"My favorite people (Brand Yous) are ... CURIOSITY FREAKS." Tom Peters
Over 25 years ago I met Jose Salibi Neto. He had co-founded with two others the HSM group in Brazil (the "S" is Salibi), and asked me to speak at one of his conferences. (Jose graduated from the University of South Carolina, which he attended, in part, on a tennis scholarship.) From Day 1, Jose and his partners set out to achieve eye-popping Excellence in all their work. And they did. In a few years, HSM started producing events in the likes of Argentina and Mexico and Spain. Then, in a nervy move, they came to the USA. Not just "to the USA," but to Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan . (I took part in a couple of the stunning Manhattan forums—and speaking from the Radio City stage to an audience of several thousand is surely near the start of my highlights tape.) HSM's speaker lineups were stellar, featuring CEOs, heads of state, Nobel laureates, and some hangers-on like myself.
The organization has gone through various transitions, with the quality and imaginative features always off the charts. The events are incredibly well thought out, making them a joy for speakers and attendees alike—ah, those "Little BIG Things." (FYI, the group is now called WOBI, World Of Business Ideas.)
At any rate, here I am in glorious Milano for the World Business Forum. Moreover, I'm surrounded on stage by great pals, old and new. It just doesn't get any better than my longtime colleagues Kevin Roberts and Dan Pink—what a duo. I'll also meet one of my newest heroes, Susan Cain, author of the "gamechanger" (term merited in this instance) book Quiet; and I've also made the acquaintance of Luke Williams, Stern B-School stalwart and champion of disruptive business practices.
All in all, as good as it gets. Oh yes, this wraps up my year of speaking, and as usual I have been supported by a cast of Hall of Famers. The Washington Speakers Bureau and I have been married forever, almost literally. They re-invented their industry and have established an invariant standard of Excellence-squared. So many have helped me there, but I'll single out just one. Speakers are paired up with "ECs," Event Co-coordinators—a WSB invention. Mike Sauer has gone so many extra miles so many times that 1,000 words of praise would only scratch the surface. The "home team" of Shelley Dolley, Charlie Macomber, Nancy Paul, and Cathy Mosca have also gone an uncountable number of extra miles—just when we think we've seen it all, another curve ball shoots plateward.
Thanks to all of you—and thanks to, of course, the real customers, the audiences that have given me an opportunity to bend their ears.
[Photo above: "Life on the Road"]
When I prepare for a presentation, I gather material from here and there, old and new, and start to play with it. Over the last 18 months, my thinking, underpinned by a killer reading list in particular, has undergone pretty dramatic changes—and, frankly, I needed to pull together my material (in PPT format) in order to figure out what I am thinking at the moment. (I'm stealing here from the great psychologist Jerome Bruner: "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?") At any rate, about four or five months ago I started pasting up some sort of new-ish "master presentation" which would essentially be my more or less encyclopedia from which I'd cherrypick appropriate material for a given event/seminar. What emerged after 100s (1000s, actually, or 1000s of 1000s) of iterations is hereby offered, all roughly 900+ slides worth, for you to use as you wish or if you wish. Unlike the 4,096-slide excellencenow.com PowerPoint monster presentation (we call it "MOAP," the Mother Of All Presentations), this one is not, at least at the moment, annotated. Sorry. In any event, I hope you find our newest hatched egg of some value. Putting it together was certainly a valuable exercise for me—and fun, too. (It's a very very cool time to be thinking about "all this." Boredom is not on my top 10,000 problems list.)
Maybe not to you, but to me these DAILY stats came as a shock:
154.6 billion emails
400 million tweets
16 billion words on Facebook
52 TRILLION words on email and social media*
(*equivalent to 520 million books)
Said stats appeared in the October issue of the Wired written by Clive Thompson: "THINKING OUT LOUD: How Successful Networks Nurture Good Ideas." I was captivated from start to finish. I admit a positive bias toward the value of social media, gaming, etc. On my lengthy list of recent reads you'll find at the top: Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter and Jane McGonigal's Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Thompson suggests that our social publication mania also yields extraordinary benefits. Here are a few quotes (which, of course, I also turned into a micro-PowerPoint presentation):
"Before the Internet, most people rarely wrote for pleasure or intellectual satisfaction after graduating from high school or college. ... The fact that so many of us are writing—sharing our ideas, good and bad, for the world to see—has changed the way we think. Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge."
"Having an audience can clarify thinking. It's easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing. ... Studies have found that the effort of communicating to someone else forces you to pay more attention and learn more."
