Archives: August 2005

Our Hearts & Prayers Go Out …

Having experienced family heartbreak this week and last, I've not got a lot of personal reserve left. But we all must find the strength to deal with—and be helpful if possible—concerning the unfolding horror of New Orleans et al. As a speaker, I've spent many a fun and fulfilling day in The Big Easy. I am deeply saddened for all of those who perished and all of those tens of thousands who remain in harm's way.

On Not Letting a Single Flower Bloom

My fascination with the looming disaster known as the US auto industry has continued unabated over the summer. I've been especially intrigued by the upheaval in GM's most successful venture in recent years, the development of the Wuling Sunshine minivan for the Chinese market. Philip Murtaugh, the executive who headed up this miracle of manufacturing and marketing in partnership with the Chinese—and who stuck his neck out by championing the vehicle inside a company with a long history of punishing passionate mavericks—has finally met his predictable fate by being forced out. The details became public over the last month, shortly before GM's debt rating was downgraded to junk and the company decided to extend its "employee discounts" to cover the new 06 models, which it had pretty much declared it would never do.

Minus Murtaugh, the company may no longer be able to count on Chinese profits to help offset its slide in the US market. Those still holding shares in GM should take note. The rest of us, meanwhile, are left to serenely ponder this latest evidence of corporate boneheadedness by putting it in historical context.

[Note: Cool Friend Sally Helgesen sent us the above entry. See her website here.]

Thank You!

Thank you for your wonderful thoughts ... they are truly overwhelming. I'll say more when I get time to catch my breath. One saving grace of such times is that there is so much "stuff" to arrange and do that one's mind is quite distracted.

Evelyn Snow Peters

Tom's mom, Evelyn Snow Peters, age 95, passed away in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday at 5:45 pm. Tom, her only child, was with her at the time.

Black Dogs, Loved ones, Etc.

A few of you have been surprised that I've been talking about depression, my Mom, etc. There are two reasons. First, I think Blogs should be personal & authentic. Hey, we're a Community! It's the Whole Damn point! Learning, Growing, Musing, and Caring together.

But the Bigger Reason is that for 30 years I've had but one "mission." While an avid devotee of the Profit Principle (among other things, confirmation that one is being of Service to one's Clients), the larger idea is that effective enterprise is all about people ... PEOPLE ... seeking the best in themselves as they work together to produce outcomes of value and significance for their various constituencies. In Search of Excellence message/s: It's the People, stupid! It's the Customers, stupid!

My great friend Warren Bennis said, "The best thing a leader can do for a Great Group is to allow its members to discover their greatness." My late colleague Boyd Clarke added, "I have always believed that the purpose of the corporation is to be a blessing to its employees." (Redux: It's the people, stupid!)

I recently published a book called This I Believe. There are 60 items/key beliefs. The last was but one word ... grace. I said (believe!) that enterprises, even while competing vigorously, can be Places of Grace. Energetic? You bet. Hustling? You bet. And also places of Great Character & Integrity & Caring. (How do you Care for your Clients if you don't Care for one another? Duh!)

So we'll continue to talk from time to time about "personal stuff." Business that works? It's bloody well personal!


As you read, my Mom passed away yesterday. Before digging into the difficult and emotional details associated, I decided this morning that there was no better or more important time for a punishing 7-mile speed walk on the C &338; O Towpath here in D.C. I was listening to Paul Simon as I sped along. The energetic presentation reminded me of the amazingly Energetic and Positive person my Mom had been. The obvious occurred as we prepare an appropriate sendoff. As many have said before this, it's a Celebration, pure and simple. A Celebration of an extraordinary 95 years of engaging others in a most profound way. Obvious? I suppose. For me, it made the sun shine as perhaps it never has before.

Time Out

Tom's 95.8 year old Mom is/has been under the weather. He's commuting almost daily between Vermont, Boston, and D.C./Annapolis. (If all goes better—well, he says, is too much to ask—he'll be on his way to Lagos & Port Harcourt, Nigeria, next Monday—as the "fall season" for business advice begins.) (Tom also declared himself pleased with his Career Education Corporation speech last week—that seldom happens—and he urges you to download the PowerPoint Deck; comments welcome.)

Barking Back at the Black Dog

For the first time in memory I've come across a "sure fire" (WRONG! NO SUCH THING!) way to deal with the Black Dog, a/k/a depression. Meds help. But my new (three months old) "miracle" "med" is body-punishing, mind-short-circuiting exercise. I've been pretty consistently speed walking/aerobic walking for 16 years. Good stuff. But about three months ago I decided, for a host of reasons, to up the ante. Speed walking is now the centerpiece of my day, and I've increased my distance from a "good for you" level of 2.5-3.5 miles per day (less on the road) to 5-7 hilly miles (a lot in "walking world"). Particularly in the heat (90+!), it beats the living hell out of me. All other things, including that Black Dog, are erased from the system! And it sticks! I love it, I'm also doing it on the road, and I plan to turn it into an addiction! (Of course it's also good for every other damn malady you can name—unless one pushes to sunstroke, which I almost did on Sunday along the C&O Canal Towpath in D.C.) I know this is not "news" for many of you, but it's a big deal for me; moreover, it suggests that Old Dogs (speaking of which) can indeed learn new tricks.

Event Slides: CEC

Chicago doesn't seem the best place to visit in the heat of summer, and a Web search tells me there's heavy rain there today. But Tom is in Chicago, speaking to the Career Education Corporation. If you'd like to get the slides, you can download them here.

Thanks to All

We're in the Top 500 (#341—take a look at the numbers for the top 3!) on feedster this month. It has to do with how many sites are linked to us RSS subscriptions, with "freshness," etc., factored in. (We like to think "fresh" refers to our style, but it probably only means "recent.")

So, thanks to everybody out there who thought we were worthy of a link an RSS feed! [I learned how they do the ranking after I accidentally hit "publish" instead of "draft." Sorry!!!]