Category: Excellence was very nice to Bob Waterman and me. Their 27 January piece suggests that we anticipated (In Search of Excellence) most of what's going down even today. They're overly kind—but what the hell. Makes an insanely great morning in New Zealand even better.

Topics Of Current Interest

In the week between Christmas and New Year's a series of topics made their way into my tweetstream:

New Year's Week

This week you get a twofer. An ending and a beginning. Beginnings and endings are all important. Act accordingly.

Good or not so good results, most folks have done their bit to contribute. Show your appreciation this week.

Pope Francis has made an enormous impact on enormous institution with his way of being. Apply to your wee corner of the world this week.

Bad year? It happens. Be a paragon of grace and thoughtfulness.

Good year or not so good year, end it on a high with an un-showy show of energy and enthusiasm and appreciation and joie de vivre.

As the year closes, emphasize that we are a team moving forward. Use the word "we" per se until you're blue in the face.

Leadership 2014: "The Year of the Ear." [Listening rules!]

May each and every one of those you are privileged to lead have a 2014 marked by accomplishment and growth.

Make 2014 the year of committed servant leadership.

Thought for 2014 for those not in formal leadership slots: Every day, on or off the job, offers up a plethora of leadership opportunities! Go for it!


Remember (per me): Excellence is not an "aspiration." It's the next five minutes. Or not.

John Miller: You are only 5 minutes max away from Excellence.

Excellence is not a "culture." It is your next email or IM or 30-second chance meeting in the hall.

If you are a big cheese, excellence that translates into $$$ is about your elevator ride to the top floor.

If ever there were a day for Excellence via MBWA, it's tomorrow.

Remember, excellence is the work that gets done on the real or metaphorical "lower floors." Camp out there this week.

MORE Excellence

Personal impact:

Out work 'em.
Out read 'em.
Out last 'em.
Show up.

Vala Afshar: The Foundation of excellence is:

Extreme politeness

Vala Afshar (or TP?): Excellence is:

Learning people's names
Holding doors open
Greeting people with a smile
Being on time
Being prepared
Front-line Leader Primacy/Training/People First

FIRST place to look re performance deficiencies is excellence (or not) of full cadre of 1st-line leaders.

"Why do companies fail to let underperformers go?"
TP: First priority: Get rid of/reassign least effective 25% of 1st-line leaders, watch what happens.

TP: Often as not, many/most of organizations declared "underperformers" are poorly trained and have truly shitty 1st-line bosses.

TP: First priority: Get rid of/reassign least effective 25% of 1st-line leaders, watch what happens.

Tim Walker: The disparity in skill for those 1st-line leaders is immense, shocking.

New Year's Resolution #1: By end of 2014 we will have made phenomenal progress in improving the quality of our full cadre of 1st-line leaders.

New Year's Resolution #2: By year end 2014, neutral outside evaluators will agree we've moved 10 Big Steps down path to Training Excellence.

New Year's Resolution 2A: We will aggressively invest in training excellence. It will by and large take precedence over CAPEX.

Admiral Chester Nimitz on what the U.S. Navy needed more of, early in the Pacific War [World War II]: Training, TRAINING, MORE TRAINING. [punctuation Nimitz's]

"Tom, what really bugs you these days?"
TP: The "forever problem": Making "putting people 1st" more than lip service. (Maximize mid-/long-term profit via maximizing people development. Q.E.D.)

Vala Afshar: "In a connected economy, an employee investment is also a company brand investment."

TP: As never before! Carve that one into stone!

"Suck DOWN For Success"

"Little" people can get big things done in big places if you master the network; make "low level" pals in key places.

Remember, excellence is the work that gets done on the real or metaphorical "lower floors." Camp out there this week.

My motto: Suck DOWN for success!!!!!

Criticism, [Severe] Limits Thereto

Remember: Criticism poorly given rarely leads to correction. It leads to evasion—avoiding the task in the future.

Joel Heffner: Coaching is like walking on eggs; any dope can criticize.

Try Ed Schein's book Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help. Helping is far more delicate than neurosurgery.

Vala Afshar: Most people will do better work and put greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.

Wendy Maynard: Positivity goes a long way, as does asking people what they think went well.

Wendy Maynard: There's just been too much emphasis in management about "constructive criticism"; it can easily be abused.

Rich McDonald: Why many bosses stink—they watch too many military movies and forget that in-your-face degrading remarks never work for anyone.

Wendy Maynard: Most people were criticized unfairly as kids. As managers, they simply repeat the bad patterns.

