In addition to Tom’s book, In Search of Excellence, some of his other books are Thriving on Chaos, Liberation Management, and The Pursuit of WOW!
You should know he has a new book, Tom Peters’ Compact Guide to Excellence. This book can serve as a guidebook for leaders of all ages.
In this episode, you’ll learn why it’s important to show you care, invest and make decisions like a girl, create the best communities, and MBZA (manage by zooming around).
If you enjoyed this episode of the Remarkable People podcast, please leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe. Thank you!
Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with Tom Peters:
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I'm Guy Kawasaki and this is Remarkable People. We're on a mission to make you remarkable.
Helping me in this episode is the one and only remarkable Tom Peters.
Tom is the co-author along with Bob Waters of In Search of Excellence.
This isn't an overstatement. In the 1980s, this book changed the way the world does business.
Tom was on the first list of the 100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley from 1965 to 2000.
In 2017, he received a Thinker's Fifty Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tom was in the Navy from 1966 to 1970.
Then he was employed in the White House as a senior drug advisor.
Following his time at the White House, he worked at McKinsey and Company from 1974 to 1981.
Then he founded the Tom Peter's Company.
Tom is a civil engineering graduate from Cornell, and he has a PhD from Stanford Business School.
In addition to In Search of Excellence, some of his other books are Thriving on Chaos, Liberation Management, and the Pursuit of Wow.
Now he has a new book, Tom Peter's Compact Guide to Excellence. This book is a guide for leaders of all ages.
In this episode, you'll learn why it's important to show you care, invest and make decisions like a girl, create great communities and how to MBZA, manage by zooming around.
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People.
And now, here's the one and only Tom Peters.
I asked Marshall Goldsmith what I should ask you, and Marshall said, "It doesn't matter what you ask him, he's just going to say what he wants to say anyway."
Marshall’s a little cheeky. I think you could say the same thing about him.
The funny thing you said was something else, and I remember reading this years ago and it was just a little one liner somewhere. How will we know that artificial intelligence has really progressed to the point that it's borderline human?
And you were sucker played right into it. The answer was you asked the AI a question and it says, "Let me tell you a story." That's when you'll know that you've humanized it.
I don't look forward to that day, Tom, but okay. Yeah.
So now that we've established the ground rules here, there may be young people who don't know what we're talking about when we talk about In Search of Excellence, which was a pivotal book in my life.
So perhaps you can just recap the story of In Search of Excellence.
I realize that's a painful thing for me to ask you, just like everybody always asks me, what's it like to work for Steve Jobs? Are you related to the motorcycle company? But I have to ask you to recap it, okay?
Yeah, I can do it pretty quickly.
Very specifically, I worked for the now disgraced McKinsey and Company, peddler of opioids.
I worked for McKinsey and we got a new managing director and the managing director said, "We produce brilliant strategies for our clients and they can never implement them. What the hell's going on? Let's take a look at organizations that actually get things done."
That was number one.
Number two, which has more to do with why the book took off. We're talking 1982. And the Americans came out of World War II, we owned the planet.
Our dear brothers and sisters from Japan started sending us these weird cars that actually worked when you turned the ignition key and were kicking us in the butt.
And the car is the holy symbol for the male, at least in the United States. So we were hurting. And what Bob Waterman and I did, it wasn't really the plan, is we said, "Hey, you're not going to believe it, but there are actually a few American companies that do pretty good work."
And so we wandered around for a couple of years and found some companies. The more interesting thing that I'm sure you and I will get into is my one liner that I use in 2022 is, “I'm a greedy person. I am absolutely delighted to collect royalties when you buy all 20 of my books”
But the dirty little secret is they all say exactly the same thing. The message has not changed.
We had eight attributes that defined the excellent companies in 1980 and they had to do with these really strange things like listen to your customers, throw the planners out the window and actually try something. People first, people second, people third.
That was the message. And if anything, I've become more adamant, more of an extremist than I was in 1980. But that was the context.
