more important, though, is to look at the gray rhinos that made it possible.) What about the “Really Big One” earthquake along the Cascadian subduction zone, the subject of a Pulitzer Prize winning New Yorker article? (Highly scientific consensus: the really big one most likely is a black swan in our lifetime, but likely a gray rhino in the future; and smaller quakes are definitely gray rhinos.) The asteroid Apophis or other asteroids that might strike earth? (NASA scientists see the risk as extremely low, though several recent news articles have placed it higher.) Our polarized and paralyzed political system? A resounding YES.

That’s the great thing about the gray rhino concept: not every person may see the same gray rhinos, but the principle and framework can help everyone to take a more serious look at the things right in front of us that we don’t give the attention that they deserve.

So, I ask today: What is your gray rhino? I’d love to hear about it.

Read and share this post on LinkedIn Pulse.

Top Ten Ways to Welcome the Gray Rhino

Top Ten Ways to Add Gray Rhinos to Our Vocabulary

The elephant in the room is the big problem that everyone ignores and assumes nobody will deal with. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s black swan is improbable and unpredictable. A gray rhino similarly is high-impact and neglected. Yet unlike the black swan, gray rhinos are highly likely. And unlike the elephant in the room, gray rhinos are coming right at us, not standing still. Most important, though, is that the gray rhino gives us a choice: to get out of the way or let it trample us.

THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore 
(April 5, 2016) introduces this powerful concept and gives examples and lessons of people who have faced down gray rhinos in business, policy, and life.

I created the gray rhino because the English language needed a more active word that doesn’t take for granted that we will ignore an obvious threat. Now I need your help to make gray rhinos as common a part of our vocabulary as the elephant in the room, the black swan, the see-no-evil monkeys, and the ostrich with its head in the sand.

Having the right word at hand can help to motivate and empower anyone faced with a potential crisis and difficult decisions. By being an early adopter of the gray rhino concept, you will send the message that we can deal with instead of denying avoidable catastrophes in business, society, and life.

Here are some quick and easy ways to add the gray rhinos to our everyday language:

The #grayrhino for Thunderclap

  1. Read a free sample of THE GRAY RHINO on amazon.com and pass it on to someone who is facing a Gray Rhino or share it on your social networks.
  2. Spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #grayrhino via @wucker. Here are some sample tweets (but feel more than free to make them your own):  *****
    The #grayrhino by @wucker: #riskmanagement strategies to deal with, not deny, the obvious dangers we ignore: bit.ly/1nJr5q  *****  The #grayrhino is here! Important, provocative new book bit.ly/1nJr5qV by @wucker on obvious but neglected #risks.
  3. Leave an online rating and/or review on amazon.com and/or Goodreads.
  4. Email five (or more!) friends and colleagues about the book. If you have an e-newsletter, mention it in the context of your business. Here’s sample text that you can cut and paste to include:
    I thought you’d find my friend Michele Wucker’s important new book, THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, extremely interesting. A “gray rhino” is a highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat: kin to both the elephant in the room and the improbable and unforeseeable black swan. Though gray rhinos occur after a series of warnings and visible evidence, leaders are surprisingly bad at addressing these obvious dangers before they spiral out of control: climate change, financial crisis, corporate crashes. Michele Wucker shows in The Gray Rhino how to recognize and strategically counter looming high impact threats. Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, has this to say about the book: “Equally vital for companies and countries, The Gray Rhino serves as a critical reorientation of crisis management strategy and policymaking.” There’s more information at www.wucker.com/the-gray-rhino
  5. To tweet or post the images below, right click and “save image as” then upload to your twitter, facebook or other social media account:The #grayrhino for Thunderclap
  6. Recognize or TrampleTell your Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections about THE GRAY RHINO. Here are some sample posts: *****
    Are you denying or dealing with the obvious dangers in front of you? My friend Michele Wucker’s important new book, THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, tells why we have trouble responding to probable threats and shows how we can do better. Learn more at http://www.wucker.com/the-gray-rhino.     *****Gray rhinos are the love child of the massive but ignored elephant in the room and the rare, unpredictable black swan. My friend Michele Wucker’s important new book, THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, offers strategies that can make the gray rhino your ally instead of foe. Learn more at http://www.wucker.com/the-gray-rhino
  7. Buy a copy of the Gray Rhino on Amazon or Barnes and Noble as a gift for a friend, colleague or student you know. Encourage your company, educational institution or civic organization to invest in buying bulk copies, available via CEO READ.
  8. Work in gray rhino references or the #grayrhino hashtag when you talk, write, or tweet about what keeps you up at night. Here’s a great example from Regina Rodriguez Martin, who says in her blog that the end of her marriage was a gray rhino.
  9. Change your facebook profile to the Gray Rhino cover for a day.
  10. Invite your networks to attend Gray Rhino book events in their cities. As many of you who are connected with me on LinkedInFacebook or Twitter already know, I am spending launch week in NYC with a talk at the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble April 6, then heading down to Washington, DC to do a talk at the Foreign Policy Institute April 13. Then I’m back to the Midwest for an event at the Boswell Book Company April 20. I’ll be doing lunch events at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco May 2 and at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs June 13.

