My heart goes out to our brothers and sisters in Mumbai. Personally, I feel like the guy who had a flat tire on the way to the airport and missed flight XXX, which was subsequently hijacked; I was due to have landed in Mumbai next Wednesday and proceeded to the Oberoi hotel, radioactive American passport in hand, prior to a Thursday seminar. It's a messy world; this was my third near-miss this year. Earlier in Johannesburg a trio of gunman hit my hotel at 6:30 a.m., 20 minutes after I'd left for my seminar that day. And in Mexico City last month, a small jet crashed and burned 5 or 10 blocks from my hotel; the crash was suspicious (still unresolved), as it carried the young Federal Interior Minister who was having some success against the powerful drug cartels.
I am shaken by the three near-misses, as any sane person would be, but will not curtail my International travels in any way. (Give me a couple of weeks re Mumbai, please.) I am a keen believer in the immense benefits of globalization and a charter member of the flat-earth society, circa 2008. It is my pleasure to be of some tiny service to my friends from Kuwait, Saudi, Dubai (week before last), to Kiev, to my beloved South Africa (may Mr Mandela live to 100+), Ukraine, Romania, etc. And India! Re the latter, I am "one of those"—a true blue India lover!
Tom Peters posted this on 11/27/2008.
(As a matter of professional interest, I'd suggest Philip Bobbitt's Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-first Century. I had just started it; it's a tough slog, but truly an original work.)
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And Now for Something Completely the Same
"And now for something completely different," the Monty Python gang used to promise. (I went to Spamalot this past weekend.) Forget that, I want to honor this Thanksgiving with something "completely the same."
Dwight David Eisenhower, or Ike, is certainly one of the ten greatest Americans of the 20th century—and surely ranks in the top 50 for the world as a whole. As president from 1953–1960, he got us out of Korea more or less with honor, kept the Cold War from getting entirely out of hand, had the perfect demeanor for overseeing our post-war wound-licking and rejuvenation, was an unsung civil rights hero, and this great general ended his second term by warning us of the financial and political costs of a "military-industrial complex" with too much power—talk about prescience. And all this, of course, was preceded by D-Day and the campaign that ended World War II in Europe, in which Ike, make no mistake, was the prime mover.
I'm fascinated anew by DDE, and it all stemmed from a single and simple quote from General Eisenhower, which appeared in the May 2008 issue of Armchair General, a magazine I almost inadvertently grabbed at Logan Airport: "Allied commands depend on mutual confidence [and this confidence] is gained, above all through the development of friendships." The magazine's writer reinforced Ike's self-assertion by adding, "Perhaps his most outstanding ability [at West Point] was the ease with which he made friends and earned the trust of fellow cadets who came from widely varied backgrounds; it was a quality that would pay great dividends during his future coalition command."
The quotes above are borne out in Michael Korda's extraordinary, new-ish 800-page prize-winning biography in which I am currently immersed, Ike: An American Hero. I selected a more or less random couple of chapters, covering DDE's arrival in England in 1942 and his subsequent and surprising assignment to command of Torch, the Allies first offensive action of the war and the biggest and most ungainly offensive of its kind in history to that point. (The North African landing took place on my day of birth—07 November 1942.) In the space of just 43 pages (pp. 268–311) we find these phrases describing Eisenhower:
"infectious grin and great charm" ... "nice face" ... "grin that was to become so famous" ... "got along famously" ... "goodwill was spontaneous and easily recognizable" ... "good impression that Ike had made in six weeks" [newcomer junior general to Supreme Commander, Torch, agreed upon by Roosevelt and Churchill—in, yes, just six weeks] ... "least rank-conscious of generals" ... "Men were happy to serve under Ike, even British admirals and generals who might easily have raised objections; his sincerity and lack of ceremony made it difficult, even impossible, to refuse him, and enabled him very rapidly to pull a team together." ... "Ike was gregarious, rarely had anything bad to say about anyone, and, on the surface at least, was relaxed and good natured." ... "Whereas Ike's good humor was genuine, unaffected, and affectionate, Monty's [Field Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery] was cruel and mocking and always carried a sting."
Following successes in North Africa and Italy, Eisenhower, still a rather "fresh face" and less than two years past arriving in London as a Lieutenant Colonel, was selected as Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force Europe, tasked to invade the European continent and procure Germany's unconditional surrender. Korda explains the somewhat surprising decision:
"The Allies had generals with, perhaps, a sharper strategic vision than Ike. ... There were also generals who were more experienced at 'fighting a battle' ... But there was nobody who had anything like Ike's record of leading an alliance—always the most difficult feat in warfare. ... What is more, Ike somehow inspired people: civilians and ordinary soldiers of both nations, even cynical political figures and the always troublesome French. Something about his big grin; his long-limbed, loose American way of walking (the Kansas farm boy grown to a man); his easy, familiar way of speaking to everybody from King George VI down to privates in both armies; his lack of pretension; his evident sincerity ... They were willing to be led by him. They were willing to have him command their sons and husbands in battle. They trusted him. They were willing to die for him. ..."
(NB: Precisely these same things could be said about the two military figures I have studied most assiduously, Lord Horatio Nelson and General Ulysses S. Grant.)
(NB: When DDE subsequently ran for President of the United States in 1952, his campaign slogan was the simple "I like Ike.")
So: Why must we constantly pursue "breakthrough thinking," why must we leap "out of the box," when the secrets to success and, conversely, the causes of failure—in the sense of persuading or failing to persuade groups of all sizes to pursue and achieve excellence in any and all endeavors—are almost wholly dependent upon character traits and personal characteristics that are, in fact, more or less eternal and which unequivocally transcend cultures of every flavor?
Benjamin Franklin's Parisian charm offensive of 1776–77 gained France as an American ally and changed the course of history in our Revolutionary War against England.
Nelson Mandela's extraordinary smile disarmed one and all. ("One of the greatest charm offensives in history" was one biographer's description of Mandela's amazing feat of disarming enemies and allies alike and transforming South Africa without civil war.)
Eisenhower's grin ("something about his big grin," "grin that was to become so famous") united fractious Allies and insured the effective conclusion of World War II in the European theater.
