Google, Coca-Cola Leaders Push Transformative Mindset

With America’s Independence Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on bold, audacious undertakings and the mindset required to nurture and drive them to success.

Use the examples and ideas from Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent and Google X leader Sebastian Thrun to jump-start your thinking.

Muhtar Kent – Constructive Discontent.

“Constructive Discontent” is how the Coca-Cola CEO likes to describe his leadership style, per a recent Fortune magazine interview.

Photo: Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent. April 20, 2012 Atlanta HQ. Fortune magazine.

What does it mean?

“Not fast enough, not innovative enough, not entrepreneurial enough.  It’s all about an entrepreneurial mentality.  I’ve worked religiously to get that into the company.”

Apparently, he has.  Here’s what he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year:  “Every time I speak to our employees, every single time, I talk about constructive discontent that they need.  It’s so important to remain discontent and to remain vigilant.”

Sebastian Thrun – Get Rid of the Baggage

Sebastian Thrun heads the secret Google X tech laboratory (e.g., computer glasses).  Here’s a great excerpt from his recent interview with Andy Kessler, published in The Wall Street Journal.

“One of these ideas was for a self-driving car, not through a desert, but on the streets of San Francisco and beyond. Crazy. But Mr. Thrun and 12 engineers created a car that could drive itself down twisty Lombard Street without a human driver.

How did they do that?

“We should question all the rules—we should break the rules. I like to put myself in the most uncomfortable position. There’s so much baggage we take on. Why is that so? We should have the courage to put everything overboard.””


Attitude is perhaps an under-appreciated difference maker in business and life.  I used to keep this quote in my office:

“The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.” (Dennis S. Brown)

Both Muhtar Kent and Sebastian Thrun, in their own distinct ways, focus on attitude and outlook as key factors shaping a proactive, change-oriented, breakthrough mindset.

Expressions such as “We’ve already tried that” or “we can’t do that” are deflating and debilitating.  In contrast, “What if,” How can we” and “What would it look like” are inspiring and motivating.

What’s the attitude and mindset in your organization and among your team?  If it needs to be better, what can you do to make it better?


Need to overcome big hurdles?  Take a page from Coca-Cola’s Muhtar Kent and Google’s Sebastian Thrun.  Be constructively discontent and get rid of the baggage!

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.

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