What Tom’s Reading


Michael Schrage is perhaps our #1 Innovation Guru. For the last half dozen years, he's been obsessed with the importance of prototyping. In fact, Schrage claims that innovation is how we react to the prototype. How we react when we see a test. What that leads us to conjure up ... for the next test. Schrage has taken it to a brilliant extreme in his utterly marvelous book ... Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate.

Interview on tompeters.com

YOU MUST READ in "The Old Print Version" The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual. There's a lot here I think is bullshit. But I love the baldly polemic nature of this treatise. So: read it, inhale it. If it pisses you off, GREAT! [The Website is a must, too!] By Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searles & David Weinberger.


My take on "standard" big acquisitions is perfectly captured by consultant and business professor Mark Sirower in The Synergy Trap: How Companies Lose the Acquisition Game. Quote: "When asked to name just one big merger that had lived up to expectations, Leon Cooperman [of Goldman Sachs] answered: 'I'm sure there are success stories out there, but at this moment I draw a blank.' "

Book Review

"The leaders of Great Groups love talent and know where to find it. They revel in the talent of others." A quote I use often, from Warren Bennis & Patricia Ward Biederman: Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration.

Another quote: "Even if executives of established businesses grasp the impact of new technologies ... they still face a massive competitive disadvantage precisely because they are incumbents. ... They do complex financial calculations and get bogged down in internal political debates. Insurgents have no such inhibitions." From Philip Evans & Thomas Wurster in Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy.

Book Review

Ken Dychtwald wrote Age Wave: How the Most Important Trend of Our Time Will Change Our Future, and, more recently, Age Power: How the 21st Century Will Be Ruled by the New Old. My quote from Age Wave: "At each stage of their lives, the needs and desires of the baby boomers have become the dominant concerns of American business and popular culture. If you can predict the moves of the baby-boom generation's life-span migration, you can see the future."

The Masters Forum on Ken Dychtwald

"Experiences," write Joseph Pine & James Gilmore in The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, "are as distinct from services as services are from goods."

Visit their COOL website

This book is out of print, but it's worth searching out through your favorite online bookseller, based on the title alone! But its author, Ralph Caplan, is also a widely recognized authority on design. The title: By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV, and Other Object Lessons.

Another favorite quote is this: "Men and women don't think the same way, don't communicate the same way, don't buy for the same reasons ... He simply wants the transaction to take place. She's interested in creating a relationship. Every place women go, they make connections." It's from Clicking: 16 Trends To Future Fit Your Life, Your Work, and Your Business, by Faith Popcorn & Lys Marigold.

Visit Faith's website

Bringing us to my BIGGEST "thing" for 2001. Women! ... Here's an addendum to the list I started in March 2001.

First another book by Faith Popcorn & Lys Marigold: EVEolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women. Is it a perfect book? No. None is, in my extensive experience. But I also think that my experience is extensive enough to be able to say ... unequivocally ... that this is a genuine original.

Interview on tompeters.com

I recommend this book by our latest Cool Friend, Deborah Tannen: You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.

Interview on tompeters.com

Then there's Harvard sociologist Carol Gilligan's classic study: In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development.

Book Review

Here are the latest books I've been reading:

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life, by Parker Palmer.

success@life: How to Catch and Live your Dream, A Zentrepreneur's Guide, by Ron Rubin & Stuart Avery Gold.

Cisco Unauthorized: Inside the High-Stakes Race to Own the Future, by Jeffrey S. Young.

Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market—And How to Successfully Transform Them, by Richard Foster & Sarah Kaplan.

The eProcess Edge: Creating Customer Value and Business Wealth in the Internet Era, by Peter Keen & Mark McDonald.


Two more books I've been quoting for quite a while are biographies.

Saul Bellow: The Adventures of Augie March. Quote: "I am an American, Chicago born, and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way."

John Buchan: Sick Heart River. Quote: Rabbi Zusya: "In the world to come I shall not be asked, 'Why were you not Moses?' I'll be asked, 'Why were you not Zusya?' "


Perhaps the first New Economy free-lancer is Travis McGee, who goes to work only when the pile of money in his hidey-hole gets uncomfortably low. A detective series by John D. MacDonald, from The Deep Blue Good-by in 1964 (re-released in 1995), to The Lonely Silver Rain in 1985. They're a tad misogynistic (consider the times!), but I promise that once you start, you'll plow through these books.

