Archives: January 2011

The Little BIG Things
Synopsis Series
#36 Time
#37 Design

It's time for two new sections in The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series. The next two sections in The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence are titled "Time" and "Design." The section "Time" tackles multiple aspects of the subject, from milestoning to daydreaming. In "Design," Tom discusses the visceral power of design, and how it can change your life.

You can download free pdfs of those sections from The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series* by clicking below:

#36 Time
#37 Design

*The Synopsis Series is an adaptation that gives you a taste of the BIG idea in each of the 163 Little BIG Things. More information on the book can be found on this page. The Synopsis Series as released thus far can be found here.

Daily Quote to Become Weekly Quote

With most people struggling to wade through the abyss that's become their email inbox, we've decided to change the Daily Quote subscription service to the Weekly Quote. Every Monday, you'll receive a quote from Tom delivered to your inbox. If you're not already subscribed, you can do so here. And if that's just not enough Tom for you, feel free to follow him on Twitter (@Tom_Peters), or check out his Free Stuff page for more developed thoughts.


Playing around with my favorite theme:
It all starts with you putting people FIRST ...

The Seven-step Path to Sustaining Success

You take care of the people.
The people take care of the service.
The service takes care of the customer.
The customer takes care of the profit.
The profit takes care of the re-investment.
The re-investment takes care of the re-invention.
The re-invention takes care of the future.
(And at every step the only measure is EXCELLENCE.)


Little BIG Video #52
Brand You:
Thank You Notes

Here's video number 52 from The Little BIG Things Video Series. Tom once wrote 30 Rules of Implementation. The first one? Thank you notes. "Recognition, appreciation, nothing gets you further—and it also makes you a better human being."

You can find the video in the right column of the front page of or you can watch the video on YouTube. [Time: 2 minutes, 50 seconds] You can also download a PDF transcript of the video's content: Brand You: Thank You Notes.

The Little BIG Things
Synopsis Series
#34 Curiosity
#35 Learning

It's time for two new sections in The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series. The next two sections in The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence are titled "Curiosity" and "Learning." Both these sections are centered around the thirst for knowledge. "Curiosity" celebrates asking questions, no matter how dumb they may sound. In "Learning," Tom suggests particular areas of focus.

You can download free pdfs of those sections from The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series* by clicking below:

#34 Curiosity
#35 Learning

*The Synopsis Series is an adaptation that gives you a taste of the BIG idea in each of the 163 Little BIG Things. More information on the book can be found on this page. The Synopsis Series as released thus far can be found here.

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 "LISTENING":

#112. Now Hear This! Listening Is the Ultimate "Core Competence."

#113. Are You an "18 Second Manager"?

#114. Get the Story. Give the Respect.

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

Pushups Till the Sunrise—
A Soldier’s Journey from the Front Line to the Bottom Line

[Our guest blogger is John Durfee. John is an Operation Freedom War veteran and a manager for Airsplat. He offers a perspective not frequently articulated on leadership.]

I left the military as a noncommissioned officer and I hold that as a point of pride. That position meant that I was in charge of anywhere between 8-20 men during my deployments. Today, I find myself in quite a similar position working in an office as a department manager. Instead of patrols and firefights, I find myself working up reports and competing with other companies for customers—the mission still being to "win hearts and minds" and defeat the enemy. The leadership skills I learned in the military helped me become a driven and focused leader. Here are some pearls of wisdom I've acquired from drill sergeants, instructors, and commanding officers during my time in the service:

Being A Leader Is:

  • Being a leader is a privilege not a right
  • I've seen many both in the military and civilian life who do not apply this mindset. They are the ones who think promotion to a higher position means less work. In the military, being promoted means you have the same duties you had as before plus new responsibilities. It's a privilege given to you by showing your potential for greater responsibility. A real example would be on my second deployment. I had just been promoted to squad leader in a new group and we needed to do vehicle repairs and maintenance. Instead of just assigning tasks to everyone else, I was lying on my back in the dirt changing the oil, fixing radiator leaks, and getting about as tired and sweaty as the rest of my crew.

