From BHAG to CCAG
The book Built to Last made popular the concept of the "BHAG"—the "Big Hairy Audacious Goal."
You know what the problem is with BHAGs? They're big and hairy.Steve Yastrow posted this on 11/30/2007.
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"My favorite people (Brand Yous) are ... CURIOSITY FREAKS." Tom Peters
The book Built to Last made popular the concept of the "BHAG"—the "Big Hairy Audacious Goal."
You know what the problem is with BHAGs? They're big and hairy.Steve Yastrow posted this on 11/30/2007.
I'm almost apologetic for posting—I'd love to leave Mike Neiss' "Embrace the Mess?" at the top for a long run. Still, here are a few tidbits ...
The Atlantic this month (12.07) is loaded with my favorite sort of analyses; namely, those that reveal counter-intuitive truths (or decent speculations, at any rate). Consider:
*SLUMS ARE GOOD. Today's burgeoning slums are the product of people pouring into the cities from the countryside—in pursuit of jobs. (In 2008, cities' population will surpass countryside population.) While eyesores and cause of appropriate concern, said cities are in fact the source of jobs, and overall poverty reduction is significantly attributable to the migration—burgeoning slums notwithstanding. The assertion is that no nation has grown wealthy since the start of the Industrial Revolution until the country-city migration was in full flower. ("Bright Lights, Big Cities," Matthew Quirk)
*HOME OWNERSHIP IS BAD. There are indeed enormous benefits to home ownership. But the big drawback, especially in times of economic revolution, is that home ownership measurably slows migration from where the jobs were to where the jobs are. ("Housebound," Clive Crook)
*WE HAVE TOO MANY DOCTORS. The supply of doctors to an area is significantly determined by the wealth and insurance coverage of the population. Hence there are more docs per capita in well-off areas—where, in fact, medical problems are less intense per capita. This also leads in particular to an excess of specialists—lots of docs prescribe lots of tests and make lots of referrals. As to the "bottom line," healthcare, per several sound measures, is no better in places with lotsa per capita docs than in places that are doc-deprived. It gets more interesting: The more specialists, the worse the outcomes. (More or less.) Specialists trip over one another, give conflicting advice, and are notoriously bad at cross-communication. More on specialists: The glamour and pay accorded to specialists comes at the price of less and less well-paid primary care docs—it is the vanishing primary care docs who are primarily responsible for good healthcare outcomes. Dr Elliott Fisher, Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School: "If we sent 30 percent of the doctors in this country to Africa, we might raise the level of health on both continents." ("Overdose," Shannon Brownlee)
*Less AID, more aid. "Scents & Sensibility," by Sarah Chayes, is the saga of helping Afghans successfully build a soap and body-oil business. It's also the umpteenth repeat of the story of how such "on the ground," practical, human-scale efforts are slowed or halted by the ham-handedness of USAID. [Web-only slideshow]
*THE LATE-BIRD STARTS THE CREATIVE ENTERPRISE. From "How You Sleep Is Who You Are" [not available online]: "Early risers prefer to gather knowledge from concrete information. They reach conclusions through logic and analysis. Night-owls are more imaginative and open to unconventional ideas, preferring the unknown and favoring intuitive leaps on their way to reaching conclusions." Morning people are more self-controlled, more formal, respect authority, and obsess on making a good impression. The late bunch are more independent and have less respect for authority. (Research source cited by the Atlantic: "Morning and Evening Types: Exploring Their Personality Styles," by Juan Francisco Diaz-Morales.) (TP note: Sounds like we need a night-owl CEO matched by an early-bird CFO.)Tom Peters posted this on 11/29/2007.
Don't remember where I was among the many stops during my just completed mega-trip. But I do remember the exchange, more or less. It went like this:
Exec: "But Tom, how do we find out what it is that people really want?"
Tom (after a long pause and a lot of thought—and I'm not kidding): "Ask 'em."
