Ouch!. “ I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, ‘How do I build a small firm for myself?’ The answer seems obvious … Source: Paul Ormerod, Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics.
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“I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, ‘How do I build a small firm for myself?’ The answer seems obvious …Source: Paul Ormerod, Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics
“I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, ‘How do I build a small firm for myself?’ The answer seems obvious:Buy a very large one and just wait.”—Paul Ormerod, Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics
“Mr. Foster and his McKinsey colleagues collected detailed performance data stretching back 40 years for 1,000 U.S. companies.They found thatnoneof the long-term survivors managed to outperform the market. Worse, the longer companies had been in the database, the worse they did.”—Financial Times
“Data drawn from the real world attest to a fact that is beyond our control:Everything in existence tends to deteriorate.”—Norberto Odebrecht, Education Through Work
Foley & Lardner LLP/Annual Partners Meeting
Chicago/15 September 2011
(Presentation/Presentation LONG @ tompeters.com)
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“[This year’s] graduates are told [by commencement speakers] to pursue happiness and joy. But, of course, when you read a biography of someone you admire, it’s rarely the things that made them happy that compel our admiration. It’s the things they did to court unhappiness—the things they did that were arduous and miserable, which sometimes cost them friends and aroused hatred. It’s excellence, not happiness, that we admire most.”—David Brooks, “It’s Not About You,” op-ed, New York Times, 30 May 2011
Organizations exist to serve. Period.
Leaders live to
Why in the
World did you
go to Siberia?
Enterprise* (*at its best):An emotional, vital, innovative, joyful, creative, entrepreneurial endeavor that elicits maximum
potential in the
wholehearted pursuit of EXCELLENCE in
service of others.****Employees, Customers, Suppliers, Communities, Owners, Temporary partners
Excellence1982: The Bedrock “Eight Basics”
1. A Bias for Action
2. Close to the Customer
3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship
4. Productivity Through People
5. Hands On, Value-Driven
6. Stick to the Knitting
7. Simple Form, Lean Staff
8. Simultaneous Loose-Tight
*In Search of Excellence
The Memories That Matter
The people you developed who went on to
stellar accomplishments inside or outside
The (no more than) two or three people you developed who went on to
create stellar institutions of their own.
The long shots (people with “a certain something”) you bet on who
surprised themselves—and your peers.
The people of all stripes who 2/5/10/20 years
later say “You made a difference in my life,”
“Your belief in me changed everything.”
The sort of/character of people you hired in general. (And the bad
apples you chucked out despite some stellar traits.)
A handful of projects (a half dozen at most) you doggedly pursued that
still make you smile and which fundamentally changed the way
things are done inside or outside the company/industry.
The supercharged camaraderie of a handful of Great Teams aiming to
“change the world.”
The Memories That Matter
Belly laughs at some of the stupid-insane things you and your mates
Less than a closet full of “I should have …”
A frighteningly consistent record of having
invariably said, “Go for it!”
Not intervening in the face of considerable loss—recognizing that to
develop top talent means tolerating failures and allowing the
person who screwed up to work their own way through and out of
their self-created mess.
Dealing with one or more crises with particular/memorable aplomb.
Demanding … CIVILITY… regardless of circumstances.
Turning around one or two or so truly dreadful situations—and
watching almost everyone involved rise to the occasion (often to
their own surprise) and acquire a renewed sense of purpose in the
Leaving something behind of demonstrable-lasting worth. (On short as
well as long assignments.)
The Memories That Matter
Having almost always (99% of the time) put “Quality” and “Excellence”
ahead of “Quantity.” (At times an unpopular approach.)
A few “critical” instances where you stopped short and could have
“done more”—but to have done so would have compromised your and
your team’s character and integrity.
A sense of time well and honorably spent.
The expression of “simple” human kindness and consideration—no
matter how harried you may be/may have been.
Understood that your demeanor/expression of character always set
the tone—especially in difficult situations.
