Today’s interview is with Tom Peters, author of numerous business books (17 in total) and speaker. He is, perhaps, best known for his 1982 seminal book: In Search of Excellence (co-authored with Robert H. Waterman Jr). This is the second time that Tom has been on the podcast. The first time was in 2018 (Striving for excellence has never been more important) where we talked about his latest book: The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last. Today he joins me to talk about the need for Extreme Humanization given the situation we currently find ourselves in and a couple of pieces that he has recently penned: Excellence Manifesto 2020: The Twenty-Nine “Number Ones” and Excellence 2020 Observations Leading With Compassion And Care In Troubled Times.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – A lot of enterprise software is still eye-wateringly terrible and it’s acting like a handbrake on experience improvement efforts – Interview with Leon Gauhman of Elsewhen – and is number 348 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.
Here’s the highlights of my chat with Tom:
Born in Baltimore in 1942 “with a lacrosse stick in one hand and oars over my shoulder,” Peters resided in California, mainly Silicon Valley [where he was on a list of “100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley”], from 1965–2000. Tom is a civil engineering graduate of Cornell [B.C.E., M.C.E.], where he was included in the book The 100 Most Notable Cornellians, and he earned an MBA and a Ph.D. in business at Stanford; he holds honorary doctorates from institutions that range from the University of San Francisco to the State University of Management in Moscow and has been honored by dozens of associations [and dozens of Web polls] in content areas such as management, leadership, quality, human resources, customer service, innovation, marketing, and design. In the U.S. Navy from 1966–1970, he made two deployments to Vietnam [as a combat engineer in the fabled Navy Seabees] and “survived a tour in the Pentagon.” He was a White House/OMB drug-abuse advisor in 1973–1974, and then he worked at McKinsey & Co. from 1974–1981, becoming a partner in 1979; he also co-founded McKinsey’s now gargantuan Organization Effectiveness practice. In 1981, Tom founded Skunkworks Inc. and The Tom Peters Company.
In 1982 Tom Peters co-authored In Search of Excellence with Robert H. Waterman Jr. The book changed the way the world does business and is often tagged as the best business book ever. Eighteen books and thirty-five years later, Tom is still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented. What’s new? A lot. As CNN said, “While most business gurus milk the same mantra for all it’s worth, the one-man brand called Tom Peters is still reinventing himself.”
Tom’s bedrock belief: “Execution is strategy—it’s all about the people and the doing, not the talking and the theory.” In November 2017, Tom received the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Grab a copy of Tom’s latest book: The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last, you will not be disappointed. Tom is an avid user of Twitter so do say Hi to him there @tom_peters and connect with him on Linkedin here.