Of course I acknowledged that it's not so easy as that. If you are a close-to-the-vest sort, folks will wonder what your true agenda is—or what seminar you're just back from. So you'll just have to practice and be persistent. (And actually care about what you hear!) I recalled this little exchange when, last night at Georgetown's Barnes & Noble, I happened across Listening Is An Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project, by Dave Isay.
I probably bought the book because I randomly opened it at page 60, a 5-pager titled "Ken Kobus, 58, tells his friend Ron Baraff, 42, about making steel." It was wonderful, in the truest—filled with wonder—sense of that wonderful, if overused, word. (An equally compelling 2-pager on Samuel Black, a Cincinnati public school teacher, followed. Etc.)
I loved the stories—and truly loved the "Listening is an act of love" idea. To "get" the idea, I think you must truly ponder the meaning of "love" as used here. Listening is probably-doubtless the premier "act of love." True for the husband or wife or preacher or doctor*—and, I'd contend, equally true for the IS project leader heading a 6-person team. (*Docs are notoriously lousy listeners, but that's another day's comment.) In fact it seems to me that "listening is the ultimate leadership skill" ("listening with love"?) is an idea, and a practical idea at that, well worth pondering—and operationalizing.
As I say all this, I am of course mostly parroting Matthew Kelly, author of The Dream Manager and our recent Cool Friend. He contends that we are all driven by our dreams, and if leaders make a "strategic" commitment to discovering the dreams of their followers, and then provide opportunities to pursue those dreams (shape the organization's culture around the pursuit of those dreams), "organizational effectiveness" and "customer satisfaction" will vault to the top of the league tables.
So: the Six Big Words I take from the above are:
I'll say more later, but for now, write the Six Words on a 3X5 card, stick it in your pocket, read it before—and after—your next meeting or phone call or even email, and ponder it.
Lemme know if it makes sense-works.Tom Peters posted this on 11/29/2007.
Per the topic just above, I've got two more reading recommendations. And you know I must be serious, because they are from the Harvard Business Review (12.07), not normally on my "Top 1000 Sources of Inspiration" list.
A Leader's Legacy by my good friends and colleagues Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner was in my enormous "welcome home pile" last week. As always with this dynamic duo, the research is sound, the ideas first-rate, and the stories (stories—remember?) fabulous. But what leaped out from the Contents page was this chapter title: "Leaders Should Want to Be Liked." Hooray! I have always thought the "You don't have to be liked, but you have to be respected" Macho Crap was just that—Crap! Moreover, dangerous crap. The Big Idea here ... ta-da ... is that we'll work harder for someone we like than someone we don't. Alas, it is indeed a "big idea." (K & P cite some very "tough" bosses in support of this topic.)
The New York Times Sunday editorial [11.25.07] on what's wrong with the health care system in the U.S. and how to fix it was thought provoking. The system is a mess—a rather complex mess at that. Contrary to what we'd believe from the simple sound-bite solutions the politicians are offering us, it is a problem that has to be addressed at many different levels of a mind-boggling maze. There seems to be a real reluctance to acknowledge this complexity.
It made me think of how many of my clients want to attack their business problems as if they were playing checkers, when in reality, their business is more like a three-dimensional chess game. Every move at the executive level has implications throughout the organization and, eventually, the marketplace. The impact of these moves can be subtle and often take a significant period of time before they surface. By then, the cause and effect relationship is often not recognized.
Many of the executives I deal with are linear thinkers.Mike Neiss posted this on 11/27/2007.