Never (rarely) let your external expression of enthusiasm/
determination flag—the rougher the times, the more your expressed
energy and bedrock optimism and sense of humor showed.
The respect of your peers.
A stoic unwillingness to badmouth others—even in private.
The Memories That Matter
An invariant creed: When something goes amiss, “The buck stops with
me”; when something goes right, it was their doing, not yours.
A Mandela-like “naïve” belief that others will
rise to the occasion if given the opportunity.
A reputation for eschewing the “trappings of power.” (Strong self-
management of tendencies toward arrogance or dismissiveness.)
Intense, even “driven” … but not to the point of being careless of others
in the process of forging ahead.
Willing time and again to be surprised by ways of doing things that are
inconsistent with your “certain hypotheses.”
Humility in the face of others, at every level,
who know more than you about “the way
things really are.”
Bit your tongue on a thousand occasions—and listened, really
really listened. (And been constantly delighted when, as a result, you
invariably learned something new and invariably increased your
connection with the speaker.)
The Memories That Matter
Unalloyed pleasure in being informed of the fallaciousness of your
beliefs by someone 15 years your junior and several rungs below you
on the hierarchical ladder.
Selflessness. (A sterling reputation as “a guy always willing to help out
with alacrity despite personal cost.”)
As thoughtful and respectful, or more so, toward thine “enemies” as
toward friends and supporters.
Always and relentlessly put at the top of your list/any
list being first and foremost “of service” to your
internal and external constituents. (Employees/Peers/
Treated the term “servant leadership” as holy writ. (And “preached”
“servant leadership” to others—new “non-managerial” hire or old
pro, age 18 or 48.)
The Memories That Matter
Created the sort of workplaces you’d like your kids to
inhabit. (Explicitly conscious of this “Would I want my
kids to work here?” litmus test.)
A “certifiable” “nut” about quality and safety and integrity. (More or
less regardless of any costs.)
A notable few circumstances where you resigned rather than
compromise your bedrock beliefs.
Perfectionism just short of the paralyzing variety.
A self- and relentlessly enforced group standard of
“EXCELLENCE-in-all-we-do”/“EXCELLENCE in our
behavior toward one another.”
“In a way, the world is a great liar.
It shows you it worships and admires money, but at the end of the day it doesn’t. It says it adores fame and celebrity, but it doesn’t, not really. The world admires, and wants to hold on to, and not lose, goodness. It admires virtue. At the end it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that, brought into the world, make it better. That’s what it really admires. That’s what we talk about in eulogies, because that’s what’s important. We don’t say, ‘The thing about Joe was he was rich!’ We say, if we can …
“ … We say, if we can …
‘The thing about Joe was he took good care of people.’”
—Peggy Noonan, “A Life’s Lesson,” on the astounding response to the passing of Tim Russert,
The Wall Street Journal, June 21-22, 2008
If the regimental commander lost most of his 2nd lieutenants and 1st lieutenants and captains and majors, it would be a tragedy. If he lost his sergeants it would be a catastrophe. The Army and the Navy are fully aware that success on the battlefield is dependent to an extraordinary degree on its Sergeants and Chief Petty Officers. Does industry have the same awareness?
“People leave managers not companies.”—Dave Wheeler
XFX = #1*
Never waste a lunch!
“Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real
life grow.”—Ben Stein
“Allied commands depend on mutual confidence
and this confidence is
gained, above all
—General D.D. Eisenhower, Armchair General* *“Perhaps his most outstanding ability [at West Point]
was the ease with which he made friends and earned the trust of fellow cadets who came from widely varied backgrounds; it was a quality that would pay great dividends during his future coalition command.”
% XF lunches*
*Measure! Monthly! Part of evaluation! [The PAs Club.]
The sacred 220 “ABs”.*
George Crile (Charlie Wilson’s War) on Gust Avarkotos’ strategy:“He had become something of a legend with these people who manned the underbelly of the Agency [CIA].”
