In mid-1978, I was summoned to New York City to meet with the Managing Director of McKinsey & Co. When I did so, I was given an assignment. McKinsey developed genius strategies. But the clients by and large couldn’t implement them. What was going on? Answering that question, or trying to, has been my preoccupation ever since (45 years).
After some initial interviews and a bit of press coverage, a book contract landed unbidden in my home mailbox in San Francisco. Then, after 1,000 twists, and 1,000 turns, and back steps as well, the book appeared. Title: In Search of Excellence.
I traveled the world talking about my findings—2,500 speeches, 2,500,000 frequent-flier miles, 63 countries, and a life that bordered on pure exhaustion pretty much all the time. And then there were more books. 20 by last count, and a couple of dozen ebooks as well.
Skip forward to November 7, 2022. My birthday. More specifically, my 80th birthday. That’s old, bro! Well, the reason for this short message is to say that, after all those miles and all those books, and the realization that 80 is a very large number, I am announcing de facto—and de jure, frankly—my retirement. I have given about as much as I can give. And now, I am going to take it easy. (Uh, maybe work on a memoir, but what the hell.)
I want to thank each and every one of you for listening and reading. I hope that some of what I have said or written, called by one wildly successful entrepreneur “a blinding flash of the obvious,” has been of use. The times seem to be getting ever crazier, and I will follow from the sidelines. Thank you again for your attention, and I wish you well.