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



Think About It: OIWC asks, what do you need to know about finances to advance your career?

Breaking into the outdoor industry doesn’t usually have much to do with good financial management. Sure, many of us may have put off a “real job” to hike the AT or risked a raise rather than losing out on the first chair on powder days. But even if numbers are not your area of more


Think About It: OIWC asks, what can a mentor do for you?

When you take stock of the business relationships in your life, do any of them qualify as mentors? For some businesswomen, influential mentors seem to flow seamlessly in and out of their lives. "I have been lucky to have had strong women leaders to look up to and call to check more


Think About It: OIWC asks, do you know the art of listening?

Have you ever seen the TV show, “Undercover Boss”? In each episode, a top-level executive goes undercover in his or her own company as an entry-level employee.The disguised executive toils on the production line, works the cash register, pulls orders in the shipping department more


Think About It: OIWC asks, where are all the women?

Earlier this year, SNEWS released its inaugural Power Players list and SGB came out with its 2009 40 under 40. On the bright side, the lists highlight some of the vast talent that exists in our industry. However, there was something disappointing about both lists -- the lack of more


Think About It: OIWC asks, do you know how to grow and empower your team?

No matter what size a business is, many companies attribute their homegrown success to the elbow grease from dedicated employees who keep the organization’s heart beating. In a time when hardworking and indispensible employees are the crux of a company, what are some ways to more


Think About It: OIWC asks, are your career development goals progressing?

How is it that some people can accomplish so much in their careers? What's the secret to finding the right path? As OIWC continues to explore the topic of career development, we turn for inspiration to an industry leader who has forged her own way. Arlene Blum was just 25 years more


Think about It: OIWC asks, what does it take to conquer the summit of your career?

If advancing a career came down to swinging an ice ax to wipe out the glass ceiling, this industry of peakbaggers and semi-pro athletes would be laden with CEOs and overflowing with VIPs. The reality is there are only a few career pinnacles in the outdoor -- or any -- industry, more

Think About It: OIWC asks, ladies, are you angry at work?

While most people in the workforce today would agree that there's nothing like a job to get you riled, it turns out that showing anger can actually be detrimental to a woman's livelihood. A recently released study reveals that men and women who showed anger in the workplace were more

Think About It: OIWC asks if you are bridging the gender gap at work

What are your best strategies for succeeding with men -- and women -- in the workplace? Click here to chime in in on the SNEWS® Industry Chat. Only have a free SNEWS subscription and unable to view the archives or chime in on discussions after the article is more than a week old? more