Don Tyson, former CEO of Tyson Foods, was the prime force behind the tremendous success and growth of the company in the 1970s and 80s. He died Thursday, January 6, at the age of 80. Bob Noble, founder of The Food Channel and Chairman of Noble Communications, shares this remembrance of Mr. Tyson.
Few men have had a bigger impact on my life than Don Tyson. He believed in Noble, and in me. Here are some of the things I’ll most remember about this remarkable man.
On the art of communication. No one I’ve known during my more than 40 years in the food marketing business could move people faster, bring them together, and with a will to win, in fewer words, than Don Tyson. Give Don a magic marker (had to be black), a place to draw, and within minutes, you knew the game, the target, and the goal.
On leading others. Under Don’s leadership, whatever job you had, you were the boss. He gave people enough rope to climb a mountain, or hang themselves. You learned quickly not to beat around the bush with Don. Give him the situation, the answer, and take his advice.
On who’s the real boss at the end of the day. The consumer. Give consumers what they want and they’ll reciprocate. Give them what they don’t want, and they’ll reciprocate. Every package of chicken had Don’s personal guarantee on it. Still does.
I remember when Noble made Tyson’s first major national network TV commercial buy. The night before, he asked me to come see him the next day at 5:30 in the morning to tell him about it. So I had my whole team brief me on every aspect. I was ready for any question. When I got there the next morning, he asked one question. “Bob,” he said, “are we doing the right thing?” I said, “Yes, Don, we are.” And he replied, “That’s good enough for me.” That was Don Tyson.