New Cool Friend Vicki Donlan asked 1,000 women to name their obstacles to success. Her findings? Number one obstacle: themselves. Number two: the old boys network. Number three: inadequate family leave policies in the U.S. These issues and more are presented in Donlan's book, Her Turn: Why It's Time for Women to Lead in America. Erik discusses it with her for our Cool Friends interview here. Everyone can benefit from reading the interview and from her advice, because, as Donlan states, "The wage gap doesn't affect just women; it affects men. Today, in this country, both the woman and the man in a couple have to be working in order to put food on the table for their families. If women are not being paid fairly, then the men in their lives are not getting a fair shake, either."Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/26/2007.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Tom Peters Company and tompeters.com. For any of you who are new to the tradition, we'd like to point out a helpful video on NYTimes.com showing how to carve a turkey. We hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Or, if it's not a holiday in your part of the world, then we hope you'll give thanks along with us.Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/21/2007.
Tom has just reported to me that, immediately upon returning home, he ordered his Kindle from Amazon.com. A "book" review will be forthcoming.
*If books he hasn't read yet are on offer.Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/21/2007.
The subprime mess gets nastier by the day. I've seen recent estimates of the fiscal damage alone exceeding $1 trillion. (Not enough pain to reduce Wall Street bonuses, mind you—a record $39 billion in performance-based handouts expected.) W Buffett long ago gave us fair warning when he said that all the higher-mathematical models in the world can't overcome problems with the value in the original transactions. (Bob Herbert's "A Swarm of Swindlers" op-ed in yesterday's NY Times is an appalling tale of the behavior of the hyper-aggressive lenders.) Then a couple of days ago I read that Buffett also got the A-Rod deal with the Yankees sorted out. Turns out A-Rod wanted to stay with the Yanks. His pal Mr Buffett offered him a great suggestion: Call 'em. A-Rod called direct, no agent (all-mighty Scott Boras) involved, and the deal was done. (Well, not quite; as I read it, A-Rod, post-Buffett call, in turn called 2 of his senior Goldman Sachs buddies to see if they thought it would be cool if he called one of the Steinbrenners direct—dear God, as it were, does A-Rod call Pope Benedict and ask if it's okay to cross against a "don't walk" signal? How many agents can be fit on the head of a pin ...)
So Buffett is my "cutting through the fog of war" hero: (1) If lotsa truly crappy loans were made, it'll eventually catch up with us. (2) If you want to play for the Yanks, why don'tcha speed-dial 1-800-Hank Steinbrenner.
In fact, I'm busy Buffett-izing my presentations. The Madrid Keynote posted a couple of days ago is the best example to date. I'm turning my back on "sophisticated formulations" and "tightly argued," logical presentations. I'm focusing instead on "common sense stuff" (a Buffeteria of ideas?) that I've picked up over the years—and presenting it in as straightforward a way as I can. (I have recently begun my public remarks with, "I am here under false pretenses. I have nothing interesting to say. I have flown 5,000 miles for the sole purpose of reminding you of things you've known for years or decades—which, alas, get lost in the shuffle of daily affairs.") I believe to my marrow that we fail to achieve excellence by failing to obsess on the basics—not because we couldn't decide precisely where in the blue ocean we wanted to drop our anchor.
Thinking about subprime mortgage mathematically derived packaging instruments and sports agents with sophisticated spin-driven negotiating tactics, doubtless based on "game theory" math, led me to a pair of quotes from an 18th century leader, N Bonaparte: "The art of war does not require complicated maneuvers; the simplest are the best, and common sense is fundamental. From which one might wonder how it is generals make blunders; it is because they try to be clever." "A military leader must possess as much character as intellect. Men who have a great deal of intelligence and little character are the least suited. It is preferable to have much character and little intellect." (Source: Jerry Manas, Napoleon on Project Management. Manas claims that Napoleon's "six winning principles" were: exactitude—sweat the details, speed, flexibility, simplicity, character, moral force. This makes sense to me, especially since Manas' sextet matches perfectly the approach of the two military figures I most respect, Horatio Nelson and Ulysses Grant.)
There's one other quote that comes to mind, from Picasso: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist." So, if we (Napoleon's generals or commanding officers of 4-person training departments) can somehow manage to hold dear those beloved basics of childlike artistry, we will be well served, regardless of our chosen field of practice.Tom Peters posted this on 11/21/2007.
