Betsy Myers is a leadership consultant and speaker. She was senior adviser to two US presidents and former executive director of Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. Betsy wrote Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire and Bring Out the Best in Yourself & Everyone Around You. Some of Tom's favorite quotes come from her book.
Val Willis is a longtime colleague of Tom's and consultant with Tom Peters Company. She founded and runs her own boutique firm specializing in speaking engagements and consulting that is dedicated to aligning businesses and organizations of all sizes with their brand, values, missions and vision.
We asked Val, "What does extreme humanism mean to you?"
Most of us spend the best parts of our waking hours in a business with 1 to 100,001 fellow employees. Business, therefore, is not "part of the community." Business is the community. Hence, the "first order of business" for any enterprise is its ongoing moral responsibility to all of those who make its success possible: employees, in terms of their personal growth, and social equity as regards gender and race. This also includes the communities in which its employees lives as well as the larger communities where the enterprise does business: city, state, country, planet.
And as to output—what business delivers to its employees, its communities, and its customers—it holds a sacred obligation to create products and services that, as Jony Ive (Apple's former design leader), says, "serve humanity first."
Regarding traditional business goals, such as unwavering commitment to excellence and to people and community are the only repeatedly proven long-term drivers of exceptional growth and profitability. Looking down the road, developing the full potential of its people and providing products and services that inspire offer the best chance we have to continue to provide enlightened and humane contributions that the looming artificial intelligence tsunami cannot take away from us.
Phim Her is a Hmong-American refugee who has worked as a Senior Product Marketing Manager at The Washington Post and is a board member at LeadIN+, an organization dedicated to bringing communities together to help strengthen their leadership. Phim believes mindful leaders should disrupt the world through empathy and story telling. One of her favorite quotes is: "We must move from talking about the world of design to talking about the design of the world."
Phim and Tom's values align in this way, as Tom has fought for empathy in leadership and design in every aspect of business for decades. Which is why we asked her, "What does extreme humanism mean to you?"
His eminence, Peter Drucker, once said, “Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art.” As for me, my Ph.D. dissertation was labeled by my committee as the “first [Stanford business school] dissertation on the topic of implementation.” My subsequent research at McKinsey & Co., which led to In Search of Excellence, was an out and out exaltation of execution/ implementation/people and culture first, and thence a frontal attack on McKinsey’s Holy Grail, developing scintillating strategies for clients—and letting the doing take care of itself, which, of course, rarely occurs. A number of the firm’s power players wanted me fired. They eventually got their way, but I got the last laugh: the rather significant sales of my book with Bob Waterman.
Given that history, you may understand why I started this brief “You like, I like” compendium with: “You like strategy. I like execution.” That one is followed by fifty-one additional—and mostly contrarian—pairings.
Enjoy. And I hope what follows provokes some thought. And, hey, it was fun to write. I will plug away on these issues—ever more important—until, more or less, my last breath.
YOU LIKE STRATEGY. I LIKE EXECUTION.
You like strategy.
I like execution.
You like big gestures.
I like small gestures.
You worry about disruption.
I worry about the next five minutes.
You like systems.
I like people.
You think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
I think the shortest distance between two points—when people are involved—is a twisting, turning path with hairpin turns and dead ends.
You like to “get to the point.”
I like kindness.
You like answers.
I like questions.
You like “sticking to the script.”
I like unbridled curiosity.
You think “we pay our taxes.”
I think our responsibility to the community is enormous—taxes are but a first step.
You think “we need to work on the gender issue.”
I think we must make a “hard commitment” to 50–50 gender balanced boards and executive teams within 36 months.
You think women can be good managers.
I think women on average are better managers than men—and better salespeople, negotiators, and investors.
You think sustainability and the war on climate change “is an issue.”
I think sustainability and the war on climate change is the issue.
You think “we gotta take more cost out.”
I think “we gotta put more value in.”
You say design is “prettification.”
I say design is nothing less than soul.
You say design is “the final touch.”
I say design is the starting premise and at the top of mind in every step in the product-and-service development process.
You want to “hammer the competition.”
I want us all to succeed by doing great work.
You think it’s a STEM world.
I think in the main, if true distinction is the goal, it’s a liberal arts world.
You like “Do it because it’s your job.”
I like “Thanks for the extra effort.”
You say, “Thank you” is fine—but “don’t overdo it.”
I say it is impossible to overdo it!
You like to “get down to business.”
I like to take the time to engage one and all in the issues at hand.
You say, “finish it up” and move on.
I say the “last five percent” makes all the difference—and takes lots (and lots) of time.
You like your office.
I like the shop floor.
You like people “who get to the point.”
