"I think 'beauty' has a (prominent) place in every project." Tom Peters
Michael Schrage's Serious Play has arrived in book stores.
I wrote the forward.
I called it "the best book I've ever read on innovation."
I meant it!
I mean it!
I urge you to read it!
I urge you to send it to friends!
There's a William James quote I've often used: "The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated."
James, of course, was the turn-of-the-last-century psychologist, America's premiere psychologist.
And he got it right!!!
Gave a speech yesterday.
To 4,000 safety professionals.
(Members of the National Safety Council.)
In New Orleans.
I said -- sincerely -- that safety, health and environment types were key players -- if they see fit to so be -- in the Great War for Talent ... that's encompassing every industry.
As I left the conference center, a fellow came up to me.
About 45, I'd guess. Exec in the USWA.
(United Steel Workers of America, for those not in the know.)
Had tears in his eyes, and admitted as much.
Said my speech was the first time in his 25-year career that anyone "of importance" had said that his job (safety!) mattered!
Of course, I was flattered.
And, God knows, touched.
But I was also appalled.
WHY DO WE SO REGULARLY FAIL TO PUBLICLY APPRECIATE PROFESSIONALS WHO DO CARE??
Please. Think about this.
Success means never letting the competition define you. Instead you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about.—Tom Chappell, Tom's of Maine
YOU MUST CARE.
That's my conclusion.
You can't stand out ... unless ... your heart is in it. And ... on your sleeve.
Hint: "It" holds for bankers and accountants as well as ad agency types and restaurateurs.
I think my entire "career" has been about ... PASSION. That is, business is not a dispassionate sport.
Not a spectator sport. Instead ... it's a "people sport."
All about daring do, leaps of faith and creation of the new and nervy.
(Think iMac.) Perhaps that's not news to you. In 1999.
But it was news in 1982—the In Search of Excellence year.
Everything Bob Waterman and I said contradicted conventional wisdom ... Harvard Business School style.
That "wisdom": Stay detached. Follow the numbers.
He who has the best plan wins.
(Robert -- "Body Count Bob" -- McNamara's prosecution of the Vietnam war was the height -- or, rather, depths -- of this approach.
Oddly, two Harvard profs, Bob Hayes and Bill Abernathy, blew the lid off the dirty little secret with their landmark article in the Harvard Business Review: "Managing Our Way to Economic Decline."
That merciless attack on detachment was the true antecedent to our book.
And marked a tectonic shift in management thinking.)
On to Atlanta. July 1999.
Speech to Gift Show attendees.
Mostly small retailers.
So ... how do you compete -- or, rather, can you compete -- with the "big box" retailers?
My response: Only one way! You must ... L-O-V-E ... what you are selling. E-V-E-R-Y L-A-S-T I-T-E-M.
Every item must have a "story." Must "make sense."
If you surmount that hurdle -- the "love" hurdle? -- then Wal*Mart is a piece of cake.
That is, your store will exude character, a personality, a point of view that no giant can match.
(Chuck Williams, some say, created the modern American kitchen.
Williams, founder of Williams-Sonoma, once explained his success like this: "I just bought what I liked.
I never bought anything I didn't like.
Fortunately, a lot of people liked what I liked."
That's an understatement: We bought into Chuck's passionate vision of what a kitchen could be.
At least, I know I did.)
And .. now ... it's October 13, 1999.
Speaking to 300 members of the Ohio Association of Broadcasters in Columbus.
Issue: Radio stations that do -- and don't -- follow the herd.
My answer: YOU MUST CARE.
You must have an "idea" that matters ... to you.
That's important ... to you.
Many radio station execs get caught in ultra-conventional ruts.
E.g.: "Go for the '25-54 market.' Or else."
"NO" ... I shouted.
I can't imagine getting excited about "25-54 with incomes between $41,000 and $62,000."
(Excited = Can't wait to get out of bed in the morning .. so I can try something new.)
I c-a-n easily imagine getting excited about "women" -- who are woefully underserved -- as market opportunity.
About "the elderly" -- who are woefully underserved -- as market opportunity.
Or something of the (peculiar ... quirky ... distinct) sort.
That is, I can easily get excited about an underserved category that has emotional resonance ... for me.
Am I being clear? My (professional) life is staked on ... PASSION ... EMOTION.
If I care ... I win. If I don't ... I lose. It is that simple.
(To care, of course, is not automatically to win.