“Competency is irrelevant if we don’t share common values.”—Mayo Clinic exec, from Leonard Berry & Kent Seltman, “Orchestrating the Clues of Quality,” Chapter 7 from Management Lessons From Mayo Clinic
“I am hundreds of times better here[than
in my prior hospital assignment] because of the support system. It’s like you were working in an organism; you are not a single cell when you are out there practicing.’”—quote from Dr. Nina Schwenk, in Chapter 3, “Practicing Team Medicine,” from Leonard Berry & Kent Seltman,
from Management Lessons From Mayo Clinic
*Source: Jerome Groopman, How Doctors Think
18 … seconds!
[An obsession with] Listening is ... the ultimate mark
Listening is ... the heart and soul of Engagement.
Listening is ... the heart and soul of Kindness.
Listening is ... the heart and soul of Thoughtfulness.
Listening is ... the basis for true Collaboration.
Listening is ... the basis for true Partnership.
Listening is ... a Team Sport.
Listening is ... a Developable Individual Skill.* (*Though women
are far better at it than men.)
Listening is ... the basis forCommunity.
Listening is ... the bedrock of Joint Ventures that work.
Listening is ... the bedrock of Joint Ventures thatgrow.
Listening is ... the core of effective Cross-functional
Communication* (*Which is in turn Attribute #1 of
“I wasn’t bowled over by [David Boies] intelligence … What impressed me was that when he asked a question, he waited for an answer. He not only listened … he made me feel like I was the only person in the room.”—Lawyer Kevin _____, on his first, inadvertent meeting with renown attorney David Boies, from Marshall Goldsmith, “The One Skill That Separates,” Fast Company
Listening is ... the engine of superior EXECUTION.
Listening is ... the key to making the Sale.
Listening is ... the key to Keeping the Customer’s Business.
Listening is ... Service.
Listening is ... the engine of Network development.
Listening is ... the engine of Network maintenance.
Listening is ... the engine of Network expansion.
Listening is ... Social Networking’s “secret weapon.”
Listening is ... Learning.
Listening is ... the sine qua non of Renewal.
Listening is ... the sine qua non of Creativity.
Listening is ... the sine qua non of Innovation.
Listening is ... the core of taking diverse opinions aboard.
Listening is ... Strategy.
Listening is ... Source #1 of “Value-added.”
Listening is ... Differentiator #1.
Listening is ... Profitable.*(*The “R.O.I.” from listening is higher than
from any other single activity.)
Listening is … the bedrock which underpins a Commitment to
Best Listeners Win …
“if you don’t listen, you don’t sell anything.”
**8 of 10 sales presentations fail**50% failed sales presentations … talking “at” before listening!—Susan Scott, “Let Silence Do the Heavy Listening,” chapter title, Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time
Ifyou agree with the above, shouldn’t listening be ... a Core Value?
If you agree with the above, shouldn’t listening be ... perhaps Core Value #1?* (*“We are Effective Listeners—we treat Listening EXCELLENCE as the Centerpiece of our Commitment to Respect and Engagement and Community and Growth.”)
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... a Core Competence?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... Core Competence #1?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... an explicit “agenda item” at every Meeting?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... our Strategy—per se? (Listening = Strategy.)
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 skill we look for in Hiring (for every job)?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 attribute we examine in our Evaluations?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 skill we look for in Promotion decisions?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 Training priority at every stage of everyone’s career—from Day #1 to Day LAST?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... in the next 30 MINUTES?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... at your NEXT meeting?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... by the end of the DAY?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... in the next 30 DAYS?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... in the next 12 MONTHS?
Suggested addition to your statement of Core Values: “We are Effective Listeners—we treat Listening EXCELLENCE as the Centerpiece of our Commitment to Respect and Engagement and Community and Growth.”
Bitch all you want, but meetings
are what you [boss] do!