Established in 1809, Madison, Georgia, is the only city in the state to have been spared from destruction during the Civil War. The city's website boasts that "the historic city and county are often said to be like 'walking into a Norman Rockwell Painting.' Life in Madison and Morgan County moves with a slower, more personal pace. Neighbors and friends still visit with one another under the shade trees that line Main Street. Farmers come to town on Saturdays. People here are genuinely friendly and will stop and open a door for you or speak when you walk by."
I've lived in Atlanta for nearly fifteen years, but just two weeks ago I went to visit the historic city of Madison for the first time. It was like entering a time warp. I was sure I was going to run into Opie Taylor playing pick-up sticks on the sidewalk.
I enjoyed my lunch at the cozy corner coffee shop and my visit to a fabulous custom jewelry boutique, but the place that left the greatest impression was an ice cream shop (friends advised me to protect the name of the establishment for fear that what I'm about to tell you gets out to the general public and creates havoc for the store). While I was impressed with the store (the smell of its oak floors, its vibrant polka-dot painted walls, the rows of candy jars from floor to ceiling), it was the young woman working the counter, Carolyn, who impressed me the most.Darci Riesenhuber posted this on 11/20/2007.
If it weren't for my stepson Ben, a devout Patriots fan (in the true meaning of "devout"), and Cathy and Erik, I would order a pox on the Pats—leading 42-10 at the end of three quarters, why the 14 additional points in Q4? (Patriots 56, Bills 10.)Tom Peters posted this on 11/19/2007.
Speaking in Madrid today for HSM one more time. You'll find 4 PPs. One is the "Long" version of the Keynote. Next, the Main Event keynote. Then, two shorter presentations for a couple of company presentations to Ferrovial [PPT] (infrastructure—including, God help us all, Heathrow) and Starcom [PPT] (a media-creative services giant). The 28-day trip ends Tuesday, with a little help from Lufthansa. Should be fun getting questioned by Immigration. Here will be my answer to "What countries did you visit?"
Planned to "pop into" the Prado, my favorite museum in the world—my hotel room only 50 yards away. Line when I arrived Saturday was, I'd judge, almost a quarter-mile long, and I don't think I'm exaggerating. Sunday, my last chance, was the same by about 11 a.m. So, on the advice of the concierge, adding a little of my usual conservatism, I got in the queue at 8 a.m. Sunday for a 9 a.m. opening. I'd guess I was about #150. The problem was that it was colder (about 25°F, -4°C) in Madrid than in VT; but I persisted, despite totally inadequate clothes. I'm used to Madrid at 95°F, +35°C, its summer #. Net was, it was, as always, worth it. (I once flew from SF to Madrid and back to see one picture here—Brueghel's "The Triumph of Death." I'm sure that'll draw Comments. Never done anything comparable before or since.) At any rate, above and below are a couple of crowd pics at 6 p.m. Sunday, a mix of tourists, including a ton of Japanese, but mostly locals, including a heavy youth component. Hats off to the Spanish for Museo Del Prado's just-completed renovation and for the popularity of the museum.
("Public" thanks for getting me through "all this" to, especially, Abbey Bishop, Nancy Paul, Klair Sirianna, Ivy Gustafson, the inimitable Harry "He Da Man" Rhoads; and Cathy Mosca, Erik Hansen, and Shelley Dolley for keeping the Blog up to date. A special debt of gratitude to the Interpreters here, there, and everywhere, whose job when I'm racing and colloquial, approximately always, is much harder than mine!)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/19/2007.
Twenty-five days, nine countries, and 19 presentations into my current trip ... I'm zonked. Hence my delay in posting my Lisbon presentation. Belatedly, here it is—from Lisbon, with HSM as organizers, and pal Tom Kelley once more as my partner.
