Archives: July 2010

A Book Worthy of Your Time & Attention

Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage, by Richard Stengel (Stengel, now editor of Time magazine, was a confidant of Mandela's.)

From "Look the Part":

"[Mandela has beautiful posture. You will never see him hunched over with his head anything but upright and looking ahead. On Robben Island, he was always aware of how he walked and carried himself. He knew he needed to be seen as standing up to the authorities, literally and figuratively ... He knew that people took their cues from him, and if he were confident and unbowed, they would be too."

"[Mandela] understood the power of image. ... 'Appearances constitute reality,' he once told me."

"In the election in 1994, his smile was the campaign. That smiling iconic campaign poster—on billboards, on highways, on street lamps, at tea shops and fruit stalls. It told black voters that he would be their champion and white voters that he would be their protector. It was the smile of the proverb 'tout comprendre, c'est tout pardoner'—to understand is to forgive all. It was political Prozac for a nervous electorate."

"Ultimately the smile was symbolic of how Mandela molded himself. At every stage of his life he decided who he wanted to be and created the appearance--and then the reality--of that person. He became who he wanted to be."

From "Have a Core Principal—Everything Else Is Tactics"

"Nelson Mandela is a man of principle—exactly one: Equal rights for all, regardless of race, class, or gender. Pretty much everything else is a tactic. I know this seems like an exaggeration—but to a degree very few people suspect, Mandela is a thoroughgoing pragmatist who was willing to compromise, change, adapt, and refine his strategy as long as it got him to the promised land."

From "See the Good in Others"* [*One of the best essays I have ever read.]

"Some call it a blind spot, others naïveté, but Mandela sees almost everyone as virtuous until proven otherwise. He starts with an assumption you are dealing with him in good faith. He believes that, just as pretending to be brave can lead to acts of real bravery, seeing the good in other people improves the chances that they will reveal their better selves."

"Mandela ... consciously chose to err on the side of generosity. By behaving honorably, even to people who may not deserve it, he believes you can influence them to behave more honorably than they otherwise would. This sometimes proved to be a useful tactic, particularly after he was released from prison, when his open, trusting attitude made him appear to be a man who could rise above bitterness. When he urged South Africans to 'forget the past,' most of them believed that he had. This had a double effect: It made whites trust Mandela more and it made them feel more generous toward the people they had so recently oppressed."

"Mandela sees the good in others both because it is in his nature and in his interest. At times that has meant being blindsided, but he has always been willing to take that risk. And it is a risk. ... Mandela goes out on a limb and makes himself vulnerable by trusting others. ... We rarely equate risk with trying to see what is decent, honest, and good in the people in our daily lives. ... 'People will feel I see too much good in people, and I've tried to adjust because whether it is so or not, it is something I think is profitable. It's a good thing to assume, to act on the basis that others are men of integrity and honor, because you need to attract integrity and honor. I believe in that.'"

New Audio: Tom Reads The Little BIG Things

This week's additions to the audio files on the book page are in the section titled "Lunch":

#66. Across the Board: Cross-Functional Collaboration Is Issue #1.

#67. Getting Along and Going to Lunch: Solving the Cross-Functional Cooperation Problem

Collect them all, and when we're finished, you'll have an audio version of the entire book.

Ahoy There:
What’s Ahead?

[Our guest blogger is Madeleine McGrath, Managing Director of the Tom Peters Company.]

Maybe it's just us, but we've been getting the feeling that business owners and managers in our network are at last beginning to lift their heads up to look ahead for their organizations. It's not surprising that many have been preoccupied with survival for quite some time now, but the slowness of the recovery has been remarkable. We've been wondering how this punishing recession will have affected the way people are viewing their roles as leaders and where they will choose to focus their efforts as they look beyond the immediate horizon.

Tom is, and as a result we are, passionate about Excellence, and we are always keen to connect with the mood of the moment. That's why we have decided to focus our Summer Research Project on discovering if there are any trends emerging in the way leaders are viewing their future development priorities.

