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!

Tom Peters posted this on November 10, 2011, in Excellence.
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