Interview with Tom Peters – May 2018
Duration – 43:14
Todd Schnick: Good morning and welcome back to Intrepid Radio, I am your host Todd Schnick and I have been looking forward to this conversation now for gosh, I think we’ve had this schedules for about a month. When I first heard that this gentleman had a new book coming out and I was very excited, reached out to him on Twitter, and he was kind enough to connect me to his crew and here we are today. This guest needs no introduction. I’m so looking forward to this conversation and loving this new book. Say hello to our guest, his name is Tom Peters.
Tom, welcome to the show.
Tom Peters: Todd, it’s a delight to be here and thanks for chasing me down. I’m delighted to be a part of it.
Todd: Yeah, well, I’m grateful for your time. I know you are a busy fellow, so grateful for you to swing by. I do want to lead off with a very quick story that I think you’ll appreciate. Sadly, I lost my father a few months ago and I was going through his office and I was cleaning some things up, and littered all over the bookshelves were various books from the great Tom Peters. So he was a big fan and had a very long and successful executive career. So he had always admired your works, so I wanted to share that little story with you, I knew you’d appreciate that, and frankly, because –
Tom: Yeah, well, I wanted to say first of all, my condolences to losing your dad but I do appreciate you sharing the story.
Todd: Yeah, and it’s because of that that I obviously was paying attention to you in my younger career and I’ve obviously become a fan and I appreciate your work, and I guess where I want to start is, I almost feel some sadness, Tom, that you had to put this book out. I mean, this is something that you have been talking about. These ideas, these themes, these mindsets have been things you’ve been sharing and talking about for quite some time and I guess I want to ask, why did you need to put it out? I mean, haven’t you said everything that needs to be said, haven’t others said all the things that need to be said, to do good work? Why was this book necessary?
Tom: Well, I’m hoping that this part of this conversation, people would buy the book. I will say that when I talk to people and a couple audience, and you nailed it, I don’t want to get sadness but it isn’t sadness. It is anger. It’s almost, I was thinking about it, I am in state of constant fury but when I start talking to people, I always say, and particularly, I say, “Wow, I hope you buy the book, I hope you bought the book, I hope you give a million copies to your friends but if you have followed me, I will absolutely positively guarantee you that there is nothing in this book that is new. We said put people first and in search of excellence, I have written 16 other books until now and I have said put people first. I am not writing again at the age of 75 and 2018 and saying put people first.” I mean, first of all, many, many people – I will not say if they get to my message – many people are on the right page. At the end of my people chapter in this book, in fact, I offer a list of 24 books including one called Terms of Endearment and I suggest that leaders actually start what I call the People First Book Club. There are people who have done it, so it hasn’t been a shutout in any sense of the word but as I’m going around talking about this book, the truth is, I have discovered just how irritated I am because this is very, very doable stuff. We’re suggesting things like managing by wandering around that we suggested 35 years ago. We’re staying ask questions. Somebody actually put this on a blog a couple of years ago, ask religiously the question, “What do you think?” I’ve got quant degrees and engineering, in business, and I will guarantee you that you will be able to take the principal ideas from this book if you were successful in completing the second grade.
Todd: Of course. Isn’t also part of this that the reason you continue to talk about this and push these ideas is that this journey never ends, right? You don’t ever get to a point – let’s talk about excellence. I think most people, if they are familiar with Tom Peters, would think of one word, excellence. That process never ends, right? I mean, you don’t get to a point and say, “Oh, look, done it. Boom, it’s done. It’s over. I got it.”
Todd: I mean, we are going to get into one of the main themes in the book and why this is even more important but that journey never ends, right? I mean, do you ever actually get there or is part of the pursuit of this the real goal here?
Tom: Well, I might change one word you said. You said it’s part of the pursuit of this. I would go so far as to say it’s part of the joy of this. It is fabulous. It was fabulous to be in a football game that you just couldn’t believe when you were a 14-year old. It was fabulous to be in a high school drama that people just lapped up and you did as well, and so the answer is, we nearly titled the book Excellence’s Next Five Minutes and that’s sincerely what I believe. I will say to let myself off the hook from an earlier comment, I believe the difference between 35 years ago and today with all the change that’s coming down the line with artificial intelligence and so on, I believe that the nice to-dos that make you stand out of the 1980 are now the must-dos if you want to survive in 2018 and beyond.
