"Tolerate nothing less than 'Departmental excellence and coolness.'" Tom Peters
Everything can be taken from man but one thing, the last of human freedoms - to choose one's own attitude in any set of circumstances.
- Victor Frankl, psychologist and death camp survivor
BLAME NOBODY. EXPECT NOTHING. DO SOMETHING.
- Bill Parcells, NFL Super Bowl coach
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
Okay ... I know it's hackneyed. But it still bears repeating. That is, we [me!] all need constant reminding:
ATTITUDE IS [almost] EVERYTHING!
ATTITUDE IS A PERSONAL CHOICE!
I was ...
... in Hartford the other night. Dealt with two folks. Call them ... Night … and Day. One -- Night -- was the reception-desk person at the relatively pricey hotel where I was staying. She was not rude. She was not unhelpful. It was just that she ... didn't connect. Gave me no sense that I was other than a worm. That's harsh. But you know what I mean. Right? I wasn't there for her in any way, shape, or form.
Then I went to a restaurant next door. Not distinguished. But the waiter was! He/Day wasn't intrusive. Didn't tell me his life's story. But he was there. Connected. For the moments he was at my table, I perceptibly mattered to him. Again: You know what I mean. Right?
[It recalled a story a friend told me about a 15-minute interview with a very famous, very harried captain of industry. "The amazing thing, Tom," he said, "was that for those 15 minutes I was the center of his universe; you would have thought he had nothing on his mind but paying attention to me."]
It all got me thinking about training ... and the age old issue of attitude. There's an old saw: Hire for attitude, train for skill. Old saw. Yes. Sharp saw: ABSO-POSITIVELY-LUTELY.
Training wouldn't do "Night" a damn bit of good ... in my opinion. Oddly, training would be a boon to "Day." "Day" doesn't need training. But the motivated ones - including Michael Jordan - are always thirsty for new tricks of the trade.
Randy Johnson is perhaps major league baseball's most overpowering pitcher. And a consummate pro. He doesn't dog it. Ever. Yet a couple of years ago he was in a funk about his hapless team, the Seattle Mariners. At mid-season, he had an uninspiring record of 9 wins and 10 losses, with a high (for him) runs allowed per game average of 4.23. Then Johnson got his wish and was traded to the highly competitive Houston Astros. Same guy. Same arm. During the rest of the season, Johnson won 12 games, lost but one, and had a spectacular "earned run average" of 1.28. Message: SAME GUY. SAME ARM. SAME SKILLS. DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.
Years ago, I was doing some fund raising. Wasn't very good at it. Always felt I was intruding on the potential donor. Then I came across a simple article, by the head of fund raising at Notre Dame. He said the key was understanding that you were doing the potential donor a great favor ... giving her/him the chance to be part of something they could look back with pride on in 10 or even 25 years. That message really clicked with me. You could rightfully call it an epiphany. I didn't become a tiger overnight, but I did improve my "batting average" markedly. The difference? ATTITUDE. I felt good about myself as I made the calls!
Which brings me to management. As I thought about Day ... and Night ... I came to a new conclusion about the manager's job. As boss, per my new formulation: MY ONLY GOAL IS TO HELP YOU DECIDE WHAT TO MAKE OF YOURSELF … TO HELP YOU CHOOSE WHAT ATTITUDE YOU WILL BRING TO THE DAY'S TASK. If you choose to be Night, there is nothing I can do for you. [Except lament hiring you.] If you choose to be Day … there is no rock I will not overturn to try and abet your passionate cause ... be it housekeeping, waiting or computer programming.
Which, finally, brings me to leadership. The idea of "brand" is hot as a smoking pistol these days. Problem: "Branding" is not a "marketing" issue. It is an attitude issue. That is, "brand outside" (what the marketplace experiences of us) is a function of "brand inside" (the state of our unit/company's soul). In his new and original book, Corporate Religion, Jesper Kunde writes: "Only with a strong spirit at its foundation can a company achieve strong market position."
It is a pleasure to be in Atlanta today. And a pleasure to be about to attend a dinner featuring General Colin Powell as speaker.
Clearly, the two most important things that have occurred in my lifetime are Franklin Delano Roosevelt's victory over Hitler. [And the Great Depression.] And the Civil Rights Movement, orchestrated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [And abetted by the usually maligned Lyndon Baines Johnson.]
We are not yet an equal society. Yet I grew up near Annapolis, Maryland ... where "Colored" toilets were much in evidence. Much remains to be done. Much has been accomplished.
While I fear alienating certain of my "customers," I must admit that my heart today is with protesters who fervently believe that the time has come for the confederate flag to cease flying over state houses in America.
