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#52—James Stavridis: Nine Lessons in Making High-Risk Decisions Under Pressure

#52—James Stavridis: Nine Lessons in Making High-Risk Decisions Under Pressure

Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) spent more than thirty years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of four-star admiral.

He was Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and previously commanded U.S. Southern Command, overseeing military operations through Latin America. At sea, he commanded a Navy destroyer, a destroyer squadron, and an aircraft carrier battle group in combat.

He holds a Ph. D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he recently served five years as dean. He received fifty medals in the course of his military career, including twenty-eight from foreign nations.

James is the author of To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision, which he shares insights from here.

He has published nine other books, including 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, with Elliott Ackerman. He is chief international analyst for NBC News and a contributing editor for Time magazine.

He is currently the Vice Chair, Global Affairs of the Carlyle Group and the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Rockefeller Foundation

In this podcast, he shares:

  • The strategic lesson we can draw from great military leaders of the past, John Paul Jones, and today, Admiral Michelle Howard

  • Four keys to making the right decision, especially in moments of urgency

  • Tips for keeping focused on your “north star” and avoid getting distracted by near-term noise


"You have to be willing to bet on yourself in the hardest situations and be determined even when things appear to be going against you."

-Admiral James Stavridis


  • Episode Timeline:

    00:00—Introducing James + The topic of today’s episode

    2:22—If you really know me you know that...

    3:18—What is your definition of strategy?

    3:40—What do people get wrong with strategy?

    4:30—Can you outline the topics in your book, To Risk it All?

    7:31—Could you tell us about the nine core principles and lessons from your stories?

    11:00—Could you talk about how your ideas aren't about having a structured set of contingency plans, but more a cultural shift in mindset to be prepared—could you talk about that?

    12:50—How do you keep a clear eye on the right target, the "north star" so to speak?

    14:48—What's something you've changed your mind about?

    17:17—Could you tell us about your novel, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War?

    18:38—What put you on the path of entrepreneurship that led you to Village Global, your venture capital firm?

    18:43—Where can people follow you and your work?


Additional Resources:

Personal Page:




The 4th Option Junto
The Outthinkers podcast is a growth strategy podcast hosted by Kaihan Krippendorff. Each week, Kaihan talks with forward-looking strategists and innovators that are challenging the status quo, leading the future of business, and shaping our world.