Meetings = #1 leadership opportunity
Meeting = Theater
Meeting:Every meeting that does not stir the imagination and curiosity of attendees and increase bonding and co-operation and engagement and sense of worth and motivate rapid action and enhance enthusiasm is a permanently lost opportunity.
Conrad Hilton, at a gala celebrating his career, was called to the podium and asked,“What were the most important lessons you learned in your long and distinguished career?”His answer …
“When assessing candidates, the first thing I looked for was energy and enthusiasm for execution. Does she talk about the thrill of getting things done, the obstacles overcome, the role her people played—or does she keep wandering back to strategy or philosophy?”—Larry Bossidy, Execution
Observed closely: The use of “I” or “we” during a job interview.
Source: Leonard Berry & Kent Seltman, chapter 6, “Hiring for Values,”
Management Lessons From Mayo Clinic
“One of my superstitions had always been when I started to go anywhere or to do anything,not to turnback,or stop, until the thing intended was accomplished.”—Grant*
*Ulysses Simpson Grant (U.S. Grant) was actually HiramUlysses Grant
On ADMIRAL HORATIO NELSON*:“[other] admirals more frightened of losing than anxious to win”
*Andrew Lambert, Nelson: Britannia’s God of War
“Lick ’em tomorrow”
“ARE YOU BEING REASONABLE? Most people are reasonable; that’s why they only do reasonably well.”Source: Paul Arden, Whatever You Think Think the Opposite
“Being aware of yourself and how you affect everyone around you is what distinguishes a superior leader.”—Edie Seashore (Strategy + Business #45)
“Leadership is self-knowledge. Successful leaders are those who are conscious about their behavior and the impact it has on the people around them. They are willing to examine what behaviors of their own may be getting in the way. … The toughest person you will ever lead is yourself. We can’t effectively lead others unless we can lead ourselves.”
—Betsy Myers, Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You
“How can a high-level leader like _____ be so out of touch with the truth about himself? It’s more common than you would imagine. In fact, the higher up the ladder a leader climbs, the less accurate his self-assessment is likely to be. The problem is an acute lack of feedback [especially on people issues].”—Daniel Goleman (et al.), The New Leaders
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself" - Leo Tolstoy
“Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.”—Henry Clay,American Statesman (1777-1852)
Press Ganey Assoc:139,380 former patients from 225 hospitals:noneof THE top 15 factors determining Patient Satisfaction referred to patient’s health outcome.Instead:directly related to StaffInteraction;directly correlated with Employee SatisfactionSource: Putting Patients First, Susan Frampton, Laura Gilpin, Patrick Charmel
K = R = PKindness = Repeat business = Profit.
Repeat Business =
“I regard apologizing as the most magical, healing, restorative gesture human beings can make. It is the centerpiece of my work with executives who want to get better.”—Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You
Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become
Even More Successful.
With a new and forthcoming policy on apologies …Toro, the lawn mower folks, reduced the average cost of settling a claim from $115,000 in 1991 to $35,000 in 2008—and the company hasn’t been to trial in the last 15 years!
The VA hospital in Lexington, Massachusetts, developed an approach, totally uncharacteristic in healthcare, to apologizing for errors—even when no patient request or claim was made.In 2000, the systemic mean VA hospital malpractice settlement throughout the United States was $413,000; the Lexington VA hospital settlement number was $36,000—and there were far fewer per patient claims to begin with.)
Source: John Kador, Effective Apology
Relationships(of all varieties):THERE ONCE WAS A TIME WHEN A THREE-MINUTEPHONECALL WOULD HAVE AVOIDED SETTING OFF THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL THAT RESULTED IN A COMPLETE RUPTURE.*
*divorce, loss of a BILLION $$$ aircraft sale, etc., etc.
THE PROBLEM IS RARELY/NEVER THE PROBLEM. THERESPONSETO THE PROBLEM INVARIABLY ENDS UP BEING THE REAL PROBLEM.*
*PERCEPTION IS ALL THERE IS!
