Think about it: OIWC asks, how do you make decisions, and where do you go when you need help?

To make the best “big” decisions, having a plan of attack as well as an infrastructure in place can ease the stress and get you to the right answer. See how your style compares to other industry professionals.

Your ability to make decisions can make or break your project, your company, your career or your personal life. We constantly make decisions all day, every day. Some are so routine that they don’t even register -- like what to wear to work or what to eat for breakfast. But bigger decisions periodically pop up that have much higher stakes. To make the best “big” decisions, having a plan of attack as well as an infrastructure in place can ease the stress and get you to the right answer.

There are a hundred different ways to tackle an important decision looming in your future from immediately responding to slowly mulling over the options. We asked a few industry professionals how they make their best decisions and where they look for support.

Picking an approach

One approach to decision making is to think of it like preparing a meal. First, you gather the ingredients you need -- the bits and pieces of information relevant to the decision you’re faced with. Once you’ve gathered and analyzed, sliced and diced, you combine ingredients and let them marinate.

“Go into a big decision with all the information you can gather,” said Carolyn Cooke, co-founder of OIWC and president of Isis. “When I’m faced with a big decision, I collect all the relevant information I can, then let it quietly percolate which gives me time to gain perspective without actively thinking about it.”

But not every decision is worthy of prolonged deliberation. “Some decisions require a quick and definitive, shoot-from-the-hip response that lets you blast forward to the next question or fire to be put out,” said Cooke.

Sue Parker of Frank Creative said, “Use your heart and your head when you make decisions. Many times, you know the answer intuitively to the question you’ve been asked. Don’t second guess yourself.” 

Developing a “BOD”

The industry leaders we spoke with make big decisions by bouncing their thoughts off a sounding board of trusted peers and mentors. These individuals are people they have cultivated over the course of their careers -- a kind of personal “board of directors” whom they can turn to for guidance, support and a reality check.

Michele Flamer, U.S. sales director for Flatterware, calls her personal board of directors her “mastermind group.” In fact, Flamer has multiple mastermind groups that support her different goals and activities. “My mastermind groups have formed around multiple people striving for a common purpose,” she said. “Many times when my progress has slowed on a specific goal, the members of my mastermind are the only people who really understand what has been going on and how to get me back on track.”

Cooke’s personal BOD is a little more traditional. “I rely on a number of people I trust for guidance when I am faced with making big decisions,” she said. “Some I have worked with and others I haven’t. Most are industry veterans and a few come from other industries.” What qualifies each to be her personal advisor? “They are people who tell it like it is,” she noted.

Parker also has a personal BOD. “They are people I turn to on an individual basis when I need guidance. But I always try to get to the answer myself, and only ask for advice when I absolutely need it,” she said. “You only have so many chips.”

Don’t forget to delegate

Sometimes turning to your mentors for support is the best route to a good decision, but sometimes others in your organization are better suited to make the call. “When someone else in your organization is the true expert, the person most intimate with the pieces of the puzzle, that should inform the decision. Whether they are junior or senior to you, let them answer their own question or yours,” said Cooke. “When others come to me for a decision, I often say, ‘What do you think about that?’”

Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition is a membership community of professionals in the outdoor industries united to provide power, influence and opportunity for women in outdoor-related businesses and to generate champions to inspire other women. For more information, visit

This monthly column, a partnership between OIWC and SNEWS®, aims to address the issues that concern women in the industry most -- anything that is controversial, topical or newsworthy relating to women and the outdoors. The goal is to help, educate, inspire and grow. We welcome your ideas, gripes, thoughts and comments. Bring it on. E-mail us at

Berne Broudyis a freelance photographer and writer. To see her work, visit