The complete list


What Tom’s Reading


There are only a small handful of books I read and reread. For example, I've "done" Karl Weick's SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ORGANIZING at least 8 or 9 times, re-underlining each time.

This "vacation" it was my 4th heavily underlined rereading of Stephen Jay Gould's FULL HOUSE. I LOVE STATISTICS AND PROBABILITIES AND THE PROPERTIES OF VARIOUS DISTRIBUTIONS OF DATA. (There, I've said it.) Gould explains phenomena grand and trivial by examining the properties of variations in populations.

"All this" led me to the SUPER HOT "cloning thing." Consider another of my "light reads," Richard Lewontin's THE TRIPLE HELIX. Bottom line: Genetic Determinism is BULL. What matters: The INTERACTION of Genes and Environment and Random Shit that happens.

Book Review

For more vacation reading, see FICTION, below.

"All this" must be put in the context of a world that's changing at an unprecedented rate. David Schneider & Grady Means, MetaCAPITALISM.

Or, consider one of my favorite topics, The War for Talent. As Stan Davis & Christopher Meyer put it in futureWEALTH, "When land was the productive asset, nations battled over it. The same is happening now for talented people." Talent rules!

And diversity! "Diversity defines the health and wealth of nations in a new century."—G. Pascal Zachary, THE GLOBAL ME: New Cosmopolitans and the Competitive Edge: Picking Globalism's WINNERS AND LOSERS. READ THIS BOOK! The basic assertion is strong.

THE RISE OF THE VIRTUAL STATE, Richard Rosecrance. Solid book. Solid argument. So far ... no one is "in the lead" ... when it comes to creating EducationCentury21.

BANKER TO THE POOR, Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank. Three hearty cheers to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank. Yunus' un-secret secret: LENDING TO WOMEN!!!!!!!!!!

Yunus' Bio

Bringing us to my BIGGEST "thing" for 2001. Women! What follows is my short list. There's much more.

I've added ... and added ... and added ... "women's stuff" to my seminars. Gotten more strident. FIRE ALL MALE SALES PEOPLE, I shout, only half in jest, following my interpretation of SELLING IS A WOMAN'S GAME: 15 Reasons Why Women Can Outsell Men, by Nicki Joy & Susan Kane-Benson.

Sally Helgesen, FEMALE ADVANTAGE. I WAS MEZMERIZED. Her logic was compelling.

tompeters.com Interview

Helen Fisher, THE FIRST SEX: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World. READ THIS BOOK! The premise is ... exactly ... right.


"It's time for U.S. organizations to act. No other country in the world has a comparable supply of professional women waiting to be called into action. This is America's competitive secret." Strong statement! Competitive secret #1!    I AGREE!    Judy Rosener, AMERICA'S COMPETITIVE SECRET.

Book Flap Comments

"Would Congress [the Boardroom] be a different place if half the members were women?"—Susan Estrich, SEX AND POWER. Who can resist this title?



THE DIAGNOSIS, by Alan Lightman. The main riff is about the fantastic (truest meaning of that word) 24/7 life many of us now lead. WHICH MAY WELL BE KILLING US.

My next thrilla was Caleb Carr's KILLING TIME. Set in 2023, it depicts a world where the once-benign Internet has made it impossible for any of us to discern truth from fiction. Again, this hit home.

Speaking of thrillas ... I have just found somebody truly as good as Le Carre ... somebody totally unknown to me. I've quickly devoured about 4 of Alan Furst's novels. Such as KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, DARK STAR, and THE POLISH OFFICER.

What Tom’s Reading


CORPORATE RELIGION, Jesper Kunde, Financial Times/Prentice Hall (UK). A totally fresh ... AND INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT ... look at brands: Brand Power in the "outside" market is a direct byproduct of the internal soul and personality of the Firm.

Kunde and Company Website


EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING: How to Get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act, Relate, Bernd Schmitt, Free Press. Beyond "service" to the Total Experience of Dealing with the Company. [Every airline CEO oughta memorize this, for starters.]