Or Not: Clinton-Cornwallis-Yorktown
“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 picketingAA’s Annual Meeting)
"If you want staff to give great service, give great service to staff."—Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman's
… no less than Cathedralsin which the full and awesome power of the Imagination and Spirit and native Entrepreneurial flairof diverse individualsis unleashed in passionate pursuit of … Excellence.
“The ONE Question”:“In the last year [3 years, current job], name the … three people … whose growth you’ve most contributed to. Please explain where they were at the beginning of the year, where they are today, and where they are heading in the next 12 months. Please explain … in painstaking detail … your development strategy in each case. Please tell me your biggest development disappointment—looking back, could you or would you have done anything differently? Please tell me about your greatest development triumph—and disaster—in the last five years. What are the ‘three big things’ you’ve learned about helping people grow along the way?”
“A man should never be promoted to a managerial position if his vision focuses on people’s weaknessesrather than on their strengths.”—Peter Drucker,The Practice of Management
AndrewCarnegie’s Tombstone Inscription …Here lies a manWho knew how to enlistIn his serviceBetter men than himself.Source: Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management
“This is so simple it sounds stupid, but it is amazing how few oil people really understand thatyou only find oil if you drill wells.You may think you’re finding it when you’re drawing maps and studying logs, but you have to drill.”
Source: The Hunters, by John Masters,
wildly successful Canadian Oil & Gas wildcatter
Source: Locker room sign posted by NFL
football coach Bill Parcells
“You will become like the five people you associate with the most—this can be either a blessing or a curse.”—Billy Cox
“The Bottleneck … Is at the Top of the Bottle”“Where are you likely to find people with the least diversity of experience, the largest investment in the past, and the greatest reverence for industry dogma …Atthetop!”— Gary Hamel/Harvard Business Review
The “Hang Out Axiom I”: We are What We Eat/We Are the company
The “Hang Out Axiom II”: “Hang out with ‘cool’ and thou shalT become more cool. Hang out with ‘dull’ and thou shalT become more dull. Period.”
We Are the company
The “We are what we eat”/ “We are who we hang out with” Axiom:At its core, every (!!!) relationship-partnership decision (employee, vendor, customer, etc, etc) is a strategic decision about:“Innovate, ‘Yes’ or‘No’ ”
“Diverse groups of problem solvers—groups of people with diverse tools—consistently outperformed groups of the best and the brightest. If I formed two groups, one random (and therefore diverse) and one consisting of the best individual performers, the first group almost always did better. …Diversitytrumped ability.”—Scott Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies
Diversity … perse … is a key … maybethekey … to effective and innovative
“Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met in the last 90 days? How do I get in touch with them?”—Fred Smith
Vanity Fair:“What is your most marked
“Headline 2020:Women Hold 80 Percent of Management and Professional Jobs”Source: The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World in the Next 20 Years, James Canton
“Power Women 100” 26 female CEOs of Public CompaniesVs. Men/Market: +28%*Vs. Industry: +15%**Post-appointmentSource: Forbes 10,10
“AS LEADERS, WOMEN RULE:New Studies find that female managers outshine their male counterparts in almost every measure”TITLE/ Special Report/ BusinessWeek
Women’s Strengths Match New Economy Imperatives:Link [rather than rank] workers; favor interactive-collaborative leadership style [empowerment beats top-down decision making]; sustain fruitful collaborations; comfortable with sharing information; see redistribution of power as victory, not surrender; favor multi-dimensional feedback; value technical & interpersonal skills, individual & group contributions equally; readily accept ambiguity; honor intuition as well as pure “rationality”; inherently flexible; appreciate cultural diversity.Source: Judy B. Rosener, America’s Competitive Secret: Women Managers
Women’s Negotiating Strengths*Ability to put themselves in their counterparties’ shoes*Comprehensive, attentive and detailed communication style*Empathy that facilitates trust-building*Curious and attentive listening*Less competitive attitude*Strong sense of fairness and ability to persuade*Proactive risk manager*Collaborative decision-makingSource: Horacio Falcao, Cover story/May 2006, World Business, “Say It Like a Woman: Why the 21st-century negotiator will need the female touch”
“Forget China, India and the Internet: Economic Growth Is Driven by Women.”