Tom Peters posted this on 11/17/2007.
Tom is in Barcelona for his old friends HSM, appearing at the World Marketing and Innovation Forum. Among others, our friend Tom Kelley from IDEO is there as well. On the photo front, Tom sends a last Venice effort, above, and a bit of Gaudi from Barcelona, below.
If you would like to get the slides from Tom's presentation, they are available here.
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/14/2007.
Doesn't get much better than this, extracted from the 29 October Forbes, "Thoughts On the Business of Life":
"I've come to the conclusion that the two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen."—Bob Lemon
(Lemon was a great pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, and subsequently a successful manager.)
Tom is staying in Brussels, but speaking in Antwerp, to the Flanders District of Creativity. Wikipedia says that Flanders DC is a non-profit organization founded by the Flemish government to make the Flemish economy more competitive through creativity, entrepreneurship, and further internationalization. Cool.
The slides can be downloaded with the link below:
Flanders District of Creativity, Antwerp, Belgium
Sorry! Belated posting of my PowerPoint for Mind Consulting in Bologna. The audience was "SMEs"—folks from small and medium-sized enterprises, lots of owners. Loved it! (SME execs, worldwide, take no crap. As I said, love it!) Susan and I came to Bologna after spending my birthday in Venice. We loved Bologna, especially Saint Stephano's church; but the pictures above and below are from our magical sojourn in Venice!
Tom Peters posted this on 11/12/2007.
In Brussels at the moment, getting ready for a speech today. (Snowed last night. Very, very light—but snow nonetheless.) I put together yet another "master"—built around a dozen Big Things "we" "gurus" typically get wrong; I called it "Guru Gaffes." It is by far the most highly annotated presentation I have ever provided—hope that meets with your satisfaction. (Let me know!) Pictures from Brussels above and below—above, World War I memorial; below typical Eurocrat office facade—the centerpiece of Brussels, home of the EU!
Tom Peters posted this on 11/12/2007.
Speaking of WWI memorials, happy Veterans Day to our military folks—old and young, active and retired, Korea or Iraq; a special salute to those debilitated by their service. To my fellow Viet Vets, "Welcome home!"
WHAT PURE CRAP!
WALL STREET JOURNAL. NOVEMBER 9-11: "WHY WOMEN REFRAIN FROM PURSUING MBAs." ONE EXCEPTION TO "NORMAL" [#s HEAVY] APPROACH TO MBA IS UK's LANCASTER UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT SCHOOL. LANCASTER FOCUSES ON "SOFT SKILLS" THAT "PLAY TO WOMEN'S STRENGTHS."
TOTAL, PURE, UNMITIGATED CRAP!
WHY DO WE CALL "LEADERSHIP" ET AL. "SOFT," "WOMEN'S STUFF"? ENRAGES ME. (This is the first post ever in all capital letters. Capital letters = Enraged.)
LET'S TALK ABOUT "HARD STUFF," THE "REAL GUY STUFF" THAT MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND—AND MARKETS AND ECONOMIES CRASH!
THE ULTIMATE "HARD STUFF" IS QUANT FINANCE—THE PRODUCT OF PURE MATH—"GUY STUFF," THE STUFF THAT MEN ARE MADE FOR! TAKE "MARK-To-MARKET" AND "SUPER-SENIOR CDOs" [CONSOLIDATED DEBT OBLIGATIONS]. THEY ARE KILLING US!! "MARK-TO-MARKET"? FINE! BUT WHAT, MY DEARS, IS THE "MARKET"? NOBODY HAS A SWEET CLUE—ESPECIALLY THE "QUANTS." THE "MARKET"/A MARKET/ANY MARKET IS A FUNCTION OF THE LONG-FORGOTTEN [BY THE "QUANTS"—"HARD GUYS," "REAL MEN"] UNDER-LY-ING VAL-UE OF THE REAL [NOT "MODELED"] ASSET. [E.G. THE ORIGINAL MORTGAGE BY REAL PEOPLE ON A REAL HOUSE]. THE "QUANT"-"HARD GUYS"-"REAL MEN" MEGA-MODELS KNOW "EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING"—AND NOTHING ABOUT NOTHING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS, THE ACTUAL VALUE OF THE ACTUAL LOAN. CITIGROUP HAS NO LESS THAN $60 BILLION+ TIED UP IN "SUPER-SENIOR" CDOs [THOUGHT "SUPER-SAFE" ONLY WEEKS AGO—BY THE "QUANTS"]—AND THEY HAVE NO F-ING CLUE AS TO THE REAL VALUE OF ANY OF IT!
