Category: Cool Friends

Best of the Cool Friends:
Paco Underhill

This first full week of retail's holiday season is a great time to revisit our chat with an expert on the subject of shopping, Paco Underhill. He's the president and founder of Envirosell, a New York consultancy that does research on shoppers' behavior, shopping environments, layout, and merchandising. We interviewed him back in 2001, a year after publication of his first book Why We Buy: the Science of Shopping, which has since been updated for "the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond." His latest is What Women Want, and his company has done the research. If you're aiming at maximizing sales in this holiday season, you might want to take a look at the book (also an audiobook), or this video from the Envirosell website featuring Paco speaking on the forces guiding shoppers worldwide.

Get started reading with Paco Underhill's Cool Friends interview. And ... Happy Holidays!

Best of the Cool Friends
Marti Barletta

One of Tom's favorite topics is the Women's Market, so who better than Marti Barletta to be included in the best of the Cool Friends? Her first book was Marketing to Women, and we talked to her about it in 2004. Her second book was PrimeTime Women, a label she gave to women aged 50 to 70, who needed a better descriptor than "Mature Market." That 2007 interview begins with a discussion of marketers' problem getting their ads onto the screens that people are actually looking at. That discussion continues to this day.

Best of the Cool Friends
John Maeda

John Maeda became a Cool Friend back in 2006, when he was an MIT professor and a member of the MIT Media Lab. Now, he is president of Rhode Island School of Design. An arts administrator with technology in his background, he is at the forefront of the push to get STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) changed to STEAM (A for Art), a campaign Tom has embraced, as you can see in his recent "What I've Come/Am Coming to Believe" posting. In light of the effort by both Maeda and Tom to gain recognition for the importance of art in education, now is a good time to revisit Maeda's Cool Friends interview.

Best of the Cool Friends
Ed Michaels

In keeping with Tom's latest eBook, People First!, we're highlighting a Cool Friend who wrote the book on Talent. Ed Michaels was part of a McKinsey & Co. group who studied the practices of 20 companies that excelled at finding and keeping talented employees. The study resulted in a 2001 book outlining the findings, and Ed Michaels was a coauthor of that book, The War for Talent. Tom's chosen to bring the topic up for discussion a decade later, so it might be a good time to take a look at this Cool Friends interview. You'll find some still useful insights.

Cool Friend #159
Dan Coyle (No.2)

Our new Cool Friend, Dan Coyle, is revisiting us to talk about a new book, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills. It's a follow-up to The Talent Code, which we discussed with him in 2009. Here's what Tom has to say about the book:

It's so juvenile to throw around hyperbolic terms such as "life-changing," but there's no other way to describe The Little Book of Talent. I was avidly trying new things within the first half hour of reading it and haven't stopped since. Brilliant. And yes: life-changing.

You can read the Cool Friends interview here, or read more at Dan's website:

Cool Friend #158
George Kohlrieser

New Cool Friend George Kohlrieser is an internationally recognized expert on leadership. He's also an award-winning author, consultant, media commentator, and motivational speaker. Best known, perhaps, for his book Hostage At The Table, he is acclaimed for introducing the hostage metaphor to leadership development. Currently, he is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD, the International Institute for Management Development, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he directs the High Performance Leadership (HPL) Program. Shelley Dolley spoke to him about his new book, Care to Dare. You can read his Cool Friend interview here, or visit his website,, for more information.

Best of the Cool Friends
Sally Helgesen

With three interviews to her credit, Sally Helgesen is not only one of our favorite Cool Friends, she's tied for first place in frequency of Cool Friends solo interviews (with the prolific Seth Godin!). She also has a section of Tom's Mother of All Presentations devoted to her work. Best known for her 1990 classic, The Female Advantage, Sally has a focus on women's work issues, but her insights are universal—perhaps essential for all who would succeed at work in the 21st Century.

Interview No.1, posted 2000. Book under discussion: The Web of Inclusion: A New Architecture for Building Great Organizations.

Interview No.2, posted 2002, and the book: Thriving in 24/7: Six Strategies for Taming the New World of Work.

Interview No.3, posted 2010, and the book featured (coauthored with Julie Johnson): The Female Vision: Women's Real Power at Work.

We'd suggest you read all three interviews and maybe pick up a couple of Sally's books, too!

Best of the Cool Friends
Tom Kelley

One of Tom's favorite topics is innovation, and you'd have a hard time finding a more expert person on the subject than Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO. His business is innovation, and we spoke to him twice, following publication of his first and second books. By reading his two interviews (links below) at, you get a very good overview of an innovative organization, and perhaps some tips on making your own organization more so. Best quote: "So part of the message of my book and the message from people like Tom [Peters] is that it's okay to act differently."

Tom Kelley Interview No. 1, following his first book, The Art of Innovation.

Tom Kelley Interview No. 2, following his second book, The Ten Faces of Innovation. Feedback from readers of the first book prompted him to write the second.

If you would like to learn more, we also have an interview with Tom Kelley's brother David Kelley, CEO of IDEO, who describes some of the history of that very cool innovation factory.

Best of the Cool Friends
David Maister

One of Tom's frequent themes is the need for all businesses—that is, all, minuscule to gargantuan—to conduct themselves like Professional Service Firms. Furthermore, Tom recognizes David Maister as the world's leading authority on the management of professional service firms. So, in the second of the Best of the Cool Friends series, we'd like to revisit the interview Erik Hansen did with David Maister in October 2000, which contains some very up-to-date insights. If you'd like to catch up with David's more recent work, you can do so at his website, or check out his latest book, Strategy and the Fat Smoker (meaning: some habits are hard to change!).

Best of the Cool Friends
Ray Kurzweil

Tom mentioned Ray Kurzweil in a recent post. We thought it would be enlightening to revisit the Cool Friend conversation Erik Hansen had with Ray back in 2005 about, among other things, Ray's book, The Singularity. Our realization that we wanted to go back and read this interview prompted Tom to suggest that we occasionally highlight a particularly engrossing Cool Friend interview. Thus the Best of the Cool Friends Series was born!