Who Dares, Wins

How to act boldly but not foolishly

4 min read

We’ve all heard examples of the great things that can happen to those who take risks. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, founded Microsoft, and became the richest man on the planet. Steve Jobs completely changed both the hardware and software foundations of Apple’s long-established Macintosh line of computers and was rewarded with increased market share and critical acclaim within the PC industry. Burt Rutan eschewed decades of experience with solid and liquid rockets in favor of a hybrid engine that helped him seize the US $10 million Ansari X-Prize for the world’s first private reusable spacecraft.

Yet taking such gambles runs counter to our basic human instinct to be safe and avoid risk. After all, we’ve all also heard of disasters that have befallen other risk takers: people who quit stable jobs to join start-ups, only to be out of a job six months later; those who bet the farm on a promising technology just before the market goes in a different direction; and unfortunates who figure a problem isn’t all that important--just before it blows up in their faces. Indeed, what engineer hasn’t heard the ultimate expression of pessimism in Murphy’s Law: ”If anything can go wrong, it will”?

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Vertical
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}