It was really funny, Guy. I taught an executive program at Ford one summer.
And we had this senior-ish guy from General Motors. And the course was over and he and I went out to have a beer and we were having a beer and he said, "Tom, you really do good work, but you were not the most important part of my summer."
He said, but this is a guy from Detroit headquarters. He said, "The most important part of my summer was pulling up to a traffic light in Palo Alto and seeing a Toyota on one side, a Nissan on the other side, a Honda behind me and whatever."
He said, "That's when we went beyond market research and came to real reality. It was, holy shit, where are the American cars?"
Because yeah, Detroit had these stupid rules, they probably still do. If you were working for Ford in the headquarters, you weren't allowed to park a non-Ford car in the headquarters.
And you conned yourself into thinking that's the way the world is. I had a great buddy who was a very senior guy at Levi Strauss and he said, "I'm always telling my people, when you walk out at lunch and you see a lot of people wearing Levi's, that's not our actual market share."
I thought it was just a wonderful line. But our timing was who would say more generally in life? We wrote a pretty good book, Guy, and the timing was perfect. I've said to many people, and I more or less mean it.
There are three things I despise in life. Mass murderers, number one, child and spouse abusers, number two, and number three on my list is successful people who think they deserve their success.
I worked hard, I had intelligent parents, but the reality is, eighty jillion matters of timing. From the time that you're driving down the road, you have your window down and the bee doesn't fly into your eye and you don't kill the twelve year old crossing the crosswalk or what have you.
Hard work's great, all that stuff's great, I have no problem with that whatsoever, but if something really takes off, all of the stars were aligned and you had F all to do with it.
Yep. Clearly Marshall Goldsmith was right, but okay.
Marshall's always right. Come on guy, you are the same quality bullshit artist than I am. And the answer is every question is an opportunity to declaim on whatever the hell you want to declaim on.
So you can't get away with anything with me. I've known you too long. I know how good you are. Just stop it right now.
Can I get a question in edgewise?
So do you have any alterations to any of the themes of excellence? Are they all just proven right, and there's no changes you'd make?
No, it's not that they were proven right. We said, your people are your most important asset, and that was considered a bombs bursting in air new idea. It still frigging is in most companies. And so these are pretty eternal lessons.
One thing, by the way, that's really important, and I'm not sure exactly the demographics of your audience, and I don't know whether you are a sinner to the extent that I am, I suspect you aren't. But the management guru class, to use an awful term that was invented by The Economist, the management guru class tends to focus on the Fortune 500.
And as somebody said, because they pay for the advertising in the magazines, and there's probably more than a little bit of truth to that. The Fortune 500 are poor performers, and in the United States, the Fortune 500 employs 7 percent of us and it doesn't employ 93 percent of us.
And the magic of America, or the magic of Poland, or the magic of any place is the so-called SMEs, the small and the medium size enterprises. And there's this wonderful economist, Guy, Paul Ormerod is his name, and he gets my view of big companies perfectly.
He said, "I'm often asked by would be entrepreneurs, how do I build a small firm for myself?”
My answer is always the same. “Buy a big one and just wait."
And look, my old McKinsey buddies studied the 1,000 largest public companies in the United States as I recall. This was twenty odd years ago. They looked at forty years of data, all right, the 1000 largest companies. Not one of those 1,000 had outperformed the stock market over the whole forty year period. Not one.
Jesus, guy, you'd say, hey, there have got to be two, got to be one, but zero for 1000.
And yet we're still so enamored with these people. I had the great privilege, I don't know, fifteen years ago or so, I used to do these public television specials. And we did one on the German Mittelstand, the mid-sized German companies.
And at that time, which wasn't that long ago, Germany was the planet's number one exporter, not the Americans, not the Chinese, and had been for a long period of time, and it was on the backs of these 100 person, 200 person, 500 person, 700 person companies that owned a market, from the alpha to the omega.
And so every day I'm pissed off at myself for having not paid enough attention to the SMEs.