BOB WATERMAN AND I, IN 1980, DEVELOPED A MANTRA IN THOSE DAYS OF YORE WHEN "STRATEGY [STRATEGIC PLANS] WAS EVERYTHING." WE SAID:
HARD IS SOFT.
SOFT IS HARD.
THE READILY-MANIPULABLE NUMBERS ARE THE TRUE "SOFT STUFF."
THE RELATIONSHIPS-LEADERSHIP-"CULTURE"-"ACTION BIAS" [OR NOT] ARE THE TRUE "HARD STUFF."
END OF STORY.
WOMEN BEING CATERED TO BY TEACHING "SOFT STUFF"? IT WELL AND TRULY PISSES ME OFF TO READ SUCH UNMITIGATED BULLSHIT! [MY ONLY CRITICISM OF SAID WOMEN IS THAT THEY'D BE SILLY ENOUGH TO CONSIDER AN MBA IN THE FIRST PLACE!]
WOMEN GOING TO B-SCHOOL IN LESSER NUMBERS THAN HOPED FOR? PERHAPS THEY'RE ON TO SOMETHING!Tom Peters posted this on 11/12/2007.
Got dreams? Our new Cool Friend Matthew Kelly says that a lot of people have simply stopped dreaming. "And if they've stopped dreaming in their own life, good luck trying to get them to subscribe to a dream that you have for your organization." Find out more about the kind of impact dreams and ambitions have on an organization in the Cool Friends interview or in Matthew Kelly's book, The Dream Manager. Tom called it magnificent. He saw it in an airport bookstore, and though he was a bit wary of its parable presentation, he skimmed it, got hooked, and Kelly was on his way to becoming a Cool Friend. So, read the interview, pick up the book, and judge for yourself. And, should Kelly's message really resonate with you, he offers the Dream Manager Program at his company, Floyd Consulting, to help others bring dreams to life.Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/10/2007.
One of my favorite business books from the last few years was Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. It showed how, in a marketplace characterized by small customer-interest niches and unfettered by the constraints of limited retail space, products can succeed without being "hits." One example: Wal*Mart carries only the top 750 CDs, but consumers can find millions of other titles through online music sellers.
Over the past few days there was news that Britney Spears' new CD was #1 on Billboard's charts. That, itself, is a scary piece of news. But here's what caught my attention: Billboard later changed their list, putting the new album by The Eagles on top.
Why is that scary? The Eagles record is only available at Wal*Mart, and Billboard had to change their rules to include sales in limited retail distribution. Britney had sold about 300,000 copies, but The Eagles had sold 711,000 copies at Wal*Mart/Sam's Club in six days.
Personally, I can't wait to hear the new Eagles CD. And, I'm not one of those anti-Wal*Mart types, by any means. But it does catch my attention when American buying behavior can be so concentrated in one place. I'll admit it. I want to be part of the fragmented, interesting marketplace The Long Tail, describes.Steve Yastrow posted this on 11/08/2007.
Recently we have had some very good discussion about customer relationships—thank you for the comments. Last Friday I offered part one of a two-part definition of a customer relationship:
A relationship is an ongoing conversation with a customer ...
