Archives: March 2009

You Know It's Been …

You know it’s been a long trip when your day’s highlight is doing three full loads of laundry.

March 7-March 28:

VT-Boston-London-Abu Dhabi-London-Boston-VT-Miami-Bogota-Houston-San Antonio-Dallas-Boston-Frankfurt-Vilnius-Tallinn-Helsinki-Frankfurt-Boston-VT.

Roughly:

40,000 miles (I know, nasty carbon footprint).
30 time zones.
Total home time 18 hours.
1 Sinus infection.
2,500+ uniformly delightful people from 6 countries on 4 continents including U.S.A./N. America.
Lucky me.* **
(*Dunno why, but a couple of guys bitching loudly about Lufthansa boarding about 5 minutes late, on Saturday morning in Frankfurt, really pissed me off—I said, “We should all be so lucky as to be here.” Americans criticizing a German airline for a 5-minute deviation was amusing.)
(**I won’t deny I’m so damn tired I feel near tears.)

Some Stuff …

#1/A couple of weeks ago I offered up a document called “The Heart of Strategy.” It was a list of 48 ideas about the essence of what I see as strategic excellence—or some such. The word count was 538. I thought it was worth fleshing out, so attached as a pdf you will find the annotated version, now 57 items (“The Heart of Business Strategy: 57 Things That Matter”), with a word count of 5,051.

[04.01.09 version: “Heart of Strategy” is edited once more, now 56 items.—CM]

#2/You will also find on offer a “collection” I’m calling: “Tom Peters’ Thoughts About Getting Things Done, in Good Times and Bad.” It includes a somewhat updated version of “Recession45: Forty-five ‘Secrets’ and ‘Clever Strategies’ For Dealing with the Recession of 2008-XXXX,” which appeared last week; the aforementioned “The Heart of Business Strategy: 57 Things That Matter;” “The ‘Have You 50;'” and, from among last year’s offerings, “Attending to the ‘Last 98%': The New ‘Management Science,’ or ‘Hard Is Soft, Soft Is Hard.'”

All yours …

Event: Helsinki

Ice in the Gulf of Finland

Tom’s ferry voyage took him to Helsinki, where he had a presentation today. Please leave us a comment if you were there, and you can get the PPT slides here. Pictures from the trip are above and below. As you can see, it’s a long way from Spring in Helsinski, also. Additional photos are at Flickr. Brrr!

Skaters on a wide swath of ice

Link Roundup

A lot of remarkable or informative or curious things are brought to our attention at tompeters.com, so we’re starting a new feature called the Link Roundup. On an occasional basis, we’ll point to things we think you’ll find interesting.

Cool Friend Todd Sattersten interviewed Ian Sanders (Ian’s been a frequent commenter at tompeters.com and is author of Leap! and Juggle!).

Blogger Ron Hurst has taken on the daunting task of commenting in depth on each of the 50 items in Tom’s 2001 Fast Company article, “50 ways of being a leader in freaked-out times.” Read what Ron has to say here.

Taking open source to a new level, Influx Insights pointed to a software firm turning itself into an open company.

Don’t miss reading about the analog blogger in Liberia or the shipping containers being used as healthcare clinics, as noted by our friends at PSFK.com.

"Dealing with Recessionary Times"

Ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki

I am constantly asked for “strategies/’secrets’ for surviving the recession.” I try to appear wise and informed—and parade original, sophisticated thoughts. But if you want to know what’s going through my head, read the list below:

You work longer.
You work harder.
You may well work for less; and, if so, you adapt to the untoward circumstances with a smile—even if it kills you inside.
You volunteer to do more.
You always bring a good attitude to work.
You fake it if your good attitude flags.
You literally practice your “game face” in the mirror in the morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction—buy a shovel or a “pre-worn” raincoat on eBay.
You get there earlier.
You leave later.
You forget about “the good old days”—nostalgia is for wimps.
You buck yourself up with the thought that “this too shall pass”—but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon, so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.
You eschew all forms of personal excess.
You simplify.
You sweat the details as you never have before.
You sweat the details as you never have before.
You sweat the details as you never have before.
You raise to the sky the standards of excellence by which you evaluate your own performance.
You thank others by the truckload if good things happen—and take the heat yourself if bad things happen.
You behave kindly, but you don’t sugarcoat or hide the truth—humans are startlingly resilient.
You treat small successes as if they were Superbowl victories—and celebrate and commend accordingly.
You shrug off the losses (ignoring what’s going on inside your tummy), and get back on the horse and try again.
You avoid negative people to the extent you can—pollution kills.
You eventually read the gloom-sprayers the riot act.
You learn new tricks of your trade.
You network like a demon.
You help others with their issues.
You give new meaning to the word “thoughtful.”
You redouble, re-triple your efforts to “walk in your customer’s shoes.” (Especially if the shoes smell.)
You mind your manners—and accept others’ lack of manners in the face of their strains.
You are kind to all mankind.
You leave the blame game at the office door.
You become a paragon of accountability.
And then you pray.

