Tom’s Topics

On a number of occasions, Tom has been asked to step in front of the camera and opine, advise, or exhort. While the subject matter varies, Tom’s passionate insights stay true to form.

The Excellence Dividend

At the tail end of promotion for his recent book, The Excellence Dividend, Tom spoke with Vala Afshar of Salesforce and Ray Wang of Constellation Research for DisrupTV. They started the discussion with the book’s topic and went on to cover the points learned over the course of his career that Tom insists are worth emphasizing and re-emphasizing.

WOBI 2018

Tom spoke with WOBI (World of Business Ideas) in 2018. Here are four short videos on the subject of successful leadership.

Successful Hiring Processes
A Culture of Failure Innovation
How Team Leaders Show Support
What makes a Successful Leader Today

International Institute for Learning (IIL)

Tom spoke at the IIL Agile and Scrum Conference 2018. While there, he got together with Tiffani Bova to record a series of short videos on topics ranging from “People (First)” to “The Importance of Relationships.”


The Importance of Failure

Listen, Care, Smile, Say Thank You

The Importance of Relationships

Off The Cuff

YOU asked the questions, Tom answered. Why don’t big companies innovate? What inspires you, Tom? What makes a great communicator? See Tom give his answers below. In addition, Shelley Dolley asks Tom about the secrets to his success as a public speaker.

Tailoring Speeches

The Off the Cuff series starts up again after a year and a half hiatus. Shelley Dolley kept hearing questions that other speakers would like to pose to Tom. We decided to get Tom to answer, and we produced this continuation of the Off the Cuff videos, which begins with “Tailoring Speeches.”


This video—the first one posted in the Off the Cuff series—shows Tom responding to a question from Keith Clark, “Where do you find your inspiration on your most difficult days?”

Innovation within Large Companies

The Off the Cuff series continues with Tom answering this question from our website visitor Jack Webb, “Why don’t big companies innovate, and who are the best that do?”

Advice on Writing and Communication

In this video from the Off the Cuff series, Tom is asked, “What is the greatest piece of advice you ever received that has made you a better writer or communicator?” It’s a terrific question for Tom, and he discusses not only writing influences, but touches on public speaking as well.

Front Line Managers

In this Off the Cuff video, longtime fan Dave Wheeler asks where Tom’s focus on front line managers came from.

Getting in the Zone

Tom relates how he prepares for a speech.

Brand, Design, and Differentiation

In 2009, BVO filmed an interview with Tom that lasted over an hour. You can also find several interview segments focused on topics such as innovation, talent, leadership, and passion at their site.

Drucker Centennial Day Speech

In November 2010, Tom was the keynote speaker at the Drucker Centennial Day celebration about leadership.

Business Excellence in a Digital Age

Tom says business excellence in the digital age is pretty much the same as it was way back in 1982 when he co-authored the international bestseller, In Search of Excellence.


In April 2008, Skillsoft Leadership Development Channel broadcast a live event with Tom that went out to about 10,000 people. At the end of the hour-long talk, Tom was asked to record some short videos on various topics. And then Tom added a couple of his own. The folks at Skillsoft have been kind enough to let us use these videos at

Organizational Excellence

According to Tom, “fundamentally the brand is the talent” and the best way to serve your external customer is to be sure to serve your internal customers, your employees, first. By happenstance, this topic coincides with one of Tom’s slide sets called “The Customer Comes Second.” [Video length: just under 3 minutes]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: Organizational Excellence]

The Dream Manager

Tom describes discovering Cool Friend Matthew Kelly’s book, The Dream Manager. Watch the video for Tom’s take on engagement and what a leader’s role is when it comes to the dreams of their talent. [Video length: 3 minutes, 16 seconds]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: The Dream Manager]

Corporate Social Responsibility

In this video, Tom exhorts that corporate social responsibility shouldn’t just be an empty branding tactic. After all, organizations are groups of humans and he believes that CSR is about being a member of the community. [Video length: nearly 4 minutes]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: Corporate Social Responsibility]


In this video, Tom gives his opinion of politics on the job. His opinion being that politics is part of every task, and if you don’t want to “play politics,” you really won’t get much done. If you want to succeed at implementation, then you’d better want to involve yourself in politics, too. [Video length: 1 minute 44 seconds]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: Politics]

Definition of Leadership

We frequently get asked for Tom’s definition of leadership, and, in this video you’ll find the answer. The essence can be found in this quote from Robert Altman’s lifetime achievement Oscar acceptance speech: “The director allows an actor to become more than they’ve ever dreamed of being.” [Video length: nearly 4 minutes]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: Definition of Leadership]


Tom makes the case for hiring for passion over experience. He says, as he and Bob Waterman argued in In Search of Excellence, that the numbers are the soft stuff and the truly hard stuff is “passion, energy, values, character, enthusiasm.” [Video length: 3 minutes]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: Passion!]

Yes, You Are in Sales!

No matter your job title, no matter your function within an organization, no matter your skills, you must also be a salesperson. Tom gives as an example a successful Hollywood producer who taught himself sales to pave his own path to big success. He continues on to say that if you want to get anything done [and implementation is paramount to Tom], then you are in sales. [Video length: 3 minutes, 17 seconds]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: Yes, You Are in Sales!]

Excellence. Always.

Tom asks, “If not excellence, what?” What else should you be doing with your time, your life? He agrees with Thomas Watson, Sr., the talented early leader of IBM, that you should make a personal commitment never again to do anything that is not excellent. [Video length: 3 minutes, 44 seconds]

[If you’d like a PDF transcript of this video, you can download it here: Excellence. Always.]