What's the lesson of Atari and Wang no longer being around from your original forty-three companies?
That we blew it. So, the problem is I'd have to give a specific answer and I'm about eighty million years old and my short term memory isn't worth a damn. I thought you were there.
I thought Wang was the best positioned of all the companies when we went to the desktop stuff, because they'd given us desktop calculators. And so we were used to using desktop devices that had the four letter word on them, WANG, and they completely blew it.
Again, the world is a complicated place and I really do hate simplistic answers. I remember vaguely, Guy, and vague is the key word, that Mr. Wang promoted his son and his son didn't exactly do a great job.
As to Atari, beats the hell out of me. My step kids in an earlier life went to school with, who was the Atari founder? Do you remember?
Nolan Bushnell, yeah. They went with Nolan Bushnell's kids. That's a rough and tough business. I don't know. I have no idea. The ones that bother me more, much more, are the General Electrics, which eventually blew itself up and barely survived twenty years of Jack Welch, who is now described as the worst thing that happened to capitalism in America in the twenty-first century.
Johnson and Johnson, which has not blown up, but they don't have the incredible edge that they had before. three-M is alive and well, and three-M, it was alive and well because one of those GE guys who believed that Six Sigma was the Bible, tried to put Six Sigma into three-M, did the almost impossible and screwed up three-M's innovation processes.
Fortunately, they tossed his sorry butt out and got back to business and they've hung in there. But it's so simplistic to say that people forget the virtues that got them there in the first place.
Apple today is not the Apple I remember. Apple redefined the world once a decade with magnificent products that had the same attributes of being just amazingly, incredibly, all those intuitive and all those words.
And I see Apple as a big company and it does a lot of good things and I use its products, but it doesn't jump out from the mega herd for me the way it did. And I'm more than willing to say it's been a while since I've lived in Silicon Valley, so my ignorance level is pretty high.
But my huge problem as I walk into this conversation or any conversation, and you're going to get my rant here, my apologies. The world is a social mess right now and it seems to be getting messier, not less messy.
And obviously I don't have the answer, but there is something that some of my colleagues and I are looking at, and we call it twenty-eighty to eighty-twenty. 20 percent of workers are engaged at work and 80 percent aren't.
And it's true all over the world. And the standard deviation of the number is very low. My hypothesis is that it doesn't take magic to flip the twenty-eighty to an eighty-twenty.
And the byproduct is if people are engaged at work, and assuming you weren't born with a silver spoon, you're going to spend more hours at work than you will with your family, for heaven's sakes, God bless your family, but that's the reality.
If you are engaged at work, if you are growing at work, if you appreciate your colleagues at work, I don't think you're such a sucker play for the radicals. I think it has a huge impact.
And real thing, and I apologize for doing this to you, but let me tell you briefly how I start every talk these days. A teacher, middle school, whatever, that level.
A teacher stands in the doorway of her or his classroom. And as the students come in, he smiles, he nods. He might say, "Hey Guy," or he might say, "Is that head cold of yours getting a little bit better?" or something like that.
It takes something like measured four minutes where he just greets people.
Disciplinary problems go down by 30 percent, academic performance goes up by 25 percent. And all I effing did Guy was acknowledge you as a human being who I cared about. That's all. That is all I did. And here's another one that's just absolutely amazing.
So your tech texts your CAT scan and off it goes to the radiologist somewhere, next door or in Sri Lanka, you never know. And that radiologist gets his latest data trove and he's looking at charts and graphs and so on and coming to conclusions about what he is seeing, all right?
The bad thing a radiologist finds is called an anomaly.
Something that just ain't where it's supposed to be.
Two groups of radiologists working on the same group of patients. Only one difference. When I get to you and when I click on Kawasaki for the data that's going to come, the first thing I see is a picture of Guy Kawasaki.
And the reason is, when I went in to have the CAT scan done, the tech said, "We have this new damn rule we've got. Would you mind if I pulled out my iPhone and took a picture of you?"