Todd: No doubt about that and I’m so glad you brought up joy because that was one of my favorite parts of this book and we’re going to get into that in a few minutes. Actually, I failed to reference the book, it’s called The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last. So to someone listening who is not familiar with the book, where actually is The Excellence Dividend?
Tom: Well, I am going to take a minute and half and tell you a story. What is excellence in the world of business? So I am flying from Albany, New York to Washington, DC, the BWI, flying on Southwest, an institution that I have a great fondness for. Pilots who are going to fly us down come in like, on time is absolutely required in that business even if they can miss occasionally. Pilots are racing down the hallway, get to my gate as is always the case or virtually always the case, there is a line of about six wheelchairs. The pilot screeches to a halt, turns with a smile to the woman in the first wheelchair and says, “Would you mind if I took you down the jetway?” Now, Todd, I think I’ve logged roughly 7,500 flight legs. I have never ever, ever seen anything like that in my life and I spoke to somebody about it and they said, “Take somebody down the jetway? I’ve never seen a pilot look at a passenger when they’re getting on a plane,” but the huge point, one of the things I say in the book is little is more important than big. It’s little events of excellence like that that you remember into almost literally your dying breath. It is little events of excellence like that that I do not believe artificial intelligence is going to be able to copy. So in a way, the answer to question is, excellence’s next five minutes, excellence is just a tiny little act of helping or supporting, or engaging that makes all the difference in the life of – in your life, my life, and the life of all of our fellow humans.
Todd: Well, I almost felt emotional when you were telling that story. I mean, it’s a silly pilot wheeling someone down in a wheelchair but the impact that has on the person in that chair and those observing that is profound. I mean, that’s what you remember; you don’t remember if that flight was actually even a few minutes late but you think about that and that’s a great example of what you’ve always talked about.
Tom: Yeah, way back when which is not as tear-engaging as the airline flight but I remember when we first started studying Walt Disney and one of Disney’s real secrets was they put incredible attention into the staff in the parking lot. They hired them for this position and what they said was obvious, who is the first person you see and who is the last person you see? The parking lot attendant, and per your point, I may well forget the 40 minutes I stood in line for a ride if the parking attendant’s got a big smile on and asked me, “Hey, let me help you find your car,” or what have you but yeah, those are the stuff you remember, those are the stuff that are excellence and those are the things that can’t be copied by a machine, at least in the foreseeable future. Maybe someday it will but not yet.
Todd: Well, like you said earlier, it’s not hard. This isn’t rocket science. It just requires your commitment and a desire to do it, and it’s amazing how little that seems to have permeated itself into most business cultures. It’s intriguing. You mentioned AI –
Tom: The hard part may be – not hard – the sort of thing that makes it happen is Colleen Barrett who was president of the Southwest Airlines says, “We hire for listening, caring, smiling, saying thank you being warm,” and she said that is as much a criterion or criteria for a pilot and a mechanic as it is for a flight attendant and a frontline person. So years and years ago, I was in a Starbucks and I remember going up to a Starbucks manager and I said, “Holy smokes, I just got back from Saudi Arabia and all the people in Des Moines smiled as much and all the Starbucks people smiled as much as they do here on Charles St. in Boston.” I said, “How do you do that?” and she looked at me with a smile or a grin, she said, “It’s easy. We hire people who smile,” then she said, “Then the ones who smile the most, promote,” and life is not quite that simple but at some level, it’s pretty close to it.
Todd: Mm-hmm. No doubt about it. You mentioned AI a few minutes ago. I think if I recall correctly, you indicated that technology is, yeah, maybe it’s not the right world, but maybe it is, it’s the biggest threat or the biggest impact on business currently and certainly probably for the next generation. So the book talks about how to deal with this threat of technology in all its forms and how to overcome that, how to perhaps leverage it, how to take advantage of it, but at the end of the day, you touched on this with the pilot’s story, it’s about finding out and understanding what humans can do better than machines, right? I mean, that’s one of the key roles –
Tom: Yeah, you nailed it. Absolutely, and it’s finding back out and one of the things I say that I have never said before, I’m not a very religious person, it doesn’t come from a religious belief, but I have said that with all the change that’s coming down the pike, business has a moral responsibility to develop the people who work for them. As somebody pointed out, business is not part of the community. Business IS the community, and I’m not talking about the giant firms. I’m talking about the small firms with two, five, 10, 20, 50 employees. They’re the ones that employ most of it. They are in dead center in their community and as a community member, there is a moral response – if somebody hires you for a project for six months or if you work somewhere for three years, it is my belief that one of your principal jobs as boss asked to make sure that when you leave a year from now, you are better equipped to deal with the future than you were when you got here. It’s not just that you did a good job, showed up on time and so on, I believe you have to be better, I believe that’s part of my moral obligation. As I say in the book, ha ha, the funny news is, it’s the best way to make money and grow the business.
