"Read odd stuff. Look anywhere for ideas." Tom Peters
[Editor's note: Though Tom refers to a TomObservation1.23.01, it was never posted at the site. You won't find it listed on the Observations page.]
On January 23 … distressed by an early announcement from the new administration of proposed funding cuts to certain organizations, I penned a strident pro-choice screed and posted it as TomObservation01.23.01.
One of my colleagues, in a thoughtful, personal email, acknowledged my right to my view, with which he strongly disagrees, but suggested there were more appropriate forums for it than tompeters.com. He argued that my comments were not pertinent to our Work Matters Movement, one of the site's major themes.
I gave it some thought and, reluctantly, agreed. At my direction, we pulled the commentary on the 24th.
Since then two things have happened. For the first time in 10 years I am bedridden. To be precise, at home in Vermont in bed with my leg propped above my head, trying to recover from a very nasty, now-infected puncture wound that resulted from tangling unsuccessfully with coral, on a trip to the North Shore of Kaua'i to celebrate my wife's birthday. [Damned if I can remember which one, but it was significant enough that she wanted to be away.] Thus I have had - horror of horrors - time to think. Secondly, I have received a large number of emails about the short-lived TomObservation01.23.01, which I also e-circulated to a number of folks on my private mailing list. The list consists of about 40% women, and I have heard from about 75% of those women [a wholly unprecedented response rate] … and two men. One of the men, mentioned above, was opposed to my publishing the commentary as an Observation at tompeters.com. The other guy, a Silicon Valley big-wig, and all the responding women replied in the strongest language imaginable ... supporting my view ... aghast at the administration's hasty action … and expressing delight that I had "gone public." [Shorthand: I was blown away by the fervor of the responses, from a group whom I deeply admire, but who have no particular "liberal leanings" - in fact, a couple are very conservative on most issues.]
So ... with trepidation ... I am essentially restoring my TomObservation01.23.01.
Namely, I hereby express my strong pro-choice views. I am not articulate enough on the topic to add to the national debate. [My only foray in that arena was to march as 1 of 500,000 or so in the big pro-choice rally in D.C. about 10 years ago; it was, by the way, my only "march" outside of U.S.Navy drill grounds.] I will merely say:
Some of you will take umbrage at my remarks. I can only say that this commentary is honest, heartfelt and, I pray, not intemperate. The business of business is not profit [profit is a by-product] but people - our employees and our customers. I will personally live - or die - by my belief in increasing human freedom, which emerges from choice, including choice of all kinds by our population's majority: WOMEN. I do not ask my male friends of opposing views to re-examine their stance on pro-/anti-choice; I do, however, urge them to retrace the footsteps I've made in the last 4 years ... as I've learned to my dismay about the continuing global abuse of and restrictions on the freedom of women.
Thank you for your attention. [If I still have it; Web-world, I well know, demands brevity. Sorry!]
- Tom Peters
Went to Kauai for Susan's 50th birthday. Six days. On day #2 I got walloped by North Shore waves, nearly drowned, and ended up with a horrid leg wound from coral. Went "home" (one of) to Palo Alto, to recover before hitting the road … tomorrow … to do more seminars. NEEDED A BREAK. I AM REALLY FREAKED. (Near drowning will do that to you.) Went to Borders this afternoon. Ended up with 14 CDs. (!!!) For those of you who aim to "interpret" me I thought I'd voluntarily tell you the CDs I bought:
(1) James Taylor, Hourglass.
(2) The Art of Glenn Gould.
(3) Joan Baez, Blessed Are.
(4) Pete Seeger's Greatest Hits.
(5) Scott Joplin on Guitar.
(6) Simon & Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence.
(7) Bernstein [Leonard] Favorites.
(8) Monty Python's Life of Brian.
(9) The Complete Rags of Scott Joplin.
(10) Let Me Sing and I'm Happy: AL JOLSON.
(11) Scott Joplin: The Entertainer.
(12) The War Is Over: The Best of Phil Ochs.
(13) Joplin Piano Rags.
(14) Louis Armstrong: WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.
So there you have it: What "gurus" listen to after nearly being swallowed by the Big Wave.
What does that tell you????
- Tom Peters
The governance of anything is a bloody difficult task. Bringing one's fellows to common purpose is never easy. Rising above our natural fractiousness is a labor requiring immense energy and untold persistence.
These thoughts raced through my mind as I watched President Clinton relinquish power and President Bush accept it.
I was, I realized again, witnessing a miracle. I did not vote for Mr. Bush. I disagree with him on many fundamentals. Millions share my view. And yet here was evidence clear, at year 225 of the unique American national experiment, of our ability to disagree, at times sharply, and yet move forward with civility and optimism toward the next dawn.
All who lead, a tiny project team or a large enterprise or agency, would do well to reflect on the passage of power and sense of renewal that America's Inauguration Day portends.
Why, I say as usual, bother to arise in the morning—if one's aim is less than personal and organizational renewal? Service is not limited to wars or presidencies. It is the heart of leadership, global or local. And while critics and skeptics are of the utmost importance to any enterprise, public or private, it is also true that to accomplish anything of note requires suspension of doubt and a bulldog belief in the possibility of change and a better way.
American or not, one hopes that the inspiring example of power and purpose and renewal from the steps of the Capitol in Washington today will lead all of us to reexamine our commitment to making a difference.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What else? Why be?
It seems appropriate that my first 2001 observation should be on the topic I plan to push hardest this year: women's [under-appreciated] leadership potential & women's [underserved] power as a market force. Let's stick with the first … leadership potential. READ IT! That is, the following article in the November-December 2000 Harvard Business Review: Authored by Deloitte & Touche Managing Partner Douglas McCracken, it's titled "Winning the Talent War for Women: Sometimes It Takes a Revolution (http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu/products/hbr/novdec00/R00611.html)." This is a moving & powerful & practical piece. Basically, McCracken says that, following a thoroughgoing study, Deloitte & Touche was stunned to find the fallaciousness of many-most of its guiding assumptions re women's failure to move up the ranks - following stellar early years. To wit: "Deloitte was doing a great job of hiring high-performing women; in fact, women often earned higher performance ratings than men in their first years with the firm. Yet the percentage of women decreased with each step up the career ladder. … Most women weren't leaving to raise families; they had weighed their options in Deloitte's male-dominated culture and found them wanting. Many, dissatisfied with the culture they perceived as endemic to professional service firms, switched professions. … The process of assigning plum accounts was largely unexamined. … Male partners made assumptions: 'I wouldn't put her on that kind of company because it's a tough manufacturing environment.' 'That client is difficult to deal with.' 'Travel puts too much pressure on women.'" McCracken goes on - in detail - to explain what Deloitte's done to deal with this belatedly recognized opportunity. Why do I love this article? (1) The premise is dead-on. (2) It's by a tough-minded CEO of a huge company … who well understands the strategic nature of this [life & death?] issue. (3) There's nothing "soft" about this. Deloitte performed an analysis worthy of its client work, and then proceeded to launch a no-bull initiative to rectify the problem/capitalize on the [awesome!] opportunity. As I said: Read the article! Circulate it widely! Any manager at any level can benefit from/apply these lessons. THIS IS BIG!
- Tom Peters
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.