Career Karen

I am a Guinea Pig

I can see why people choose not to make high-risk decisions: it’s unpredictable with no guarantees.

If I said to you (cyber invisible person), “Eat this roast beef dinner every day and you’ll lose 10 pounds.”

You would say, “How do you know?”

I would say, “I’m not 100% sure. Looks like all the ingredients for health might be there.  Let’s see if it works.”

Cyber invisible person says, “So in other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”  You then walk away and think I’m crazy.

Launching a business isn’t much different.

Do I know I’ll be successful?  No.

Do I want to find out?  Yes.

It’s not you that has to eat the roast beef dinner, it’s me that has to do it first, and find out if it works. Then I can say to you, “I can guarantee you, if you eat this roast beef dinner every day for 2 weeks you’ll lose 10 pounds.” Until I, myself, try it out, take the risk, enter into unpredictability and embrace the reality that there are no guarantees, I can’t offer you anything.

What people want are stories and testimonies of what works, what is successful, what is transformational, what is impactful, what is life-changing, what is guaranteed – they want to see results.

We are a skeptical bunch, us mammals. Even animals show skepticism. One will try it before the pack does. Once it’s tried and proven, then they start to fight over who gets to be next (except for lemmings…).

What do I conclude?

I’m a guinea pig.

I’m wired for experimentation.

I’m wired to risk. I’m wired to explore. I’m wired to try it first, and then decide if it’s a good idea.

I have a philosophy. “When I’m 96 years old, will I regret not doing this?” It is foundational in my decision-making. If I respond to the question with, “Yes. Absolutely, yes.” then I know I’m to proceed. If I say, “Mehhh, I can take it or leave it,” then I don’t proceed.

I am only interested in searching for the ‘absolutely yes’ residing in my heart.

I remember as a young girl spinning the globe, closing my eyes and stopping the spin with my finger. Wherever my finger landed I’d say, “I’m going here.” At a young age I already understood the concept of a “Bucket List.” I didn’t care where the globe stopped; it was the thrill of the unknown.

I remember my friends and I would roll a big tractor tire down knolls in the farm pasture.  You’d crawl inside and someone would launch you down the hill. One day we wanted to try a new, steeper hill. Who wants to be the guinea pig?  I raise my hand enthusiastically, “yes please!” Without question, I wanted to experiment the new hill. (Being our first attempt, I accidentally got significant airtime and was completely disoriented when they pulled me out of the tire.  I still smile with fondness, reminiscing about that moment.)

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s in my DNA. Since a little girl, I’ve had wide-eyed wonder when a new opportunity surfaced. If I knew I wouldn’t bore you with stories, I truly could write countless memories that repeat this conviction. Undoubtedly, it’s a conviction because it lives powerfully within me. It remains a current part of my lifestyle and stems all the way back to 4 years old.

It’s my normal.

What a profound realization I’m having this morning.

I am intricately designed to desire the unknown.

As I reflect and translate it into my professional world, I think that’s what separates entrepreneurs from other business leaders. We welcome those not-knowing moments.  We respect mystery.

Entrepreneurs believe the world is ours to explore. Behind every door is a wonder and a beautiful surprise. We believe we can overcome obstacles with determination and endurance. We can be seen as either relentlessly stubborn or unwaveringly committed. I choose the latter.

To all the entrepreneurs out there, wide-eyed wonder is your normal.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on




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