We are particularly interested in the point of view of the kind of folks who follow this blog—a population that we have always found to be forward looking and optimistic. Are you running a team or organization? Or are you a consultant that offers services to organization leaders? Do you have around 30 minutes to spare to take our online survey in the next couple of weeks? In return for your participation, we'll be delighted to share our findings with you. We've already heard from early survey participants that completing the audit has given them some great food for thought about where they might concentrate their efforts.

For more information about the research study and how to register to participate, click here. Thanks!

Brand You: You Are Your Calendar

In the next video from The Little BIG Things Video Series, Tom tells it like it is: The calendar never lies. You can claim something is your priority, but if your calendar doesn't reflect it, you're lying to yourself.

You can find the video in the right column here at tompeters.com or you can watch the video on YouTube. [Time: 2 minute, 28 seconds] You can also download a PDF transcript of the video's content: Brand You: You Are Your Calendar.

Cool Friend #149:
Anna Bernasek

Our new Cool Friend, Anna Bernasek, is the author of The Economics of Integrity: From Dairy Farmers to Toyota, How Wealth Is Built on Trust and What That Means for Our Future. In the interview, Erik Hansen and Anna discuss how a financial system focused on quarterly performance encourages short-term rather than long-term strategies, and the problems that result. Anna explains why, for fiscal and non-fiscal reasons, it's in your self-interest to act with integrity. Read the interview and, to find out more about Anna, visit her site.

The Little BIG Vooks

As Tom says, "He who makes the quickest, coolest prototypes reigns!" We're all about experimentation, especially with new technology. So when we heard about vooks—applications that combine books and videos—we were excited by the possibility of mashing up Tom's writing and his videos. The result is a very cool way to experience The Little BIG Things. So if you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, check them out.

The Little BIG Things: Excellence
The Little BIG Things: Leadership
The Little BIG Things: You
The Little BIG Things: Enterprise
The Little BIG Things: Strategy

New Audio: Tom Reads The Little BIG Things

This week's additions to the audio files on the book page are in the section titled "Networking":

#62. One Line of Code: The Shortest Distance Between "Critic" and "Champion."

#63. "Suck Down" for Success.

#64. Formula for Success: C(I) > C(E).

#65. How Does Your "Inside Game" Measure Up?

Collect them all, and when we're finished, you'll have an audio version of the entire book.

Service: Problem with Perfection

Tom argues in favor of the brilliant comeback when compared to a perfect record in a new video from The Little BIG Things Video Series.

You can find the video in the right column here at tompeters.com or you can watch the video on YouTube. [Time: 1 minute, 56 seconds] You can also download a PDF transcript of the video's content: Service: Problem with Perfection.

Link Roundup #17

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing interviewed Tom for a podcast that covered China, the economy, decency, BP, and Brand You.

Tom was invited to Cornell University last month to give the Olin Lecture during Reunion Weekend. The Olin Lecture is an annual event that was established in 1986, highlighting topics related to higher education and current world situations.
Video of the Cornell speech: Olin Lecture

Jakob Nielsen, the Web usability expert, mentioned in his recent alertbox newsletter that he may have been one of the last interviews done by Jack Schofield, the computer editor at The Guardian newspaper, who retired after 25 years. In the interview, the two discuss usability on the new tablets. Mostly that tablet, you know the one we mean. Though the article focuses on one product, it covers a great deal of important issues for usability in the future.

You might also like this podcast with Jack Schofield, which Nielsen pointed to (he recommends fast-forwarding to a point 31 minutes in).

Our own Madeleine McGrath, managing partner of the Tom Peters Company, has a piece in The People Bulletin, an online magazine for the HR industry. In it, she discusses "how leaders can shift their focus to get a better return on their talent investment in challenged times."

Leadership: American vs Southwest

Tom gives a powerful example of what happens when you treat your employees like customers in a new video from The Little BIG Things Video Series.

You can find the video in the right column here at tompeters.com or you can watch the video on YouTube. [Time: 2 minutes, 33 seconds] You can also download a PDF transcript of the video's content: Leadership: American vs Southwest.