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On Raising a CEO | Taking Risks

by Helyn Huffmaster

A CEO has to be willing to take risks even when the outcome is totally unknown.

Sadie grew up on a farm.  She loved to go out with Daddy and ride on the tractors and harvesters with him.  When she was only about 4 I took her out one day to ride with Daddy.  He was leveling a rice field that day.

To raise rice they flood the rice fields for the summer.   The land has to be level so the water is not too deep for the rice nor does it have dry spots where the rice will not grow properly.  Back then they pulled a scraper blade over the high spots and then when it was just right they dumped the blade full of dirt right in the low spot.  Today they have laser levelers so it is pretty automatic, but then you had to be on the ball and know what you were doing. You might think that at age 4 Sadie did NOT know what she was doing, and you would be right.  Do you think she let a little thing like that stop her?  Not on your life!  She just reached right up there and gave the lever a pull.  Daddy did not see her do it, but after a while he looked back and in the tractor lights (farmers work well into dark sometimes) he could see there was no dirt in the blade.  To this day there is a big bump in the middle of the field. (just joking, Daddy was able to smooth it out).

This risk did not work out real well but the risk she took 20 years ago to start COMPASS was a good risk for her to take.  She was working for another agency and when they were suspending the SLS services she and her partner at the time,  decided they did not want to abandon their clients like that and that the  only thing to do was to open their own agency.  Her boss at the time told her she did not know what she was doing and would most assuredly fail.  But sometimes you just have to reach up and pull the lever!  We are all so glad that she did!!

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