CEO Tower Russell Ellwanger

“I Do Not Know, but this is My Best Guess”

Message from Mr. Russell Ellwanger—TowerJazz CEO & TPSCo Chairman


Recently in a review meeting, a topic was brought up that I am well versed in. Looking forward to a conversation on the subject, I queried the person who brought it up. The answer given was not only inaccurate, but truly incorrect.

Later while discussing the review and next steps with a small group of executives, I brought up the topic again and stated, “I respect people who have the confidence to say, ‘I do not know’—as long as it does not happen on a frequent basis.” To this, an executive who I respect highly responded, “Better to say- I do not know, but this is my best guess.”

This was brilliant!

Why Brilliant?

  1. It shows honesty.

  2. It shows judgement, to know the bounds of one’s expertise.

  3. It is a demonstration of respect to the person asking the question.

  4. It demonstrates confidence to admit to not have all knowledge.

  5. It shows depth and breadth to be able to use what is known to form and respond with a conjecture, and hence, provide direction rather than a halting response such as, “I don’t know.”

  6. It expresses personal optimism and the desire to take on challenge, without fear of being incorrect.

    People defined by these six traits are trustworthy. What a company, when all employees embody this!

Parallel to Life

Many times “life” places us in situations and with decisions where we do not / cannot know the answer. In business this can be in one’s specific job task, tactical and strategic managerial decisions, human resource development, etc. In personal life, it may be how to counsel a loved one or friend, make a career choice, conflicting priorities and optimal time management, etc. Decisions can vary in magnitude from insignificant to critical “Do or Die” moments with long-term consequences.

How important it is, when faced with the critical “make or break” situations which enter everyone’s life at times, to have the experiences born of doing, to have varied and in depth knowledge, to have confidence and courage and a clean conscience, so that with full conviction we may say-

“I do not know the answer. But based upon thorough preparation, this is my best judgement and I am going to give it my ALL!” And in so doing, to KNOW that God will reckon it to the positive.

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