Todd: Right, right, and that’s that [13:17] and I still think that people in management don’t seem to believe. You mentioned – I love this idea of business is the community because in the book, you talk about what is the excellence dividend and part of it is the organization is considered a good neighbor that you are welcome to be a part of this community, as you said, and I haven’t really thought of it that way before and that’s a big part of it too, right? Because – I mean, not just talking about the direct impact on success and sales but recruitment of talent, retention of talent, it all fits into that, right?
Tom: Absolutely. Two things: first of all, relative to business is part of the community, the simple fact of the matter is that I’m delighted that you love your family but if you were not born with a silver spoon in which most of us weren’t, you are going to spend the majority of your adult working hours in a business somewhere, and so it is your life, it is not part of your life, and the way I put it in pretty strong language is if you’ve pisses away your time at work, you’ve pissed away your life to a significant degree, but yeah, particularly, I focus on – I’m mad at the gurus yat – and I’m one of them, they even say I invented the saying – and I’m mad at them because they act as if the Fortune 500 and the FTSE 100 were the only businesses in town. I’m really focusing in some respects on what do you do if you have a 23-person appliance repair company that serves the city, that’s one of several competitors serving a city of 25,000? How do you grow that business? How do you be a part of the community? How do you deliver work that makes your customers smile? And I, somewhere in there said, have my campaign 1 million and that is to take 500,000 businesses, add enough excellence to what they do so that they can add to employees to the payroll, and when Search of Excellence came out, a lot of people bought the book, God bless them, and we got a lot of letters. I didn’t get many from CEOs of big companies and if I did, I didn’t save them. What you would find in a shoebox somewhere, Todd, and it still makes me feel good today are the letters that I got from police chiefs, fire chiefs, elementary school principals, real people with real organizations, and in those organizations, by gosh, were some of these ideas. You can make virtually an overnight difference.
Todd: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Well, I love hearing that story. You mentioned a minute ago this idea of listening and you obviously talk about this in the book and since it’s my show and I’ve got you here, I’m going to talk about it because it’s one of my pet peeves, and it’s –
Tom: I am right with you. We can spend the rest of our time on that topic.
Todd: We really could and the reason it’s a pet peeve is, for a long time, I wasn’t a good listener. I was waiting for my chance to follow up in very common things. Talk about why that is so critical and why the guy on top of the chain says, “Well, I’m the boss so do what I say. I don’t have to listen to what people –” it’s amazing to me how poor most people – I guess most people, let alone people in management positions – they just don’t seem to listen. Why are we so bad at that? How have we let that get to this point?
Tom: Well, I mean, first of all, I confirm some of the things that you’re saying and one of the scary things in boss world that the research shows is the boss thinks he listens but he doesn’t. There was some serious peace of – whatever you want to call it – social psychology research or something, and somebody was observing a meeting, and after the meeting, they asked the boss, among other things, “How many times were you interrupted during this hour-long meeting?” to which he said, blank, and “How many times did you interrupt people?” Well, he thought he was interrupted two or three times more than he interrupted, and he thought he interrupted three times and the count that they had put in place said he interrupted 12 times. So we don’t have self-knowledge and part of the organizational issue and obviously a significant part of my aim is at managers, that managers are the worst of all, and I’m with you. I was until I started paying attention and a thoroughly terrible listener, there’s this guy who was actually a very successful bank CEO in our community and we always saw – we moved a couple of years ago and we saw him socially and so on, and I was talking to his wife a while back and I said, “Lisa, it’s the funniest damn thing.” I said, “I have an incredible 25-minute conversation with Richard and at the end of the conversation – or not at the end of the conversation but when I go home at night, I realize, he never opened his mouth and I talked the whole damn time.” So part of it which sounds like what you are focusing, you said is self-awareness. That’s huge but I also – there was somebody at a Twitter exchange just a few days ago and I fell in love with this, and they said there ought to be a Toastmasters for listening, and it’s a funny one-liner but my gosh, I think it’s really true. I think we can get better at it, I think that one of the things that really stunned me is I quote Richard Branson a fair amount in the book, he wrote – he’s written a bunch of books where one of them was just a straightforward management book, the book is 300 pages long, part one, 115 pages, title of part one – one third of the book is listening and he says, “When we’re picking leaders, seven of the eight traits that we use to evaluate candidates focus on listening.”
