Execute or Die

Ian Lurie
Corporate America makes a decision

This is a rant. Anyone reading this, understand that you’re not the target. No specific person has done any one thing that made me crazy. I was born that way.

But for the sake of future generations, corporate America, get it through your goddamned thick heads that talking, planning and philosophizing is 100% worthless if you don’t do stuff, and do it right.

Execute. Or die.

Helpless turds

It seems like I can’t sneeze without infecting some slack-jawed ‘leader’ who just steepled his fingers and said “I’ll take that under advisement” or “Let’s put that on the list for Q4”.

Oh, helpless turd, why do you behave this way? I know: You have a salary. You have a board of directors who spend board meetings checking their Blackberrys. You’ve got your pet vendors and pet consultants who buy you nice lunches. And no one’s gonna fire you as long as you don’t screw up.

So you sit there.

Like a turd.

I hate you. You’re committing a crime.

Your company could be doing 20% better. 30% better. It could be creating new stuff. Instead, you rehash the same crap, hoping marketing can shine things up a bit.

Companies abroad quietly eat your lunch. Mazda creates the 6s while GM is still trying to tell me a Buick Skylark is sporty. The movie industry tries to tell me that the 4th remake of The Hulk will be better.

Small companies start up and eat your dinner. I can use Microsoft Project, which requires a separate project management team just to install it. Or I can use Basecamp, which sets up in 30 seconds and can handle all but the most complicated projects.

Figure it out. Execute or die.

Oh, and by the way…

You’re about to say “Shut up, Ian. You can’t do any better.”

Maybe not. But I’m not pulling down a ten-figure combination of salaries plus bonuses, either. I am not trying to tell anyone I have a magical solution, or that I’m capable of leading some major corporation. I’m just a guy.

Which means: If I’m noticing your ascension to turdhood, so is everyone else.

Execute or die

You’re bitching about the last two presidents, complaining about foreign competition, saying your employees don’t work hard enough. The government doesn’t protect you. Your staff don’t care. The other folks cheat. Your company is ‘complicated’ or has ‘fiefdoms’ that you don’t want to mess with.


This is your fault. No one’s buying your stuff because you don’t make anything worth buying. The fiefdoms are there because you allow it.

Look at the really successful companies. Big companies that make lots of money and really cool products and stay popular with their customers. Look at your little pile of poo. Then figure out the difference:
They execute.

OK, I’m done.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. As a fan of Seth Godin, this reminds me of what he says about “shipping.” But Seth has never fired me up and lit a fire under my butt the way your rant has. You go Ian!

  2. Execution of the “strategic plan” (a term borrowed from military usage) is, apparently, considered a trivial exercise, and not a good use of the time of a real executive.
    Once, while employed by a Fortune 100 company, I moved into an office that had been vacated by a marketing official. When I cleaned out his file cabinet, I found several planning documents, professionally prepared. No one could remember anyone ever trying to carry out any of the plans.

  3. I can understand what type of conversations you must be having lately. I have seen corporations with 100+ employees who are scared to optimize their website because they don’t have the “budget” and it drives me crazy because you know it couldn’t be further from the truth.

  4. Wow… This is the first time I come across your blog and this is what I read? I love it! What you are saying makes a lot of sense.
    People just sit on there butts and try not to screw up. If more people got out there and just executed all of there “strategic planning” strategies then our economy would be better, people would be happier, and life would be better!
    Nice post! I look forward to reading more of them!

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