Archives: November 2011

Startling Boomer+ Stats!


I call them (us!) "boomers & geezers." Boomers alone number about 75 million. The goal of this short post is not heavy analysis. It is simply a vivid and brief set of seven startling numeric facts—that, current economic turmoil notwithstanding, aim to make the case for oldies as by far the most significant marketing opportunity in history.


**55+ > 55-


**1/8/20 (One USA boomer is turning 65 every 8 seconds—that rate will continue for the next 20 years.)
**22/1/10 (USA adult population will have grown by 23 million in the 10 years between 2006 and 2016. Ages 18–49 will have grown by 1 million—age 50+ will have grown by 22 million.)
**50@50 (At age 50, we effectively have ... a full 50% of our healthy adult life ahead of us.)
**7/13 (An American will buy 13 cars in the course of a lifetime—7 after age 50.)
**55+ > 55- (Age 55-plusers are ... more active in online finance, shopping, and
entertainment than those under 55.
**8.4 (Boomers inherit $8.4 trillion in the next few years; 70% of boomers will inherit on average $300K.)
**47X (Net wealth of households headed by 65+ is 47 times greater than the net wealth of households headed by someone <35; 20 years ago the ratio was 10:1.)

The way I summarize "all this" in my presentations is as follows:

We are the Aussies & Kiwis & Americans & Canadians. We are the Western Europeans & Japanese. We are the fastest growing, the biggest, the wealthiest, the boldest the most (yes) ambitious, the most experimental & exploratory, the most different, the most indulgent, the most difficult & demanding, the most service & experience obsessed, the most vigorous, (the least vigorous), the most health conscious, the most female, the most profoundly important commercial market in the history of the world ... and we will be the Center of Your Universe for the next twenty-five years. We have arrived!

(Above ... Winter Sky in Vermont the day after Thanksgiving 2011.)


From Tom and all of us, we hope that you had a day with loved ones, taking the time to acknowledge all that you have to be grateful for. We wish you a very happy holiday.

Recent Tom Interviews and Other Stuff Worth Mentioning

Julie Anixter (an old friend!) posted an interview with Tom at
The Tom Peters Interview—"Excellence NOW"

An excerpt from Debbie Millman's book, Brand Thinking, in which she interviews Tom, appeared on the 800ceoread blog:
Brand Thinking with Debbie Millman and
Tom Peters

In the emails, Tom received this suggestion for enhancing one of his tweets. Kudos to Tom for getting 30 years' experience into 140 characters! We'll let him slide for leaving out the marching band:
Re-imagine! The Musical, from Shortcuts to Managing Right

Tom received another email stating that the "Tom Peters consultancy was ranked number 7 in the category of Independent Consultants/Trainers/Coaches" in the Leadership 500 ranking by the folks at Leadership Excellence. We're very proud of the London office of Tom Peters Company. They're doing excellent work based on Tom's principles.

And You Ordinarily Fit Where …

Superstar psychologist Martin Seligman is most recently author of Flourish. Among other things, he reports on the ubiquitous U.S. Army training program he developed and helped implement—"Master Resilience Training." As I progressed through this captivating book, I came across the following hypothetical exchange, meant, obviously, for part of the training:

Private Johnson tells Private Gonzales: "Hey my wife called and told me she got a great job on post."

Active constructive response: "That's great. What's the new job? When does she start? What did she say about how she got it and why she deserved it?"

Passive constructive: "That's nice."

Passive destructive: "I got a funny email from my son. Listen to this ..."

Active destructive: "So who's going to be looking after your son? I wouldn't trust a babysitter. There are so many horror stories you hear about babysitters abusing kids."

I shall offer no commentary—but if this little vignette does not trigger a blockbuster bout of introspection, solo or with spouse or colleagues, and especially for males, I don't know what the hell would.

(I, for one, will not look at the world quite the same way I did before happening upon this.)


(1) In an effort to "get it right," I have revised last week's Johannesburg presentation once again!
(2) I have made minor revisions to the week before's Excellence. Now. 2-page "summary of everything."
(3) I have converted the 2-page "summary of everything" into a PowerPoint presentation.

Herewith, the lot!

A Request

11.11.11: To those of you in organizations of every stripe, and regardless of your support for, or distress about, any given armed conflict ... PLEASE ... ONE AT A TIME ... thank your veterans for their service.

A Spinning Head

It's 10AM EST on November 10 as I write. Last night my trusty Subaru Outback and I chugged into West Tinmouth VT at 10PM—34 hours after having left my Johannesburg hotel.