"Brenda Clark Gray, an instructor at Douglas College in British Columbia, had her English students create Wikipedia entries on Canadian writers to see if it would get them to take the assignment more seriously. She was stunned at how well it worked. 'Often they're handing in these essays without any citations, but with Wikipedia they suddenly were staying up till 2 a.m. honing and writing the entries and carefully sourcing everything,' she tells me. The reason, the students explained to her, was that their audience—the Wikipedia community—was quite gimlet-eyed and critical. They were harder 'graders' than Gray herself."
"Once thinking is public, connections take over. Anyone who's Googled a favorite hobby, food, or political subject has discovered some teeming site devoted to servicing the infinitesimal fraction of the public that shares their otherwise obscure obsession. (Mine: guitar pedals, modular origami, and the 1970s anime show Battle of the Planets.) Propelled by the hyperlink, the Internet is a connection-making machine. And making connections is a big deal in the history of thought. ..."
This most recent new PPT from Tom gives his ideas on the priorities of managers. He makes a strong case for the importance of: first-line supervisors, hiring, evaluations, listening, and developing your people. Take a look:
In addition, he's added more thoughts to his current Master Presentation. You can get the update here:
This week's travels take Tom to Switzerland, near Zurich, where he's speaking to a group at ZfU International Business School. The topic, according to their website is The Essentials of Leadership. You can get the PPTs of the day with the links below:
Today, Tom's in Florida speaking to the Dental Trade Alliance. Established in 2004, the DTA resulted from the joining of two established organizations, the American Dental Trade Association and the Dental Manufacturers of America. In part, it funds programs that "either improve access to or the effectiveness of the oral healthcare system."
I was eyeballing my new MASTER presentation. Some numbers popped out. So I decided to see if I could build a reasonable inclusive story from a handful of numbers ... 31 numbers to be exact. Herewith the result:
Tom's been exploring new topics that look to the future, e.g., gamification, machines, robotics, social business, nanotechnology, and he's moved them to the forefront in his presentations. In this new collection of Big Things, he's assembled 63 things he feels are most important for all of us to know now. So, take a look, and perhaps make a reading list for yourself. There's a great deal of suggested material here in any of the above topics that strike you as essential to your future.
[10.22.13: Updated, now 73: 66 Big Things]
W. Edwards Deming, the quality guru-of-gurus, called the standard evaluation process the worst of management de-motivators. I don't disagree. For some reason or other, I launched several tweets on the subject a couple of days ago. Here are a few of them:
Do football coaches or theater directors use a standard evaluation form to assess their players/actors? Stupid question, eh?
Does the CEO use a standard evaluation form for her VPs? If not, then why use one for front line employees?
Evaluating someone is a conversation/several conversations/a dialogue/ongoing, not filling out a form once every 6 months or year.
If you (boss/leader) are not exhausted after an evaluation conversation, then it wasn't a serious conversation.
I am not keen on formal high-potential employee I.D. programs. As manager, I will treat all team members as potential "high potentials."
Each of my eight "direct reports" has an utterly unique professional trajectory. How could a standardized evaluation form serve any useful purpose?
Standardized evaluation forms are as stupid for assessing the 10 baristas at a Starbucks shop as for assessing Starbucks' 10 senior vice presidents.
Evaluation: No problem with a shared checklist to guide part of the conversation. But the "off list" discussion will by far be the most important element.
How do you "identify" "high potentials"? You don't! They identify themselves—that's the whole point.
"High potentials" will take care of themselves. The great productivity "secret" is improving the performance of the 60% in the middle of the distribution.
Tom has probably been to Dubai at least a dozen times. This, in fact, is his second opportunity to address the annual HR Summit. Old friends from IIR are the organizers—they have shepherded him through working visits to the likes of Dubai, Angola, South Africa, Russia, and Thailand.
Slides: HR Summmit, Dubai
Tom is preparing for his Dubai adventure. He has concocted a "master presentation" which is consistent with his most up-to-date thinking and work.
All yours ...
[Updated 10.22.13: Master, 22 October 2013]
Tom is speaking today at the Nordic Business Forum 2013 in Jyvaskyla, Finland. (Jyvaskyla is about 200KM north of Helsinki.) The 3-day program of which he is part also includes presentations by Malcolm Gladwell, Jack Welch, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, among others.
Tom's in Stavanger, Norway, and he spoke at a conference titled PULPIT // 2013. There is a popular hiking spot nearby with the same name, Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen in Norwegian. The presentation is linked below.
Via Sally Helgesen writing at strategy+business.com, we get a book recommendation, that is, Laura Rittenhouse's Investing Between the Lines: How to Make Smarter Decisions by Decoding CEO Communications. Sally explains the background of the book and Laura's Rittenhouse Rankings, where companies' CEO letters and other forms of corporate communications are scored on transparency and language that indicates truth-telling, using techniques of forensic investigators and SEC analysts. Points are deducted for FOG, "fact-deficient, obfuscating generalities." I love that term. Who hasn't been frustrated by jargon-filled messages with no apparent meaning?
