An Anecdotal Return to Business Basics

The book I’ve been reading, The Ten Commandments for Business Failure, by Don Keough is a pleasant read for a business book.
After a spectacular career at Coca-Cola, Keough kindly offers those who might follow in leadership roles some sage advice, not just about business but about life.
His business thesis boils down to this: If you want fail in business Quit Taking Risks; Be Inflexible; Isolate Yourself; Assume Infallibility; Play the Game Close to the Foul Line; Don’t Take Time to Think; Put All Your Faith in Experts and Outside Consultants; Love Your Bureaucracy; Send Mixed Messages and Be Afraid of the Future.
But what becomes clear while reading this little book is that Keough is a man of faith. And that in faith, one might find the fearlessness required to lead.
In Chapter 10, “Be Afraid of the Future,” Keogh talks about pessimism and how it chokes the life out of people (and an organization, if not carefully weeded out). I sometimes struggle with optimists and their unbending wills, but I didn’t struggle with Keough. He wisely points out that America is a nation built by eternal optimists and also by immense risk takers. The cacophony of naysayers was there at the nation’s birth, just like it’s here today. But the constant noise is a distraction for those intent on creating things of value and beauty.
To get a better sense for the man, here’s a video snippet of Keough from last January on CNBC:

Keough has also appeared on Charlie Rose.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.