I was still high from an amazing day. It was the first all-day event I'd had in a while. The event creator-producer in Johannesburg, Ingrid Masters of the Business Results Group, whom I've worked with in various guises for 15 years, says she doesn't see much value in the 90-minute "keynote." "You really can't get serious about the 'take aways,'" I think was the way she put it.

I think she has more of a point than I'd normally admit. I feel that I can "bond" with even a big audience in 90 minutes. But this, the full-day affair, is truly different—it is the love of my professional life. A full day is a micro-lifetime; relationships are painstakingly developed, one literally connects like an old friend by the end of 9 hyper-intense hours, etc. And, of course, with a few key ideas you can dig down 2 or 3 or 4 levels into cases and details and overcoming objections and implementation tactics and priorities. In any event, I had an unmitigated, unadulterated great time; and I hope that a few folks went "back home" with a renewed determination to try a couple of new things—which of course are not truly new, but, rather, old things we all know that are typically overlooked in the heat of pressing events.

As I said to the group, I deeply respect cultural differences (I think I do); but when it comes to the basics of human behavior—e.g., respect, appreciation, decency, or the lack thereof—there are literally ZERO differences among us regardless of our location on the globe. That's my unshakeable belief.

South Africa is not without problems. I hear the same can be said of my beloved USA. I do not shy away from controversy, but I also am not in town—Johannesburg or Chicago or Riyadh—to talk about national politics or policies. My message: You and I in our small way—in our immediate group of 7 or 17 or 77 or 777—can create (or die trying) what, in 1985 in A Passion for Excellence, Nancy Austin and I called a "Pocket of Excellence." There is absolutely ZERO excuse for our wee bit of turf being anything less than a shining star and stellar example of what can be—especially on the people issues, that all
important "first 99%."

(To the last point, here are three of the most profound quotes in my massive collection:
"We do no great things, only small things with great love."—Mother Teresa. "I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble."—Helen Keller. "Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones."—Churchill.)

I went back to the J'burg PowerPoint and added a touch or two to make it slightly more consistent with what actually went down. You'll find attached a new "Final" version.

To my colleagues in Johannesburg ... thanks for a memorable day. It wasn't fair: I had far too much fun for an old guy 7- or 8-thousand miles from home!

BRG, Johannesburg

Tom spoke to South Africa-based BRG, Business Results Group, in Johannesburg today.
PPT slides are here:

BRG, Johannesburg, 8 Nov 2011
BRG, Johannesburg, Long Version, 8 Nov 2011

5 Days to Compose
45 Years to Prepare

In Natal (Brazil) I decided for the first time in a long time not to use slides for my 90-minute presentation—the client was apparently happy, said my direct contact with the audience was even more intense than usual.

Upon getting home, I decided to transfer my notes to a 1-page word doc. Fact is, it has taken the better part of 5 days (and nights!) to get this 1-pager, which became a 2-pager, but no more, into a form that I can call (for now) final.

Somewhere along the agonizing way I discovered that, in a way, I was attempting to summarize the last 45 years' effort observing good and bad organizations into, yes ... 2 pages.

Have I succeeded? Of course not, but it ain't bad. You will find it here as a blog post; far more important (to me) is the 2-page "EXCELLENCE. Now. EXCELLENCE. Always." pdf that you'll also find.

45 years to prepare.
5 days and nights to write.
2-page product.

All yours ...


1. People first, second, third, fourth ... /The "business" of leaders is people: to inspire/engage/provide a trajectory of opportunity—enterprise of every size and type as "cathedral" for human development. "When I hire someone, that's when I go to work for them."—John DiJulius
1A. Customer comes 2nd/If you want to best "Wow!" customers then you must first Wow! those who serve the customers/"If you want staff to give great service, give great service to staff."—Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman's/"You have to treat your employees like customers."—Herb Kelleher, on his #1 "secret to success"
1B. Manager's sole raison d'etre: Make each of my team members successful!
1C. Effective organizations: No bit players!
1D. Appreciation. Acknowledgement. "The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated."—Believe it! A few kind words are often remembered for years!
1E. 1st line supervisors. Every organization's ... most important ... leadership cadre. Productivity is largely determined by the caliber of the 1st line boss. Selection and development of your "sergeants" must become an "obsession"—almost all do a half-assed job.
1F. Weird/There are no "normals" in the history books!/Ensure a healthy supply of oddballs/
Diversity of every flavor = Fresh perspectives! Better decisions!
1G. Memories That Matter. And Don't./"People stuff" sticks with you: You'll look back on the handful of people you developed who proceeded to change the world—and the multitude (if you've earned it) who say, "I grew most when I worked with you." Ever seen a tombstone engraved with the deceased's net worth?

