14 April 2006/ Novosibirsk/Siberia

Tom on stage in Siberia

"It came in a flash." "It arrived from the recesses of my mind." I hate language like that!

But it's more or less true.

I was in—yes—Siberia. For an all-day seminar. It was, simply, odd to be there. Orlando is not odd. Istanbul is not odd. Riyadh is not odd. Novosibirsk is odd. (Odd = Totally new experience.)

As I said recently, I didn't want to do "one more speech"—actually, I never do, but this time was different. And, as I sat in my hotel room, "excellence seeped into my consciousness" (well, it did) for the first time in years.

And there on my cover slide appeared:

EXCELLENCE.
ALWAYS.

And the ground shifted perceptibly. Every speech since (about 50 this year), though unique in its own fashion, has been titled: EXCELLENCE. ALWAYS.

It's been a blast. It is a very cool word:

Synonyms:

Purity.
Transcendence.
Virtue.
Elegance.
Majesty.

Antonyms:

Mediocrity.

And the imagery it conjures up: Old Ben Franklin in Paris. Nelson at Trafalgar. Newton being bonked by the apple. (Okay, that one's not true; neither is the cherry tree decapitation—but the images work anyway.) The Grand Canyon. Grey Meadow Farm/Tinmouth/VT. Hillary at the top of Mount Everest. (No, not Ms Clinton.) Callas in full voice. Churchill at the radio mike. An Apple II, circa 1981. An iPod, circa 2006.

And as Waterman and I said almost 25 years ago: In enterprise! In a career!

Excellence.
What a word.
What an Aspiration.

Welcome back. And thanks, my friends in Novosibirsk.