Decision-Making Lessons from Naval History
Although AE firm leaders don’t have to make split-second, life-or-death decisions, a new book by retired U.S. Navy admiral and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis draws valuable lessons from American naval history for any leaders navigating their companies through troubled waters.
Time doesn’t fly
“Decision-making is hard to begin with at sea—it’s vastly harder if you become emotionally cluttered,” Stavridis writes in To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision. He says that the best decision-makers avoid panic and force time to slow down. “You do that by being reasonably rested; clearing your mind of all the excess white noise (including your personal thoughts); breathing deeply and steadily; lowering your voice; never raising it; and constantly moving your field of view,” he writes.
Prior to making crucial decisions, Stavridis advises leaders to methodically gather all the necessary intelligence and dispassionately consider all possible outcomes. “It is important to neither take counsel excessively of your fears nor become emotionally involved in an unrealistic result,” he writes. Stavridis also warns against “belief bias” where leaders base decisions on what they think should be happening as opposed to the actual facts. Another of his takeaways is to be willing to change your mind and not lock into a certain course of action. He points out that studies have found the old advice of “going with the first answer that occurs to you” on the SAT exam lowers the probability of making a correct decision.
“Making the best possible decision,” Stavridis writes, “involves what we do in the years before we face it.” After watching one of his ships explode and sink while crossing a Confederate minefield in Mobile Bay, Union Admiral David Farragut famously delivered the order to “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” The author told the NPR program Here & Now that while Farragut’s decision appears reckless on the surface, it was based on his knowledge of the mines’ technical qualities. “He has researched it. He’s studied the problem. He has thought long and hard about it, and he’s able even in that moment of extreme stress to bring that intellectual preparation, combine it with his personal courage, and make a decision that wins a pivotal battle.”
The Road Warrior
Rental Car Shortages Send Prices Soaring
Soaring rental car prices are taking a bite out of corporate travel budgets—and that’s even before the associated cost of paying sky-high gasoline prices at the pump. Although down slightly from a record high set in the summer of 2021, rental car prices in July 2022 were 48% higher than in July 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. AAA reported that rental car prices this past summer were up approximately $40 per day from 2019 levels.
Blame simple supply-and-demand economics for the price spikes. When the coronavirus pandemic brought travel to a near-halt in 2020, rental car companies downsized their inventories from 2.26 million vehicles in 2019 to 1.77 million in 2021, according to Barron’s. When travel rebounded, however, supply chain issues and a global microchip shortage that disrupted automobile production constrained the ability of rental car companies to purchase new vehicles to replenish their fleets.
You can always go…downtown
Based on a recent study by personal finance company NerdWallet, firms can minimize the hit to their bottom lines by shopping around. When analyzing prices from eight major rental car companies, NerdWallet found a sizable difference between the company with the highest average weekly price—National at nearly $700—and the lowest—Enterprise at approximately $480. NerdWallet also found rental car prices 26% lower at downtown locations than at airports because of the numerous airport-imposed fees and tourism surcharges added to rates, so bypassing the airport rental car desk and taking an Uber to an off-site rental location could result in savings in some instances.
According to the NerdWallet analysis, rental car prices generally drop as the travel date approaches—with the average weekly price falling from $589 three months out to $513 seven days in advance. Since most rental car companies don’t require upfront payments when making reservations, take advantage by booking a car and then monitoring prices as the trip approaches. If a lower price becomes available, cancel the original reservation and rebook at the lower rate.
A guide to help you better understand how AE firms are valued and – perhaps more importantly – what you can do to build value now.Read Newsletter