First penguin

Risk-taking, group survival, entrepreneurship

When penguins want food of the fishy kind, they may need to jump off an iceberg into the water. The problem is that they can't see what lies beneath - a predator might be waiting for a herd of penguins to fall straight into their belly. The group of penguins needs to decide whether to find food elsewhere or jump into the unknown.

This is where the "first penguin" (sometimes called "courageous penguin") stands up. They take one for the team and jump off the cliff, while the rest wait to see whether the water is clear. The first penguin takes a huge personal risk to ensure the survival of the group.

Entrepreneurs and risk-takers take a similar leap into the unknown, perhaps with even worse odds. While each risk-taker may not survive (for example, few startups succeed), the world is a better place because these risk-takers exist.

Sebastião Salgado, Chinstrap penguins on icebergs between Zavodovski and  Visokoi islands, South Sandwich Islands, 2009 | Yancey Richardson
Sebastião Salgado, Chinstrap penguins on an iceberg

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