Todd: Yup, yup. Well, part of the –
Tom: So what are you going to do about it, you and I? We’re going to start a Toastmasters for listening? I don’t think it’s a bad idea.
Todd: I think it’s a wonderful idea. I mean, it is a discipline. I mean, it is something that requires, as you just said, self-awareness but it is a discipline and you have to focus – I mean, but part of the problem, the reason that – you mentioned a simple tool that you can use which has such profound effect is asking someone, what do you think? And when you aren’t in the habit or aren’t in the discipline of listening, you’re not seeking – you have to seek opportunities to listen, right? And so then asking that question gives you a great chance. It’s one thing to ask the question but what’s really important is comprehending and evaluating, and thinking about the answer, right?
Tom: Yeah, no, absolutely. I loved it when I came across that suggestion. The person who gave it to me who runs a middle-sized business, his language which I love is he said, “What are the four most important words in any organization: What do you think?” So it’s a centerpiece and there are also funny little tricks and this also came from Twitter. There’s one manager on Twitter who said, “Whenever I go into a meeting, I take out a pen and I write on my hand ‘Listen!’ “ And probably just a simple silly little act of doing that, she probably never looks down at her hand but the simple fact that you took 10 seconds to do that and put listening at the top of your mind, I suspect it makes a big difference. You’ve got to focus on it. You got to do what you’re doing in this conversation. Our conversation is not going to last forever. It will be X minutes long and under your guidance, we have spent a significant share of our time talking about the sending. That’s got to be on your mind, it’s gotta be on your agenda, you’ve got to be conscious about it, and I think we can work on it, and back to Colleen Barrett and so on, I think when we do particularly first line promotion, we have got to focus on that as maybe even the primary criteria. I have a whole chapter on listening in the book and I also have a whole chapter on first line managers because I think they’re a lot more important than vice presidents. They’re the ones who deliver the productivity, the quality, the retention, and so on, and I see that selecting first line managers is one of the most important things we do. Well, let’s put it at the top of the list of characteristics, good listener.
Todd: Yup. What do you say to the leader? I’m not talking about the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, although obviously, they’re part of this. I’m talking about the leader of a team or a small division, or a small company who says to you, “Well, I’m afraid of what the people are going to say.”
Tom: Well, that’s a showstopper. Yeah, well, it is. What I would say is repeat myself for a minute ago, boy, did you ever hire the wrong person for a managerial slot? I will, for once in my life, shut up and say I haven’t got a good answer to that. However, I will also admit that the question that you pose is a very good question but it does take me back to hiring and promoting. Peter Drucker long-ago said, “Every promotion position is a life or death decision.” And all I argue in the book is that you should spend an incredible amount of time on every promotion decision. Don’t panic, don’t just fill the slot because it’s open and people are stressed out as a result, take your time, and it’s a smart Alec remark but going back to an earlier comment, what I say is a promotion decision to vice-president is easy. A promotion decision to first-line managers, that is a very, very, very big deal. I use the military example in there and say that if you were heading an army regiment and all of your lieutenants and all of your captains, and all of your majors were killed, that would be an awful event but if your sergeants were killed, it would be game over. Sergeants run the army, Chief Petty Officers run the Navy.
Todd: Yup, yup. You know, we talked about joy earlier in the conversation and that’s the next topic that I want to take advantage of having your attention because I think there is so little joy in those business out there. All those people dread work, they get sick on Sunday nights because they just can’t believe they have to go back to work Monday morning, they celebrate hump day, they take happy hours to Friday afternoon. I don’t know how people can – how people live like that. Talk about joy and why that’s so important, why is there much joylessness out there, why does it matter who is responsible for it and what do you say to the manager of a team who says, “My job is to build things, it’s to make profits, it’s to recruit, retain talent and impress Wall Street, and acquire companies, my job isn’t joy. That’s not what a big manager does.”