We are confronted at the moment with an economic crisis of epic proportion. There is no better time to heed the eternal lessons of Eisenhower (Franklin, Mandela, etc). Make no mistake, the keys to surviving and thriving, as individuals and organizations, will not primarily be the "out of the box" cleverness of our "strategic response," but instead individual and organizational character as expressed by the depth and breadth of relationships throughout our individual or organizational networks. Current case in point, Mr Pandit of Citigroup is as smart as they come and then some, but, unlike Ike, when he said, "Follow me"—nobody moved, except to cut and run.
American Thanksgiving is our quintessential "family holiday." Giftgiving—for once!—is not the norm, except as it is reflected in exchanges of pumpkin pies and 7-generation-old recipes for turkey stuffing. It is a day in which we even put the likes of sibling sniping on hold and simply rejoice in each other's presence. It is a day, one hopes, when we also reflect on those, numbering in the hundreds of millions, or even billions, who go to bed on less than a full stomach.
The economic crisis? Not much fun. And less fun to come. But this, too, will pass, especially if we can assiduously translate the good will around the Thanksgiving Table and the character lessons of Eisenhower and Franklin and Mandela into our minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day affairs.
Tom Peters posted this on 11/26/2008.
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"Socialism" Versus "Capitalism" In Modern America
The Socialists are going berserk!
(The Republicans, of course.)
The Capitalists are in retreat!
(The Democrats, of course.)
Bill Clinton deregulated financial services!
Bill Clinton didn't bat an eye when the dotcom bubble was pricked!
Bill Clinton gave us "welfare to workfare"!
Bill Clinton got NAFTA passed over fierce resistance from both parties!
[To be sure, Mr Clinton had a little help on the ground from Newt Gingrich & Co, and the intellectual support of Alan "Ayn" Greenspan.]
George W. Bush, to the conservative rag, the New York Times, this morning's edition, has through yesterday unwound the Clinton radical pro-capitalist legacy via $7,800,000,000,000 [$7.8 trillion] in government assistance and guarantees.
(1) To quote Margaret Thatcher, it's a funny old world.
Tom Peters posted this on 11/26/2008.
(2) In all seriousness, to those blinded by partisanship who say Mr Bush is sitting out the financial crisis, I say, Baloney! [And thank God.]
(3) Now what?
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Note to the Appalled on Bear Scat
My neighbor brought me the bear scat. (See immediately below.) He had it in his hand—and handed it to me. Basically, it's modestly digested bark and nuts. (Period.) I surely wouldn't take a knife and fork to it, but it's a long, long way from what city folk might imagine. Particularly when the world goes wobbly, it is pure joy to be imbedded in the land, listening to bear calls at night (they sound like owls), waking up to farm sounds and having an oasis a long way from Citicorp HQ. I'm one of the old fashioned types—I guess it's the new fashion, in point of fact—who think we were designed to be in touch with the land in one way or another. (I say all this, while I claim with equal sincerity that I left my heart in San Francisco. Lucky me.)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/25/2008.
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Hold Your Nose!
Bail We Must!
Spend As If Your Life Depends On It! (It does!)
What follows is an economic primer from a non-economist:
Warts and all, America is the lynchpin of the global economy.
(And probably will be for next 25 years.)
Citi is a, maybe the, lynchpin of the lynchpin.
In fact, probably.
Psychologically, beyond doubt.
More than ever in a connected, hyper-tangled, wholly mangled world.
Financial system outcomes and movements are a "pure expectations play."
99% individual and group and herd psychology.
(Basis of entire system is pure "psych": You deposit a little, they lend a lot, we both pray to any and all gods that the depositors don't all knock on the door at the same time. Hint: they did-are-will pound & wail for the foreseeable future.)
Hence, system precarious 100.00% of the time.
Vicious and virtuous circles are always in play.
There is no normal.
(Wish there were a psychologist on Mr Obama's top econ team.)
(Or at least someone with a normal IQ.)
("One who knows" reports that Citi CEO Pandit has an EQ of approximately zero.)
(Sorta like L. Summers.)
(Or at least the odds go up not imperceptibly—and, hence, unacceptably.)
Therefore bailout justified, at almost any cost.
Pump Citi up with a few tens of billions.
Save not improbable downside of as much as tens of trillions.
Globalization threatened if Citi tanks.
Bailout awful, unconscionable.
Bailout bodyblow to pure capitalism.
No bailout, possible capitalism knockout—or at least a wretched decade or two.
Fact—nobody has a clue.
Systemic interdependencies of this order are truly novel.
And psychological irrationality and the utter madness of crowds—of smart people as well as not-so-smart people—is a perpetual "given."
In a clueless world, one must assiduously attend to lowish probability outcomes with catastrophic consequences.
"Catastrophic" is not a hyperbolic word these days.
"Catastrophe" is an ever-present "plausible" outcome.
"Net net": Bailout "least worst" solution.
Welcome to the real world!
Give to the homeless!
Make those Salvation Army buckets sag with Susan B. Anthony coins!
Pray that every sumbitch makes this Friday "Open Wallet Day"!
Got a Great Aunt Maude?
Haven’t seen her for 20 years?
Buy her a 60-inch flat-screen TV!
Better yet, a Ford hybrid!
Better yet, a house at list price!
(Photo below, bear shit from a beast estimated to be 250 pounds—from my farm, up the hill a couple of hundred yards from the main house, exhibited on a wall outside my working studio. Great symbol for a Bear Market, eh? Deposited on Citi Bailout Day. Ah, all is not lost—there are deposits out there!)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/25/2008.
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True Loyalty in Tough Times
The first notice most of us got of the current economic crisis came from TV and newspapers. Now, as the ripple effects of softening business move through the marketplace, just about everyone I talk to is seeing some sort of softening effect on their business. We are all vulnerable.
We can't afford to be sloppy right now, in anything we do. We can't waste resources. We can't let customers, in whose acquisition we have invested considerable sales and marketing resources, slip away, believing that new customers will show up to take their places.