And what happens is, if I see your picture, I make 80 percent less errors than if I don't see your picture, because I'm dealing with a fellow human being with blood and guts and kids and pain and agony and joy. And look at the frigging shit iPhone picture for two and a half seconds of Guy Kawasaki and my entire diagnosis flips.
And so what I'm really arguing with people is that we really have a chance to make really great workplaces and it's driven by caring for each other.
There was a speech I came across years ago given at the Army War College by a three star general by the name of Melvin Zase, and it was to mid-level mid senior officers.
And so he gives his speech about thirty minutes long, and he said, "I want to end my speech with the one thing which will contribute more to your success, more to your happiness, more to the quality of the work you do. And that is, you must care."
And he gave this wonderful example, "You're a young officer and your troops are having an inspection. And you go into their barracks." And he said, "You go into the barracks where they're working to clean stuff up. You don't open your mouth, you sit on the bed for ten seconds and leave."
He said, "They'll know that you know that they're busting their asses to make you look good." And he said, “Just that little connection flips the whole thing.”
And again, I would say, I don't think it's that big a jump, but I'm thinking of Guy Kawasaki and Apple. That's the design theory that Apple had. They made these loving products for God's sakes, particularly compared to the not junk that was coming out, but the primitive stuff.
When brother Jobs passed away, my favorite thing, and I read it from several people, was Steve Jobs was not an inventor, he was a tinkerer. He took an idea and he changed it 8,374 times until it had completely transformed itself. But it wasn't like, “Oh, let's have the light bulb.”
And you spent a lot of time with him. I didn't spend much time, but I certainly did around Apple people and used the products from the very beginning and that was the deal. I think it still is to some extent.
But anyway, all you've got to do is stand in the frigging classroom door, show people you care, the money pours in, the customers are happy, people quit falling for the thugs outside who are trying to sell them a different way of life where they can get even with everybody. That's my mission now that I'm ninety-seven years old.
And so, if Nancy Pelosi calls you up and says, "Okay, so how do I do that in the political world?" What do you say to her?
I laugh at her face. I'm sad to say.
I gave $1,000 to Ms. Pelosi's first congressional campaign, which had to be fifty years ago. I'm going to answer your question backwards. I worked in the White House for a couple years in the seventies.
And we had to get things done where congressman would be involved. And in the evenings upon occasion with some congressional aid, I would get invited to one of the bars on Capitol Hill. And the way things worked, obviously this is an extreme statement because nothing's 100 percent.
The way things worked was Tom Peters and Guy Kawasaki stood on the floor of Congress, screamed and yelled and called each other names while the Congress was in session.
And afterwards, I put my arm around you, you put your arm around me, and we went down to the bar and had some drinks and decided what we would actually do.
And someone said again, simplistic, they said, "The end of that life on Capitol Hill was the invention of cable TV where every congressperson suddenly became the star of her or his own reality show. And we no longer went to Capitol Hill.
I'm sorry I have to call you son of a bitch, Guy. I don't mean it. And I know you don't mean it when you tell me that. There's really some place in here where we can find something we can do.
And grotesque oversimplification, but I don't think people talk to each other, they scream at each other. And what would I do if I was Ms. Pelosi? I won't make a on air comment like I'd shoot myself, but I'd shoot myself. She's not a young woman.
I don't know how the hell she survives it. I really, really don't. So I don't know how to help Ms. Pelosi, but I think I can give good advice to the woman or man who has a 125 person company, or I'll even go so far as to say the police chief who has 125 cop workforce.
And that takes us back to the kind of basics that I'm talking about. There's another thing about all this. I had an article in the FT last year and in the article, which caused a bit of a fuss, which of course was my point, I said, "The world would be a better place if we closed all the business schools." And I meant it.
Go, okay, I got to hear this.
Okay, no, no, no, no.
They teach the wrong stuff. This is wonderful research.
