Category: General

The In Search of Excellence Boys

Tom’s In Search of Excellence coauthor and friend, Bob Waterman, is in failing health. The two were enjoying each other’s company, as you can see in this rare photo of them together, as recently as 2019. We hope you’ll join us in sending well wishes to Bob and his family.

Video: Cass B-School

Cass Business School in London invited Tom to speak at the inaugural Cass Executive Leadership Masterclass. They captured the speech on video, and we thank them for sending us this link:

Cass Business School Masterclass

As they describe it, “Cass has a long tradition of providing ‘Masterclasses’ … Cass faculty share their research to help keep alumni on the cutting-edge of developing business knowledge … [A]nnually, the Cass Executive Leadership Masterclass [will] be delivered by a long-standing, international thought leader to invited executives—our senior alumni, corporate partners and advisory board members, as well as rising alumni executives.” Cass honored Tom by making him the first masterclass presenter.

Video: Preparing to Speak

In a conversation with colleague Shelley Dolley, Tom describes one of his most effective speaking strategies. When he’s preparing his speech, he doesn’t think about the client or just any audience member. Watch this video in our Off the Cuff series to hear about who Tom’s keeping in his mind’s eye while he’s on stage at one of the more than 3,000 speeches he’s given.

You can find the video at YouTube (time: 2 minutes 49 seconds).


I do not believe it.
I just (a few days ago) posted my … 50,000th tweet.


Who woulda thunk?

There are ideas I care about. And twitter is a great platform to have an ongoing discussion with (mostly) likeminded colleagues. Thousands upon thousands thereof.

It adds up to a lot of time.
Too much?

BUT … the transmission of ideas to a wide audience is how I have spent the last 38 years of my life—38 years ago, 1977, was when the McKinsey project that led to In Search of Excellence was launched.


Top 50 Social Employee Advocacy Leaders

Tom is proud to be included among the honorees on this list: The Top 50 Social Employee Advocacy Leaders (SEAL) on Twitter. We think it’s a great accomplishment for a thinker born before the baby boomers to be in the forefront of an issue born with the Millennials.

Tom in Chicago May 5th

The HOW Design Conference will be presented May 4 through 8 in Chicago. Tom’s on the schedule as the Tuesday evening keynote speaker, May 5th. Single-day tickets are available for the four-day event.

A Few Quotes …

Call me a “motivational speaker”—and I’ll be tempted to punch you. On the other hand, I have collected a passel of “inspiring” quotes over the years. I put this little set together for a colleague. All yours …

“This is the true joy of Life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one … being a force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” —G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman

The master in the art of living
Makes little distinction between
his work and his play.
He hardly knows which is which.
He simply pursues his vision
of EXCELLENCE in whatever he does.
Leaving others to decide whether
he is working or playing.
To him he is always doing both.

Source: Zen Buddhist text

“Make each day a Masterpiece!”—John Wooden, the most successful basketball coach [ever]

“I don’t think I was a fine game coach. I think I was a good practice coach.”—John Wooden on uber-preparation

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”—Oscar Wilde

“Make your life itself a creative work of art.”—Mike Ray, The Highest Goal

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”—Mary Oliver, poet

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”—Alvin Toffler

“Innovation is opera: Theft and murder and egos and false starts and years in the wilderness and years of treading water …”—author unknown

“Ever notice that ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision?”—shrewd observation, attributed to an unknown Hollywood scriptwriter

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”—Samuel Beckett

“Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You simply must … DO THINGS.”—Ray Bradbury

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”—Wayne Gretzky

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”—Ted Rubin, social media guru


Source: Locker room sign posted by NFL football coach Bill Parcells

“The only thing you have power over is to get good at what you do. That’s all there is; there ain’t no more!”—Sally Field

“There is absolutely nothing that beats hard work. You hoped when you were coming out of college that you were the smartest. It turned out none of us are. But I could sure outwork a lot of folks.”—Sallie Krawcheck

“What we do matters to us. Work may not be the most important thing in our lives or the only thing. We may work because we must, but we still want to love, to feel pride in, to respect ourselves for what we do and to make a difference.”—Sara Ann Friedman, Work Matters: Women Talk About Their Jobs and Their Lives

“All of our artistic and religious traditions take equally great pains to inform us that we must never mistake a good career for good work. Life is a creative, intimate, unpredictable conversation if it is nothing else—and our life and our work are both the result of the way we hold that passionate conversation.”—David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

“I WANT TO BE THOROUGHLY USED UP WHEN I DIE. … Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”—George Bernard Shaw

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting ‘GERONIMO!'”—Bill McKenna, professional motorcycle racer

“It’s always showtime.”—David D’Alessandro, Career Warfare

“All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves we were all self-employed … finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. … As civilization came we suppressed it. We became labor because they stamped us, ‘You are labor.’ We forgot that we are entrepreneurs.”—Muhammad Yunus

“Many of us don’t see ourselves as leaders, but the truth is that we are all confronted constantly with opportunities to ‘take the lead.’ [We either] take the lead—or fail to do so.”—Betsy Myers, Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You

The Big SIX

“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

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”—Anne Frank

“Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”—Churchill

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”—Henry David Thoreau

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”—Victor Frankl

The Moral Bedrock Of Management

It’s a long(ish) story—and not relevant. Let’s just say that a conversation I had earlier today led me to pull together the 9-page paper attached. In the main, I think it speaks for itself—or I hope it does.

[Ed. Update 07.25.14, 45 pages]: The Moral Bedrock Of Management PDF

Twitter Collection

Beginning on November 21 and into December 2013, Tom used his Twitter feed to post several long series of tweets, many of which were re-tweeted extensively. He collected the lists he’d created and assembled a collection that covers these topics: change agents and how to effect change, doing good work, starting the work week with MBWA, ending the work week with “Thank yous,” the importance of training/development, one page on Leadership 2014, the impact of Social Media, and the importance of 1st-line managers. [14 Jan: Now 35 parts!] It’s presented here in PDF form for your convenience. Please download it, share it, use it!

Recent "Hot" Reading

Tom’s been reading up a storm in the last few months. Following an old habit, he transforms some of the most telling material to slides for subsequent use in his presentations. You’ll find here some of his favorite quotes—as always, all yours, and please use!

Download the PPT: “Hot” Books/Recent Reading