In this economy, customer loyalty is one of the most important variables that will affect our success. It will be increasingly difficult to find new customers who can become big customers, so we have to get the most benefit out of what we already have. But ... we also can't afford to be sloppy with our concept of customer loyalty.
In so many cases, companies mistake promotional bribes for loyalty. But the kind of loyalty created by this type of approach is fleeting, and defenseless against a better offer from your competitor. (And you can bet that your competitors will be offering richer deals in the near future.) This type of loyalty, which I call transactional loyalty, can temporarily steer transactions in your direction, but keeps you very vulnerable in tough times.
The kind of loyalty you want to create in these times is what I call True Loyalty. When a customer is truly loyal, she is not loyal to your latest promotional offer, or to filling out her punch card to get her 10th smoothie for free. When True Loyalty happens, the customer is loyal to you. More specifically, she is loyal to her relationship with you.
This is a big difference. If a customer believes she is in a "We" relationship with you, her frame of reference is not the latest transaction, but the entire history of her relationship with you.
Soon, here at tompeters.com and at yastrow.com, I will share my thoughts on how to create True Loyalty. For now, what do you think? How do you avoid transactional loyalty, and create True Loyalty? Is True Loyalty a key to thriving in a tough economic climate?
Steve Yastrow posted this on 11/25/2008.
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The Washington Post reports that Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL), during last week's hearings, asked automaker CEOs if they'd work for a dollar a year. Chrysler's Nardelli said yes, GM's Wagoner said "I don't have a position on that today," and Ford's Alan Mulally, who made $21,700,000 last year, said, "I think I'm okay where I am."
In the immortal words of Dave Barry, "I'm not making this up."
Meanwhile CNN's Kyung Lah reported that the CEO of JAL rides public transit to work, eats in the company cafeteria, and cut his salary below that of his pilots as a personal response to layoffs and forced early retirements that JAL felt necessary to make.
A Financial Times headline on Citicorp reads: "Bank loses over half its value in past three days" "[CEO] Pandit moves to shore up his position as chief."
As disgusting [DIS-GUST-ING] as Mulally's "I'm okay" comment was-is, the Pandit headline in its own fashion affected me even more. Citi's performance is awful—and there's little or no doubt that Pandit is a major part of the problem. And hence his primary response, following an announced 50,000 plus layoff, is to try and save his own skin? (TP's considered response: "You miserable, ego-maniacal S.O.B.")
Have these guys (and they're almost all guys) no sense of shame? No sense of service? No sense of honor? No sense of sacrifice? No sense of equity?
A little online research Cathy and I did shows that none of the Big Three CEOs had any military service. I do not believe that such service is a generic answer to any particular problem. But I do believe that the uniform absence thereof is perhaps indicative of a lack of a life-as-service, servant leader ethos in general among these three? (The "no military service" piece is almost amusing, in a perverse way, in the case of Nardelli, who is a fanatic believer in some twisted notion of the "military model" of doing business—his willy nilly application of his abominable interpretation of military leadership was one of his many screwups at Home Depot. Part of Nardelli's, yes, admirable willingness to work for a buck at Chrysler may be the $200 million he took home as a prize for being fired from Home Depot.)
Have they no shame?
Have they no sense of service?
Have they no conception of servant leadership?
Have they no soul?
Have they no honor?
Have they no ethos of sacrifice?
Have they no conception of-perception of equity?
(Did any of them go to Sunday School?)
Does it sound like I'm in a pissy mood, maybe still suffering from jetlag following my Middle East trip? Well, I am in a pissy mood, and part of it may indeed be 66-year-old-body-meets-jetlag. But part of it derives directly from Pandit and Mulally and the association of their flavor attitudes to our unfolding economic catastrophe. I've spent 40 plus years directly or indirectly on, effectively, one topic: profit through people-centered, people-obsessed leadership. Mulally and Pandit and their not insignificant ilk make me wonder if I pissed away my life in pursuit of an improbable, or even impossible, ideal?
Tom Peters posted this on 11/24/2008.
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Media Sightings Alert
For our friends in the U.K. and anyone who subscribes to the Financial Times, it seems that Tom had 'lunch with the FT' a while back and the writeup of what transpired will appear in FT Weekend tomorrow, November 22. Previous lunches linked here.
N.B. Tom's Lunch with the FT is now available. (Thanks, Bruce, for the heads up.)
Erik Hansen posted this on 11/21/2008.
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Gestures do count. Lee Iacocca worked for a-dollar-a-year when the government gave Chrysler a life-saving loan. Wouldn't it have been great if Ford CEO Alan Mulally had driven a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid the 520 miles from Detroit to D.C.? Hokey as hell—but he just might have gone home with a several-billion-dollar check in his pocket.
Tom Peters posted this on 11/21/2008.
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Fix Detroit Now!
Southwest founder Herb Kelleher comes out of retirement to take the reins at GM. Lee Scott leaves Wal*Mart soon to run Ford for five years. (If Lee won't do it, we'll bring his predecessor, David Glass, out of retirement.) Mickey Drexler makes the switch from J.Crew to Chrysler. All of them know retail! All of them know the mid- to low-end mass market! All of them know that pennies matter! All three are the salt of the earth!
Tom Peters posted this on 11/21/2008.
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Naught for Twenty Years
There was this GM sales VP—a senior job, but hardly stratospheric. As I recall he was to attend a regional sales meeting, and his pre-visit specs called for a refrigerator filled with beer to await him in his hotel room. In this instance, there was no way to get the fridge upstairs, so the enterprising local sales types hired a crane, removed the exec's would-be room window and inserted the refrigerator through said window. The tale was one of many of a similar sort in auto-industry analyst Maryann Keller's Rude Awakening: The Rise, Fall, and Struggle for Recovery of General Motors.
The book appeared 20 years ago.
Needless to say, the story crept from the depths of my brain yesterday as I watched, upon arrival from a seminar in Dubai, the industry's PR-blind execs describing the dire necessity of bringing their begging bowls to Congress on their private jets.
Have these incompetent dirtball idiots* no shame? (*My apologies for the gutter language—it is offered not casually, but after deep reflection.)