My old friend Henry Mintzberg, a Canadian, reported on it in one of his books, "Liberal Arts graduates when they graduate get half as many job offers at half the price as do their science and techie friends. Year twenty, they have wildly surpassed them on the ladder and are much more senior than their old techy people because they discovered something."
And what they discovered was, my wife and I used to spend a lot of the winters in New Zealand and I taught classes at the University of Auckland Business School and I had these young, usually men, Chinese men who were coming for a brush up course or something like that.
And I said, "Listen, here's the deal. You're an engineer, you are incredibly bright, you do things very quickly." And I said, "Then, if you're halfway good, by the end of the second year, you're running some kind of project or some corner of a project. At that point, your life does a 180 flip. All of your success is driven by your ability to help people grow and do incredible work and what you think is largely irrelevant."
And I mostly believe that. I was just engaged in a little Twitter conversation in the last couple days. I said, "The only important measure of your success, age forty-four, maybe thirty-seven, is how much did the people who worked for you grow as a function of the couple of years that they worked for Guy Kawasaki?"
And you know who taught me that? I was in Mumbai and I had a four star Indian army general.
And I don't know how the hell we got into the discussion, but he said, "When I'm trying to decide between Kawasaki and Peters for the promotion to general, I only have one thing I do. I go back and find the people who worked for them on their way up and what did those two years with Peters or two years with Kawasaki mean? And I find out that the people who left Kawasaki, they flourished, they tried stuff, et cetera, and Peters produced a bunch of bureaucrats. They dotted their I's and crossed their T's and they weren't a drag on the economy."
But I just saw it was the most wonderful answer in the world. And to be coming out of a full dressed three star Indian army general, now that was cool. And he didn't say they have the loudest guns or the most ammunition. He said, “They're the ones who develop people the best.”
And I was in Vietnam for two years and the most important human being other than my mother in my life was my first commanding officer, even outstripped my dad. And the real key to that commanding officer was the thing I mentioned earlier from General Zase, he cared. He was tough. I was a combat engineer.
We had to get stuff built. We had shitty equipment, blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. There was nothing soft or easy about him, but you knew he cared about who you were as a human being.
When he looked you in the eye, he did not see Seamen Second, what's his name?
He saw Guy Kawasaki, living, breathing, human being with a mom, dad, sisters, brothers. And he was a miracle man. I almost tear up when I think about him.
And he was tough as nails in the best sense of that word, getting the job done, but we loved him. We'd all work twenty-five hour days for him without even thinking twice.
God, you can't let Captain Anderson down.
So, I don't even know where to begin.
First of all, Madisun, I know you're listening so you understand the pressure on you now because people are going to judge me by how well you do in your career.
So the pressure is on you, okay?
Cut him no slack, Madisun.
Listen Guy, can I just do one more teeny story which illustrates that thing because it's not as sexy as the generals? I don't know whether you knew him. You probably did. There was a high end specialty chemical company in Menlo Park called Ray Camp.
Do you remember them?
Yeah, called Ray Camp. There was this one guy who was a miracle man. And I got to know him and his secret is the wrong word. It was who he was.
I'm the guy and you're a thirty-one year old engineer, thirty-two, and you're doing really great work for me. And I sit down with you at some point and I say, "Guy, you are doing fantastic work. You should be promoted in our little unit of fifteen people. I'm afraid that's not going to happen. And so I'm working in other parts of the company on finding you the right job where your growth can be accelerated."
I didn't make those words up. And if you wonder whether people were waiting in line to work for this guy, I don't have to tell you that the answer is yes, but it's a little bit of that thing we were talking about before of what's most important.
His goal in life was, “Love to have Guy for another seven years. He does magnificent work, he worked twenty-seven hour days, but he's too damn good to be lost in this job. And Barry Evans or Susan Smith over there's got an opening that would be perfect for Guy.”
And he was beloved as a result of that. Why the hell can't people think that way? One reason is we hire wrong and we promote wrong.
