#155: Michele Wucker: What’s Your Gray Rhino?


Jason A. Duprat, Entrepreneur, Healthcare Practitioner and Host of the Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy podcast speaks with Michele Wucker, Founder and CEO of Gray Rhino & Company. Michele is the author of the book, ‘The Gray Rhino: How To Recognize And Act On The Obvious Dangers We Ignore.' She coined the term to mean the big, scary thing coming right at you. She also established five reaction stages to the Gray Rhino.  



  • Michele talks about her transition into writing and her amazing experiences, which included writing about a coup in Haiti.
  • The Gray Rhino is a metaphor for something big, obvious and scary headed right for you, forcing you to take action. It's big, obvious and it will do damage, however, you have options on how to manage it.  
  • This is a very different concept from the ‘Black Swan,' which is when you're knocked over by something you can't even imagine or consider. 
  • And the ‘Elephant in the Room' is when you see something, yet no one in the room says anything about it. 
  • Currently, there's a triad of Gray Rhinos in the US economy which includes financial fragilities, inequality and climate change.
  • There are steps you can take to avoid the Gray Rhino. Start by recognizing your vulnerability. Then foster proper awareness in order to take the appropriate response.
  • Michele shares a five-stage framework to help companies recognize how they're reacting to these threats. They include: denial, muddling, diagnosing, panic and action. 
  • Sometimes you might take action yet you don't get the result you want. Track and adjust what you're doing. Just because you're taking an action, this doesn't mean you're solving the actual problem. 
  • Analyze where the key stakeholders are to change the situation. Focus on accountability, yourself and dealing with uncomfortable things.
  • Everybody has a role to play; the Gray Rhino is the key to prevention. Bring in people to  help you recognize how decisions are made in your company.
  • Michele talks about her upcoming book and how diversity and the cultural environment around your business allows you to become more sensitive to risks.



  1. In the current US economic state, entrepreneurs should be more aware of the Gray Rhinos in order to manage upcoming financial risks. 
  2. There are things you can do to dodge the Gray Rhino – recognize your vulnerability, foster awareness and formulate a smart response. 
  3. Your reaction to the Gray Rhino falls under a five-stage framework – denial, muddling, diagnosing, panic and action. It's important to track these stages and adjust your actions accordingly.



“(On the Gray Rhino) It's high impact, it's obvious and it gives you a challenge.” – Michele Wucker


“The Gray Rhino is a challenge to be accountable – when you see a big scary problem coming right at you.” – Michele Wucker



Michele Wucker on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wucker

Michele Wucker's website: https://www.wucker.com/

Michele Wucker on Twitter: https://twitter.com/wucker

The Gray Rhino and Company website: https://thegrayrhino.com/


#HealthcareEntrepreneurAcademy #healthcare #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #riskassessment #riskmanagement #TheGrayRhino

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