Archives: March 2007

Event: Las Vegas

desert view between LA and Las Vegas

Tom's 5-hour drive from LA to LV—not a whole lot going on.

Tom's talking to the folks at Avenue A Razorfish, and according to Advertising Age, they're the #1 (revenue) Interactive Marketing Services Agency.

For the PPT, click on the link below:
Avenue A Razorfish, Las Vegas, NV

Now Don't You Worry Your Little Self …

The economist Alan Blinder calls himself "a free trader down to my toes." But what's that goop seeping between his toes these days?

This from a must read-ingest, major Wall Street Journal piece (yesterday/0328): "Mr Blinder ... remains an implacable opponent of tariffs and trade barriers. But now he is saying loudly that a new industrial revolution—communication technology that allows services to be delivered from afar—will put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk of being shipped out of the country in the next decade or two." And that staggering stat, per Mr Blinder, is "only the tip of a very big iceberg."

Four-zero million!
Just the start!
Zounds!

Suggests to me it's time, per a Post earlier this week, to dust off the "Brand You Plan." There probably will be, alas, counter-productive Federal legislation. But that will be a wee finger in the dike.

The message is clear—and, to a point, simple. Work on your "value proposition" with renewed urgency. Your odds of landing on your feet are directly proportional to the uniqueness of what you have to sell to the world.

(As I've said 100, or 1,000, times, this does not translate into dog-eat-dog competition. To the contrary, you will be the architect of, valued participant in intricate Webs of Value Added that involve many, many others from here, there, and everywhere.)

Hence, unprecedented team skills and individual prowess are both a must.

I'm not an alarmist. (Much.) Still, I'd argue that ... today is the day to act! (Yesterday would be better.) Is the project you are working on right now worthy of becoming a chapter, or at least a sidebar, in your emergent & urgent "Brand You Saga"? If not, what do you aim on doing to make it so? Moreover, what on-line course/s (or whatever) are you looking at as another part of your "investment portfolio"?

The problem is more or less simple. The solution is more or less simple. All that's left is the 98.3 percent called Urgent Execution.

Boomer Madness!

Ken Dychtwald is the guru of gurus in the world of the Age Wave, as he calls it. I've done my bit as well.

Move over Ken.
Move over Tom.

Enter the irrepressible Christopher Buckley. (Author of Thank You for Smoking among many others.) Mr Buckley now offers Boomsday. It is a wonderful spoof (that isn't) about the coming all-out war between boomers bent on a comfy (and lengthy) retirement and those who follow. I am only a few dozen pages into the book—but I love it. A glowing USA Today review offers a peek: "The novel's heroine, a 29-year-old blogger, comes up with a solution [to the wealth allocation problem—boomers fobbing their needs off on the young]: tax breaks for baby boomers who kill themselves at 65. 'Voluntary transitioning' is her term. ..."

Presumably you get the drift.

Forget the "serious" analysts—this is the primer, so far, about this genuinely transcending issue.

Stunning & Stunned

Movie reviews are not within the scope of this Blog. Until now. The Lives of Others. To do more than mention the name would require thousands of words. I cannot commend it highly enough; now, not on DVD—must be seen on the Big Screen. (My only elucidation will be to say that it was "one of those very rare ones" where literally not one word was heard upon the end of the film—and almost everyone sat, in stunned silence, until the end of the credit roll.)

Necessary Evil

Acid-tongued Lucy Kellaway, whose column, "Business Life," is the first thing I turn to in the Monday Financial Times, allows as how she thought my somewhat well-known Fast Company article, "The Brand Called You," was "one of the ghastliest, most irritating articles on management ever written." Well, that does certify impact on a discerning reader. Now, a decade later, she still considers it "ghastly." But acknowledges, in a very amusing riff yesterday, that it may be a ghastly necessity. I guess that's progress.

See for yourself.

Lady Bird!

A Different Sort of Leadership. A Different Sort of Company.

