Return on Courage

Return on Courage

A Business Playbook for Courageous Change

Greenleaf Book Group, 2019 more...

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Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take


Ryan Berman, now a consultant, found his personal courage after he was fired from an advertising job he had held for six years. He opened his own advertising firm to great success. Berman attributes much of his good fortune to having had the courage to take calculated risks and to change quickly when required. Most people resist taking risks, he says, but anyone can learn to act courageously through practice and training. Courage comes through preparation. When you study an issue, build up your knowledge, ask questions and experiment before committing, you display what Berman calls “business courage.” His arguments for courage as a competency add to the business genre, yet he also dips into platitudes and familiar advice. Most businesspeople will benefit from his thesis that employees can learn to take sound risks and embrace change if their leaders encourage them to be courageous participants rather than conforming ciphers.


Failed Businesses

Intense competition, limitless consumer product information and choice, constant disruption, and corporate resistance to change cause most businesses failures – which happen faster today than ever before. Even companies that reach the Fortune 500 rarely last more than 15 years. Firms must anticipate shifting demands and tastes as they develop the capacity and will to change while staying aligned with their core values. Leaders must make decisions quickly and pursue coordinated action – a process that must become standard operating procedure.

Courage and the ability to execute are crucial to successful change. Organizations that encourage people to share ideas and concerns nurture courage. Smart leaders give employees the cultural permission to challenge their peers’ and supervisors’ ideas, thereby helping to change the organization.

The Psychology of Courage

When faced with significant change, the brain’s amygdala prompts a fight-or-flight response. To overcome it, manage your response deliberately and consciously. Cultivate mindfulness so&#...

About the Author

Ryan Berman founded Courageous, a consultancy that teaches major brands to use courage as a competitive advantage. He also founded Sock Problems, a charitable sock company that supports causes around the world by “socking” problems and spreading awareness.