Archives: September 2004

Will They (We!!) Ever Learn

I’m in London. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in deep doo-doo. He shook hands in public with bloody dictator Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Caught out, he complained that, well, the light had been bad. (All press pics as clear as a bell.) Is the lesson, “Don’t shake hands with wretches?” No! No! And NO!! The lesson … THE LESSON … is don’t be a total jerk and engage in a clumsy cover-up.

Tom Peters posted this on September 30, 2004, in News.
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100 Ways to Succeed #8:

Foul up. Fess up. Fast. Fastidiously.

SHIT HAPPENS.
SHIT HAPPENS TO YOU AND ME BECAUSE WE SOMETIMES DO STUPID SHIT.

WE RARELY GET IN TROUBLE FOR THE SHIT THAT HAPPENS AS A RESULT OF THE STUPID SHIT WE DO.

WE OFTEN GET IN TROUBLE FOR THE STUPID SHIT WE DO TO AVOID TELLING ABOUT THE SHIT THAT HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THE STUPID SHIT WE DID.

MESSAGE.

FOUL UP.
FESS UP.
FAST.
FASTIDIOUSLY. (Tell the Whole Truth.)

TO ANYONE YOU CAN FIND TO FESS UP TO.
BOSSES.
SUBORDINATES.
THE GUY AT THE BAR.
OR IN THE WEIGHT ROOM.

THEN GET ON WITH LIFE.

I am not a moralist.
I am not arguing that “telling the truth is a … GOOD THING. (Though I generally think it is.)
I am arguing that telling the truth ASAP is a … USEFUL-PRAGMATIC-CAREER ENHANCING THING TO DO … BECAUSE THE BOOGEYMAN IS GOING TO GET YOU IF YOU DON’T. (I.e. bloggers cornering Dan Rather. Rather has a habit of being chased by weird people, come to think of it.)

And, actually, people think it’s “cool” when you/me tell the truth—foul up, fess up, fast, fastidiously. (Soooo Cool, that maybe you should fess up to things you haven’t done?) (Just a thought.)

Seriously: PEOPLE HAVE VAST RESERVOIRS OF FORGIVENESS FOR SINS INCLUDING STUPID SINS … AND ARE THIN-SKINNED AS ALL GET OUT ABOUT EVASIVENESS AND CONVOLUTED EXPLANATIONS.

(“It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”)

“I screwed up with the customer” beats (by a country mile): “We lost the customer because the customer’s people tripped all over themselves and couldn’t come to a decision … blah blah blah.”

Or: “THE LIGHTS IN THE ROOM WERE TOO LOW BY WHICH TO SEE MURDEROUS DICTATORS.” (Hey, even, “I like the old brute, used to go water skiing with him …” would have been better. Right?)

FOUL UP.
FESS UP.
FAST.
FASTIDIOUSLY.

Idiots!

My colleague Dini Coffin (Enterprise Media) faxed me a Cingular ad on September 21st, with a cover note that cryptically said, “What’s wrong with this picture?” The ad’s tagline was “4 of the top 5 commercial banks use Cingular for wireless email.” Below was a pic of 5 folks—4 doing wireless email, 1 obviously not playing. Dini’s point: ALL 5 WERE MALES! Her follow-up line, “I guess Cingular doesn’t want women buying their services.” Go Dini! Hisses & Boos to Cingular! (Idiots!)

Three hours later I was reading my latest issue of BusinessWeek, and came across an ad for “The BusinessWeek 50 Forum,” an October 7 event billed as the “one event that can make a difference in your pursuit of high performance.” There are 15 “best of the best” speakers listed (including Jack Welch and Starbucks honcho Howard Schultz), plus two BusinessWeek moderators. One of the BW folks is Senior Editor Mary Kuntz, but among the “content providers” … 15 out of 15 are … MALES. My reaction: Sick!

Or, rather … IDIOTS!

NB: Welch was never all that great on putting women in top slots at GE, plus he’s retired. But in my opinion Starbucks’ Schultz is insulting all the women in his company by speaking—he should opt out. (We’ll perhaps do next week’s poll on “Should Schultz Speak”? What do you think?)

[Note: We re-dated this entry, originally posted 22 September, to make it move up our page because it’s generating such a great discussion. Join in!]

The Window & The Mirror

Whenever I ask a new or prospective client to describe the issues that confront his or her business, they inevitably describe forces from the outside world that stand in the way of success. These forces could include competitive threats, fickle customers, economic conditions, intransigent unions, the weather—you name it.

Later, once we have gotten deep into our work together, an interesting thing happens …

Tom’s been encouraging us to think about implementation. Please have a look at a new article I’ve written that helps us address the biggest obstacle to implementation: Ourselves.

A Cautionary Tale

“Corporate graveyards all over the world are filled with companies that have innovated themselves right out of business.” So says Sergio Zyman, bestselling marketing expert and former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola in his new book, Renovate Before You Innovate: Why Doing the New Thing Might Not Be the Right Thing. Zyman singles out Tom and other “innovation gurus” and warns against adopting “Destruction is cool. Innovation rules!” as a growth strategy. The book comes out next week; perhaps Tom will add it to his reading list and we can look forward to his response.

