Archives: April 2011

For Business Book Authors

When I'm not helping Tom with the cool projects he always has cooking, I'm helping other business book authors create and grow successful speaking careers. For those of you who aspire to be the next Tom Peters, or want spread your ideas as far and wide as possible, a few events are approaching that may interest you.

On June 21 and 22 in Portland Oregon, Todd Sattersten, Tim Grahl, and I are presenting BizBookLab Live. We are going to cover three important aspects in the career of every business thought leader—publishing books, building a tribe, and establishing a speaking career. Find out more about the event here.

I teamed up with these two because Todd Sattersten, former President of 800CEOREAD and coauthor of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, simply knows more about business books and the publishing world than anyone (no, really, he does). And Tim Grahl of Out:Think Group has been effectively building tribes for business authors—not just talking about it, actually doing it (his client list speaks for itself).

The three of us will be hosting a call on Thursday, May 5 at 1:00PM EDT. It's a rare opportunity to ask any question you'd like about publishing and marketing a business book, and how to leverage that into a speaking career. Sign up for the free call here.

Hope you find this information helpful. I hope you join us—the more the merrier! And thanks for listening.


Great quotes I found while looking for a quote I never found:

"To lead people, walk beside them ... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves!'" —Lao-Tsu

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, 'We did this ourselves.'" —Lao-Tsu

(These first two quotes are quite similar. But the subtle difference in wording was such I decided to post both. Incidentally, the duo also suggest that the basics of leadership are invariant from millennium to millennium—I could teach an entire leadership course, circa 2011, around this/these quotes alone.)

"The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." —Alvin Toffler

"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." —Henry David Thoreau

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." —Leo Tolstoy

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." —Mark Twain

"Never lose a chance of saying a kind word." —William Makepeace Thackeray

Little BIG Video #60
Bias for Action

Presenting number 60 from The Little BIG Things Video Series. In this video at YouTube, Tom goes back to his roots, revisiting the first of the basics from In Search of Excellence, A Bias for Action.

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] You can also download a PDF transcript of the video's content: Excellence: Bias for Action.

Beyond Your “To Do” List.
Waaaay Beyond Your “To Do” List.

Nothing wrong with a thoughtful "To do" list. Everything right about it, in fact, unless your engineer-like devotion to it as such is that you stick to it no matter what—and some "must-do newbies" come along. There is a lot to say for inflexibility—and flexibility. (Go figure—management is an art.)

In any event, I want to use this space to say that "To do" lists are not enough—not nearly enough. In fact I want to urge three other daily "must" lists be added to your morning cogitations.

#2. "To be" list. If you went to a play, and someone appeared on stage and proceeded to read the play—with no acting—you'd say they missed the point of theater. Well, management of any sort is, pure and simple, theater with the acting. Who are you going to "be" this morning? How are you going to project yourself upon the scene? What is your tactical interpersonal approach to each and every one of those items on your "to do" list? A manager by definition can't do it all—or maybe can't do any of it. Hence her/his job is to "engage" others—and engagement is 100% about emotion—whereas the "to do" list is 100% engineering. So think through your "leaderhip" approach—and the unabashed "theater" you will use with each of the folks-teams you are attempting to engage re that particular "to do" item.

#3. "Relationship management/development" list. Life, including business life, is all about relationships. With allies. With doubters. With friends. With foes. Inside the organization—"above" you and "below" you. Outsiders as well as insiders. What is the extant "State of the Union" this morning? Come hell and high water, what relationships are in need of repair? What allies desperately need bucking up? Are you plugged in enough two levels "down"? Are you plugged in two levels "down" in a customer's or vendor's organization? Along with "to do" and "to be," we need a considered tactical plan to pro-actively manage our ongoing and prospective relationships.

#4. Strategic "To dos." Presumably you have some sort of more or less defined "strategic objectives" for the year (never more than three), or even for your expected 3-year tenure in your current assignment—or during the 4-month life of your project team. Amidst the hurdy gurdy of daily affairs (proceeding through the three prior lists, for example), are you visibly inching forward with your #1 or #2 priority—or are they silently lost in the shuffle? Maybe it's just a small gesture or two, but your gang should realize that in parsing any issue, that top strategic priority must be moved forward at least a millimeter or two.

You could readily argue that, even if you got up at 4AM, you'd still be constructing the lists per se at 4PM. My answer: Sure you could. Nonetheless, at some level, I'll go down swinging concerning each of these four ideas—and insist that each of the four, in a discrete and palpable fashion, must be top of mind as you navigate the day or week.

Four lists:

  1. To do—gotta get done.
  2. To be—how you play 'em.
  3. Discrete relationship management tasks.
  4. Activities directly or indirectly moving/nudging Strategic Priority #1/#2 forward.

Have at it!
Don't be a wimp!
(So get up at 3AM.)

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 "DETAILS":

#131. The Case of the Two-Cent Candy.

#132. If the Envelope Doesn't Fit, Forget It!

#133. It's All About the Mud.

#134. Think Billboard Sign. "We Care." "We Don't Care."

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

Best of the Cool Friends
Ray Kurzweil

Tom mentioned Ray Kurzweil in a recent post. We thought it would be enlightening to revisit the Cool Friend conversation Erik Hansen had with Ray back in 2005 about, among other things, Ray's book, The Singularity. Our realization that we wanted to go back and read this interview prompted Tom to suggest that we occasionally highlight a particularly engrossing Cool Friend interview. Thus the Best of the Cool Friends Series was born!

Little BIG Video #59
Brand You:
Read These Books

Here's video number 59 from The Little BIG Things Video Series. Tom says it's all about relationships. Not only that, he provides a must-read book list that will help you with relationships in business.

You can find the video in the right column of the front page of or you can watch the video on YouTube. [Time: 1 minutes, 59 seconds] You can also download a PDF transcript of the video's content: Brand You: Read These Books.

The Little BIG Things
Synopsis Series
#47 Success
#48 Big

It's time for the last two sections in The Little BIG Things Synopsis Series. The next two sections in The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence are titled "Success" and "Big." Success is full of lessons in navigating Excellence and in Big, the final section of the book & synopsis series, Tom urges us to think about our legacy and to change the world or die trying.

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

#47 Success
#48 Big

*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.

If you've collected all the sections, we'd like to take a moment to say thank you. We hope you've enjoyed receiving these installments.

PMMI Seminar

Tom is at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura FL speaking to the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute. "Perhaps it's trite" he says, "but I'll begin with a slide quoting specialty-retail guru George Whalin: 'Be the best. It's the only market that's not crowded.' It's a superb companion to my 30-year obsession/love affair with Excellence."

Excellence. Always.
If not Excellence, what?
If not Excellence now, when?

Excellence. Always. PMMI, 4 April 2011
Excellence. Always. PMMI, Long Version, 4 April 2011