12 Most Irrefutable Laws of Business Heresy

The more business leaders I talk to in my career, the more I’ve learned to cringe at the follow-the-lemming mentality steering most companies. Want spectacular results in business? Find out where everyone else is going – and run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction!

I hope you enjoy this page ripped straight from the business heretic’s playbook. Just remember, if you find yourself agreeing with all 12 items below, you probably need to read it again.

1. If it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong

Mother Nature was pretty smart when she designed serotonin, that wonderful brain chemical that rewards us for doing something pleasurable and hooks us so we want to do it again. If your work isn’t pleasurable on some profoundly basic level, guess what? It’s going to seem too much like a chore, and you’ll resent it. Love your work. Make it feel like play.

2. The most important question in business: Who does it serve?

If it serves your people, do it. If it serves your customers, do it. If it serves your stockholders, your bureaucracy, or your own selfish needs? Think long and hard before you do it. Care for your people and customers, and reap the rewards. It’s the irrefutable Zen of business.

3. The most important word in any language: Because

People want to know why. Give them a reason, and they’ll do anything you ask. Don’t, and they won’t. …At least not very well, or for very long.

4. The leader steers the culture – the culture steers the company

The most effective leader in the world can probably only manage ten people herself. In the Twentieth Century, the way around that was to build a hierarchy – a whole pyramid of Mini Me’s to rule in her absence. We know better now. Build a culture instead. Your culture will run your business better than a bureaucracy ever could.

5. You aren’t a leader till you put your job on the line for your people

Seriously. This is the test.

6. As often as possible, ask, “Is it fair to all concerned?”

You’d have to be completely tone-deaf to miss the great hue crossing the earth recently: “That’s not fair!” Injustice has brought down governments, and it will certainly bring your company down as well. Work the word “Fair” into all of your conversations and decisions. Watch the magic it inspires!

7. Act with certainty – just please, laugh at yourself all the while

I crack up whenever I watch a self-important leader take himself too seriously. It’s like this, folks: we have to act on the knowledge we have. That knowledge will never be even remotely complete. So we’re going to err – all the time. But it’s okay, because so will everyone else. Look in the mirror, have a chuckle, and get back to work.

8. Don’t compete on price, just… don’t

You know who competes on price successfully? Walmart. Ryan Air. And… okay, two companies, in all the world. Let your competitor compete on price. You compete on quality, at a fair price. If for no other advice on this list, you’ll thank me for this.

9. You haven’t mastered your job till you can make it look easy

A lot of successful people hate this one – because it challenges their entire self-image. I am not saying be a slacker: I would never say anything of the sort! I am convinced, however, that if you aren’t in control of your own calendar and of your mood, you have yet to master what you do. Serenity is the ultimate sign of mastery.

10. Surround yourself with diverse opinions

Who tells you when your baby is ugly? Next time you want to fire someone for their audacity, give that person a bonus instead. In the words of one sage, “If you and I always agree, one of us is redundant.” Drop the sycophants and promote the obstreperous.

11. Pay = Respect. Respect your people

There are all sorts of very worthwhile places to save your organization money. Pay is not one of them. If you want the best talent, you have to pay for it. (And if you don’t want the best talent… what are you thinking?)

12. Invert your pyramid

The people on the front lines run your company. Everyone else supports them in doing that, or distracts them instead. Take this from management-retreat platitude to real life by living it. Reward leaders for enabling their team to stay in production mode. Remember: Customer facing? Important. Company-facing? Not.

13. Always give more than you promised

I promised you 12 tips and gave you 13. What do you do for your customers and your people? Never just fulfill a contract. Exceed it!

We are experiencing an unprecedented change in how business gets done – something most self-styled gurus haven’t caught on to yet. So forget the gurus. Business heresy may at times be a lonely path, but you know what? It’s a lot more satisfying to be right and alone than to go extinct with the rest of the dinosaurs of the 20th Century.


This post originally appeared on one of our favorite websites, 12most.com. Visit today. You’ll love it!

Graphic by Shawn Murphy

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • Alan Kay

    A gold star list. Nothing to add. Thx Shawn.

  • coffeechapters

    hi ted,

    Thanks again for being my very first few followers at my site,
    when i pondered at twitter i found your site,

    and boom, so happens i’m also about to start a coffee business (locally),
    and your site came in very very handy as we’re not some BIG huge corporate business,

    we had to figure some of the HR stuff out,
    and this article hit close to home as “Language” WAS a barrier to us,

    luckily we took some initiatives and solved some problems,
    Thanks alot man for creating this site,

    C’ya around, Cheers

  • Jeff Rock

    Ted, Love the post! It’s pure, sweet truth.

  • Fred Aubin

    Great post – very similar irrefutable rules that we use in the military and in the profession of arms …with a slight and somewhat obvious modification to Number 5

  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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