We’ve all become familiar with the statement “content is king” particularly as it relates to digital content. The Internet has brought about one mega-monstrosity of a global “data dump” right into our homes, bringing us everything we want—and everything we don’t want too. Some of the content is excellent, other content is poor—all of it is easily accessible. There is no doubt that the overabundance of information available to us has shifted our perceptions of what, in fact, we consider valuable content.
It’s this idea of “content value” in our changing world that struck me as I was reading The Ten Commandments of Business Failure. Donald Keough, the author, is an 81-year-old icon of industry, serving years at one of my favorite companies to work with, The Coca-Cola Company, and a friend of the world’s most revered business leaders, including Warren Buffet. His ten (actually, eleven) commandments are thoughtful, useful and bolstered with a lifetime of experience and insight. He brings his prescriptions to life for the reader using great stories and examples.
His commandments for business failure are:
Quit Taking Risks
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
Be Afraid of the Future
Lose Your Passion for Work—for Life
I imagine it’s because I have a long career in business that the commandments didn’t tremendously excite or educate me. But I also couldn’t help myself from thinking how my value perception of this book would have been vastly different pre-Internet than it was today.
The backbone of this book is “The List” structure—a structure universally adopted online to deliver content to users. But while online “listicles” are brief and razor-focused, Keough’s list of best practices in business leadership spans 190 pages. What I found incredibly fascinating is that my years of Internet use have conditioned me—i.e., changed my perceptions of how long a “list” read should be. Although I gained insight and value from reading Keough’s book, I didn’t want to read it for 190 pages; I wanted to read it for 19 pages.
For writers, particularly aspiring authors of books, my feelings as a reader pose an interesting question: are there formats heavily used on the web that have lost their value and impact in a full-fledged book because of shifting consumer/reader perceptions? Or is it just me—i.e., the content of this book was known to me, so I simply wanted to move through it quickly? I don’t know—maybe a little of both.
In any case, The Ten Commandments for Business Failure offers valuable, timeless advice for business—and life. This is a great book for those who are starting out in their business career or those who want a bit of a sneak peek into The Coca-Cola Company leadership and operations.