201 GREAT IDEAS FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS, Jane Applegate, Bloomberg. Fabulous "stuff" for all of us ... not just small business owners.


RADICAL MARKETING, by Sam Hill and Glenn Rifkin. Cases of unconventional, passionate marketing ... from Harley to the NBA. [I'm re-reading this.]



Jakob Nielsen's Website—lots of web usability ideas


MACHINE BEAUTY: ELEGANCE AND THE HEART OF TECHNOLOGY, by David Gelernter, Basic. "Beauty" and "business" ... YES!


FUNKY BUSINESS, Kjell Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle, Bookhouse (Sweden). A "crazy" ... and brilliant ... book ... by two "straight" Swedish business-strategy profs. (I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!)



THE FUTURE AND ITS ENEMIES, Virginia Postrel, Free Press. Extremely thoughtful analysis of why unvarnished competition and entrepreneurialism power economic growth. (The best thing since Hayek!)

Virginia Postrel's Website


THE ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF NEW BUSINESSES, Amar Bhide, Oxford. Thoroughly original research on the shape of entrepreneurialism.



Book Site


THE BEAK OF THE FINCH, Jonathan Weiner, Vintage. If this doesn't make you an "evolutionist," I don't know what will!


THE RISE AND FALL OF STRATEGIC PLANNING, Henry Mintzberg, Free Press. I called this "the book of the decade." I meant it. This is about my 5th close reading.


THE LOOK OF THE CENTURY: DESIGN ICONS OF THE 20TH CENTURY, Michael Tambini, DK. This is a wonderful catalog of the products that have shaped our lives.


THE PENCIL: A HISTORY OF DESIGN AND CIRCUMSTANCE, Henry Petroski, Knopf. 434 pages on the origin and evolution of the not-so-humble pencil! I love "sagas" like this; among other things, they reinforce one's [MY!!] views about the fascinating messiness of "progress."


BLIND MAN'S BLUFF: THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUBMARINE ESPIONAGE, Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Public Affairs. Yes ... a page turner. But I also read it as a "management" story ... dealing with the "risk-reward tradeoff" ... when the stakes are the future of the world!


BETWEEN SILK AND CYANIDE: A CODEMAKER'S WAR 1941—1945, Leo Marks, Free Press. Even when the cause is clearly just—beating Hitler—WOW Projects must survive tortuous politics!!!


What Tom’s Reading


RULES FOR RADICALS, Saul Alinsky. The 1971 organizer's classic. The Bible on moving people to action. Hint: Applies to a Y2K finance project as much as to a 1960s union certification drive!

INFLUENCE: SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, Robert Cialdini. Best and best researched book ... ever(?) ... on this topic. He would have predicted 10 years ago the power of permission marketing on the Web!

THE POWER OF MINDFUL LEARNING, Ellen Langer. When we are deeply engaged, we soar. When we ain't, we don't! This is an incredibly readable, brilliantly researched tome.

DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS: HOW TO DISCUSS WHAT MATTERS MOST, Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen. I'm on my third reading. Half the pages are dog-eared. This is a mind-bogglingly (yech!) powerful book. For life. For getting things done in organizations. (From members of the renowned Harvard Negotiation Project.)

WHY WE BUY: THE SCIENCE OF SHOPPING, Paco Underhill. Goes very deep on this eternally relevant subject. (More relevant than ever, as we try to fathom the impact of the Web.)

WORLDLY GOODS: A NEW HISTORY OF THE RENAISSANCE, Lisa Jardine. I find that, paradoxically, reading history helps me feel my way through these mad times much more effectively. (This has long been Peter Drucker's secret weapon.)

THE VICTORIAN INTERNET: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF THE TELEGRAPH AND THE NINETEENTH CENTURY'S ON-LINE PIONEERS, Tom Standage. The telegraph, relatively, was as big a deal as the Web! Great read!

THE AGE OF SPIRITUAL MACHINES, Ray Kurzweil. If you only read one book in the next few months, make it this one. In short, we ain't seen nothin' yet! Speaking of ain't, Ray Kurzweil ain't no flake!


DAMASCUS GATE, Robert Stone.


What Tom's Reading.
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