Kieran Flanagan: Selfish, Scared and Stupid…Works!


Be selfish. Be scared. Be stupid.  This is the message of Kieran Flanagan: the creative and strategic mind behind the launch of Coke Zero in various markets across the world.

As a well-known speaker, author and educator, Kieran will discuss her latest book, “Selfish, Scared and Stupid”; what can we learn about human buying behavior and how to get things done.

Next, she’ll explain what failure and impossibilities are all about and why we shouldn’t be afraid of them. In fact, you’ll learn why incorporating the idea of failure enables you to perfect your craft; case in point, how airline pilot Richard de Crespigny managed to save QF32’s passengers from disaster.

As a behavioral strategist for 20 years, she’ll talk about her beginnings: from working in advertising to building businesses that work with human beings.

Listen, as she talks about a failed product launch for Coca-Cola. Find out how she turned that failure into one of the success stories of her career.

Projects can be a hit or a dud; especially in advertising. Learn from Keira as she talks about knowing when and how to move on from failure. Plus, find out why having the best product in the market doesn’t always mean you’ll be the runaway winner — just like Betamax vs VHS. Next, you’ll learn how to test theories around your product and apply it on focus groups or volunteers.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What her latest book, “Selfish, Scared and Stupid” is all about and what it can teach us about human behavior.
  • Why failures and impossibilities are necessary if you want your business to grow.
  • How did she started her career as a behavioral strategist and transformational leader.
  • Why issuing a public apology after a failed product launch became one of the highlights of her career.
  • How would you know if your project is a complete failure and move on from it.
  • The game of human behavior and why having the best product doesn’t guarantee success.
  • How to test whether your theory around your product actually works.


  • Human beings are excellent at belief system. It’s what drives a lot of our behaviors.
  • Scientists – all the time – they want to be right, not rich.
  • The best idea doesn’t always win.
  • Life doesn’t always have to be fair.

Big Takeaways:

  • It’s wrong to wish that everything will always be okay – of course, it isn’t. The better action is to design your system with human failure in mind. When we come from that perspective, we’ll regard everything above their performance as a bonus.
  • Our belief system is holding us back from potentially uncovering new, innovative ways of doing business. What we have to do is to hold a thought long enough and ask questions on how we can turn it into a reality.
  • We need to understand the game of human behavior and consider that the best product doesn’t always win.
  • Testing your ideas on focus groups and volunteers has to be in-depth. Meaning, you have to study their behavior by looking at the gap between what people say they do against what they actually do.

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