Source: Headline, Economist
Raise your sights!
Blaze new trails!
Compete with the immortals!
—David Ogilvy, on Ogilvy & Mather’s corporate culture
Wanted by Ogilvy & Mather International
“Every project we undertake starts with the same question :‘How can we do what has never been done before?’”—Stuart Hornery, Lend Lease
GREAT Professional Service Firms1. Stunning commitment to integrity.2. Counselors first. (“We are not in a commodity business.” Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.)3. Stellar listeners—to our Clients. 4. Stellar listeners—to our fellow partners. 5. Stellar listeners—to our most junior associates. (!!!!!)6. Stellar listeners—to every member of staff. 7. Insatiable curiosity marks 100% of partners.8. We live to serve/Extreme service ethic.9. Our leaders are servant leaders. (Every partner is a leader first.)10. Deeply ingrained sense of fairness.11. Hustlers—but thoughtful to a fault! (Excise rude bastards.)12. “Service ethic” means service to one another as much as service to clients.13. Drop everything to assist a colleague in need—central to our overall ethos.14. Toss “lousy colleagues” out on their derrieres.
GREAT Professional Service Firms15. Intellectual/Process point of view that is Distinct/Exciting.16. Every partner must have a point of view of note.17. The definition of the very best partners is that they are “insanely great” (thanks, Steve) mentors!18. Equal compensation/recognition to top “rainmakers,” “intellectuals,” magical mentors. 19. Invest heavily in ideas.20. Technology pioneers. (Yes, “pioneer.”)21. A decent share of oddballs; not “rainmakers” but disturbers-of-the-peace. (Often irritating people.)22. Relatively high turnover and high “d”/Diversity in top leadership committees.23. Quality >> Quantity. (Big is fine as a byproduct of Great Work. “Big for big’s sake” is unfine.)24. Significant portfolio of interesting clients. (I.e. clients that lead us-drag us into new pastures.)25. Willingness to dump bad-demotivating-enervating clients (even big ones).
GREAT Professional Service Firms26. Understand that we are running a for-profit enterprise. Cash flow matters! (A lot.)27. In love with our work! (Expunge those who are not in love with their work—dump the burnouts.)28. Sense of fun. (Yes, damn it.)30. Professional to a fault but not pompous.31. Notable-visible respect for the ideas of young associates.(!!!!!!)32. “d”iversity. (And Diversity.)33. Practice-as-teamwork. (Teammate-ism rewarded, lack thereof punished with extreme prejudice.)34. Deep bench. “Supporting cast,” notably starting with receptionists, must be of same quality as partners— there are no “bit players” in our business.35. Age gracefully gives way to youth—regeneration a deep-seated guiding belief.36. Hard work expected and cherished—workaholism for workaholism’s sake assiduously guarded against.37. Proud of our culture, guard our culture zealously—but even “great cultures” age. (And get horribly elaborated.)
GREAT Professional Service Firms38. Rigorous exit interviews.39. Rigorous evaluations of client satisfaction by more or less disinterested parties.40. Sky-high time investment in our evaluation process.41. My legacy (as a partner) is: Being “of service.” Developing people. Being a good colleague—which absorbed lots of my time. Doing consistently superior (sky high) quality work. Adding materially to the ideas base of the Firm. Insuring the continuity of the firm—culturally and financially. Being a paragon of integrity and decency. Leaving gracefully.42. “Execution is strategy.” (Thanks, Fred.)43. My word is my bond.44. Excellence. PERIOD.