by: Geoff Ficke

You Can Only Succeed at Life or Business If You Keep Moving

Robert Goizueta, the former Chief-Executive of Coca-Cola was once quoted in Fortune Magazine, saying: “The moment you let avoiding failure become your motivator, you are down the path of inactivity. You can stumble only if you are moving”. This simple declaration, while so true, is becoming less apparent in modern commercial life. Though opportunity for prosperity has never been greater, fewer of us are willing to leave the security cocoons that government and universities have erected and fully commit to a life of accomplishment.

During a time of economic uncertainty such as we are enduring today the desire for security is heightened. The media is replete with tales of hordes of job seekers seeking few available positions. Businesses are pulling back from committing resources for expansion and hiring. Hoarding is commonplace. This is all understandable, normal human reactions to hard times.

There are, however, some new trends that are troubling no matter the economic conditions. In most developed, industrialized nations, the population is splitting between two core groups: producers and non-producers. The drive to avoid the chance of failing is endemic in the non-productive portion of the population. Producers are risk tolerant, thrive on competition and do not fear failure. Good times or bad, they will continue to strive.

The French seek a 35 hour work week and make it exceedingly difficult to start a business and prosper. In Greece, the country is bankrupt, workers want to continue to retire before reaching the age of 50 and there are daily demonstrations demanding continuation of policies and programs that others (principally Germans) must pay for. Large portions of the Portuguese and Spanish middle-class demonstrate and strike for government support payments that have bankrupted their countries. In America, for the first time in history, 50% of the population receives some form of government support.

University professors often rail against capitalism, free markets and overwhelmingly support centralized economic planning. The very system that generates the taxes, donations, tuition and endowments that makes the cushy life of a college professor possible is decried. Students are filled with a vision of a future that demeans entrepreneurship, selling and marketing goods and services, corporate villainy and the unfairness of profit.

Government as always crouching behind the dwarf shrub of fairness, want to tax the most productive at ever higher rates. Transfer payments balloon while illegal immigrants stream into developed countries to take jobs that natives will not consider. The social safety net grows ever more burdensome, the recipients subjected to a stunted life of dependency and capital fleeing to more welcoming countries will be the end result of this producer/non-producer divide.

Not everyone will, or wants to be a financial and commercial success. That is fine. However, the ability to succeed, create and start a business, launch a new product, patent an idea and enjoy the harvest that is derived from commercial accomplishment is so fulfilling that I am always amazed that people regularly choose not to get into the game. The longing for security precludes the opportunity that comes only from assuming certain levels of risk. This is a recipe for mediocrity and a slow, flaccid life of minimum interest.

You cannot be a success in any endeavor if you do not enter the fray. In order to confront and overcome competition you will have to strive and move ahead. A carpenter can work for a wage, or start a small cabinet or furniture making business. A truck driver can work for a logistics company for a wage or become an owner operator and build his own small fleet. A consumer of government program benefits can live on the reduced stage that this handout allows, or work to educate and become employable. Failure is an essential element in a system that greatly rewards risk takers and does not value inaction.

People are complaining that they want jobs. Jobs are created by people that take risks and start commercial enterprises. Every government job is created by depriving the productive private sector of wealth creation by consuming tax dollars and diverting those funds to non-productive uses. The store clerk that opens a small clothing boutique is exponentially more beneficial than the most subsidized government worker. An auto mechanic that opens a service garage and employ’s three other mechanics is a job creator. The entrepreneur who opens a restaurant, becomes a consultant, markets a barbecue sauce or creates a pet product is moving, striving and enhancing all of the rest of us. These are fine examples of the “movers” so aptly described by Robert Goizueta.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.