Tom started a Twitter thread on 18 August, and people jumped in enthusiastically with their faves (see the whole list, with credits, at "read more" below): mind-mapping, blue sky thinking, business transformation, discuss off-line, there's a disconnect, war room and all military metaphors, team player, bang for buck. And the winners are! ... "firm up over the grey areas" and "may or may not be related to." FOG? Absolutely.
In her book review, Sally goes on to say that Rittenhouse garnered criticism for trying to quantify something as soft as words. As Tom has said many times, "Hard is soft. Soft is hard," i.e., it's a cinch to make the numbers show whatever you want to prove, but the soft stuff like words is much harder. And, with forensic analysis, harder to hide behind. Trying to obscure the truth will reveal itself, and be publicized in the Rittenhouse Rankings.
Thanks to Sally Helgesen for sending this story our way.
Tom spoke to a group at Corporate Visions, a firm that provides "marketing and sales messaging, tools and training products and services" to globally recognized companies. The PPT presentation is linked below, and it includes many new insights Tom has culled from books he's read recently, most notably, books about gaming.
In many circles, the book was anxiously awaited. It was anxiously awaited by Tom, too. He assumed the book would be a hatchet job—and that one of the hatchets would be imbedded in his back.
He need not have worried. The book: The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business, by Duff McDonald. It produces as many positives about McKinsey as negatives. But Tom and In Search of Excellence are treated in glowing terms. "I was stunned," he told us. There are numerous references to Tom and Bob Waterman, but the brief excerpt below is indicative:
"Though his tenure was relatively short and he left under contentious circumstances, Peters is the most famous consultant McKinsey has ever produced. His influence on the firm was enormous and helped raise its profile beyond Bower's wildest dreams. ... Peters helped rebrand McKinsey as a group of thinkers, while at the same time revealing some less-than-great qualities of McKinsey, such as its utter incapacity to deal with a star in its midst."
This week on the blog at the NewYorker.com, an article titled "You Are What You Tweet" discussed the subject of personal branding. It gives credit to Tom for sparking the phenomenon in his Fast Company piece, "The Brand Called You," which outlined the idea that all workers (receptionists to CEOs) must be in control of their own careers. Sixteen years after publication, Tom's article is still the go-to resource on the subject, though he couldn't predict the impact of social media, as explored in the New Yorker blog. We suggest you read them both.
Continuing his exploration of the subject he introduced here in a blog titled Quiet!, Tom wrote an article for the Financial Times about the value of introverts in a position of leadership. Tom begins with acknowledging that the idea may be opposite to theories he's espoused in the past. Bottom line: There's room at the top for quiet thinkers along with the take-action leaders he's cheered on for years. Registration at ft.com is required for viewing the article. We think you'll find it worth the effort:
"Leaders Must Watch and Wait More Often" (posted at ft.com on Monday, 26 August 2013).
A few weeks ago, Jean-Jacques Dubray, from a website called b-mc2.com, sent a direct tweet to Tom alerting him to a BOLT diagram he'd assembled from Tom's Leadership Reductionist Self-Assessment. Tom liked it and asked us to post a link. The graphical representation of Tom's desirable leadership traits brings into focus what he considers the most important skills in a leader, and also provides a pathway for studying these skills or putting them into practice. Enjoy!
For those who are subscribed to receive a weekly quote from Tom in their inbox, we're excited to announce that a new design will launch on Monday, the 19th. We think you'll enjoy the new look, as it has a much stronger focus on why you subscribed: the content. We'd love to hear what you think; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you haven't signed up yet to have Tom's words start your week with a bang, now's the time: Subscribe!
As some of you know, I have been regularly shouting about Susan Cain's book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I think it's a breakthrough book. Put simply, I judge that many of us have undervalued, and often underemployed and underutilized, roughly half the population—introverts. In any event, as usual, I turned my favorite bits into, what else, a PowerPoint "presentation." You'll find it here. I urge you to take it seriously—start by buying the book!
(I first used Cain's book at a talk to a tough-as-nails company in a wildly competitive market. They talk tough, and acknowledge having a strong hiring bias in the direction of "aggressive" people. Makes sense in their world—but what if they're missing out on a huge hunk of the population that brings different and desirable traits to the party? E.g., looking before leaping. Several folks came up afterwards and claimed that they'd give this a lot of thorough examination—that there might be another planet to explore.)
I repeat: This could be huge!
Tom launched August with a twitter frenzy. A few highlights:
Giving feedback is not for amateurs.
Is there any more difficult task than giving effective feedback? If there is, I can't imagine what it would be.
If you think giving feedback is easy or "straightforward," then you are hyper-shitty at giving feedback.