In recent Posts I have referred very positively to Servant Leadership (Servant Leadership—Robert Greenleaf) and the idea of "decency" as a deep cultural trait (The Manager's Book of Decencies: How Small Gestures Build Great Companies—Steve Harrison, Adecco).

Key words (very powerful per se, per me):

Servant.
Decency.

Now, in Utrecht, I have bumped into another pea from the pod: "hostmanship." I shared the stage with Swedish management guru Jan Gunnarsson. And he gave me his two most recent books (co-written with Olle Blohm):

Hostmanship: The Art of Making People Feel Welcome.
The Welcoming Leader: The Art of Creating Hostmanship.

Once again, I am enamored, even mesmerized, by this "simple" idea. Here are the authors speaking from the dust jacket of The Welcoming Leader: "Welcoming leadership is about inspiring people to want to achieve common goals. For a welcoming leader, the emphasis is on the person. ... It requires an honesty and authenticity from you as a leader that has been lacking in many of our bosses in the past. In a world where everything looks similar—products and places, companies and countries—a guest or employee makes his decision to participate and commit based on how welcome he feels. To provide hostmanship ... we have to rejoice in serving others and provide leadership that reflects this."

Add to the Key Words list:

Host.
Hostmanship.
Welcoming leader.

Jan performed a wonderful little riff on stage about the person in charge walking into a meeting:

The "boss" brings a PowerPoint presentation.
The "leader" brings a polished Vision Statement.
The "host" brings a box of chocolates. (Hey, we were in Holland.)

If the point is to engage and seek the voluntary commitment of others in pursuit of a worthy goal, this strikes me as spot on.

We have, then, added to our for-profit, experience-obsessed enterprise:

Leader as Servant.
Decency as the bedrock of effective corporate culture.
Host, hostmanship, and Welcoming leader as metaphor for those who would seek the wholehearted engagement of others.

I like all that a lot. I suppose I naturally would, as the inventor, with Bob Waterman, of: "Hard is soft. Soft is hard."

The numbers turn out to be the "soft" stuff, abstract and subject to fudging. The "tangible," "hard stuff" of infinite importance for performance is the depth and breadth of our relationships with others within or outside the firm.

I rest my case.

Cool Friend: Robyn Waters

It's a treat to all of us at tompeters.com when an old friend becomes a Cool Friend. As Robyn Waters says in her interview, we met her at a Manchester Summit. She also says that the summit was a turning point in her life, leading up to her leaving her position as VP of Trend, Design, and Product Development at Target and starting the consulting firm RW Trend. Her book is The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. You can read her Cool Friends interview here. Robyn, we're glad to welcome you into that group!

Doomed Projects

How many of us are working on projects that we know are headed for trouble? According to a recent survey (see complete results at www.silencefails.com), 90% say they know when a project will fail and 78% say that they are working on projects that are doomed. We spend billions of dollars on projects, most of us are working on projects, so why are they doomed? A lot of projects aren't set up correctly, aren't addressing the right business issues, and ignore the human factors involved. The sad part is that often the people working on these projects know that they will fail, and yet, they are afraid to voice their opinion to the people in charge. That speaks volumes about the culture of an organization. Open cultures where there are high levels of trust encourage the expression of people's ideas and thoughts, even contrary ones. The senior leaders must be visible and approachable so that they can be confronted with the truth. I wish I could say that I mistrust the research, but I have been in enough companies to know that its conclusions are true.

Are you working on a doomed project? Can you tell your boss? What are your thoughts on how to save a doomed project?

Event: Utrecht

Utrecht street with bicyclists

Today finds Tom in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He took these pictures on an afternoon walk upon his arrival there yesterday. It looks as if he's still enjoying lovely weather, while we're getting forecasts of more snow tonight in Boston.

Utrecht_2sm.jpg

The event of the day is a conference on The Future of Talent, and Tom has done a long and short version of his Talent50 for the occasion. You can download them here:
The Future of Talent Conference, Utrecht, The Netherlands
The Future of Talent Conference, Long Version