Here's the rest of the suggested definition:
A relationship is an ongoing conversation with a customer, in which the customer never thinks of you without thinking of the two of you.
Comments?Steve Yastrow posted this on 11/06/2007.
I had a conversation with a friend who recently helped set up a new furniture retail store on behalf of his employer. It was a labor-intensive job that called for all-hands-on-deck. It required everyone to chip in and do things outside their "normal" job description, which could be cause for resistance by some. Fortunately, everyone eagerly jumped in. The point of the story, however, wasn't so much about their cooperation, as it was about the fun they had. They had music playing in the background, and some sang along, while others just joked and laughed. "It was so much fun," he said, "It didn't feel like work."
His story reminded me of a time when I was recording a web seminar with a friend/colleague. We were cuttin' up and havin' a good time, accentuating our Southern drawls and sharing "what if ... " stories. At the time, I commented that if anyone walked in on us, they would think we weren't working, because we were having too much fun.
Which leads me to this question:Darci Riesenhuber posted this on 11/06/2007.
I am not complaining—I've enjoyed my various engagements in the past 7 days. (It's the people, stupid! Everywhere! I feed off them with what seems to be an insatiable appetite.) On the other hand, I guess I'm not surprised that I've been falling asleep in various poses, then snapping out of it a few minutes to an hour later in exactly the same position in which I faded out. In the 8 days that encompassed Saturday through Saturday last, I've given nine seminar-presentations in three countries—marked by 27 hours with the lapel mic in the "on" mode. (Plus a number of media interviews, some, well, interminable—I'll go on forever if the interviewer is well prepared, but I am a bit testy when it's clear the interviewer hasn't done any prep.) Travel was: Tupelo to Memphis to Boston to London to Madrid to Buenos Aires to Frankfurt to Zurich; it encompassed 40 hours in the air and it appears 25,000 miles ... or so. (Lufthansa, as usual, takes the honors.) And all this during the week before my 65th birthday—I think a shrink might argue that I was trying to prove something to myself. Susan would argue that I did, indeed, prove it—that I'm an idiot. I, of course, will reserve judgment. I slept in Sunday in Zurich, then enjoyed a looooong walk through and around this lovely city—zonked or not, it is a privilege of the first order to have such opportunities! (And, yes, the Swiss are tidy—I don't even think the pigeons are allowed to poop.) Now in the midst of prep for a 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seminar ("all day" in my lingo).
(Above, a gorgeous Japanese maple on the hotel grounds—in full fall farewell plumage. Below, street vendor roasting chestnuts—Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich.)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/05/2007.
As he says above, Tom is speaking all day to ZfU—Zurich International Business School. You'll find the event PowerPoint at this link; additionally Tom has created an "Alternate Master," 461 slides, based on a new approach he's used in recent presentations.Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/05/2007.
I will stack my practical credentials as "avowed capitalist pig" up to anybody's; say, Steve Forbes. Among other things, how could one have lived in Palo Alto-Silicon Valley for three decades without "turning rabid capitalist," even if one had not been before? Likewise, today, capitalism unleashed in India and China is, I am quite certain, good for the world's prospects for some modicum of peace—and is enhancing the welfare of additional millions by the month.
On the other hand, anyone who does not believe in "market imperfections" is a loony. For instance, I believe that globalization, whatever that is, is a good thing—in fact, a very good thing. On the other hand, its impact is as messy-uneven as one would imagine, given the enormity of what's afoot. And indeed we (the Chinese and Indians at home, big time, and the rest of us, as well) must squarely address said imperfections—or pay an enormous price.
Which brings me to my point—though I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to say. If there is anything I believe in more fervently that capitalism, it is its social twin, free speech. Hence I am inalterably opposed to muzzling ... of any sort.