But ... to n-o-t care ... is to ... automatically lose.
In more ways than one!)
(To my delight, several station owners rushed to tell me they agreed ... and had staked successful claims -- in the face of their Wal*Marts -- based on a quirky point of view.)
Bottom line: Branding (that works) = Caring. Tom Chappell: "... a point of view you care deeply about."
P.S.: This holds for the projects (in, say, IS or HR) that you undertake as much as for retailers and radio stations.
Okay, I live on a farm in Vermont ... and have a second home by a lighthouse at the end of the world.
I.e.: I love fresh air.
So: IT MAY BE MY NO.1 BONE TO PICK WITH SOME - MANY! - HOTELS.
ROOMS WITH WINDOWS THAT DON'T OPEN.
I'm in one of those as we speak ... a Marriott in Columbus, Ohio.
I can't get the heat to go off either.
I am - literally! - about to lose my mind. HELP!
P.S.: What annoys you most about the road warrior life?
(No more than 200 entries per person, please!)
P.P.S.: Women repeatedly tell me that they are - still! - singled out by airlines and hotels for crappy, dismissive, inattentive service.
LET'S HEAR - YEAH AND NAY - FROM WOMEN ON THIS. PLEASE.
The cursor blinks at me. It wants food. Entries. Meat. What's up in your life?
Answer: I'm tired. Four seminars last week.
Ranged from NCR users conference in Orlando to customer conf. for Daiken America in New York to webcast for Yahoo Broadcast Services from Charlotte, NC.
(Oh yeah, there was a seminar - all day - in there somewhere from San Diego.) (And a jillion media interviews for the new books were sandwiched in ... between ... somehow!)
Then a short weekend at Susan and my Cape Pogue house (reachable only by a long, four-wheel drive ride in the deep sand!).
We read and vegged. (She's a stressed out entrepreneur. And a mom. And ... )
Then I scooted off at 7pm Sunday for Destin, Florida. (New city to me. No small thing. On the Florida Panhandle.)
Speech to execs of the Southern Company. They're an oxymoron: a "with it" utility! Fun to be around them. (Esp. CEO Bill Dahlberg. A true rebel.)
Hank Aaron and Tommy Lasorda and Brooks Robinson preceded me on Sunday night. Now it's my turn. No quarter given. Try to shake them up.
Internet revolution. Revolution in general. Many tuned out. Some tuned (way) in. They are the ones! The 3 percent!
The "get it" crowd. They are the reason I keep doing this body-brutalizing work. The ones who smile knowingly.
Who will use my exhortations as an excuse for pushing a bit harder. For raising a bit more Hell.
And now I'm on a plane. Again. Heading home. Vermont. For ... yes ... all of 17 hours. Before leaving for my next gig in Columbus.
It's a life. There a-r-e things I wanna say. So ... what can I say?
Ray Kurzweil is no flake. He has numerous startups under his belt and a host of patents to his name [including some of the most important voice recognition patents]. Go - now! - to his amazing essay on the future of computing - and life! - at: http://www.kurzweiltech.com/wired/.
More fun today! Spoke in Orlando to NCR users conference ... those who run "data warehouses." (I.e.: humongous data repositories at the likes of Sears or Wal*Mart.)
Started by telling them I thought "data warehouse" was a wretched term! Sounds dull. They ain't! In Internet world … mass customization world … the "data warehouse" is the (potential) Strategic Engine of the Corporation. (E.g.: Dell, Amazon.com.)
Words/titles/names are important!
Dull name = Dull image = Unimaginative role in the corporation.
My session to 2,000 was led off by a brief, live, vibrant rock performance. I said I thought "data warehousers" ought to imagine themselves as "Rock Stars of the IS/IT Age." Hint: I meant it! (Hint: They liked it!) (Hint: Why not?)
Bigger issue: "Depts." that are seen as "cost centers" and/or "support functions." Horrible -- and I hope misleading -- image. Data warehousers, I said, are in the "sales, customer retention/loyalty, service, customer R&D 'business.'"
(This came just three days after the CEO of Bentley Systems, Inc. thanked me for treating engineers and architects as "sources of scintillating value-added in the brain-based economy" rather than "overhead." Why -- oh why -- these dreary images????)
(One convert: On the way out of the hall at the NCR event, one fellow accosted me and said he "absolutely" would change the name of his group. Hooray! One for two-thousand … not bad.)
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.