2. You/me: Businesses no longer coddle. You're in charge!/"Brand you"—stand out for something valuable, or else; learn something new every day, or else!/"Distinct or Extinct!"

3. Organizations Exist to Serve. PERIOD.

4. EXECUTION/"Don't forget to tuck the shower curtain into the bath tub."—Conrad Hilton on his "sweat the details" obsession and #1 "success secret"/"Execution is strategy."—Fred Malek/
"Execution is the leader's job #1."—Larry Bossidy
4A. "They do ... ONE big thing at a time."—Drucker on successful managers' #1 trait
4B. Resilience circa 2011: Understand it. Hire for it. Promote for it. Obsess on it.

5. MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around/
Starbucks' Schultz visits 25 stores a week/"In touch" is "not optional"/You = Your calendar/Calendars never lie!
5A. Listening per se = Candidate for Core Value #1/
Listening per se is a profession./"If you don't listen, you don't sell anything."/Docs interrupt patients after ... 18 seconds. And you?
5B. "What do you think?" "How can I help?"—MBWA 8/Eight words, repeated like a mantra while "wandering around," that unlock engagement/success for multitudes.
5C. Innovate by "Hanging out"/"You are what you eat."/"You will become like the five people you associate with the most—a blessing or a curse."/Want "cool"? Expose yourself to cool!/Manage "hanging out" zealously-formally—with customers, interesting outsiders, etc.
5D. K = R = P (Kindness = Repeat business = Profit.) "Hard is soft. Soft is hard."—#1 finding In Search of Excellence. Kindness is "hard"—and pays off in $$$$.
5E. Apology Power—Awesome power: 3-minute "I'm sorry" call heals anything—do it religiously!/"Over-the-top" response to even small booboo strengthens customer relationships!

6. "Little BIG Things"/Focus on "multipliers": Walmart goes to big shopping cart = +50% "big stuff" sales boost!/"Wash your Hands"—save thousands of lives P.A. in hospitals!
6A. "Little BIG Things": SMEs bedrock of all economies. Nurture them. SME's battle cry per George Whalin: "Be the best. It's the only market that's not crowded."

7. Apple > Exxon in market cap courtesy ... DESIGN!/The big "Duh": "Cool beats un- cool!"/Design candidate for "best way to differentiate goods-services in competitive markets."
7A. TGRs/Things Gone Right. Wagon Wheel restaurant, Gill MA—clean restroom with fresh flowers—we remember such touches more or less forever/Manage-measure TGRs.
7B. Scintillating Experiences. Howard Schultz on Starbucks: "At our core, we're a coffee company, but the opportunity we have to extend the brand is beyond coffee; it's entertainment."

8. WOMEN Buy! WOMEN Rule! WOMEN's World! Women buy 80% of everything—$28T world market/"Why Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl"—e.g., studies harder-holds longer-less frenzied buying and selling/Women's leadership style fits 21st century less-hierarchical enterprise./Evidence clear—Women well on the way to 21st century economic domination! Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at UN: "the century of women."

9. Web-Social Media/"Everyone becomes our valued partner, a member of our community—and watchdog"/The Power of Co-creation—my "Top Biz Book 2010"/SM lynchpin of transformative strategy—for organizations of every shape and size!

10. Value added via transformation from "Customer satisfaction" to "Customer success"—huge difference-opportunity!/E.g., IBM Global Services, from afterthought to $60B/UPS Logistics/MasterCard Advisors/IDEO, help clients create "culture of innovation"/"The Geek Squad"—BestBuy's #1 strategic point of differentiation.

11. Innovation "secret" #1: "Most tries wins."/"A Bias for Action"—excellence trait #1, In Search of Excellence/"Ready. Fire! Aim."—Ross Perot/"Instead of trying to figure out the best way to do something and sticking to it, just try out an approach and keep fixing it."—Bert Rutan/"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."—Wayne Gretzky
11A. Try a lot = Fail a lot/"Fail. Forward. Fast."/"Fail faster, succeed sooner"—David Kelley/"Reward excellent failures, punish mediocre successes."/
Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins
—Richard Farson

12. Live WOW!/Zappos creed ... "WOW Customers"/eBay 14,000 employees, Amazon 20,000 employees, Craig's List 30 employees: regardless of issue, Where's your "Wild and Wooly Craig's List Option"?/Final point in superstar adman Kevin Roberts' Credo: "Avoid moderation!"

13. EXCELLENCE is a personal choice ... not an institutional choice!
EXCELLENCE is not an "aspiration"—it's the next five minutes!

13A. EXCELLENCE. Always. If not EXCELLENCE, What?
If not EXCELLENCE Now, When?