Tom Peters

One of the business gurus that I have been reading for over 25 years recently came up with an article entitled Leadership is Love. Tom Peters who I watched keenly on videos, author of many books inspired me  much during my active working days. Unlike, the teacher style Stephen Covey or the calm and reflective Peter Senge, Tom was the dynamic and energetic speaker which used the full length of the room to conduct his seminars or presentation.

Has he aged to become more compassionate? Why is he talking of love? Has ‘in search of excellence’ become in search of love?

Tom Peters : Leadership is love, published in march 2008.

Leadership is all about love: passion, enthusiasm, energy, empathy, emotion, excitement, engagement, empowerment, execution, community, purpose, potential, profit, persistence, people, commitment, excellence, adventure, failure, surprise, growth, creativity, change, imagination, vitality, joy, spirit, diversity, innovation, design, quality, initiative, wow!

It’s always better to try a swan dive and deliver a colossal belly flop than to step timidly off the board while holding your nose. Only “in love” leaders (outrageously excited by their product and service), and in-touch (Managing By Wandering Around) leaders inspire commitment from their talent. It’s the people, stupid!

Effective enterprise is always a product of maximizing human freedom to create and serve. Leaders and organizations exist to serve and respond to customers’ desires with products and services and experiences that are “gasp-worthy.”

Maximum human freedom, betterment and growth are achieved under conditions of free markets and free people, governed by law and contracts, which are, in turn, the product of education and infrastructure, which maximizes the likelihood of and support for entrepreneurial people.

Entrepreneurs who have the freedom and support to start and nurture new businesses are the cornerstone of the economy. Such entrepreneurs replace the current ruling firms—or wake those firms up to the possibility of rebirth. Organizational Effectiveness = Human Effectiveness = f (Freedom and Respect, Opportunity and Responsibility).

Agile organizations win—in markets and in wars— and these are the product of people who are committed and have the freedom to act and create—from the checkout to the lab. The new tech-tools offer astounding “power to the people.” This is a wonderful expansion of human freedom and an incredible opportunity for organizations: Good service + Good product + Good people + Good Citizenship + Room to Experiment and Fail and Grow + Commitment to Excellence = Maximum Profit + Economic Growth + Realized Human Potential.

Bureaucracy kills initiative, entrepreneurship, productivity, businesses, economies, people, and kills nations. Only the full utilization of everyone’s talent enables constant re-imagining.

Diversity breeds creative activity. The pursuit of Excellence is largely a matter of appreciating women’s dominating position in the economy. Excellence is a universal striving. If not Excellence, what? Accept no less than Excellence. Empower one and all to vigorously seek Wow! in their work. Reward excellent failures; punish mediocre successes. Pursue a mission that rocks the world. Create effective, imaginative, minimalist infrastructure.

Business is about relationships. We’re all in sales! Relationships are what we do. Your true priorities are “given away” by your calendar. What are you spending your time on? Are you distracted? Focused? While you may do 100 things, you should not have more than two (or three) “strategic” priorities at any time.

Excellence is the Ultimate Cool Idea. The very idea of “pursuing excellence” is a turn-on—for you and those you lead. Think Wow! Language matters! “Hot” words generate a Hot Team.

Do something in the next half hour! Don’t get stuck! There is always something little you can start or do to solve a problem or seize opportunity. Test it! Now! I call this the Quick Prototype Attitude. One of life’s biggest problems is: “Too much ‘talk,’ too little ‘do.’” If you’ve got a Cool Idea, don’t sit on it or research it to death. Grab a pal and start laying out a little model. Start transforming the idea to action.

Expand your horizons. Reach out beyond your comfort zone. Call somebody “you’ve been meaning to get in touch with” and invite them to lunch tomorrow. Volunteer for crummy little assignments nobody else wants, but give you a chance to be on your own, express your creativity, and make a noticeable mark when it turns out “Wow.”

Follow the Gospel of “Experience Marketing.” Selling a “product” or “service” is not enough in a crowded marketplace. Every interaction must be reframed as a Seriously Cool Experience. There’s nothing cooler than an Angry Customer! The most loyal customers are ones who had a problem with you, and then marvel when you go the Extra Ten Miles to fix it! Business opportunity No.1 = Irate customers converted into fans. Look for customer problems to fix.

All marketing is relationship marketing. Profit is a byproduct of “bringing ‘em back.” Thus, systematic and intense and repeated follow-up and after-sales service and scintillating new hooks are vital. Dare to fend off encroaching irrelevance. Improvise. Be good at Plan B. Make it up as you go along. Make it different, not just better. Make them gasp.

I am haunted by two “photos” in my mind—day and night:

Photo 1: Business as usual. Dilbert. Drab. Dull. Dreary. Gray. Wan. Insipid. Stultifying. Heartless. Emotionless. Soul-less. Spiritless. Know your place. It’s the numbers, stupid. Think indentured servitude. Think “cubicle slave” —entombed in a white-collar tower. Think: bureaucracy, bureaucrat, overhead, cost center. Do what you’re told. Park your imagination at the door. Don’t rock the boat. Fail is a four-letter word. Play it safe. “Me too” rules. “Different” is death. “Lovemark” is looney. Fight for promotion—not the product.

Photo 2: Business unusual for unusual times. Colorful. In pursuit of Wow! Worthy causes. Hot language. Fun! Soul! Spirited. Energetic. Enthusiastic. Quest! Explorers! Mission! More than myself. Going places where no one has gone before. Deviants welcome! Brand You. CEO of Me Inc. 100 percent leaders. Merry. Joyous. Appreciative. Engaged. Adventurous. Failing is normal—get back up and try again now. Performance fanatics! Action rules! MBWA the norm. We care. Excellence! Brag about what you do and who you work with. Hustle! Impatience! Inclusive. Entrepreneurial. “Different” Numbers are derivative of great work. Deliver awesome experiences to customers—become a “lovemark.”

My aim is to be the Cheerleader for Photo 2, anywhere, anytime! Join the movement! Your very soul is at stake.


#1 Bennet Simonton on 09.05.08 at 9:42 pm

Tom Peters is still doing the same thing, figuring out what to write and say in order to make his books and lectures sell. I admit that he has been most effective at that. He has been a great cheerleader.

However, he has never been effective at providing us an effective strategy for managing people. At least in his third or fourth book he admitted that anyone who had followed his previous advice would not be better off. I stopped reading him realizing that anyone who never proves in the heat of battle what he professes probably is not worth reading.

If you want to understand the right and wrong ways to manage people, Joseph, please read the article “Leadership, Good or Bad”

There are plenty more at my website.

Best regards, Ben,
Author “Leading People to be Highly Motivated and Committed”

#2 joseph on 09.06.08 at 10:49 am

Thanks a lot Ben for the comments and directing me to the website.

#3 Ashesh R on 09.07.08 at 9:22 pm

Hi Joseph!
A great post. Nice to see it on the Mauritian Blog Tracker, given that I’ve recently blogged on the father of Modern Management, Peter Drucker.

Well, we have been recommended to read the best-seller In search of Excellence by Tom Peters. The latter had been conferencing in Mtius in 2006 (if not mistaken) upon invitation by MALEM.

Does he address the issue of Spiritual Leadership? What do you think about it?

Will try to think (managerially) on the 2 photos that you described in the end. Again, congrats, a nice and encouraging post….

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