We focus on the technical skills, we fail to focus on the EQ. My favorite thing that has appeared in my last two books is an article came out of the Washington Post actually on Google. And Google measured the traits of their best employees and their most innovative teams.
Eight traits associated with the best employees of google. That's G-O-O-G-L-E. Eight traits that mattered. Number eight was STEM and all the other seven were soft.
He listens, he cares, he accepted other people's opinions, he works with his teammates. This is Google, this is not Mary Kay Cosmetics or the body shop.
And then they found the same damn thing with their teams.
Google does this nauseating thing where teams are A teams and B teams, which is a wonderful way to demotivate 50 percent of the population. The B teams out innovate the A teams for the same traits. And the one I loved, and you're a Silicon Valley guy, so you will laugh as hard as I did.
And I know what a twenty-six year old Stanford computer science grad sitting next to a twenty-six year old MIT computer science grad, both of whom are dead flat certain they are the two most intelligent people God ever put on earth. Don't screw with me by giving me ideas. That's fair, right?
Yes. I have had several conversations with Madisun, what I told her that she has far more potential than helping me with production of a podcast and virtual helping me and she could be a CEO.
Right, Madisun? Have I not told you that you can go so much further than what you're doing with me?
So someday, Madisun is going to be the next Marc Benioff, and we're going to say we had the opportunity to work with her.
Do you know what I call Marc? Now I'm going to get in real trouble. Do you know what I call Marc Benioff?
The only non-asshole among the significant number of leaders of the giant Silicon Valley companies, which is unfair. It's not true.
But he worries about the right stuff out in a way that some others don't.
Do you know that I gave Mark Benioff his first job?
No. Well done. Fabulous. No, I didn't.
I gave him his first job when he just finished his freshman year at USC.
So someday I'm going to look back and say I gave Mark Benioff his first job and Madisun Nuismer, and look, I am batting 1,000.
Can I tell you what we call Marc Benioff at Apple? So when Mark Benioff worked for me at Apple, his family is from Hillsborough, Hillsborough, California. Okay?
And so Marc Benioff at the time and still is was a big sort of white, let's just say ample, person. And so we used to call him the Hillsborough Doughboy after the Pillsbury Doughboy.
I love it.
So now the Hillsborough Doughboy has become the freaking man.
Yeah, absolutely. I love it. I love it. I love it. Yes. Oh God.
You touched on this briefly and I just want to dig in deeper here. So one of the things you are always saying is that implementation is harder than coming up with the idea.
And why is that, Tom?
Because implementation is so boring and non-sexy. And there's some truth to what I just said.
One of my favorite quotes, the four star Army General who commanded American troops with D-Day, his name was Omar Bradley. He wasn't a four star then. His quote that I've used in every one of my twenty books is, "Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics."
And the whole reason we're having this conversation, to go back to our opening couple of minutes, was McKinsey said, "We're designing perfect strategies and nobody can implement them."
And that was the genesis of my research and the genesis of In Search of Excellence.
Did MBA students come to Stanford or Harvard and take as many finance courses and marketing courses as they can and take very few courses on organizational behavior, which is what really determines their success or failure once they get out?
Implementation by definition is completely a people business.
Let me just tell you one thing about leadership…. I’m sorry, a trigger to thinking about Bradley and D-Day, and I'm sure we have many British viewers and I will probably piss them off, but life goes on.
It was said that on the eve of D-Day, field marshal Montgomery talking to the British troops gave one of the greatest speeches of all time.
What did the Midwesterner who ran the American whole deal, Dwight David Eisenhower, do? What, I'm sorry, I tear up. What did General Eisenhower do?
He never wore medals. He just wore a plain uniform and he went out to the beaches at D-Day where the kids were taking off from the UK and walked among the troops and put his arm around them and wished them good health.
That was the entire thing he did. That's implementation. Sterilize it obviously when I say implementation, but if that's the way Eisenhower was as I've said to many people having not quite the Hillsborough level, the east coaster, west coaster, God, we were lucky to have a Midwest.
