Still On Message
A lot of industry people were happy to see Bob MacDonald’s back when the former CEO of LifeUSA decided to retire a few years back. In his time, he kicked up a lot of dust and much of it stuck in the craw of other industry execs.
These people’s opinions will no doubt be reinforced when they learn that MacDonald has written a new book called “Cheat To Win.” Yep, they’ll say, he’s still up to his old tricks and has always been one to ?pater le bourgeoisie.
But as one who has kicked up some dust himself, I decided to find out what Bob was up to with his book and spoke to him a few days ago.
When I asked him about the title, he insisted that it was not a gimmick or mere attention-grabber. “I’ve been using the phrase for 20 years,” he said.
But he did say that using the word “cheat” in the title caused problems in the book world and is the reason that major publishers were afraid to publish the book. This fear of theirs, in fact, validates the message of the book, MacDonald said. That message, according to the book jacket, is that “the honest way to live is to break all the false rules, artificial expectations and archaic limitations imposed on us by others.”
When I asked Bob if you could really teach people how to act differently by reading a book, he said, “You don’t read this book to make you successful. The idea is to get people to question and challenge the rules. You have the opportunity to be successful if you’re willing to challenge and question.”
The single most important lesson in the book, Bob said, “is to do the right thing.”
“Creative thinking wins,” he continued. “If you’re willing to do the right thing, you’ll likely be a winner. But the rules in business prevent people from doing the right thing, so you have to be strong enough to do it.”
I asked him whether, now that he’s retired, he feels he changed the industry at all. I thought his answer was pretty honest. “It’s hard to measure whether what we did had some impact or changed the industry. It’s fair to say we had some impact on distribution [with LifeUSA], but whether we caused change or not, it’s hard to say.”