The Art of Making Tough Decisions An interview with investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist Mouli Cohen Conducted by Journalist ________ Making The Right Decisions How do you make the right decision? Many of us think that good decisions are based primarily on coming up with an effective strategy and then executing on it. It's true that having a sound strategy is very important when addressing a challenging problem but I can say with confidence that the best-and hardest-decisions I ever made were all about people. No matter how smart I am or how successful I have been in the past I cannot know the future. Therefore I must have the right partners along the way who can help me make the tough decisions. Encouraging Debate Do you challenge your partners to help you come up with the right answer? In my companies I strongly encourage people to disagree with me. I like to create this culture of constructive debate & skepticism within all of my organizations. I pull in my best people and challenge them to debate the problem from all angles. Making decisions by consensus, however, never works. Ultimately, the decision is the CEO's to make and he/she has to be willing to take a risk and make the tough call. I cannot stress enough, however, the importance of having people debate and challenge you. If you don't do this you risk cutting yourself off from hearing options or ideas that might be better. Short Term Vs. Long Term When making critical desicions, how do you balance short and long term thinking? Whenever possible leaders should make decisions based on the long-term vision of your company. When Steve Jobs made the decision to abandon IBM's PowerPC chipset and go exclusively with Intel this effected them negatively in the short term, but this is a decision will have a long term impact for the company in years to come (for better or worse). Whenever possible manage for the quarter-century not the quarter. Quarter Century Decisions Can you give us some examples of what you mean by "quarter-century" decisions? If we go farther back in time we can identify several serious business leaders who made quarter-century calls"... In 1903 Ken Gillette made the radical decision to move to disposable razor blades. In 1980 Reginald Jones appointed Jack Welch as CEO of General Electric. In 1985 Andy Grove fired himself from Intel. In 2000 Jerry Levine of Time Warner decided he no longer needed a collar on AOL stock. Context How do you keep your big decisions on context? It is important to remember that any decision-no matter how big-is only a small fraction of the total outcome. Some decisions are bigger than others but ultimately what defines success is a series of choices made over time that are executed flawlessly. You can make mistakes along the way and still achieve overall success. Mouli Cohen Bio Mouli Cohen is a lifelong entrepreneur and philanthropist who has built successful start-ups and invested in companies that have produced over 3 Billion in value for shareholders. He is currently the Founder and Chairman of Voltage Capital. Throughout his career he has collaborated with some of the worlds most powerful leaders and thinkers including heads of state and CEOs. Here he shares the advice he has gained throughout his distinguished career.