Overdoing "Strategy"/Dealing With Strategic Disruption As An Individual

"Amateurs talk about strategy. Professionals talk about logistics."—General Omar Bradley

Great 12/28/13 FT book review: Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory. Chalk up the win as due to superior management/logistics.

Former McKinsey MD to team, on over-emphasizing strategy: "Don't forget the implementation part, boys. It's that all-important 'last 99%.'"

Jack Welch on "strategy": "Pick a general direction and then implement like hell."

TP: Could we call it WTFWUT* rather than "strategy"? [*WhatThe F*** We're Up To] Strategy is too grand a word for me.

Glen Taylor: Like sports—your competitors already know your strategy Success = execution; focus on that to win.

Clay Christensen [and his obsession with disruption] be damned; message for you and me: FIRST, get so frigging good at something that you have reason to worry about being disrupted.

If you spend your life worrying about disruption, you won't have time to get good enough at anything to be disrupted.

Good Work/Twitter

I admit I've tired of Garrison Keillor, but I do like his tag line; it covers a lot of territory: "Be well. Do good work. Keep in touch."

Garrison Keillor: "Do good work." That is a powerful sentiment. How does today for you stack up on that "metric"?

Good work: Of service to our clients. Of service to our peers. Of service to our community. Committed to personal growth. Pushing the limits.

By definition "do good work" revolves around the phrase "of service."

Good work: Help others grow. Infectious enthusiasm. Always approachable. A ready smile. Keeping promises. Learning. Learning. Learning.

Good work: Most of our conscious life will be at work. Like it or not. Waste your work life and you have wasted your life.

Good work: The quality of the experience of producing the product is as important as the product itself.

Not sure why "do good work" struck me so hard. I guess I realize what a monumental challenge it is to live up to day in and day out.


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."

Thought Grenades Podcast

Tom joins long-time friends Robert Thompson and Mike Neiss on their podcast, Thought Grenades. These two former members of the erstwhile Tom Peters Company have been hosting a different thought leader weekly for over three years on their podcast, available through iTunes.

Listen in to find out:

• Why, if you're searching for excellence in business these days, you should start looking with small businesses.
• Why, if you want to criticize government, you should get yourself elected to the local school board.
• Why "Act, think," beats "Think, act.

Presentation Excellence

Tom has given more than 2,500 speeches in the last 30 years. He knows what it's like to face a crowd, whether it be friendly or skeptical. As his own toughest critic, he's never been completely satisfied with his performance.

While he has offered pointers here and there, he's never written at length about speaking until now. We are fortunate that he has overcome whatever trepidation he may have had to tackle this topic. You'll find in the document below extensive advice and practical wisdom about speaking from a man who has spent most of his life on a stage, trying to share knowledge and spur action. Whether you give speeches for a living or on occasion, and even if you don't but you want to understand what makes a great speaker, read this piece. Then put it aside and read it a few months from now. It will change both how you speak as well as how you listen.


Coming to Believe
Manifesto X 3

In June 2012, we released the Korea-inspired "Human Capital Development Manifesto." On January 1st, we added "What I've Come/Am Coming to Believe." Most recently, there came the "Education Manifesto/Polemic." Now I have combined all three, and put them into two files. First a PDF file; second, a PowerPoint presentation.

Herewith ...

Winner’s 7
Winner’s Daily Dozen

Okay, it's just a list—and you've seen 100 like it. Nonetheless, it woke me up in the middle of the night—and I put a few Notes onto my iPhone. It—of course—made it into the electronic sunshine as a tweet. (I'm not terribly keen on "Winner's," but I couldn't figure out anything much better: "Success Factors" a little whatever; "Stuff" not too bad; pick your own—you get the idea, I'm certain.)

Winner's 7: Choose your attitude. Take the lead. Listen intently. Learn something new. Help someone. Arrive early/leave late. Eye contact. [Tweet: 139 characters with spaces]

Winner's Daily Dozen

1. Your call and yours alone: Consciously choose the attitude you take to work this morning. (Bingo: Positive, enthusiastic—regardless of how you feel inside.)
2. Realize that each day literally offers up on a silver platter a dozen leadership opportunities, regardless of your age/experience/rank/seniority/status. (So grab ONE.)
3. Arrive early. Leave late. (Out work 'em ... it works.)
4. Listen aggressively: Formally practice and improve listening skills. (Effective listening = #1 long-term differentiator.)
5. Learn something new today. Meet someone new today. (Reside permanently on the edge of your discomfort zone.)
6. Cherish your boo-boos. (No screw-ups today = Abject failure to nudge ye olde envelope.)
7. Civil. Always. (Make it a religion.)
8. Unbidden, help someone with some[little]thing. (Make it a religion.)
9. Take a nanosecond to say "Thanks" for the tiniest atoms of helpfulness. (Make it a religion.)
10. Smile. (Make it a religion.)
11. Eye contact. (Make it a religion.)
12. EXCELLENCE. Always. (Excellence is not an "aspiration." Excellence is the next five minutes. Or not.)

