Being Dead is Bad for Business

Being Dead is Bad for Business


A skinny Jewish kid from Philadelphia training to fight and likely die in the U.S. invasion of Japan in 1945, Stanley Weiss came home to the death of his loving but weak father, who left his mother penniless. Vowing on the spot not to let his insecurities limit him as they had his father, Weiss pledged that his mother would never have to worry. Later, a humiliation suffered at the hands of his wealthy girlfriend’s famous father ignited in him a determination to better himself in every way and live life to the fullest.
Inspired by a Humphrey Bogart movie, Weiss moved to a foreign country to hunt for treasure—where Rule Number One was ‘’Don’t Die.’’ Along the way, his zest for living has taken him from the company of legendary artists and poets in Mexico, to writers and beatniks in 1960s San Francisco and Hollywood; from drunken nights with a notorious spy to friendships with three of the men who played James Bond; from glamorous parties in Gstaad and Phuket to power politics in London and Washington, DC. A story of growth, tenacious focus, and good humor, it stretches from the days of ‘’Don’t Die’’ to Weiss’s response when asked why business executives were interested in preventing nuclear war: ‘’Being dead is bad for business.’’
For those who believe the world is shaped by ordinary people who push themselves to do extraordinary things, Stanley Weiss’s story will inspire and surprise while reminding us all that being dead is bad for business—and being boring is bad for life.


  • A great read about a great life! Stanley Weiss’s reflections are wonderfully introspective, refreshingly candid, remarkably self-effacing, and hugely fascinating—as well as repeatedly informed by his ultimate insight, that dying is bad for business.
    General (Ret) David Petraeus, former director of the CIA and commander of coalition forces in Iraq (2006-7) and Afghanistan (2010-11)

About the author

Stanley Weiss

Stanley A. Weiss is the Founding Chairman of Business Executives for National Security (BENS) and former Chairman of American Premier, Inc., a mining, refractories, chemicals, and mineral processing company.
A former fellow at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs, Mr. Weiss is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Premier Chemicals and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Ditchley Foundation, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Royal Institution in the UK.
Weiss has written widely on public policy matters in The Huffington Post, the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Washington Times. His book, Manganese: The Other Uses, is the definitive work on the non-metallurgical uses of manganese.
Weiss is married with two children. He divides his time between London and Gstaad, and his office in Washington, DC, and still travels extensively.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more