Salmon or Red Snapper

By Mac M. Martirossian, CPA

Making a Difference sometimes means taking a risk.  Routine, mundane tasks can typically get done by ordinary people.  Extraordinary contributors are those who take risks, a trait revered by CEOs and Entrepreneurs.

So what does this have to do with fish?  Simple.  When inviting those special guests for dinner, we have a choice—cook the same old salmon filets or impress the guests by taking a chance with a whole red snapper oven roasted to perfection.  Similarly, at work, opportunities present themselves for us to take a risk.

Human nature being what it is most of us would choose the salmon.  Why?  Most people are doers, not leaders; good not great; more comfortable safe, than sorry.  Salmon is easy; just throw it on the grill, put in a pan, stick it in the oven; readily available at a reasonable price; satisfing the taste of many.

Those few who have courage will risk it will the red snapper.  Cooking a whole fish is complex, serving it with the head and bones an art.  This fish is expensive and often needs to be special ordered.

Taking risk takes courage and courage leads to pay-offs that we all desire—promotions, money and most importantly, recognition.  Few profiles of project managers have “risk taker” as a descriptor.  Look for it in the next batch of resumes you review and you will rarely find it.

Leaders are deliberate about choosing risk takers to be on their Team, in a tough economy, even more so in a tougher economy.  Here are three attributes to consider in taking risk:

  • Weigh consequences carefully. Chose the right project or mission to showcase your extraordinary ability to make a difference.  A great CEO or leader would do the same.


  • Take bite sized servings. Once you have decided to step up to take on a complex project start with one that is manageable to build your confidence.  Mission critical assignments should not be the first ones tackled.


  • Dive in—all in. This is not the time to slowly immerse yourself.  Once you have committed to the mission, there is no turning back.  If you hesitate, you will fail and failure is not an option.


Making a difference means having the courage to take risks and when executed well, result in recognition and rewards.  This economy gives us excellent opportunities to take risks wisely.

Now that you have decided on the whole red snapper, which wine will you serve?

One Response to “Salmon or Red Snapper”

  1. MyLinh Nguyen says:

    What a fabulous comparision of the 2 fish yet, very true about risk taking and very well written article too. Thanks much Jennifer.

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