“Inside Coca-Cola” explained!

"Inside Coca-Cola" with Neville Isdell

Tickle me pink and call me Elton John… I’m excited! It’s not often a Joe Soap gets to share such an adventurous tale with his peers! In just under three weeks, I’m gonna meet a true legend, a hero of mine; you could even say he’s a bit of a rock star.

Maybe you and I aren’t picturing the same kinda person at the moment but for me, this is a big deal. Around 18 months ago, I walked into an Exclusive Books at the airport on my way to Cape Town. I didn’t have much time so I literally grabbed one of the first books I saw as I walked in, paid for it and boarded my plane.

As is my ritual when I travel for work, I always buy a new book and try finish it over the next while. Unbeknownst to me, my life was about to change. Once I opened the book, I literally couldn’t put it down.

"Inside Coca-Cola"The story centers around a man named Neville Isdell who starts working for Coca-Cola in 1966 and steadily works his way up the ladder until he retires in 2001 having held various high-end positions around the world. He’s finally chilling out in Barbados when he gets a call from a board member effectively asking him to come back and run the whole of Coca-Cola ‘cos they’re in a heap of shot (iPhone auto-correct).

There isn’t enough space in this blog post to explain why this book resonated with me on such a deep level but as a young entrepreneur, I suddenly felt galvanized like never before.

Ever since I was a youngster, I’ve had this idealistic nature which I would openly share with the world but older and “more experienced” people would always be there to clip my wings: “No no my boy, you have it wrong. In business, you must be ruthless! There’s no place for that kind of thinking.”

But here’s a guy shares the same ideals and values as mine and runs one of the world’s biggest companies. At first, he moves around the world tackling different conditions and cultures and always turns the market around for his company. Finally he gets his chance to run the entire show and he does the exact same thing that worked for him throughout his whole career. And again, he produces the ultimate turnaround; this time in under 5 years!

As I reached the end of the book, something clicked in my brain. There was no more doubt in my head as to the kind of entrepreneur I could to be. In fact, as I finished I became obsessed with a greater train of thought: I wanted to share the book’s lessons with the the masses. I felt like South African businesses needed to listen!

When I started telling people that I was going to create a breakfast seminar and actually charge people to listen to my review of the book, everyone thought I was mad (including me). But the more I visualized myself showcasing the books lessons, the more I came to believe in the idea.

My marketing was soon doing the rounds and to everyone’s surprise, people began to pay the exorbitant fee (that’s what the naysayers said) to listen to a nobody (that’s me) review how a man they had never really heard of (that’s Neville Isdell) turn one of the biggest companies in the world around (that would definitely be Coca-Cola).

I can’t begin to explain the rush and euphoria I felt the very first time I presented my first “Inside Coca-Cola” book review. I LOVED watching people’s perceptions change and hopes begin to grow as they began to realize there is no limit to what the human spirit can achieve. The response after the first event was beyond even what a crazy idealist like me expected.

Since then, I’ve run the same book review almost 15 times and even taken the show to Cape Town. It never gets old. Sure, it makes a bit of money but nothing to write home about. The gratification lies in a grateful audience. When you give them some kind of value, it puts the biggest smile on your face. I often feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

It doesn’t end there. Momentum is a dangerous thing. You put one foot in front of the other and you try learn something from it each time. Eventually you get it right and then you start to believe you can do more! Momentum breeds momentum and eventually you break through every mental limitation you have ever subconsciously set yourself.

Not too long after the “Inside Coca-Cola” book review was well under way, the next big idea soon beckoned: Bring Neville Isdell to South Africa!

But where do you even start? The man is 70. He’s not exactly hanging out on Facebook or Twitter waiting for my message. We don’t exactly run in the same circles. I don’t own a house in Barbados. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that my work was cut out for me.

This is where the lessons from his book really began to work for me. I just knew I was willing to do anything to make this happen even though it didn’t seem likely. How I eventually got hold of Neville Isdell is a story for another time but I grabbed my opportunity with everything in me and held on for dear life.

I’ll be personally interviewing Neville Isdell for the first time on stage at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on the morning of Thursday, 20 February.

For me, “Inside Coca-Cola” was more than just a CEO’s life story of running the world’s most popular brand… It served to plant a small seed of inspiration in my brain which then flourished in an idealistic environment. I decided to pursue something too big and never considered that it wouldn’t happen.

As a result, my hopes turned into reality and I never looked back. While the rest of 2013 turned into an incredibly testing year, I never once lost the feeling that everything was and is still truly possible!

If you are in and around Cape Town on Thursday, 20 February, you are welcome to come witness my silly idea turn into reality. There is definitely a cost involved and I am most certainly aiming to make a profit. If that doesn’t bug you too much then send us an email now and we will send you more information about the event!

As clichéd as it may sound, the only thing that separates the supposed “normal” people from the ones who do really big things is the belief that those things can actually happen.

Oh and you have to fight with everything in you to make it happen. You just need to see a small idea become real once for your life to turn upside down!

If you enjoyed the spirit in which this article was written and you want to know about other articles as they’re published then: “like” us on Facebook or “follow” us on Twitter.

About the author: Mark Sham

Mark Sham

NOT the boy next door. Entrepreneur at heart with a marketing background and a love for social media. Owner of Vivid Marketing!

Comments are closed.