More important, since they have accomplished approximately zilch in two decades (see the Great Refrigerator Caper above), why should they reach into my wallet to fund their jet fleets—and extend their collective incompetence for a few more futile months or years?
Yesterday morning I supported the bailout. I hated the thought of giving these clowns the family loot—but I was extremely fearful of the wallet-closing effect on the economy as a whole if GM went into bankruptcy. Given the gross and utter stupidity publicly exhibited by Rick Wagoner, my fears of more national economic meltdown have not been assuaged, but the utter national negligence that this bailout would signify has flipped my switch.
My heart does indeed go out to the GM workers who will be dislocated, but it'd be wrong and, in fact, counterproductive to toss a lifeline to GM.
(I returned home from Dubai, temp 90°F, to the night the main farm pond froze all the way over for the first time this fall-winter. A frozen pond seemed a good image to accompany this tale of auto-industry woe.)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/20/2008.
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Gradually ... Then Suddenly
In the book The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway paints a scenario where one of the key characters, Mike Campbell, is asked, "How did you go bankrupt?" His response is "Gradually ... then suddenly." This is so very applicable to a recession scenario. Actually, it is applicable to all our lives—you don't fail suddenly; you fail gradually through a series of small failures everyday. The day you fail is just a culmination of all the small failures you have had.
Yes, you can get away with "no progress during a recession" by blaming the recession, but really, if things are not going well, you should blame yourself for the way you behaved leading up to the recession.
"Gradually ... then suddenly" is the phenomenon that will explain a lot of mess we are in today. We are trying to find instant solutions to problems that we have created over years.
If you are a knowledge worker, there is a big dilemma today. If you are engaged in a craft that can be "well defined" chances are that sooner than later your job will be outsourced. Not to another location in the U.S., but to another country. Hard work won't help. Why? Because technology really makes it easy for commodity skills to be leveraged from a remote location without a large overhead. An overseas worker may match you on your commodity skills, but you can't work for the same wages.
So what should one do?
First is to realize that general job skills (like technology skills) provide only an entry ticket. You can't thrive (or even survive for long) with just those skills. You need skills beyond that. Skills such as building a personal brand, building long-term relationships, learning how to learn, etc.
This Thanksgiving I wanted to do something to help.
Looking back, I recall that this was exactly the topic of my book Beyond Code (foreword by my hero Tom Peters), which was published in late 2005. The book did very well both here in the U.S. and in India. I had spent ten years researching and writing the book. One simple plan was to give this book away for FREE—no strings attached. Kenzi Sugihara from Select Books (the publisher) was in full support.
So, as of yesterday, the complete version of Beyond Code is free. You can download the book with no strings attached. Here is the link.
Finally, here is a thing about life:
Something that has been built over a long period of time can be destroyed almost instantly. However, the opposite is not true—something that has been destroyed over a long period cannot be restored instantly.
I wish you the very best for this holiday season
(Cool Friend Rajesh Setty is intimately involved in working with like-minded entrepreneurs to bring good ideas to life and spread their adoption. You can learn more about him at www.rajeshsetty.com.)
Raj Setty posted this on 11/20/2008.
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Cool Friend #130: Guy Kawasaki
Today, Guy Kawasaki joins our group of Cool Friends. He's been an evangelist for Apple, an entrepreneur who's the co-founder of Garage Technology Ventures and the "magazine rack" website Alltop, a writer with nine books to his credit, a popular blogger—blog title: "How to Change the World"—and an amateur hockey player. It seems that his was the first name on our blogroll, but it took us a while to have a conversation with him. We're glad to be doing it at this time, upon the publication of his newest book, Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition. Erik describes it as a primer for starting a business. Read more in Kawasaki's Cool Friends interview, and at his website, GuyKawasaki.com.
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/19/2008.
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2008 Marti Awards
One of our favorite Cool Friends, Marti Barletta, is hosting a survey on her website, TrendSight (the survey's in the right column of the front page), asking for consumers and marketers to vote for their favorite Marketing to Women advertising. The survey will close on December 1 and we'll hear who won before the end of the year. This is the second year of Marti's Marketing to Women awards. Last year's overall winner was Dove's Real Beauty campaign. You can read more about past winners here. Feel free to tell us who you voted for and why in our comments area. If you'd like to read more about Marti, check out her two Cool Friend interviews: One. Two.
Shelley Dolley posted this on 11/19/2008.
Event: Leaders in Dubai
Tom is speaking to the Leaders in Dubai Business Forum 2008. He's on the program along with former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, his good friend and former McKinsey Managing Director Rajat Gupta, Mohamed ElBaradei (Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency), Sante Fe Institute President Geoffrey West, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Tom reports that the growth of Dubai continues at an astonishing rate—though there are some signs that the global financial fiasco is beginning to take its toll. If you were there, we welcome your comments, and if you'd like to get the PPT presentation, you can use the link below:
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/17/2008.
Leaders in Dubai Business Forum 2008, IIR
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Tom's trip continues in Riyadh, where he is appearing for IIR, a global company providing knowledge and skills transfer. You can download the PPT file here:
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/15/2008.
Excellence. Always. IIR, Riyadh
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The Talent 57
Herewith a major PPT. It has more, and more intense, annotation than anything I have done to date—over 100 annotation slides. I began with a total rewrite of Talent 50, for my Kuwaiti presentation, and went on from there. Enjoy.
[Download the PPT: The Talent 57]
Tom Peters posted this on 11/13/2008.
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In the last week or so, I came across an old Rolling Stone article (28 June 2007) about The Police—the '80s rock band that recently completed a $358-million reunion tour. In the article, drummer Stewart Copeland was singing the praises of Sting, the lead singer who originally broke up the group in 1984 (at the height of their glory) to begin his mega-successful solo career. But, instead of being resentful of the superstar status Sting had achieved on his own, Copeland actually took pride in it because—as he explained—he was the one who discovered Sting back in 1976. "Sting's my guy! I found him. I'm proud of him. When they shouted his name at shows, I was like, 'Yeah, that's my guy.'" Copeland, you see, identified himself as a talent scout, not just as a drummer or a band member. That way Sting's accomplishments became his accomplishments. This struck me as instructive to organizational leaders who, if they choose to, can take pride in their ability to identify—as well as develop and promote—talent.