  • Being a leader is trusting the team you manage
  • Sometimes there are leaders who can do it all, and who very much try to do it all. It's not the fact they lack the skills (most are usually amazing multi-taskers), it's just they can't trust the work to anyone else. Working over someone's shoulder is not really letting others do work. It's working by proxy through your employees.

    Here's a prime example from my first deployment. When clearing out a suspicious building, it's usually the squad leaders' jobs (those who work directly under an officer) to set up a perimeter immediately after. Due to proper leadership and training, the squad leaders know to do it without being told. If an officer needs to tell where to place every individual man, that's an example of micromanagement and poor leadership. They're wasting time tasking work that should have been the squad leader's job in the first place. Time and attention is taken away from the bigger picture. A good leader should know who to trust with positions of responsibility so they can manage the bigger scope of the mission/assignment.

  • Being a leader is giving the best training possible
  • If you're a manager, there's a good chance you get to choose who to hire, or at least bear the responsibility of training them. If your employees make a mistake, the responsibility not only reflects on that worker, but also on yourself. For example, if I had one of my patrolmen caught asleep on guard duty, I would have to be out there with my patrolmen pulling a double shift the next night. Now in a workplace, such forms of reprimand rarely ever happen. But you will have to answer to your CEO or superiors when quarterly reviews or performance assessments come about.

  • Being a leader is setting the standard
  • This leads me to my next point: You set the standard of performance that comes out of your unit or office team. If you're unsure in your decisions, you'll have a team that will question your orders, or not execute them with speed and determination. If you're a lazy leader, your team will reflect that. I make sure to be clear, level-headed, and determined—even at points when internally, I wasn't. Imagine getting caught by surprise in an ambush. Which would you prefer, a squad leader that shows his fear and hesitates, or the one that forces it aside and starts giving clear commands. To be a leader is to become the best possible version of yourself as a soldier, as a worker, and whatever your job requires of you.

Cool Friend #156
Bill Taylor (No. 2)

When we last checked in with Bill Taylor, he had coauthored Mavericks At Work with Polly LaBarre, a book about a generation of executives and entrepreneurs who were "rethinking how some of the basics of business get done." He's taken the challenge of innovation a step further with his new book, Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself. This time around, the focus is on highly successful change agents working in long established organizations who are doing the hard work of reinvention.

In the new Cool Friend interview, Bill talks with Erik Hansen about "leaders who aren't afraid to wrestle with the toughest challenges there are." For more about Bill, visit his site.

The Wisdom of David Ogilvy

At an event in Manila sponsored by Ogilvy & Mather, I received as a gift D.O.: The unpublished papers of David Ogilvy—a selection of his writings from the files of his partners. I am a longtime fan of Ogilvy, and found it to be a sterling gift. Here are a few of the gems I unearthed:

On what matters to Clients:

It is not enough for an agency to be respected for its professional competence. Indeed, there isn't much to choose between the competence of big agencies. What so often makes the difference is the character of the men and women who represent the agency at the top level, with clients and the business community. If they are respected as admirable people, the agency gets business—whether from present clients or prospective ones.

From a summation of Ogilvy & Mather's "corporate culture":

A Nice Place to Work

Some of our people spend their entire working lives in our agency. We do our damnedest to make it a happy experience. I put this first, believing that superior service to our clients, and profits for our stockholders, depend on it. ...

[TP: note the extraordinary "put this first."]

More from D.O.'s summation of Ogilvy & Mather's "corporate culture":

Raise your sights!
Blaze new trails!
Compete with the immortals!

[TP: characteristically soaring aspirations from D.O.]

On the quality of people O & M seeks:

Wanted by Ogilvy & Mather International

Trumpeter Swans

[TP: Do your HR folks use language like this? FYI, the department store chain Nordstrom does use similar language regarding every hire for even the most mundane slots.]

On leaders:

I believe that it is more important for a leader to be trained in psychiatry than cybernetics. The head of a big company recently said to me, 'I am no longer a Chairman. I have had to become a psychiatric nurse.' Today's executive is under pressure unknown to the last generation.

[TP: If only we would get this!]

On general behavior:

Never send a letter on the day you write it.

[TP: If only we would apply this standard to email!!]

Quite a haul, eh?