Tom Peters’ Re-Imagine excellence!


“Mr. Watson, how long does it take to achieve Excellence?” Source: Thomas Watson, legendary Chairman/CEO, IBM



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“Mr. Watson, how long does it take to achieve Excellence?” Source: Thomas Watson, legendary Chairman/CEO, IBM

“1 minute”

  • “One minute. You make up your mind to never again do something that is not excellent.”
  • EXCELLENCE/Five Or Less Words To The Wise
  • 4 most important words: “What do you think?” (Dave Wheeler @
  • tompeters.com: “Most important 4
  • words in an organization.”)
  • 4 most important words: “How can I help?” (Boss as CHRO/
  • Chief Hurdle Removal Officer)
  • 2 most important words: “Thank you!” (Appreciation/
  • Recognition)
  • 2 most important words: “All yours.” (“Hands-off” delegation/
  • Respect/Trust)
  • 3 most important words: “I’m going out.” (MBWA/Managing By
  • Wandering Around/In touch!)
  • 2 most important words: “I’m sorry.” (Power of unconditional
  • apology = Stunning! Marshall
  • Goldsmith: #1 exec issue)
  • 5 most important words: “Did you tell the customer?” (Over-
  • communicate)
  • 2 most important words: “She says …” (“She” is the customer!)
  • EXCELLENCE/Five Or Less Words To The Wise
  • 2 most important words: “Yes ma’am.” (Women are more often
  • than not the best managers.)
  • 2 most important words: “Try it!” (My only “for sure” in 44 years:
  • Herb Kelleher: “We have a strategic
  • plan, it’s called doing things.”/Bill
  • Parcells: “Blame no one. Expect
  • nothing. Do something.”)
  • 3 most important words: “Try it again!” (My only “for sure” 44
  • years: MOST TRIES WINS.)
  • 2 most important words: “Good try!” (CELEBRATE “good
  • failures.” Richard Farson/book:
  • Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes
  • Wins. Samuel Beckett: “Fail. Fail again.
  • Fail better.”)
  • 3 most important words: “At your service.” (Organizations exist
  • to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve.
  • Period.)
  • 4 most important words: “How are we doing?” (To customers,
  • regularly.)
  • 4 most important words: “How was Mary’s recital?” (Know your
  • employees’ kids.)
  • 2 most important words: “Let’s party!” (Celebrate “small wins” at
  • the drop of a hat.)
  • EXCELLENCE/Five Or Less Words To The Wise
  • 1 most important word: “No.” (“To don’ts” > “To dos”)
  • 1 most important word: “Yes.” (Hey, give it a shot/Anon. quote:
  • “The best answer is always, ‘What the
  • hell.’”/Wayne Gretzky: “You miss
  • 100% of the shots you don’t take.”)
  • 2 most important words: “Lunch today?” (“Social stuff” = Secret
  • to problem/opportunity #1:/XFX/
  • cross-functional Excellence.)
  • 4 most important words: “Thank Dick in accounting.” (Readily
  • acknowledge help from other
  • functions.)
  • 2 most important words: “After you.” (Courtesy rules.)
  • 3 most important words: “Thanks for coming.” (Civility. E.g., boss
  • acknowledges employee coming to
  • her/his office.)
  • 2 most important words: “Great smile!” (Note & acknowledge
  • good attitude.)
  • 1 most important word: “Wow!” (The gold standard … for
  • everything.)
  • 1 most important word: “EXCELLENT!” (The … ONLY …
  • acceptable standard/aspiration.)
  • Excellence:
  • The 19Es
  • If Not Excellence, What?
  • If Not Excellence Now, When?
  • The “19 Es” of Excellence
  • Enthusiasm. (Be an irresistible force of nature!)
  • Energy. (Be fire! Light fires!)
  • Exuberance. (Vibrate—cause earthquakes!)
  • Execution. (Do it! Now! Get it done! Barriers are baloney! Excuses are for wimps! Accountability is gospel!
  • Adhere to the Bill Parcells doctrine: “Blame nobody! Expect nothing! Do something!”)
  • Empowerment. (Respect and appreciation! Always ask, “What do you think?”
  • Then: Listen! Liberate! Celebrate! 100% innovators or bust!)
  • Edginess. (Perpetually dancing at the frontier, and a little or a lot beyond.)
  • Enraged. (Determined to challenge & change the status quo!)
  • Engaged. (Addicted to MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around. In touch. Always.)
  • Electronic. (Partners with the world 60/60/24/7 via electronic community building
  • and entanglement of every sort. Crowdsourcing/doing power!)
  • Encompassing. (Relentlessly pursue diverse opinions—the more diversity the merrier! Diversity per se “works”!)
  • Emotion. (The alpha. The omega. The essence of leadership. The essence of sales.
  • The essence of marketing. The essence. Period. Acknowledge it.)
  • Empathy. (Connect, connect, connect with others’ reality and aspirations! “Walk
  • in the other person’s shoes”—until the soles have holes!)
  • Experience. (Life is theater! Make every activity-contact memorable! Standard:
  • “Insanely Great”/Steve Jobs; “Radically Thrilling”/BMW.)
  • Eliminate. (Keep it simple!)
  • Errorprone. (Ready! Fire! Aim! Try a lot of stuff and make a lot of booboos and then try some more stuff
  • and make some more booboos—all of it at the speed of light!)
  • Evenhanded. (Straight as an arrow! Fair to a fault! Honest as Abe!)
  • Expectations. (Michelangelo: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it,
  • but that it is too low and we reach it.” Amen!)
  • Eudaimonia. (Pursue the highest of human moral purpose—the core of Aristotle’s philosophy. Be of service. Always.)
  • Excellence. (The only standard! Never an exception! Start now! No excuses! If not Excellence, what?
  • If not Excellence now, when?)
  • Excellence!



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