It brought me back to a consulting session I did with a VP years ago in which I was helping him evaluate his senior management team. I suggested he list which departments the "frontline leaders" were emerging from, to see if there was a pattern worth noting. (These young dent-makers without title were easy to spot. They were taking command of cross-functional WOW! Projects—exciting, big-impact, bottom-up, break-the-rules endeavors that were producing tangible results for the operation.) Interestingly, a disproportionately large number of these frontline leaders came from departments run by two very people-focused leaders, who LOVED to spot and develop talent. In fact, like Stewart Copeland, they took special pride in the blossoming of particular individuals under their watch. It struck me at the time that one way to evaluate a manager's performance is by simply tallying the number of leaders who are sprouting up in that person's purview. (After all, it's a quantitative result.) Yes, of course it's an imprecise measurement, but if managers have up-and-coming leaders popping up like shoots all around them, they're likely to be doing something right.
I've been recommending this simple "leadership measurement" ever since.
John O'Leary posted this on 11/12/2008.
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Veterans Day Observance
Since Tom is on the road en route from somewhere to somewhere else, I'm posting a Veterans Day message for him. Never having served in the military as he did, I can do this best by collecting messages from around the world on this 90th anniversary of the armistice that ended WWI. (Thank you, Alexander Watson in the NYT for that bit of info.) And, I'm posting it on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the Armistice Treaty was signed. I got this fact from the TimesOnline, which goes on to point out that this may be the last anniversary for the British survivors of the Great War. The Australian commemorates the day with an account of a gathering at Verdun, the site of the first big battle of the war, and WebIndia gives a description of services there. Finally, there's Tom's "Hearty Salute to Veterans."
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/11/2008.
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Tom's far afield once again, speaking to the Human Resources Professionals Leadership Forum in Kuwait. Please join our comments if you attended the event. We'd love to hear from you. Please use the links below if you would like to download the slides presentations.
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/10/2008.
HR Professionals Leadership Forum, Kuwait
The Leadership50, Kuwait
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I Never Thought ...
As a southern boy, born 66 years ago the day after tomorrow in a very segregated Annapolis MD, I never imagined I'd see the day. As a Naval Officer in the Pentagon during the King riots, I never thought I'd see the day. Old America always has a new trick up her glorious sleeve ...
(Of course, now the work begins.)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/05/2008.
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Election is done.
(As I write this I don't know the result—and it's irrelevant to this Post.)
Time to get on with it.
Perhaps a tiny bit of stability in the financial markets.
In any event, recessionary pressure accelerating as we race toward the cliff.
GM sales down 45% October-to-October.
Japanese car sales as bad or worse.
Wallets clamped shut.
Consumer spending DOA.
Commercial spending DOA.
**Put "clever" on hold.
(**Opportunism—and there may be some or a lot of room for it—is pulled off through excellence in execution, not ingenuity.)
**The game is won or lost at the front line! (More than ever, if that's possible.)
**Showing up rules!
**Keep it simple!
**Transparency rules: Shoot straighter than straight!
**Go for "small wins"!
**"Thoughtful in all we do"—regardless of how much yogurt (shit) is hitting the fan.
**In tough times, those who play the blame game in any way, shape, or form get the first pink slips!
(**Special for BigCo CEOs: "Opportunistically" bulking up by buying big pieces of crap at bargain prices is tempting but truly a sign of advanced brain damage.)
**Banish gloomy from your personal demeanor—if it kills you!
(**"Sunny" is pretty stupid, too: Who do you think you're kidding.)
(**"Determined"-"Gettin' on with gettin' on" is best.)
**The great juggling act: PMA while preparing for the worst. (Positive Mental Attitude—but know the drill if the recession goes 24 months, which it easily might.)
[You'll find a PowerPoint of this list attached: "Advice for tough times. Win with the '2Es.' Execution. Excellence."]
Tom Peters posted this on 11/05/2008.
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Percy's Gang of 125: How Curved Is the Earth??? It's A Small World, After All ???
Percy Barnevik was Europe's exemplar businessman for much of the '80s and '90s. He woke up a sleepy ABB Asea Brown Boveri big time—and made about as many notable management inventions as Jack Welch along the way. I sang his praises at length in my 1992 book, Liberation Management. In particular, Barnevik's ABB was peerless when it came to internationalization and managing very far-flung ventures. Along the way, as I recall, he surprised many of us by asserting that among his cast of hundreds of thousands, with managers numbering in the tens of thousands, he really only needed about 125 true internationalists! The reality: Most of his units, and there were hundreds, served rather circumscribed markets—and the leaders' local knowledge was far more important than high marks on a "world news of the week" quiz.
So given the above, which is a reasonable description of reality as I see it, and big company reality at that, what is one to make of this headline from a recent (27 Oct) Financial Times, in a special report on executive education: "Dean Predicts Global Focus Will Dominate"? (The dean in question is Dean Dezsö Horváth, of the Schulich school of management at York University in Canada.)
I have little doubt that numerous grads of Schulich will have international careers—as will their counterparts from Wharton and Duke and Harvard. But the fact is that most Schulichers, unless I miss my bet by a mile, will mostly spend their time in firms in Canada (or the U.S.), and most of those firms' revenues will mostly come from Canada, or at most North America.
Moreover, unless the statistics lie, many, if not most, will work in privately held firms, a long way from the character or charter of an ABB or GE. And then there are the hundreds of business schools that are not grand enough to make anybody's Top 75 list—but who really help their students become better middle managers at the local utility or hospital or the like.
And ... then come the "other" 90% or 95% of American or Canadian or Italian or Polish managers, sans MBA, who work in small, or smallish, companies. Not to mention the ever so parochial millionaires next door—"lived in same town all their adult life, don't look like millionaires, don't dress like millionaires, don't eat like millionaires, don't act like millionaires," mostly engaged in "businesses that could be classified as 'dull-normal,' such as welding contractors, auctioneers, scrap-metal dealers, lessors of portable toilets, dry cleaners, re-builders of diesel engines, paving contractors ..." (from The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley & William Danko).
