“The most powerful leadership tool is your personal example.” – John Wooden

PEPSI Leadership (PDF)
PEPSI Leadership Slides (Pictures)  (PDF)

A: Who’s in charge here?
B: Marissa is our team leader. She calls the shots.


To be in charge of something/someone (i) – to be in control or responsible for something/someone.
To call the shots (i) – to make important decisions, to have the authority or power, to be in charge of.

A: Did you watch the news? Stocks are tanking because of the crises on Wall Street.
B: I can’t believe it. Lehman brothers are filing for bankruptcy!
A: They cooked the books. They covered up their losses. They made it seem the company was doing much better than it really was.
B: It’s scary how much damage one bad apple can do to the financial system.


To tank (s)(v) – to fail completely, to crash.
To cook the books (i)(s) – to change facts or figures dishonestly or illegally (financial fraud) on the financial statements (balance sheet) of a company. To manipulate financial information.
To cover something up (pv) – to hide, conceal or disguise something.
A bad apple (i)(s) – a bad or corrupt person in a group who has a negative effect on everyone else in that group.

A: We’re going out of business. We have been in the red for several years.
B: I know…We’ve been fighting a losing battle.
A: It’s a shot in the dark but we have to try and help turn the company around. It’s still too soon to throw in the towel.
B: I hope there’s a silver lining. Otherwise, we’ll be out of a job.


To go out of business (i) – when a company fails, goes bankrupt, and shuts down.
To be in the red (i) – to lose money. Antonym: To be in the black (i).
To fight a losing battle (i) – to try hard to do something when there is a very small chance of success.
A shot in the dark (i) – a random guess, or a hopeful attempt (small chance of success).
To turn something around (pv) – to change a negative situation to a positive situation.
To throw in the towel (i) – to give up, to admit defeat (boxing).
Every cloud has a silver lining (p) – there’s always hope, every negative situation has a positive aspect. Synonym: When one door closes, another door opens.
To be out of a job (i) – to be unemployed. Synonym: To be in between jobs, to be out of work.

A: I really look up to our CEO. He built this company from scratch.
B: I heard he was flat broke when he started this business.
A: Yeah, he went from rags to riches. And now he’s set for life. He made a killing when he took the company public.


To look up to someone (pv) – to admire and respect someone.
To build/start something from scratch (i) – to start/build something from nothing, or the very beginning.
To be (flat) broke (s)(adj) – to have no money.
To go from rags to riches (i) – to start life poor and then become rich (or famous).
To be set for life (i)(adj) – to have enough money for a lifetime. To not have to work. because you have enough money to live for the rest of your life.
To make a killing (i) – to win or earn a large amount of money, usually in a short period of time.

A: Benjamin will hang up his hat soon. We need to find someone to replace him.
B: That’s easier said than done. It will be like finding a needle in a haystack.
C: He’s got big shoes to fill. Are you sure he will retire? Is it set in stone?
A: I’m positive. The bottom line is that we need to think about the future. Any ideas?
B: How about Charlie Buffet? He’s running the operations in Europe.
C: What does he bring to the table?
B: He has a lot of international experience. He has a great reputation and most important of all, he’s a man of integrity and vision.


To hang up one’s hat (i) – to end one’s career, to retire.
Easier said than done (p) – it’s easier to talk about something but much more difficult to really do it.
Something/someone is like finding a needle in a haystack (i) – something/someone that is really difficult or impossible to find.
To have big shoes to fill (i) – to have big expectations to fulfil because the person that came before was very successful or did a great job. Usually when another person is taking over a position.
To be set in stone (i)(adj) – something that is certain, permanent. Therefore it cannot be changed.
The bottom line (i) – the conclusion, the final result, the ultimate decision, the main point.
To bring something/someone to the table (i) – to provide something that will be beneficial, to contribute something to the group.

PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. Do you prefer to call the shots or to follow other people’s decision? Does it depend on the situation? Explain.
  2. Thinking about recent news, has anything tanked? Stock prices, gas prices, markets, industries, country’s economy?
  3. Do you know any public companies that cooked the books? Did they try to cover it up? What happened?
  4. If you were a team leader, and you had a bad apple in your group, what would you do?
  5. Do you know any companies that are in the red but still successful? Think about startups or internet companies.
  6. What’s an inspirational story of someone who turned their lives or businesses around? A rags-to-riches story?
  7. Do you believe that every cloud has a silver lining? Have you experienced it before.
  8. Who do you look up to?
  9. Have you ever made a killing in an investment, a gamble or the stock market?
  10. If you were in a job interview for your dream position, and the interviewer asked you what you would bring to the table. How would you respond?