Annotated master (“the works”) presentation/ Tom Peters’ Re-Imagine excellence!

“Strive for Excellence. Ignore success.”— —Bill Young, race car driver

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“Strive for Excellence. Ignore success.”— —Bill Young, race car driver

Not only do I agree with this sentiment—but I think it is profound. In higher mathematics the accuracy of a new proof is not enough. The proof must be parsimonious, beautiful in its own fashion. In the same way, “ugly success” may have its virtues, but also its vices. E.g., the winning sports team that exhibits arrogance rather than grace toward one’s defeated opponents. EXCELLENCE—to me—has its own rewards per se and is the mightiest of aspirations—particularly as one looks back at ones career and life in the hindsight of a decade or two.

  • The failure to pursue EXCELLENCE is incomprehensible to me.
  • “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well
  • that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived
  • a great street sweeper who did his job well.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We may not “get there”—to EXCELLENCE—but what is the point of most anything if one does not aspire to doing “it,” humble or grand, with passion for a most admirable outcome?




  • ExcellenceCharacter
  • “It is not enough for an agency to
  • be respected for its professional competence. Indeed, there isn’t much
  • to choose between the competence
  • of big agencies.
  • “What so often makes the difference is the character of the men and women who represent the agency at the top level, with clients and the business community.
  • “If they are respected as admirable people, the agency gets business—whether from present clients or prospective ones.” —David Ogilvy
  • Character is more crucial now than ever, because in times of great uncertainty past performance is no indicator of future performance. Experience falls away and all you’re left with is character.” —David Rothkopf, founder of a firm that helps chief executives manage risks

CHARACTER. (Especially in tough times.)

  • People
  • People
  • People People
  • People
  • It’s as obvious as the end of one’s nose … but still honored in the breach far more often than not. People first means people first. (And along the way it’s, uhm, also the best way to boost profit and growth.)
  • People:
  • 1/4,096
  • 4,096 slides in my 23-part MOAP/“Mother Of All Presentations,” three years in the making. ONE slide by definition had to come first. This one, with a quote from Richard Branson, was #1:
  • 1/4,096:
  • “Business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives … or it's simply not worth doing.”
  • —Richard Branson
  • #1 of 4,096.
  • Think about it.
  • At length.
  • Please.
  • “You have to treat your employees like customers.” —Herb Kelleher, upon being asked his “secret to success” Source: Joe Nocera, NYT, “Parting Words of an Airline Pioneer,”
  • on the occasion of Herb Kelleher’s retirement after 37 years at Southwest Airlines (SWA’s pilots union took out a full-page ad in USA Today
  • thanking HK for all he had done) ; across the way in Dallas, American Airlines’ pilots were picketing AA’s Annual Meeting)
  • Kelleher was asked a thousand time for his/Southwest’s success secrets. His answer was invariant.
  • (I know him pretty well. It ain’t for show.)
  • “May I help you down the jetway.”
  • I think I’ve chalked up about 10,000 flight legs. Not much new under the sun for me. But then came the day in 2013 …
  • Plane (Southwest) about to board at Baltimore Washington International. Three or four wheelchairs were lined up at the gate. Crew arrives. Pilot turns to the older woman in the 1st wheelchair in the line and says, “May I help you down the jetway?” She says yes. He does.
  • Big deal?
  • To me … YES.
  • And I contend such behavior is a crystal clear byproduct of Kelleher’s unswerving,
  • 4-decade commitment to his people.
  • (The “BIG DUH”: Treat the staff well and they’ll treat the customer well. Then sit back and count the profit.)

“We look for ... listening, caring, smiling, saying ‘Thank you,’ being warm.” — Colleen Barrett, former President, Southwest Airlines

  • Southwest. One more.
  • “hostmanship”/
  • “consideration renovation”
  • “The path to a hostmanship culture paradoxically does not go through the guest. In fact it wouldn’t be totally wrong to say that the guest has nothing to do with it. True hostmanship leaders focus on their employees. What drives exceptionalism is finding the right people and getting them to love their work and see it as a passion. ... The guest comes into the picture only when you are ready to ask, ‘Would you prefer to stay at a hotel where the staff love their work or where management has made customers its highest priority?’” We went through the hotel and made a ... ‘consideration renovation.Instead of redoing bathrooms, dining rooms, and guest rooms, we gave employees new uniforms, bought flowers and fruit, and changed colors. Our focus was totally on the staff. They were the ones we wanted to make happy. We wanted them to wake up every morning excited about a new day at work.” —Jan Gunnarsson and Olle Blohm, Hostmanship:
  • The Art of Making People Feel Welcome.
  • “ … The guest comes into the picture only when you are ready to ask, ‘Would you prefer to stay at a hotel where the staff love their work or where management has made customers its highest priority?’”
  • Don’t skip over this, or just give it a nod.
  • Ponder it.
  • P-L-E-A-S-E.
  • (Take your time.)
  • Turning Conventional Management Upside Down
  • Vineet Nayar/CEO/HCL Technologies
  • Rocket Science. NOT.
  • “If you want staff to give great service, give great service to staff.”
  • —Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s
  • Source: Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, Bo Burlingham
  • customer experience
  • depends … entirely …
  • employee experience!
  • If you want to WOW your customers, FIRST you
  • must WOW those who
  • WOW the customers!
  • I repeat. This is NOT rocket science.
  • (So why have I had to log 5,000,000 air miles saying something that ought to be obvious as the end of one’s nose? Too many MBAs running loose? Sorry, low blow on my part.)
  • Wegmans
  • (was #1/Best Company to Work For in USA)
  • Container Store
  • (was #1/Best Company to Work For in USA)
  • Whole Foods
  • Costco
  • Publix
  • Darden Restaurants
  • Build-A-Bear Workshops
  • Starbucks
  • “They” say you can’t do this “people stuff” in the likes of retail.
  • These were a few of the retailers on the most recent Fortune list of “100 Best Companies to Work for in America.” In the recent past, a couple of these companies were in fact #1.
  • “Contrary to conventional corporate thinking, treating retail workers much better may make everyone (including their employers) much richer.” * **
  • *Duh!
  • **Cited in particular, The Good Jobs Strategy, by M.I.T. professor Zeynep Ton.
  • Duh!

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