Not only is the world pretty damned curved, if not spherical, but the fact is that making it in giant markets at home, let alone beyond one's borders, and even if you are a giant, is damn tough—and often, or mostly, a bad strategy. The authors Bruce Greenwald and Judd Kahn penned an article for the Harvard Business Review with the awkward but descriptive title, "All Strategy Is Local: True competitive advantages are harder to find and maintain than people realize. The odds are best in tightly drawn markets, not big, sprawling ones." Amen—and I note that their subjects were big companies.
What's my point, if any?
***First, to continue my relentless rant against "media bias," a favorite topic this political season, and accompanying and equally pronounced "business guru bias." We are soooooooo caught up in big-public-international businesses, which are, in fact, a distinct minority of employment sites; and even, per Barnevik, the biggies globalies' managers mainly work in distinctly local contexts. (Remember, 125 out of a couple of hundred thousand were through and through globalists; the rest were busy doin' the damn work.) I am determined to keep yelling, re the likes of the Financial Times headline, and in fact Tom Friedman's flat-world treatise: "BUT THIS HAS NOTHING, N-O-T-H-I-N-G, TO DO WITH 95% OF EVEN THE OECD WORLD, LET ALONE THE WORLD AS A WHOLE."
***Second, going back to my roots, to shout: "NINETY-FIVE PERCENT OF EXCELLENCE IS LOCAL!" And local Excellence is more about mastering MBWA writ large than starring at cross-cultural studies.
***Third, to proclaim, or vehemently suggest, that rather than obsessively pursue the answer to global mysteries, we might better spend our leader-ly time improving the relationships with the [mostly local] customers and vendors and employees and communities which we currently serve.
What follows, in the spirit of the above, is very much "off the top of my head, realism be damned." It is my ten-minutes-to-write partial curriculum for my imagined very non-global business school, which focuses on "real-world basics" of "getting things done":
***Managing people I, II, III, IV
***Creating and managing systems with high impact
***Leadership I, II
***Execution I, II, III
***Creating a "Try it now" environment
***Maximizing ROIR [Return On Investment in Relationships]
***Sales I, II, III, IV
***Service basics I, II
***Creating incredible customer experiences
***Accounting I, II
***Accountability I, II
***Personal calendar mastery
***MBWA I, II
***Nurturing and harvesting curiosity
***Giving great presentations I, II
***Active listening I, II
***Excellence as aspiration, Excellence everywhere
***Recruiting top talent for 100% of all available jobs
***Recruiting for smile, enthusiasm, energy
***Nurturing top talent
***Helping people (employees, customers, vendors, communities) grow and realize their dreams
***The promotion decision
***Women as preeminent leaders
***Building friends through firings
***The art of ferreting out and loving weirdos
***Creating an environment of respect and decency
***The art and science of influencing others I, II
***Accountability I, II
***The preeminent role of emotion in everything
***Saying "thank you" I, II
***Giving good phone
***Creating and nurturing lasting alliances
***Creating or changing a unit's "culture"
***Bringing spirit to the workplace
***Becoming the gemstone of the community
***Mastering the Internet I, II
***Appreciating and playing with new technologies
***Marketing to women I, II
***Marketing to boomers-geezers I, II
***Design-mindedness as a "cultural" attribute
***Rapid prototyping of everything, and the Art of Serious Play
***Increasing the unit's metabolic rate
***Diversity power everywhere
***The power of universal transparency
[For your amusement, you'll find a PowerPoint of my GTD-MBA—Getting Things Done MBA—attached.]
Tom Peters posted this on 11/05/2008.
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Event: HSM World Marketing and Innovation Forum
Today in Mexico City, Tom is speaking to the HSM World Marketing and Innovation Forum. Here is the link to the PPT: HSM Mexico City
[Above, Tom just missed the Days of the Dead, but a few displays were left. Taking place on November 1st and 2nd, the holiday follows on the heels of Halloween in the U.S., but the themes of the two celebrations are exact opposites. Instead of the dead coming back to haunt us, they come back to party. People invite their departed loved ones to sit down, eat, drink, and share in a family gathering.]
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/05/2008.
Tomorrow Is the First Day of the Rest of Our Lives!
In response to my 1 November "political post," Dave Wheeler wrote, among other things: "This election cycle is soon to end. I for one will make it a point to go out and become active in my community again. It's time to put the 'citizen' back in citizen government …"
Let's heed his words—and turn them into deeds!
When folks bitch about government in a seminar, my automatic response is, "So why don't you run for the school board?" (Or whatever.) This particular path is, of course, harder in Milwaukee than in Tinmouth VT. But there are always numerous things, many quite small and achievable, of abiding local significance to get involved in. The world is, in fact, not all that flat—and Local Engagement is, was, and will be forevermore the Centerpiece of democratic government.
For those who made new friends while doing campaign work, in particular—take advantage of these new civic-minded colleagues more or less immediately. How, now, immediately, can we begin to harness this outpouring of civic virtue into the service of pressing local, typically non-partisan needs? For those who were engaged in Internet politics during the campaign, how might we convert these amazing, mostly new in many cases, networks into vehicles to promote the common good in a way that bears little or no relationship to national party concerns?
Almost 50% of us will be licking our wounds tomorrow morning. Fair enough. But how about, on Thursday, or at the weekend, beginning—no kidding, tiny steps—to harness our newfound activism for the local public good?
Tom Peters posted this on 11/04/2008.
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100 Ways to Succeed #148:
Now Is the Perfect Moment to Get Truly Community-minded!
Don't Let Tomorrow's Sun Set without an Effort to Move Forward, "Full Speed Ahead," on Community Involvement!
Your candidate (at any level) may have lost, but if you did campaign work you discovered (1) that there were many kindred, local "activist" spirits working for the public good and (2) that you can make an insta-difference, as you saw through canvassing or driving for get-out-the-vote or whatever. Maybe you fell short on General Election Day. But there are 729 days to go until the next General Election. So what are you going to do for the community during those 729 days?
