Feb. 21, 2022

#18 On Asymmetric risks and The Power Of Asking with Warwick Donaldson

Hello Graduates!

Back again with episode #18 of Graduate Theory, providing you with lessons and tips so that you can have a successful and fulfilling career.

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Warwick Donaldson is a serial entrepreneur, problem-solver and country man. An active member of the Australian startup community, he has been a part of a number of capital raises and writes about startup funding on his site, startup-funding.com.au.

🤝 Connect with Warwick


👇 Episode Takeaways

Asymmetric Risks

Life is full of risk. Sometimes we make decisions that could end well or could end badly.

Putting your money in the stock market is one example of such a situation.

A *symmetric *risk would be one where the probability of a positive outcome is the same as a negative one.

An *asymmetric *risk is one where the probability of a positive outcome is not the same as the negative.

Networking and creating connections is an example of *asymmetric *risk.

Like the worst they can do is say 'no',  The best they can do is say 'yes'. And you ended up getting a job. There's no downside, there's only upsides. It's a pretty good risk to take, If you want to call it a risk at all.

This example is so powerful. Reaching out to people and asking for what you want is one of the most powerful asymmetric risks that you can take.

There is no downside, no negative, only positive.

I encourage everyone to reach out to more people and find new connections. As Warwick says,

the worst case is I say no, and the best case is up to your imagination

The Power of Community | Guanxi

Today's world can be a solitary existence. We want to do things ourselves and prove to others that we can do things on our own. Warwick spoke about a contrasting idea in China called Guanxi.

Guanxi is, is the concept of relationship and the power of relationship ... You know, you build your relationships, but actually you build your network. You should also be using those relationships and the those networks. And so they say it Guanxi is like, an arm, the more you use it, the more powerful it gets.

The key is that using your network is really important. In fact, it could well be our first place to look for answers, rather than looking for them without help.

Warwick says he is seeing the benefits of this approach in his life already, and it's something that I think we can all do better at.

Challenge Yourself (Appropriately)

Warwick was stuck in a linear career path. Where he was going to end up in the future was not a place he wanted to go.

I think I saw my life flash before my eyes. I kind of saw where I was going to be when I was 40 and 50, because you know, the, the progression seems rather linear or I did when I was there. I think that scared the shit out of me. And I was like, oh my God, what happens if I spend the next 30 years at ANZ or in banking? And would I be happy? Would I say that I've lived a full life?

To combat this, he took a big risk. He gave up his career in Australia to become an English teacher at a school in China.

Despite this risk, Warwick was calculated and knew that even if this didn't work out, he could simply move back to Australia and continue where he left off.

Now, it's powered his career and given him unique experiences and perspectives that allow him to have a greater impact in his role as a VC.

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📝 Show Notes

00:00 Warwick Donaldson

00:00 Warwick Donaldson

00:35 Intro

01:09 Warwick's First Job

05:22 The Power of Asking

07:53 Warwick working Overseas

12:28 Warwick's Decision to Move

15:48 Lessons that Warwick Took from Living in China

21:00 Using your Network | Guanxi

28:09 How did Warwick end up in Startups

35:58 A failure that turned out to be a success

42:05 Warwick's Advice for Graduates

44:58 Contact Warwick

45:54 Outro