No one is open to poorly proffered feedback. No one = No one.
Giving feedback is a skill to be studied, practiced and mastered as much/as carefully as, say, playing the piano.
Begin with a planet-class training course [on giving feedback], require EVERYONE to take it, provide mandatory annual refresher.
You are a lively soul, and I salute you. But as a boss, be careful when you tease someone who works for you. BE VERY CAREFUL.
Always remember, boss/project leader, the hypersensitive ones may be your very best folk. Don't mistake your thick skin for the norm.
Teasing people is a dangerous profession. (Under any and all conditions.)
@Gil_Bashe 2h @tom_peters Think we need to see our actions in the lens of how we impact others - never to embarrass always to advance the human condition.
Teasing In Cyberspace
Teasing is about all the senses taken together. It can backfire X100 in cyber-conversations.
Use of body language in the theater and on the screen are two very different states of affairs.
Using body language in 2-dimensional space obviously doable. As movie directors know as a matter of course.
Reading body language effectively is 10X more difficult than reading Shakespeare.
As a public speaker, effectively reading body language is perhaps #1 skill/asset
On Bosses' Delusions
If you are a boss and are pleased that people came around to see things your way, worry. Worry a lot.
Boss: Never mistake the fact that people agree with you for their actual feelings
On Who You Hang Out With
@oribrafman When you interact with others who are different, amazing, and serendipitous, things tend to happen.
TP Responses to @oribrafman:
Making this happen regularly [interaction with those who are different] is of the utmost personal and organizational importance and demands systematic thought
And when you fail to do this you mentally and emotionally shrivel by the hour.
This is not a "good idea." It's a life or death, win or lose strategic outlook.
This is not a "generic" issue. This is a ... TODAY ISSUE
Straight talk: You must work your ass off on this. Without intervention, "same same" is the default option.
Top 2 innovation imperatives: Try a lot of stuff. Hang out with interesting people.
Tom is vacationing by the Atlantic Ocean. Yesterday morning [Monday 29 July] he took a beach walk at 6a.m. "Gorgeous," he says. But how would he know? He tweeted his way down the beach. Turned out to be a tweet sequence he'd like to reproduce here. "Sterling," he calls it.
Starting vacation today? Vacation goal: No vacation goal. REFRESH. [Pure hypocrisy on Tom's part—cm]
Vacation: Unless you are a truly shitty manager, your team can live w/o you for 48 hours. No emails. ZERO.
19 people require 19 different "management styles." (Just like great teacher who has distinctive way of dealing with each of 19 10-yr-olds.)
Yo, jovial boss: Some of your very best folks hypersensitive. Light wiseass remark can demoralize them for month. Uh, people are different.
"Jovial" types often dim when it comes to hypersensitive types ... who are often your most thoughtful people.
Don't waste a moment this week persuading naysayers. Spend your time deepening and widening network of allies.
Monday reminder: A "small" act of incivility may well be remembered for 10 years.
Make your 1st meeting today a demo of Leadership Excellence. Prep your ass off.
Make your 1st 10 emails of the day positive!! Every damn one of them!!
Thank 5 people for SOMETHING before day's end.
MBWA today ... or bust.
Thank a front-line employee this morning for bringing a great attitude to work this Monday morning.
Suck down for success! Add 2 people 2 levels "down" in another function to your network. The Real Work is done "down" there.
Are you 40? 45? 50? Sign up for a Web course this week on something new you need to understand. DO NOT DELAY.
Bain study concluded that 80% of companies think their service is good. 20% of their customers think so. Do you have similar disconnect?
When I ask you Friday afternoon, "Who was the most interesting person you added to your network this week," what will your answer be?
Devote the week to better cross-functional integration. Do SOMETHING in that regard before 11AM this morning.
Is there anyone on your agenda for the week who will give you a genuinely novel perspective on something of importance? If not, why not?
I'm mostly a function over form guy. My iPhone a sleek beauty; or, rather, it was until I put an ugly, garish, drop-proof cheap case on it.
Passed a Frank Gehry-ish house on beach walk. High on artsy-fartsy scale, likely a leaky nightmare to live in. (I'm a Donald Norman-ist.)
[We're glad he paused long enough to take a photo—below—cm]
Tom's caption: World War II pillbox, Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, MA, as of 30 July 2013
In keeping with Tom's long-held conviction that every document can be improved—if only by one word if a closer-to-perfect word can be found—he has provided a revision to his "'Reductionist' Leadership Self-Assessment." Only one element has been changed (not in substance, in wording only), but the revision is, in fact, an improvement. For good measure, he made the piece into a PowerPoint presentation, too. We hope you'll download and use whichever you like.
"Reductionist" Leadership Self-Assessment PDF
"Reductionist" Leadership PPT
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.