Tom: Well, one person I quote and again, as I said before, is Richard Branson, and I actually put together a whole bunch of slides, 4,000, that captured everything I’d said in the last 20 or 30 years, and the number one on my list was a Branson quote and it said, “Business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives or it’s not worth doing.” Oh, God, again, a lot of it has to do with selection. A guy by the name of Richard Sheridan in Ann Arbor, Michigan has a software company and he wrote a book about joy at work. Again, as I said, I’m not very religious but I hate to sound religious, I’m an old guy and the question is – and this will be everybody’s question at some point – is what did you do with your life? And I have a slide in my regular slide set and it has a picture of a tombstone, and on the tombstone it says, “Joe T. Jones Date, Net Worth: $17,318,426.13,” and my comment is, have you ever seen a tombstone with a net worth on it? At the end of the day, years ago, I spoke to the leadership of a big chemical company and I happened to have had a birthday while I was flying out to Switzerland to do it, and so I wrote this little piece and the piece was called Memories That Matter and I said, “Look, you guys are in your mid 40s by and large, you’ve got 20 years ago. When you get to be my age, what are you going to look back on?” and what you’re going to going to look back on is the people you helped and the people you grew. I don’t have a magic bullet except to talk about it and talk about it, and once we’re in the organization, if we’ve got somebody like Richard Sheridan put it in the hiring process, well, there’s a guy – back to these words like the words of Southwest Airlines, there’s a guy who runs a pharmaceutical company a middle-sized pharmaceutical company who’s quoted in the book and he says, “Our rule is, we only hire nice people,” and he said, “That rule can be applied to PhD microbiologists as much as to the receptionist.” He said, “There are a lot of smart PhD microbiologists out there. Don’t hire the jerks.” It’s got to be a personal commitment, it’s got to be how you want to live your life. What do you want to look back on? My own comment is, I have only one judgment of my life and that is, can I walk past the mirror without barfing? And I said, there was something that went on in a tweet stream and somebody said they thought Elon Musk was the most wonderful person alive, and I responded, and I said, “I think highly of Elon Musk almost as highly as I think of the magnificent second-grade teacher in XYZ elementary school who really changes the lives of the 17 kids in her classroom, and that wasn’t a throwaway line for Twitter, I really believe it and I wish people who didn’t like people didn’t – well, that’s a silly thing to say, I didn’t start businesses – I think it’s difficult to change if you don’t have it but you and I, as fabulous as your program is as fabulous as my books are, you and I are not going to change the world entirely. What we are going to do, I believe and obviously, you are welcome to disagree, is I am going to get to 3% of my readers and you are going to get to 3% of your listeners who say, “Oh, my God, this makes sense. I’m going to see if I can do something differently.” I’ve said my name is not Billy Graham, the late Billy Graham goes into a church with a thousand people and he thinks he can – this is not fair – he thinks he can change 1,000 lives. I go into a speech with 1,000 people and I will be thrilled out of my mind if three people walk out of there and say, “Holy smokes, this is the way to go,” and then they do something about it. So we do the best we can, Todd, and try to get to as many people as we can, and the people I change, and I really believe this with a million conversations, the people I change, I didn’t change. They already believed this stuff. The number of people who have come up to me over the years at the end of a speech and said, “That speech was incredible. You made me feel that I wasn’t as weird as other people try to make me feel.” All I do is give them permission. If you go to a football analogy, the way I’d put it is, if you’re on your own five-yard line, I’m not going to be able to help you score a touchdown. If you are on your opponent’s five-yard line, my speech can give you a swift kick in the butt and help you fall over the goal line and score 6 points.
Todd: Yup. Well, the three people that you impact, you’re not just changing those three people because they’re going to go back to their organizations and they’re going to affect change, and then this thing begins to spread and that’s the excitement of it.
Tom: Right, absolutely. Way back in my second book, A Passion for Excellence, that I wrote with Nancy Austin, we – maybe somebody else had done it first – but we focused on pockets of excellence and we said you might be in a big company and you might have to pay a bunch of rules that you’re not happy with, but you can make your seven-person training department or your 89-person distribution operation into a remarkable excellent institution within the organization. There’s no excuse for saying, “I can’t be good because because my boss won’t let me.”