For starters, perhaps: Get together with some of "your activists"—and, yes, "their activists" and talk over some of the local, typically non-contentious, important community ventures in which you might get involved. And lay out a couple of next steps in the next week.
Damn few of us, age 16, 26, 36 or 66, are entirely happy with our efforts to "give back" and help our communities. Don't lose the current Momentum of Civic Virtue! Let's get going on that "next local step"—more or less right this minute!
(The behavioral sciences are clear: If you don't follow up on something, like a useful seminar, with concrete actions in a matter of hours or a couple of days at most, you never will follow up. Hence, every minute is critical: Follow up on your newfound, if it's so, community-mindedness ASAP!)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/04/2008.
Cool Friend #129: Debbie Weil
Social media consultant Debbie Weil teaches CEOs about blogging, among other things, and she joins tompeters.com today as Cool Friend #129. Weil, the author of The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right, says it's time to ditch "the old marketing mindset of throwing polished morsels of marketing messages to the masses and expecting consumers to accept them." Instead, start a conversation with your customers by blogging. She calls corporate blogging "marketing with content." Weil's advice is that "if you've ever thought about writing a book—and what top executive hasn't—blogging is a great way to get started." Read her Cool Friends interview and don’t forget to check out her blog, BlogWriteForCEOs, of course.
Cathy Mosca posted this on 11/03/2008.
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Gill MA & Success Tip #1
I've argued that as tough times loom (or are here, as they surely are as last week's statistics demonstrated), reviving a focus on the basics almost tops the "to do" list. Aiming mostly at the basics, we've been offering our own To Do list—145 Success Tips to date. Which brings me to Gill MA.
I usually fly to the Great City of Wherever from Logan Airport. The trip from Tinmouth VT to Boston passes through Gill MA. It's exactly halfway—hence the perfect place for a pit stop. With choices aplenty, I am nonetheless firm in my habit of stopping at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant. It's, in fact, a smallish coffee shop-diner. The food, including the fresh muffins that are about a foot away as you enter (typically at dawn's early light, in my case), is boffo. The attitude is boffo, too. But make no mistake, my custom is well and truly earned, a half dozen times a month, by the restroom!
It's clean-to-sparkling. (Come to think of it, despite the invariably crowded shop, I have never seen the tiniest scrap of paper on the bathroom floor.) Fresh flowers are the norm. And best of all, there is a great multi-generational collection of family (the owner's family, as I recall) pictures that cover all the walls; I invariably spend an extra minute examining one or another, smiling at a group photo from a local company dinner, or some such, circa 1930 I'd guess.
Well, the likes of Gill's finest won pride of place on our success tip list. Namely, the #1 spot went to "clean and neat," with an emphasis on restrooms. To me, a clean, and attractive and even imaginative loo is the best "I care" sign in a retail shop or professional office—and it goes double when it comes to employee restrooms!
Recession is upon us, and odds are it'll linger. Step #1: Mind the restrooms! The basics are more important than ever, and I can't think of a better place to start. (Or a better person than the owner or manager to be in charge.)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/03/2008.
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100 Ways to Succeed #146:
Obsess On The Basics!
Now, More Than Ever!
As I said, now, more than ever. I suggest, for example, that you devote most of your "morning meeting" or "weekly phone call" to the "little" things—from clean restrooms to deliveries made or missed to thank-you calls to a customer for her business after an order ships.
Keep on each other over those basics—and be liberal with the kudos for those who go an extra millimeter to do a "trivial" job especially well.
Tom Peters posted this on 11/03/2008.
Gill MA, Part Two
My latest trip from VT to MA, 173.6 miles, got me thinking of something else besides pit stops. I was running late, and noting my progress via odometer and various landmarks and highway markers. As my mood went up and down I realized (re-realized?) the power of manageable goals in every form of activity. Amassing 173+ miles, the entire task, is of course the Big Enchilada—but a horrifying and de-motivating thought at 4 a.m., which is often my departure time. The sort of thing that spurs me on is scoring the readily achievable 13-mile nugget from home to Dorset VT. (Hooray, I've made a noticeable start!!) Likewise, bagging the 12 miles from the aforementioned Gill MA to Erving MA is downright exhilarating (it means 50% done on the most traffic-y part of the road).
As I thought on this, I realized/re-realized a bunch of things:
***Milestones are all-important, no matter how trivial or repetitive the task.
***"Milestoning" is a real art for reasons psychological, as much as or more than for reasons of "substance."
***Truly trivial milestones are often meaningless even if they are "accomplishments" of a sort and milestones of a sort—scoring the five miles from the Dorset turn to the Stratton turn is no big deal amidst my journey to Logan.
***"Milestone power" is variable. E.g., at the beginning or near the end of a task the apparently trivial can be grand. "Well, I've done something"—that's what I feel at 4 a.m. when I make it to the immediate end of the farm road that starts at our house, thus putting behind me the first 0.7 miles, in numbing reality a scant 0.4% of the whole. (Milestone power is also variable in other dimensions. E.g., in the workday context, smallish milestones that are critical spurs to the team's doing the job—may look pretty darned puny to the boss; hence, widespread publication thereof may not be a great idea.)
***There is a definite sweetspot, "the perfect milestone." That 13 miles to Dorset, or 12 miles to Erving, is a winner—substantial enough to matter, merit a pumped fist at 4 a.m., and constitute "progress of note."
***There is a pretty fine line between "trivial" on the one end and "daunting" on the other. (A 30-mile stretch, if thought of that way, is downright discouraging: "Dear God, these 27 miles of Route 2 are frigging endless.")
VT winter approaches, and at times I'll be forced to do my powerwalking on my treadmill. I hate hate hate exercising indoors! But to the point of this post, I spent a pretty penny on a new treadmill a while back. Why? Mostly because the distance accumulator indicator has three decimal places instead of two. I crave constant measurable progress while on the damn machine, and nothing, but nothing, is "trivial." I feel like the wind is at my back as the odometer moves from 1.723 miles to 1.724. Forever, per the old machine, was struggling from 1.72 to 1.73. Ah, milestone Power!
