Supreme Idiot

When he talked, people listened, including Warren Buffett.  For he was very wise and successful in business and life.

And he was a mentor and beloved by many of his employees, especially Roberto and Muhtar.

He was all about his family, his employees, his community, and his alma mater.

And he was regarded as the Protector of the BRAND.

However, he made a mistake…  So, they wrote letters to “THE SUPREME IDIOT”

He listened to his customers, even the one who addressed him as the Supreme Idiot.

The Wise learn from their mistake(s)…

The Supreme Idiot, Don Keough, CEO of Coca-Cola, at the time, was intelligent, loyal, devoted, experienced, and hard working. He had started working for the company in 1950 and rose to be the head of Coke, billions-of-dollars world-wide soft drink enterprise.

new coke

But Coca-Cola at the time was losing market share to Pepsi-Cola, in Cola wars. Pepsi had more sugar and wasn’t as bitter as Coke, and the American palate was going to a sugar high. Coke executives worried, decided to go with new formulation labeled: New Coke to counter the competition, and they decided discontinue the Coke formula for marketing reasons, which had been invented about a century before.  As CEO, Donald Keough, a Provider Guardian, listened to his executive Roberto Goizueta as to the marketing strategy and endorsed with it.  New Coke was successful, but discontinuing Coke, invoked a furor and marketing nightmare.

After the avalanche of protests from Coke enthusiasts, he admitted the mistake, accepted all the blame and epithets… like Supreme Idiot, for the Buck Stopped at Him, he was the leader.  He had approved of the marketing plan.

He apologized.  He brought back Coke, now called Classic Coke, and led The Coca-Cola Company to be even more successful than thought possible. Some say it was a clever marketing ploy.  But Don admitted he wasn’t that clever.  But he did learn an important lesson.  Being a Wise person, he wrote a simple book of common sense about business.  It now is considered a classic text in business.ten_commandments_of_business_failure

Warren Buffet says it is a must read for any business leader.  Jack Welch went further and says it is a must for all kinds of leaders.

Providers take it upon themselves to insure the health and welfare of those in their care, but they are also the most sociable of all the Guardians, and thus are the great nurturers of social institutions such as schools, churches, social clubs, and civic groups. Wherever they go, Providers happily give their time and energy to make sure that the needs of others are met, and that social functions are a success.  Highly cooperative themselves, Providers are skilled in maintaining teamwork among their helpers, and are also tireless in their attention to the details of furnishing goods and services. [Please Understand Me II]

Donald Keough retired as president, chief operating officer and a director of The Coca-Cola Company in April 1993, positions he held since early 1981. His tenure with the company began in 1950. In addition, from 1986 to 1993 he served as chairman of the Board of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., the world’s largest bottling system.

openquoteWe [Coca-Cola] provide hundreds, thousands, millions of happy little moments in people’s lives.closedquote  — Donald Keough

Other Provider Guardians:  Huell HouserRoger EbertPat SummerallStuds Terkel, Manci Dirac, Denis Mukwege, Andy Griffith, Dick Clark, Tim Tebow, and President William Howard Taft

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