Just Do It: Business Mantras

There’s more to the famous Nike tagline, “Just do it,” than encouraging people to pay for cool shoes. The phrase subtly hints at performing, persevering and following one’s vision, the Big Three Success Factors. And Ekaterina Walker says in this article from Forbes  that “Just Do It” also is one of the best business mantras she’s seen. Why? Because it speaks to the urgency of getting things done, being the best and the first.

Mantras are concise messages that a person can repeat internally to calm or motivate. Teams and other groups also have mantras, mottos or messages, that help them persevere, thrive and succeed. A mantra should be brief and create a positive visual or action. Well-crafted mantras can support or summarize a company mission and vision. Here are a few examples from sports and business:

  • Duke University basketball coach Mike Kryzewski (Coach K) has won five national championships with various teams and more than 1,000 total victories. He has an effective mantra called “next play” that lifts players following an error and maintains their focus on the next play to come. It can keep them from lingering too long on negative thoughts about what could have gone wrong and puts focus back on the present. Wouldn’t it be great if every business could adopt a “next play” philosophy? It’s OK for leaders and employees to evaluate mistakes and learn from them. But those mistakes shouldn’t guide everyday work – teams should focus on the present and future.
  • Apple’s mantra of “Think different” reinforces a culture focuses on creativity. Regardless of whether your business is in the tech sector, it never hurts to support and reward innovation, such as new ways to deliver products, filling gaps in customer needs or simply working more efficiently.
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson used his father’s past question regarding his NFL dreams of “Why not you?” to help motivate his team with “Why not us?” and Wilson helped lead the Seahawks in their 2014 Super Bowl win. Sure, we can’t credit the mantra for all of the team’s success, but it’s a great example of future vision. Further, it helps focus on actions to solve problems rather than complaining about a situation. (“Somebody has to take the lead on improving morale on the team. Why not me?”)
  • Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra paints an excellent picture for staying on track and doing the right thing. Developed by engineer Amit Patel, the phrase has guided everything from keeping search engine results based on algorithms instead of sales to human resources department values.


Mantras don’t have to be catchy, but a catchy phrase might be easier to remember. Use brainstorming to develop your own company mantra. Chances are that your mantra is evident within your mission and vision or in recent strategy documents. Choose concise words that help employees focus and stay inspired. If you need help developing a personal or team mantra, contact Success Factors Inc. (  (425-485-3221).