I always have loved that one liner. “Chicago is New York without the attitude.”
There's more than a little truth to that. I love Midwesterners.
Can I ask you a dumb question? If implementation is the key, what's the use of McKinsey and Bain and BCG? Because they're all about strategy, not implementation.
Beats the hell out of me.
Guy, I am not in the least bit opposed. For God's sakes, see those fingers, four fingers? I have four quantitative degrees. Two engineering degrees from Cornell, two business degrees from Stanford.
So I am not anti-analytic and I can prove it.
You need to collect data, you need to think. I'm correcting myself as I talk because even the strategic planning process would benefit dramatically from people who did the things that we're talking about. There was somebody, it's an old one liner. I guess this may have even been Eisenhower.
You plan and you plan and before the game you burn the plan. And literally, in ye oldy days, set the piece of paper on fire with a cigarette lighter.
I have written a lot about implementation. And my argument has been that implementation is all about W-T-T-M-S-W.
Whoever tries the most stuff wins.
And then I've got a long version with some extra letters which says whoever tries the most stuff and screws the most stuff up the fastest wins.
And that doesn't happen again in lots of companies. You're constrained by the plan. You can't try this, you can't try that.
So I'm not against planning, I'm not against having something written down about where you're heading, but it ain't the be all and the end all.
And it is what they teach in the business schools. And go back to my numbers. The Fortune 500 companies don't perform well over the long haul.
They are increasingly driven by bureaucrats and planners for God's sakes.
I haven't seen the research on that, but I bet you 99.99 percent that I'm on the money.
Thinking about your Silicon Valley and mine in those olden days, and I mentioned Ray Camp, the chemical company. And I love this.
Paul Cook came from the east coast and came out and started this very sexy chemical company. And he had a guy who worked with him, his name was Bob Halpern.
And Paul did all the stuff and Halpern picked up the trash afterwards. He was a mechanic. Halpern was a mechanic, and you need a mechanic. I want a mechanic. There's no question about that whatsoever. I've got to have a plan to get professionals to talk about logistics.
There's a hell of a lot of planning in logistics. It's just that what General Bradley is arguing is that's the last 95 percent boys is making sure that when the tank lands on the beach that we've got the ammunition for it, that we then stick into it before it starts heading up the beaches of France.
But there's a new book that just came out on McKinsey. I've forgotten what it's called, but it was terrifyingly well researched and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart.
I worked for another McKinsey. A, it was a different McKinsey, and B, I worked with the weirdos, which was what the San Francisco office was called where I worked.
And they're people you'd love to go to church with or what have you, and something went awry. What I don't understand, McKinsey supports the opioid practices of Purdue Pharma and on those stupid goddamn lists that show where MBAs want to go to work most, McKinsey is still at the top of the list.
I'm sorry children, you pissed away two years of your life getting an MBA if that's the way you think about the world. Good God.
So this made it onto a chart, Guy.
No, I'm not going to say it because it said it, it's true. There's no question.
But since we're in a public setting, I don't want to push toward libel, but it's an amazing thing that I'm not telling you.
So what would happen to them if your grandkids came up to you and said, "Grandpa, I want to go to work for McKinsey or Proctor and Gamble.
Would you just basically disown them?
Oh, for God's sakes, they're your kids, of course not. You'd say, “Great decision.”
I have no problem in offering a little bit of advice and making some comments and telling about my problems.
But the answer is, they're my grandkids. I adore them. They can do no wrong even when they're wrong.
And so of course I'd support them, for God's sakes.
Plus, the money's good, they'd be able to support me in my retirement.
You have stated many times that if women were in charge, companies and really the world would be a better place. And why is that?
I'm trying to think of how to really broach the subject. I'm going to go at it backwards.
One of my favorite books and my favorite book title of all time was written by a senior woman at Motley Fool, whose name is LouAnn Lofton. And the title of the book is, this is the exact title, Warren Buffet Invests Like a Girl and Why You Should Too.
