Skip to content Skip to Programs Navigation

News & Stories

This acronym is the key to personal and professional success

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School alum Kel Landis, author of "The Little Book of Do"

Kel Landis, author of “The Little Book of Do.”


The acronym – which stands for “do what you say you’ll do” – is one of the most important leadership lessons H. Kel Landis III (BSBA ’79, MBA ’82), co-founder and partner at Plexus Capital, has learned over the course of his business career.

The former CEO of RBC Centura Banks, Inc. now spends much of his time giving back to the community by providing philanthropic support and engaging in politics. He shares insights on how to succeed in life and business in his book, “The Little Book of Do.”

“‘Do’ can be the most important and transformational word in your life if you live what it means,” says Landis, who delivered the keynote at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s 2017 MBA Leadership Day. “Every day we wake up with a choice – to do or to not do what matters.”

To reach your full potential, you must understand and embrace the elements of “do,” he says.

Do is our choice.
The best way to stand out is to build a reputation as a reliable, hardworking colleague – and that starts with one simple principle: DWYSYD.

Delivering on what you say you’ll do has become a lost art in business. “Only 20 percent of business people do this well,” Landis laments.

Do it now.
Not everything needs to planned, analyzed and discussed in a meeting. When an opportunity to begin a new project arises, take the initiative to get started. Exceed expectations by demonstrating your leadership abilities and beating deadlines. Your actions will be noticed and rewarded in the long run.

Do for yourself.
Striking a balance between work and self-care is essential. For Landis, this means taking at least one hour every day — no matter the time, place or project — to step out of the office and clear his head. Stepping away for a few minutes helps him re-focus and maintain a higher level of engagement when he returns.

Don’t overdo it.
Your newfound identity as a “doer” will lead to new opportunities and increased responsibilities – but you won’t be able to take on all of them. In order to DWYSYD, you must be able to plan, prioritize and learn to say no.

When setting goals for yourself and your career, consider all of the steps you’ll need to take to achieve them. Prioritize opportunities that will help you move towards accomplishing your goals.

Do for others.
Having a sense of meaning and purpose is one of the most important drivers of success. Focus on discovering your passions and find work that fulfills you.

For Landis – who hails from Rocky Mount, North Carolina – that means working with local government and nonprofit organizations to help revitalize rural towns throughout the state.

By Joshua Bregier (BSBA ’17)