But I also think that even if one is a free speech and capitalism nutter, as I am, that one can vote for the occasional dose of good taste—"manners," my Mom might have called it. Which leads me by the backdoor to the purpose of this Post. Though I wish not to muzzle, I must admit to being a little bit revolted by Saturday's Financial Times magazine, which I read in the Frankfurt airport. The issue was devoted to a single topic. The cover read: "How to spend it." (A regular feature!) I am no enemy of luxury goods—as you know from recent previous Posts, Susan gave me a Kubota 4-wheeler for my birthday. But when "one" (me) reads of the world's strife in the news section, much, if not most, of it at least an indirect product of real or perceived inequities and disaffections of some sort, "one" (me) sometimes—e.g., yesterday—wishes we, the hyper-privileged, weren't so apt to shove, de facto, our joys and toys down others' throats. It's also why I'm no fan of the new Portfolio magazine, despite excellent reporting.
I don't know how I want this Post to end. Not with a recommendation, to be sure. Just as it is, as a personal "footnote" of sorts, declaring that this certified capitalist pig feels "troubled" at times by our tendency to "flaunt it" in a way that seems distasteful ... to me. (I acknowledge, too, that it's "just" human nature—I recently read somewhere, maybe Forbes or Fortune, about the billion-dollar (!) house that India's richest dude is building outside Mumbai. Ah, well ...)Tom Peters posted this on 11/05/2007.
Any semi-regular reader of this Blog knows I can't say enough and enough that's laudatory about Nassim Nichols Taleb's two books, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan—they capture my world view with incredible clarity.** Black Swan came at exactly the right moment—it offers a more or less 100% explanation for our deeply disturbed financial markets. I was around Bill Sharpe, the Nobel-holding, more or less father of contemporary portfolio theory, engine of our current woes, when he did the work that won the prize—I was mostly ignorant of what was up, but appalled by the apparent arrogance of Sharpe and his devotees. It was clear—to them—that risk would be tamed, once and for all.
[*Swans do indeed snap—I have them on my farm, or at least their kindred Chinese geese.] [**Gawd, do people get upset when one dwells on the "significant" role of luck in life—stunning and troubling and amusing at once.]
I now eagerly refer you to NNT's 24 October (sorry for the delay) magical, terse piece in the Financial Times, "The Pseudo-science Hurting Markets." The pull quote goes like this: "Medicine used to kill more patients than it saved—just as financial economics endangers the system by creating risk."
The "pseudo-science," per NNT, is" 'Nobel-crowned' methods of modern portfolio theory." Aiming to erase risk, the quants' house of cards has increased said risk immeasurably and is blowing us all away—just ask Mssrs O'Neal/Merrill and Prince/Citi about their week—decidedly more harrowing than mine. NNT really rubs it in—and I literally rubbed my hands with glee, tough to do while reading a paper, but possible if the glee-meter was as high as mine—when he pointed out the little known fact that the economics Nobel ain't the real thing; instead it's the "Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel."
Selfishly, I don't want the world to go to hell in a handbasket—but a part of me believes that the arrogant quantocracy deserve a serious public thrashing; some, like O'Neal, will just have to learn how to live off their tens of millions of severance pay.Tom Peters posted this on 11/05/2007.
I am finishing my 2-day stint with HSM in Buenos Aires. The "speech du jour" is to executives of FEMSA. The enormous consumer goods company, headquartered in Mexico, is, among many other things, the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world. Tonight: Back to Europe, more specifically, Zurich.
[The link for the PPT slides is below.—CM]
FEMSA, Buenos Aires
We've had a great conversation here over the last few days about customer relationships.
What is a customer relationship? I will suggest a two-part definition, but I would like to offer it one part at a time. Here's the first part:
A customer relationship is an ongoing conversation with your customer ...
Tom is in Buenos Aires today speaking at ExpoManagement. For those fluent in Spanish, you can read about it here. ExpoManagement is presented by HSM, a spectacular group of event planners that Tom loves. The links for his presentations are below:Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/01/2007.
What we're talking about on the front page.
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
What we're talking about
on the front page.