So ... what does Tom Peters think of AOL's little purchase? Answer: HOLY SHIT!
What does "Mr. Anti-merger" [Tom Peters] think? Pretty cool! [There are exceptions to every rule. Plus ... I love how nervous it'll make Michael Eisner. And Willie the G.] It'll shake the globe!
Hey ... didn't take 2000 very long to start with a Bang!
YOU MUST READ-INGEST THIS!
It's rare to be let inside the head ... for $45 ... of the best ... at ... the most important game in town.
So: Read Jakob Nielsen's Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity.
In fact: Don't "read it." "Reading it" will do you little good. (No damn good.)
Instead: INGEST THIS BOOK. (Focus on every "little" illustration. Absorb captions.)
It's simple: Nobody "knows their shit" ... re the issue of Web design ... as well as Jakob. Okay?
This is ... simply ... the best/ most useful book on Web design to appear. Period. (Trust me ... I've read a lot of shit getting to here.)
I HAVE NO POWER. YET I "DEMAND" THAT EVERY CEO READ THIS BOOK. EVERY "LITTLE" DETAIL.
Stay home from work for a day or two. Read this. INGEST THIS. P-l-e-a-s-e.
A Late List! [And you thought you'd seen the last of lists!]
Herewith my "list" for the decade(s) just ended. [I'd not dare to do a century/millennium list. I wasn't around for most of it.]:
1. Company of the century: Only one. GE. It changed shape a dozen times ... THE sign of resilience.
2. Company of the decade: Microsoft. ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD DISAGREE.
3. Product of the decade(s): The Mac. Computing became friendly ... overnight.
4. Businessmen of the decade(s): Sam Walton & Bill Gates. These guys understood BUSINESS! [Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan are their only earlier-century peers.]
5. Inventor of the decade(s): Apple's Steve Jobs. Runners up: Michael Dell, Jim Clark-Marc Andressen, Herb Kelleher. Special innovator's award: Art Fry, 3M, Post Its [I LOVE "ORDINARY" STUFF ... THAT'S EXTRAORDINARY! HENCE: HAIL, TOO, MR./MS. ZIPLOC!].
6. Bus book: Only one candidate ... Henry Mintzberg's The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning.
7. Idea of the decade(s): QUALITY. Credit Deming, Juran, whomever ... this made a difference! I.e.: GOOD SHIT BEATS BAD SHIT!
8. Idea of the Next Decade: INNOVATION. Most "innovations" go bust. NO MATTER: Just Do It! Or else!
9. Most over-rated idea [of the century]: "scientific management." It's elementary: THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT "MANAGEMENT" THAT IS "SCIENTIFIC." [If Peter Drucker disagrees ... well ... he's dead wrong! For once!]
10. "Guru" [bus.] of the decade(s); a three-way tie ... Peter Drucker ... Warren Bennis ... Henry Mintzberg.
HEY! THIS IS IMPORTANT! TOMORROW IS THE FIRST WORK DAY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM! DON'T BLOW IT! [If you read this after 3Jan00 ... well ... I'll grant you a week of grace!] "FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE." WHAT BULLSHIT, EH? HOW HACKNEYED!?
WELL ... THIS TIME ... I'M NOT SO SURE.
THE FIRST WORKDAY OF THE NEW MILLENIUM. YOU RETURN TO WORK. IN-BASKET/INCOMING EMAIL ... STAGGERING. MOST LIKELY SCENARIO: YOU EXCLAIM [#$&&*+!!!##$]. YOU SHRUG ... AND YOU GET ON WITH PROCCESSING WHAT'S IN FRONT OF YOU. NATURAL AS BREATHING. TOTALLY PREDICTABLE.
AND UNCONSCIOUSLY ... STUPID.
HEY ... F-I-R-S-T DAY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.
YOU KNOW OUR SCHTICK(S) BY NOW: WORK THAT MATTERS! WOW PROJECTS! KEWL BRAND YOU! DEPARTMENT AS PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM THAT KICKS ASS! [I.E.: IS WAY COOL!]
SOOOOO ... BAG THE IN BASKET. [FOR NOW.] ALONE OR WITH A FEW COLLEAGUES ... RIGHT NOW ... TAKE ANOTHER/FRESH LOOK AT THAT PROJECT-IN-PROCESS: IS IT SOOOO COOOOL THAT IT MAKES YOU GRIN? IS IT NO-SHIT STATE-OF-THE-ART? CAN YOU IMAGINE BRAGGING ABOUT IT FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? IS IT ABOUT WHO YOU WANT TO BE?
IF NOT NOW ... WHEN? WHEN ... EXACTLY ... WILL YOU "GO FOR WOW"?
[THINK ABOUT IT.]
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.