An Addiction

Three days without Blogging. I began to get the Keyboard DTs!
But I’m back.

First things first …

Notes95

My Mom’s birthday was terrific! Thanks to those site visitors who took the time to say Happy Birthday! (I passed it along—though my efforts to explain Blogging left something to be desired.) (P.S. Don’t you get tired of the hated-red-line that shows up under “blog” and “blogging” in MSWord?)

Query: Ever seen 95 candles, plus one to grow on, on a moderate-sized cake? (We nearly needed a burn permit, as we call it in Vermont.)

Energy/Enthusiasm/Sparkle is all! There are indeed aches and pains at 95. (Understatement.) Yet my Mom looked 35, not 95, on the All-important Vitality Index. (Even considering my bias.) The sparkle in her eyes lit the room! (And her passion for the Orioles is unabated, too—she insisted on updates from the TV room regularly.) And I know you were dying to know: A lifelong, active Democrat, she likes neither Kerry nor Bush, but is an admirer of Laura B.

The Perfect Gift: My personal and professional pal, Harry Rhoads, founder of the Washington Speakers Bureau (which represents me) (“exclusively,” as he’s fond of adding), came bearing Gift. THE GIFT! Harry/WSB represents Willard Scott, and HR brought an autographed WS picture inscribed, “Evelyn, five years to go!” Susan (my wife) had just given my Mom a picture of me, which was prominently displayed. Upon arrival of Willard S’s pic, I vanished in a flash! (Rhoads to Peters: “Humility is a cardinal virtue.”)

Notes on Miscellaneous Excellence: The Ford Focus I rented at BWI had a comfortable back seat—and an ENORMOUS trunk for a small car. Nice design job! I’d almost move to Bethesda MD (my brother-in-law Alec and sister-in-law Lee Sargent live there) just for Balducci’s/Sutton Place, the premier food emporium. Food: Amazing! Service: Amazing! Employee ATTITUDE: Off the charts! On the way home to Albany/VT, a youngster had a seizure on my SWA flight—hats off to the crew’s quick, but not panicked response, and the way they handled the rest of us.

Can’t wait for 100! Go, Mom!

Wellness: About Damned Time!

Three loud cheers to Newsweek for its HUGE special report, “Health for Life.” Issue: September 27, 2004. Meditation Rules! Yoga Rules! Breathing Right Rules! And, increasingly, we have the hard science to prove it! This is a “must read”—and a Great Reminder when one is on the way to Mom’s 95th!

As those who read my “Summer of Soul” know, I am a True Believer. We must Take Charge of our own healthcare!* (*Don’t you think it’s odd that we spend ages picking a “contractor” to perform a trivial biz activity—but accept the doc-next-door as our health guide?) We must find docs whole buy the Wellness Act! Docs whose Last Resort, not first resort, is Chemicals! Coincidentally, my 2004 physical was the day after my Mom’s 95th. Thanks to the sorts of stuff the Newsweek report touts, I came off both my Univasc (hypertension) and Lipitor (cholesterol). I’ve had hypertension since age 17 at least. (My girl friend’s dentist Dad snuck me hypertension drugs so I could get my blood pressure down—and get into the Navy.) Thence, at 61, I have emerged from a 40-year “intractable” problem courtesy a belated focus on prevention-over-patchup: breathing, diet, etc—in COMBO! As to the passing of Lipitor, my “bad” cholesterol is charted at 57! BREATH ON! FLAX SEED RULES! WELLNESS FANATICS UNITE! NIX “FIX IT.” EMBRACE “PREVENT IT.”

China Stats

Part of my services at this site: Parade stats on the … Amazing China Story. Between 2000 and 2003, foreign companies opened 60,000 factories in China.* That’s right … SIXTY THOUSAND. Source: Edward Gresser, the Progressive Policy Institute/Washington, courtesy the Wall Street Journal/09.27.2004.

(*I keep re-reading the WSJ article, because I’m sure I read it wrong. 60,000?? 3 years?? Nope. Got it right.)

What Will the Point Have Been?

An election analysis in Sunday’s Washington Post has wider applicability, as I see it. “To win this race,” Kenneth Baer wrote in the Post, “Kerry needs to stop focusing on Election Day and start thinking about his would-be presidency’s last day. What does he want his legacy to be? When sixth-graders in the year 2108 read about the Kerry presidency, what does he want the one or two sentences that accompany his photo to say?”

LEGACY!
Beautiful word!

Forget the election. Instead consider your current assignment as head of a 7-person branch in an IS/IT department. (Or whatever.) Suppose you move on in 18 months. WHAT WILL THE ONE OR TWO MEMORABLE SENTENCES THAT SUMMARIZE YOUR “TERM” BE?

Please!
Take this exercise seriously!