Todd: So this idea of innovation, I remember the day when I finally realized I learned what it meant because I had what I thought was an intriguing idea, I went to a gentleman and said, “What do you think of this idea? This is really innovative.” He says, “Oh, I don’t know. Does it work?” and suddenly, I realized that I was thinking of creativity, not innovation. I think, a lot of people get that next up but talk about how the principles, the ideas behind The Excellence Dividend can make you a more innovative organization.
Tom: Well, I’ve got a couple of chapters on innovation in the book and it really is interesting when it goes to your point about not is it a good idea but does it work? I say in the book that I believe that there’s only one thing I know about innovation and it is called WTTMSW and WTTMSW stands for Whoever Tries the Most Stuff Wins. The name of the game is to get an idea, to find somebody who will partner with you, to try a piece of it, to see how it works, to be embarrassed by how bad it is, to change it overnight, to try it again until you get something that you like or something that maybe wasn’t supposed to work. So it’s about absolutely an organization. There’s a friend of mine who is in the MIT Media Lab and he wrote an entire book that was called Serious Play, and he said the secret to innovation is play. Not ha ha play but just a whole notion, whole organization that says, somebody says, “Now, we might try it this way and my boss [32:40], he says, ‘Okay, let’s give it a shot. Let’s work on this for a little while.’ “ I expand my WTTMSW somewhere and I can’t reel off the letters for you, but my expanded version is, Whoever Tries the Most Stuff and Screws the Most Stuff Up the Fastest Wins, and I really think that’s the case. It’s a whole place where the boss says to anybody, from the receptionist on, “What are you trying? What are you playing with? What are you working with?” Because per your point, I’m not sure everybody is wildly creative but I think they are innovative, they’ve got a little idea how to make something a little bit better, and so let’s give it a try. There’s a story in the book about Walmart and giant Walmart, somebody made a suggestion they sell a whole bunch of small appliances. Somebody made a suggestion, let’s try bigger shopping carts. It’s a giant institution, they try bigger shopping carts and their small appliance sales go up by 50% because 8n the old days, when you picked up your microwave oven, you put it in the cart and you went to check out. Now, you’re just on a roll and you keep on buying, but so many little ideas have incredible impact and it won’t happen unless we have turned to use your language, everybody into an innovator, everybody has a license to try and make it a little bit better.
Todd: But isn’t that also part of the reason you want to strive for a joyful environment? Because I think if you have a culture – if you have an organization that is filled with joy, well, then, you’re not afraid of trying new things. You’re not afraid of failing, everyone’s kind of excited and they get energized, and they feel more vibrant and willing to get in there and get their hands dirty, where if this is a joyless culture, well, then, you’re just sitting there waiting for the clock to hit five and you’re not thinking –
Tom: Yeah, you just wrote the book, you wrote my book or your book, or Richard Sheridan’s book, I would love to have – what you have on tape as it were – I would love to have the exact words you used in that sentence because I think you nailed it. I think you nailed it 100%, a place where we enjoy each other’s company, not silly ha ha but it’s just, it’s really nice to see you in the morning, and I argue that the most important thing that a boss can do before the boss leaves home, and I think this is actually a Tony Robbins trick, is look in the mirror and work on your smile. If you walked into a place with a – smiles are irresistible. I think there’s even a heck of a lot of research which says that but it has to do with once again, back to an earlier topic you and I were talking about, it has to do with the little stuff a lot more than the big stuff. It’s literally, if you have a 10-person company and you happen to have a receptionist, when you walk in in the morning and the receptionist is there, for heaven’s sake, she and her 12-year old daughter may well have gotten the mumps yesterday or what have you, you come in, you’ve got a smile, and you just say to her, “And, fabulous to see you. I am looking forward to a great day and you’ve got a smile that lights up the room, and you just changed the world.” There was all this discussion, people wrote books about it, that Nelson Mandela’s number one secret was probably the world’s best smile. He could disarm anybody including his enemies.