I like people who think before they open their mouth.
You like the noisy ones.
I like the quiet ones.
You like the people in the first row who constantly raise their hands.
I like the people in the last row taking copious notes.
You like speed.
I like excellence.
You think culture is “important.”
I think culture is a flourishing garden which must be watered daily.
You think the development and maintenance of relationships is “not insignificant.”
I think the development and maintenance of relationships must be a “daily obsession.”
You want a technical group to be peopled with folks who have sterling technical backgrounds.
I want a technical group peppered with poets and musicians and artists and theater majors.
You like a resume with no gaps.
I like a resume with false starts and fresh starts, dead ends and detours.
You like people who read Forbes and Fortune.
I like people who read Dickens and Ishiguro.
You “try to find time” to read.
I follow the dictum of fanatic studenthood and read and read—and read some more.
You like those who “get it done on time” no matter what must be sacrificed.
I like those who settle for no less than excellence, regardless of the task or the timeframe.
You think excellence is “a hill to climb.”
I think excellence is the next five minutes.
You like “Let’s figure out who screwed this up.”
I like “I’m sorry.”
You like people who dream in spreadsheets and process maps.
I like people who dream about helping others accomplish things they never imagined possible.
You like org charts.
I laugh hysterically whenever I see an org chart.
You insist on putting the customer first.
I insist on putting the people who serve the customer first-er.
You are determined to fix what’s wrong, and therefore emphasize the negative.
I am determined to build upon what’s right, and thence emphasize and emphasize—and then re-emphasize—the positive.
You like “but” (“yes, but . . .”).
I like “and” (“great, and let’s keep going”).
You think training is an expense.
I think training is our Investment #1.
You have a fit when a well-trained person leaves.
I throw a party when someone good leaves to take an amazingly cool job.
You see the front-line boss as the keeper of law and order.
I see the cadre of front-line managers as Corporate Asset #1—the premier developers of people, and thence responsible for productivity, quality, innovation, and excellence itself.
You promote the ones with the best technical skills.
I promote the ones with the best people skills.
You say, “leave your personal issues at home.”
I say we benefit from a caring environment that celebrates and is enhanced by 100 percent of who you are.
You think management is about getting the most out of people.
I think management is helping people succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
You like generals and admirals.
I like privates and sailors.
You say follow the rules.
I say make new rules.
You say, “don’t waste time.”
I say most creativity and engagement and commitment comes from milling about and indirection.
You sprint through the day like a soldier on a forced march.
I leave gaps in my day (up to 50 percent according to one guru) to allow for reflection and chance occurrences.
You see failure as, well, failure.
I see failure as something to be celebrated—the signature and hallmark of rapid tries and thus all innovation.
You think the top priority of an enterprise is profitability.
I think enterprise profitability is a derivative—the top priorities of an effective business are moral behavior, developing people beyond their wildest dreams, being a sterling community member, and providing products and services that “make our world a little bit better.” (FYI: These priorities in fact underpin the demonstrably highest long-term growth and profitability.)
Over to you . . .
Inspired by my new book, Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism
Cindy Gallop is a marketing powerhouse who founded MakeLoveNotPorn and IfWeRanTheWorld who says she likes to blow things up. Obviously this means that she and Tom get along like a house on fire and can be found chatting on Twitter together.
That's why we asked Cindy Gallop, "What does extreme humanism mean to you?"
Take care of people. Train them and train them and train them and treat them with kindness and respect and help them prepare for tomorrow. Insist that every employee commit to growth and care for their mates (this goes double—or triple—in today’s troubled times). Goal: Extreme Employee Engagement (E3). Bottom line: make Excellence the norm in all people matters.
This course looks at the “people (what- the-hell-else-is-there?) issue” through eleven different lenses—that is, eleven steps. My goal is to inflame (!) your desire (!) to work harder (!) and more creatively (!) on the “people stuff”—and to provide you with practical (ready- to-use-today) approaches to doing so.
Karen Mangia is a VP of Customer & Market Insights at Salesforce. She is spearheading some great projects with Tom, introducing him to the Salesforce audience. Karen and Tom share a love of travel. Be sure to check out her books Listen Up! and Working From Home.
We were excited for her unique perspective on: What does extreme humanism mean to you?
Billy Dexter is a Managing Partner of Heidrick & Struggles. He is a member of their Global Diversity Advisory Services practice, which assists clients in creating diverse leadership teams.
That is why we asked him, "What does extreme humanism mean to you?"
Linda is an entrepreneur and powerhouse female leader. She is the Founder/CEO of Citia, a technology software company, which offers a new way to structure and share content.
We asked her, "What does Extreme Humanism mean to you?"