Philanthropist and businessman Ragnar Horn uses the lessons he learned working as an investment banker in New York City and competing in international cross-country skiing events to grow and diversify his family’s Oslo-based investment firm. As chairman of Taconic AS, Mr. Horn has helped the company to extend its reach in areas ranging from real estate and shipping to telecommunications and media. He recently sat down with Ryan Miller from CEO World Magazine to share his thoughts about leadership, overcoming challenges and coping with failure.
Mr. Horn credits the training he does to prepare for competitive skiing events with giving him the drive and persistence that he needs to compete effectively in global markets. He also told Mr. Miller that participating in sports has taught him to respect his competition. When the question of what it takes to be a good leader was raised, Mr. Horn said good listening skills and keeping an open mind were the keys to nurturing the enthusiasm and innovation that all successful companies rely on.
All business leaders make mistakes, and Ragnar Horn believes that many of them are rooted in cognitive bias. To avoid this pitfall, the Norwegian-born CEO says that he tries to approach important decisions subjectively and avoids letting his hopes for a successful outcome cloud his judgement. He also takes a pragmatic approach. Mr. Horn underlined the importance of pragmatism by citing the example of a mountaineering expedition that was doomed by hubris and overconfidence.
After earning his Master of Business Administration at Harvard University, Horn gained the experience he now uses to run his family business working in New York, Singapore and London. In addition to his business and sporting endeavors, Mr. Horn also dedicates himself to philanthropy. He helps children around the world to overcome poverty, disease and war with the nonprofit group Right to Play, and he supports the arts in elementary and secondary education with Restore the Music UK.