You are welcome to dismiss the triviality of my examples here—but I do urge you to pay the closest attention to the Art of Milestoneing. It's actually of the utmost importance if, like me, you believe in the Ultimate and Abiding Power of what I call "XX," or "Double X"—the relentless pursuit of Excellence in Execution.
Tom Peters posted this on 11/03/2008.
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100 Ways to Succeed #147:
Master the "Art Of Milestoneing"
Become a "milestone activist." Use milestoneing as a matter of routine, but do so with the greatest care, as only partially explained above—that is, become a Milestone Professional as well as a Milestone Activist.
NB: "Milestoneing" is a group endeavor, not a top-down activity.
Tom Peters posted this on 11/03/2008.
NB: The Art of Milestone Celebration is also worthy of your study and application.
NB: This is a Big Deal.
Caught In the Act!
I have worked relentlessly to keep this Blog apolitical. For at least two reasons: (1) We are about enterprise management. (With a few VT farm pictures thrown in from time to time.) (2) When a Blog "turns political," then intemperate remarks become the norm—I have spent the better part of the last two months beating up people of every stripe over intemperate language used concerning our presidential candidates.
I think I've had some success in staying apolitical. Nonetheless, the New York Times blew my cover with a lengthy 28 October article in the Technology section that pitted me vs. my great friend Carly Fiorina concerning the election. She is a senior McCain campaign advisor. I was nabbed by YouTube giving the keynote at an Obama rally in Southern Vermont.
I am an Obama supporter, and, having been caught in the act relative to this Blog, I will tell you very succinctly why:
- I think the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation, and I believe Mr Obama would be an excellent symbol of a new generation of leader. (I think Mr McCain has the haggard look of yesterday, and is, like myself, advertised to be a cranky old man. Age matters—take it from me, and feel free to wish me "happy 66th" on 7 November.)
- In the spirit of the above, I think Mr Obama would represent a new page overseas for America. Our image is ragged, and I think Mr Obama could and would go a long way toward "bringing America back" to the status of "beacon for the world." (I fear Mr McCain might, on this dimension, project as a continuation of the Bush years.)
- Concerning foreign affairs, I believe Mr Obama has the disposition and intellect to deal, as best anyone can, with the difficult security challenges we confront; among other things our major problems are likely to be with us for decades—and cannot primarily be dealt with by aircraft carrier superiority, a tough thing for a true blue Navy man to admit. I believe Mr Obama meets the Churchillian standard of "jaw jaw beats war war." I am fearful of Mr McCain's bellicosity and perhaps some volatility. (Unlike the case of Mr Clinton, I also have no doubt that Mr Obama would quickly gain the respect of the U.S. military—as a hot-war veteran, I have no concerns at all on that dimension.)
- Colin Powell was persuasive.
- As to experience, I am not troubled by Mr Obama's resume. Surviving Chicago politics, among other things, is no cakewalk—and, also, Mr Obama would be older than either Mr Kennedy or Mr Clinton was upon taking the oath of office. His remarkable cool and measured approach throughout this torrid and lengthy and, at times, bitter campaign suggest to me that he in his own fashion meets the "maturity" test as well or better than any President of any age that I have experienced, with perhaps the exception of Mr Reagan.
- I sadly believe that Ms Palin is not ready to be Commander-in-Chief on many dimensions. Alas, I have little respect for her, and my McCain diehard friends feel as strongly as I do—almost without fail. I think the selection of Ms Palin does not reflect well on Mr McCain or his "country first" rhetoric. She is a "strong negative" in my assessment of the McCain candidacy. (Understatement.)
- The economy is as abiding an issue as national security, and I believe Mr Obama would be able to do as well as anyone could in dealing with it. I am very impressed with his principal advisors, including Mssrs Volker, Rubin, Summers, and Buffett—none could be called an ideologue in any way, shape, or form.
- Though I am an avowed supporter of undiluted capitalism (my faith, like Mr Greenspan's, is being sorely tested), I believe that the growing inequity in America is a clear and present danger of the first order. As Mr Buffett said, and I paraphrase, "There's a problem when my secretary has a higher marginal tax rate than I do." It is time for a focus on the middle class and those not quite there, and I believe Mr Obama has an abiding edge in that regard. (I buy his tax policy, though it will not help my net worth—as stated, and simply put, those with incomes less than $250,000 will see their taxes reduced; this encompasses, also, the vast majority of small business and I am a rabid small business advocate.) As to the "redistributionist" talk, if we wanted to erase re-distribution, we'd have to begin by wiping out Medicaid and Medicare and the progressive income tax of 90 years standing and cut the education budget, among others, to approximately zero. In short, I trust Mr Obama with the economy more than Mr McCain. As to the "threat" of a significant Democratic majority across the board, there may be problems, but I have a hard time imagining Congress pushing Mr Obama around. (NB: Though I probably would have come down on the Obama side in any event, I would have given McCain far more consideration, especially concerning economic affairs, and, of course, succession, if Mr Romney had been his running mate.)
- I neither want a conservative Supreme Court nor a liberal Court. The swing to the conservative end of the scale would likely exceed my comfort level if Mr McCain had two or three vacancies to fill.
In 1960, I was 18—but the voting age was 21. Mr Eisenhower was an effective President, a great occupant of the office for 1952-1960. But Mr Kennedy represented a sprightly America embracing its next chapter with matchless vigor and optimism. In a way, in 2008 I have the chance to finally cast my "Kennedy vote"—and I have decided to do so by checking the Obama box on my ballot. (Actually, I already have.)
It is not my goal here to convince a single soul concerning next Tuesday's election. It has been my goal here to be "transparent" at tompeters.com concerning a topic that has captivated all of our attention. (This Blog is one of my true loves—and I will go to great lengths to protect what it stands for.)
Thank you for your attention if you have read this far.
(I am prepared for a deluge of huffy Comments, which is fair enough. I would prefer no positive Comments—I am not trying to persuade or seeking mates, as I said; I am simply stating my view to our community.)
Tom Peters posted this on 11/01/2008.
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What we're talking about on the front page.