[This post sent to you from the business lounge aboard the M/S Star, en route Tallinn to Helsinki—and fully wired, or, rather, wireless, at Sea, crossing the Gulf of Finland. Photo above.]

[The list is also available in PowerPoint.—CM]

The "Human" Race

Sitting in the lounge of a sea ferry crossing the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn to Helsinki. Big screen TV, Sky News. Watching a sickening, endless parade of missile-laden military vehicles in North Korea. Thousands of “volunteers” creating a sea of red in the background by “spontaneously” waving red pom-poms.

Why, Dear God, why?

Cool Friend #135: Chris Brogan

Our new Cool Friend Chris Brogan is a social media expert. He uses tools like Twitter to help organizations build relationships. In the interview, Chris discusses the advantages of social media tools along with the responsibilities that are associated with having a large audience and how attention is a form of currency. His book, written with Julien Smith and to come out in August is Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. Here’s his interview, and, of course, you can find Chris blogging at his own website and on Twitter at twitter.com/chrisbrogan.

Event: Tallinn

Approaching Tallinn, still not Spring

Tom’s tour of the Baltic states continues in Tallinn, Estonia, where he’s again appearing for Baltic Management Conferences. This is a part of the world that Tom has not spent much time in before now, and I know he must be enjoying meeting new people there. If you were at the event, please let us hear from you in the comments. Or, get the PowerPoint presentation here.

[Tom re the photo, above: “Tallinn, Estonia, still not Spring—my plane approaches the city.” If it helps … it’s not quite Spring in Vermont, either.]

2009 Recalibration: Part 4

So, what’s your story?

Consider this: Your customers are living in a totally different world than they were a year ago. I don’t care what business you’re in, your customers have new things to deal with, new ways to make decisions, and new uncertainties in their lives. Their worlds have been reset.

So, (I ask again) what’s your story?

How has your brand story changed?

Have you assessed, with intense scrutiny, how your story has to evolve to match everything new in your customers’ lives, the new ways they make decisions, the new things they care about, the new ways they behave?

Have you recalibrated your brand story so that it will interest and motivate your customers, with their new perspectives?

What compels and motivates your customers is different now, so let’s discuss how your brand story must change.

I’ll start this discussion with a harsh, but true, point: Your customers don’t care about your story. They care about their own stories. Now, more than ever, it is critical to elevate your branding perspective beyond the “Look at me” chest-beating that characterizes so much of marketing, and focus on a way to make it easy for your customers to bring your brand story into their lives.

For this reason, recalibrating your story requires you to address this incredibly important question: “What do I want customers to think about me, now, considering all the changes that have happened in my customers’ lives?”

Imagine a customer raving to a friend or colleague about your company, saying how she needs you more than ever in this time of economic turmoil. What would you want to say? What do you want your customer to think about you, right now, that would compel her to do more business with you?

I did this exercise with a client last week. We had the top managers from the company in a room, with the purpose of recalibrating the company’s approach to customers in these crazy times. This company sells a business-to-business service, and in recent months has noticed that its buying contacts have become paralyzed with fear, panicked that each purchase decision could lead to a job-losing disaster. We imagined one of these buyers raving to her boss about my client’s company, describing the kind of results they were producing for her and why she needs them now, more than ever. We imagined what she could say, with passion and conviction, that would represent undying loyalty to this company at a time when her job has become difficult, challenged, and scary.

By doing this exercise, we quickly identified opportunities to recalibrate the company’s brand story, focusing on issues that were much more important than last year’s brochure headlines.

What do you want your customers to think about you? This is your most important branding question. My observation is that most companies aren’t addressing it. They’re “tweaking” last year’s ads and sales pitches, ignoring one of the most important facts that faces us all:
Our customers are different, so our stories better be.

[This is Part 4 of a 6-part series. To read the other entries in the series, you can find them at these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. You can also read more by Cool Friend Steve Yastrow at his website, yastrow.com.]

"Entrepreneurial Society"

That’s what Adrian Wooldridge and the Economist call our emergent global economy, current madness notwithstanding. The Americans are still the undisputed leaders, and they’re likely to hold the top slot for quite a while, but both the Chinese and the Indians understand the game almost as well as we do. And the Europeans and Japanese border on hopeless.

I heartily commend to your attention “Global Heroes: A Special Report on Entrepreneurship“—in the 14 March Economist.