Who is the Tom Peters guy?

So I'm reading through blogs way late last night and I run across this post on Tom Peters. Maybe I've been living under a rock, but I had no idea who he was so I went and checked out his website. (My wife, however, had heard of him... so obviously I'm the one who's completely lost.) He's one of those rock-star management consultants who go around giving pep talks to middle managers at large corporations. More than that, I haven't really found out yet...

Anyways, the post was on Dave Weinberger's blog (one of the Cluetrain guys) and Dave saw Tom live the other day and seemed to be digging his vibe:

I got to be in the live audience yesterday of a Tom Peters webinar where for an hour he railed, riffed on great quotes, told stories, and test-i-fied. Hell of a performance. While the rest of us are nattering among ourselves, Tom is out making converts among the heathen. Go, Tom!

Hmmm. So it piqued my interest a bit so I downloaded the .ppt presentation, powered up OpenOffice and went through the slides. I must say, as cliche as it sounds, I was inspired. Most of the slides are quotes and some are pretty damn cool. I've been thinking about the presentation since yesterday. Here's a sample:

If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less. -- General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

Don't rebuild. Reimagine.-- The New York Times Magazine on the future of the WTC space in Lower Manhattan 09.08.2002

Incrementalism is innovation's worst enemy. -- Nicholas Negroponte

In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - and produced Michelangelo, da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce - the cuckoo clock. -- Orson Welles, as Harry Lime, in The Third Man

Permanence Is A Snare & A Delusion. (Forget Built to Last. It's Yesterday's Idea.)

Good management was the most powerful reason [leading firms] failed to stay atop their industries. Precisely because these firms listened to their customers, invested aggressively in technologies that would provide their customers more and better products of the sort they wanted, and because they carefully studied market trends and systematically allocated investment capital to innovations that promised the best returns, they lost their positions of leadership. -- Clayton Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma

Forget It! (Learning = Easy. Forgetting = Nigh on Impossible.)

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out. -- Dee Hock

Innovation Is Easy: Hang Out with Freaks.

Action ALWAYS Takes Precedence.

If it works, it's obsolete. - Marshall McLuhan

AS LEADERS, WOMEN RULE: New Studies find that female managers outshine their male counterparts in almost every measure. -- Special Report, Business Week, 11.20.00

The "surplus society" has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices and similar quality. -- Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrle, Funky Business

"There's no use trying," said Alice. "One can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." -- Lewis Carroll

If there is nothing very special about your work, no matter how hard you apply yourself, you won't get noticed, and that increasingly means you won't get paid much either. -- Michael Goldhaber, Wired


Nobody gives you power. You just take it. -- Roseanne

Very cool stuff (and there's more, I didn't want to rip-off the whole presentation, just the good bits). The quotes that I thought were great - well all of them are great - but to me Negroponte's innovation's worst enemy and forgetting is hard are incredibly true. Peters also has some slides about how your calendar = you, which if I read what he's trying to communicate is to use your time wisely. It's a very interesting way to say it. I don't have a real calendar so what does that say about me? Gotta get that changed.

So now, I'm in analytical mode. What stuff am I doing that's just incrementalism? Well, both the Journal and Jagger are blatent rip offs of code that's already out there with one or two tweaks to suit my interest. It's not enough to disuade me from working on it (since I've got that itch to scratch) but it is bothersome. If you think about it, in general all of open source is like that. My rant on UI design yesterday bemoaned the fact that the two OSS GUIs weren't as neato as Aqua. Basically, the concept of Open Source is the only thing radical about it. The rest of the real work is just copying stuff that's already out there.

I think what it comes down to is that I'm not being innovative right now and this presentation was saying that innovation is the key to success, both personally and professionally. I am totally on board with this idea. At the end of the presentation he also talks about personal "branding". I can see that too - be innovative and make sure people know it's YOU who's being that way. This is all good.

So ask yourself, are you being innovative enough? That's what I'm doing right now.


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