What I've Come To Believe

I have thoroughly revised last week's paper as a gift to myself before heading to Golden Bay/New Zealand for a few weeks. You'll find it here in PDF format.

Lemme know what you think at Twitter: @tom_peters.

In Brief …

The immediately prior post means a lot to me—and I hope it provokes you, though to many of you it will be old hat. (In which case, forgiveness is begged.) In any event, I have produced a shorthand version, here and in PDF form:

Summary: What I've Come/Am Coming to Believe

*The power to invent (and execute) is switching/flipping rapidly/inexorably to the network. "Me" is transitioning to "We"—as consumers and producers. Nouns are giving way to gerunds—it's an "ing"/shapeshifting world!

*The Internet must stay open and significantly unregulated to enable, among other things, the entrepreneurial spurt that will significantly underpin world economic growth.

*Entrepreneurial behavior and upstart entrepreneurial enterprises have underpinned every monster shift in the past, such as farm to factory. This time will likely be no different.

*An obsession with a "Fortune 500" of more or less stable giants dictating "the way we do things" will likely become an artifact of the past. (Though big companies/"utilities" will not disappear.)

*There is simply no limit to invention or entrepreneurial opportunities! (Please read twice.)

*The new star bosses will be "wizards"/"maestros."

*Sources of sustained profitability will often be elusive in a "soft-services world."

*Control and accountability will be a delicate dance. Now you see it, now you don't ...

*Trial and error, many many many trials and many many many errors very very very rapidly will be the rule; tolerance for and delight in rapid learning—and unlearning—will be a/the most valued skill.

*"Gamers" instinctively "get" the idea of lots of trials, lots of errors, as fast as possible; for this reason among many, "the revolution" is/will be to a very significant degree led by youth.

*Women may well flourish to the point of domination in new leadership roles in these emergent/ethereal settings that dominate the landscape—power will be exercised almost entirely indirectly (routine for most women—more than for their male counterparts), and will largely/elusively inhabit the network per se.

*The "Brand You/Brand Me" idea is alive and well and getting healthier every day and is ... not optional. Fact is, we mostly all will have to behave as/be entrepreneurial tapdancers to survive, let alone thrive. (Again, the under-35 set already seem mostly to get this; besides, this was the norm until 90 years ago.)

*Individual performance and accountability will be more important than ever, but will be measured by one's peers along dimensions such as reliability, trustworthiness, engagement, flexibility, willingness to spend a majority of one's time helping others with no immediate expected return.

*AI is ripping through traditional jobs at an accelerating pace. Virtually no job, circa 2000, no matter how "high end," will remain in a recognizable way within 15-25 years. It's as simple—and as traumatic—as that.

*Wholesale/continuous/intense re-education (forgetting as well as learning) is a lifelong pursuit/imperative; parent Goal #1: Don't kill the curiosity with which the child is born!

*STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) is no doubt significant to a landscape being transformed by technology, though it has severe limitations. I favor the somewhat more robust formulation labeled STEAM/steAm. The "A" is for Art, or the arts. "The arts" are to some extent "what's left" in terms of value creation as AI/robotics vacuum up traditional high-end occupations—think Apple.

*The surprisingly good news: Education is busily re-inventing itself and leaving the ed establishment in the dust! The idea of and shape of education per se are erasing all that's come before.

*GRIN/Genetics-Robotics-Informatics-Nanotech: Overwhelming transformation is hardly just the provenance of AI/Robotics. Change, entrepreneurial activities and early adoption in the "G"/genetics and the "N"/nanotech arenas are accelerating. In fact, our 25 year horizon may border on the unrecognizable.

*Government has a large role to play, like it or not. E.g., government-funded BASIC-research and development is a major-league necessity—which is growing rather than diminishing. Acknowledging the limits, at times severe, of markets is imperative!

*Governance: It is hard to imagine that fundamental systems of human arrangement-governance will remain unchanged.

*Downside? I have during my months of forced re-education personally moved from a position of deep pessimism to one of guarded optimism. Will "everything be different" in 10 or 25 years? Perhaps. Will we adapt individually and organizationally; history says yes, but common sense says there are no sure bets, and frightful issues (from genetics to war-and-peace) can readily be imagined. Stay tuned!