Even doing just one or two of these things will make a big difference. Thank you for helping to make gray rhinos part of our vocabulary and draw needed attention to critical but neglected threats in business, life, and the world.

 

Joining The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

I’m delighted to be joining The Chicago Council on Global Affairs this month, where as vice president of studies I’ll spearhead The Chicago Council’s efforts to generate new ideas and influence policy debates in the United States and abroad. The Chicago Council is an important global voice on addressing critical policy challenges, so I could not be more excited to be joining its talented team to develop impactful new ideas and approaches to some of today’s most important issues. On a personal level, I’m so happy to come home to the Midwest and the city where my great-grandparents met a century ago as newly arrived immigrants.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922, is an independent, non-partisan organization committed to educating the public — and influencing the public discourse — on global issues of the day. The Council provides a forum in Chicago for world leaders, policymakers and other experts to speak to its members and the public on these issues. Long known for its public opinion surveys of American views on foreign policy, The Chicago Council also brings together stakeholders to examine issues and offer policy insight into areas such as global agriculture, the global economy, global energy, global cities, global security and global immigration. Learn more at thechicagocouncil.org and follow @ChicagoCouncil for updates.

Read the press release about my appointment here.

Davos 2013 -Balance Short with Long Term Thinking

My biggest takeaway from the 2013 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos was that we need to find ways to encourage long-term thinking -and acting. Read more HERE in this February 5th post to the World Economic Forum blog.

Down with Short Termism; Long Live the Long Term

If only I had a nickel for every time during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2013 that participants held up short-term thinking and actions as the bogeyman standing in the way of the Meeting’s Holy Grail: dynamic resilience.

Delivering a scathing assessment of the European Union’s response to the euro crisis, especially in the early stages, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti blamed it for short-term thinking when “leadership is the opposite of short termism.” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde similarly urged longer-term policy strategies: “If we look beyond the short term, we would indeed move past the crisis,” she said.

This is hardly the first time anyone has criticized short-term thinking as a danger. But the chorus of voices creates a real opportunity to move from talking to doing. Let’s use it to create the right incentives to encourage politicians, businesses, investors – and, for that matter, individuals – to think and act for the long term as well as for immediate priorities.

Continue reading “Davos 2013 -Balance Short with Long Term Thinking”

Chronicle of a Debt Foretold

Today’s debt crises among European sovereigns and US underwater mortgage holders both have much in common with a similar chronicle of debt foretold in Argentina a decade ago: the answer that involves the least amount of pain is a swift restructuring. In “Chronicle of a Debt Foretold,” a new paper for the World Economic Roundtable, organized jointly by the World Policy Institute and the Economic Growth Program of the New America Foundation, I argue that the answer is similar to the stitch in time that was proposed for Argentina, on which policy makers failed to act, modeled on the Brady Plan debt restructurings that resolved the 1980s sovereign debt crisis. We need a new Brady Plan for both the troubled European sovereign debtors, and for US underwater mortgages, before we lose another decade, as we did in the 1980s.