Todd: Yeah, that’s – boy. I was thinking about the smiling and then when you mentioned Mandela, that encapsulates the whole idea of how you can change the world with a smile. That’s profound. Let’s close on one final discussion. So we have this boss who is not creating a joyful environment. He’s not listening, he is more worried about sharing his vision and than executing and getting things done, he doesn’t buy into the idea of The Excellence Dividend, and he’s not focused on building his people and empowering them, and giving them love and training to developing grow and have freedom to try things, and mess things up. There’s a dozen ways to ask this question, let me ask it this way: taken from the context of a person listening that one of the three people in 1,000 who says, “Listen, this is –” and says, “Alright, I am that guy. Shame on me. I am beginning to understand how that can change things,” but any advice and counsel to that boss who says, “Alright, I’m ready to kind of figure this out”? And I mean, it doesn’t happen overnight but it can have a medium impact. How do you coach that guy to begin to –
Tom: Well, if he really fits that description of one of the three and he has the right disposition, and if he has nerve, if he’s a risk taker and let’s say he’s running an 11-person organizational unit. I would say he ought to think about it, he ought to ponder it or she ought to think about it, she ought to ponder it, he ought to talk with his family about it, and so on, and then he should literally go into the place one morning and say, “We’re going to take half a day off and we’re not going to go to a management retreat but we are going to sit down and we are just going to chat with each other and talk about what it’s like to work here,” and he might not have great people skills but I think he’s going to have to trust his instincts, he’s going to have to listen more, he’s going to just have to sit down and talk to people about how can we make this place a place where all of us will feel better about ourselves? People will be shocked, people will think it’s BS, people will think he’s trying a motivational trick on them, and the only way that he is going to get beyond that is to do the same thing tomorrow and the same thing the next day, and eventually, people I believe will become part of the show, will contribute to the show, and so on, but I think there’s got to be a bit of a leap of faith there. Yeah, it would be wonderful to say you ought to have a coach and so on but the average frontline manager is not going to be able to afford nor is the company going to get him a coach. Family may be a big help, friends make a big help, you and I go out and have a beer with four or five of our friends and they really are good friends, and I’ve known you for 20 years, so I’m comfortable with you and I say language that can’t be used on this show, I look you in the eye and I say, “I’ve been thinking about work, Todd, and I’ve really been effing up. I’ve got to a place where people who aren’t happy , and then I think about what I might – I bet you and I will have a great conversation.
Todd: No doubt about it.
Tom: And that’s the start. I test it with you who is a 20-person – I mean, I 20-year friend and we go from there.
Todd: Yup, it’s not about –
Tom: And what’s going to happen in that conversation, by the way, just back 10 minutes into it, you’re going to say, “You know when I think on it, I suffer from the same disease you do,” and so you and I become a little community and a little support group and trying to make a difference and do this a little bit differently. You suppose that would happen?
Todd: Well, that’s how it has to happen, right? And that’s when the magic happens is when you start – it becomes that community, right? Not just a place where you go and check in, and do your work and then check out. I mean, It has to be –
Tom: Yup. Right, but what I’m saying is in getting up the nerve, I’m going to start with some good friends. I think your and I, and a six pack can make a big difference, meaning the two of us sitting down and having – that horrible term, and maybe it’s not appropriate to use but a to come to Jesus meeting over the way I’ve been working in the kind of workplace I’ve created.
Todd: Yup, great stuff. Well, Tom, I’ve taken up more of your time that I intended. Again, very, very grateful for you to swing by and join us, and giving us some of your valuable time. Before I let you go, should anyone want to learn more about all your work and get all your information, and find out what all the other books and where can I get the copy of The Excellence Dividend, where do they go?
Tom: Well, they might start at tompeters.com. We’ve got everything I’ve done for the last 10 years. Probably 500 presentations and so on are there, suggestions about getting the book are there. I’m not going to tell people where to get the book. They know, I’m not going to push any particular channel l, that’s for darn sure because I like them all to be peddling my book, but tompeters.con and then relative to the theme that you and I have been talking about, we have another site which is called excellencenow.com and a bunch of papers and slideshows, and this, that, and the other, and I think it’s pretty easy to use and it’s there for – as I always say, it’s there for one and only one purpose and that is for you to steal things. Relative to what you and I have been talking about, my happiness will come when you steal something from me and give it a try.
Todd: Outstanding. Tom theaters, best-selling author, speaker, and author of the new book The Excellence Dividend. Tom, my friend, great pleasure to have you. thanks again for stopping by.
Tom: Thanks, Todd. That was a fabulous conversation and I don’t just say that all the time.
Todd: I appreciate that very, very much.