The Ten Commandments for Business Failure by Donald R. Keough

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Don Keough—a former top executive at Coca-Cola and now chairman of the elite investment banking firm Allen & Company—has witnessed plenty of failures in his sixty-year career (including New Coke). He has also been friends with some of the most successful people in business history, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Rupert Murdoch, and Peter Drucker.

Now this elder statesman reveals how great enterprises get into trouble. Even the smartest executives can fall into the trap of believing in their own infallibility. When that happens, more bad decisions are sure to follow.

This light-hearted “how-not-to” book includes anecdotes from Keough's long career as well as other infamous failures. His commandments for failure include: Quit Taking Risks; Be Inflexible; Assume Infallibility; Put All Your Faith in Experts; Send Mixed Messages; and Be Afraid of the Future.

As he writes, “After a lifetime in business I've never been able to develop a step-by-step formula that will guarantee success. What I could do, however, was talk about how to lose. I guarantee that anyone who follows my formula will be a highly successful loser.”


About Donald R. Keough

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Donald R. Keough is chairman of the board of the investment banking firm Allen & Company. He served as president, chief operating officer, and a director of The Coca-Cola Company from 1981 to 1993. He was reelected a director of the company in 2004. He has served on many prominent boards of directors including those of Berkshire Hathaway, McDonald’s, The Washington Post Company, Home Depot, H. J. Heinz Company, and The University of Notre Dame.
Published June 28, 2011 by Portfolio. 209 pages
Genres: Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Ten Commandments for Business Failure


Based on what he reveals or at least indicates in this book, Keough seems principled but also possesses what Ernest Hemingway once characterized as “a built-in, shock-proof crap detector.” He confirms a suspicion I have had for years: there are many different paths to business success but all bus...

Jul 24 2009 | Read Full Review of The Ten Commandments for Busi...

Publishers Weekly

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His lessons draw upon his long and varied career—from his early days as a philosophy major to his first job as a TV sports announcer and employment at Butternut Coffee and Coca-Cola—and comprise a list of tongue-in-cheek rules guaranteed to make the follower a true loser in business: from “quit t...

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Seeking Alpha

Keough knows the kind of book he’s writing and tells us at the outset who his audience is: "While these commandments can be applied to any business at any stage in its development, they are mainly intended for businesses and business leaders who have already attained a measure of success.

Jul 27 2008 | Read Full Review of The Ten Commandments for Busi...

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