And it's funny, Buffet didn't know anything. Buffet's a decent soul. Buffet knew nothing about the book. He wrote the first review for Amazon and he said, I didn't know I invested like a girl until now, but I think she's right.
I'm getting to your point.
The standard male approach to life is the market closes at four, I'm sitting in a terminal and Guy Kawasaki is sitting next to me, my mate, and Guy's had a really terrific day and it's now twenty of four and that SOB is not going to close the day better off than I am.
So I go out and take risks, I buy shit, I do any crazy thing in the world. My whole life is beating Kawasaki. That's a boy thing. That's a boy thing. And I'm not well trained in genetics.
There's a fabulous book written by a woman whose name is Louann Brizendine. She is a UCSF neuropsychiatrist. It's called The Female Brain.
By the age of three days, baby girls are making four times, four times more eye contact with their fellow human beings than baby boys are.
And I think that's a wonderful indicator. The other one, by the way, for which this is so important, Charles Darwin never said “Survival of the fittest.”
Spencer said it.
Do you know what Darwin said? “Survival of the best communities.”
It was 180 off. A good community creates children, creates growth. But I just love that difference.
I learned it from a book that everybody who's watching us listening to us ought to buy called Compassionomics, and it's about the role of the power.
The guys who wrote it are two research dicks. They're just so hard-nosed. They wouldn't say anything without 1,000 data points, which means when they say this stuff, you can believe it.
And it's jillion examples of the power of compassion in healthcare.
And I'm going to get back to the women's thing, but my favorite one, and there's just enough research to sink the ship, is the world of healthcare now is people who are running and busy and we hire doctors who have very high IQs and very low EQs and they never look at their patients.
If a doctor, Dr. Tom, looks patient, this is like that teacher in the doorway, looks patient Kawasaki in the eye for thirty-nine seconds, Kawasaki's complications go down dramatically. The length of Kawasaki's hospital stay goes down significantly and all because we humanize the thing.
Now anyway, back to your bigger point. The good news by 2022, and I share snippets of it in my books, is that there is enough research to sink a small ship, if not a big one, on the leadership effectiveness of women.
And I really use my words with care here.
On average, women are measurably better leaders on almost every dimension you can name. I use the word on average. I don't want to get nailed by somebody. There are fabulous male leaders, there are awful women leaders.
But looking at that bell shape curve, the center of the curve for men and the center of the curve for women is significantly different.
But it is…listening, caring, thoughtfulness, appreciation. We're just not very good at it, Guy. How did we make our money out in the veldt by running around and throwing spears at animals and then coming home and going to sleep until the next morning?
There's wonderful research on that, but you and I don't have enough time for it and it's really cool and you'd love it and I love it.
McKinsey does two quantitative studies. McKinsey did a study of companies with something like more than 40 percent women on boards of directors. And they wildly outperformed the other half or two-thirds or whatever it was.
A hard-nosed leadership Guy did the twenty most important leadership traits and women outscored men on sixteen of the twenty with statistical significance.
And those sixteen included the things as the researcher said that are usually thought of as boy things, like getting things done. And so I just think women on average are better. I think it's a huge lost resource not to have them in charge.
And I think it was Larry Summers, not exactly the world's number one sweetie. I think he got it from somebody else who said, oh God, what was it?
“If you want to do something, ask a man. If you want to educate a community, ask a woman.”
I say these things and I do have those four quantitative degrees, Guy.
I don't open my mouth unless there's data. My thesis advisor when I was getting my PhD at Stanford was the biggest son of a bitch in the world.
I have a thesis which is that thick and 80 percent of it is references. If you were around Gene Webb and you said the run rose, he would say, "Where the hell's the reference to Newton?" And it was, so when I comment on things that may sound somewhat soft, it is with a hard-nosed, I adore Gene, but God he was tough on the quantitative research part of it.
And so I really believe that none of these quote unquote soft things we're talking about in the Compassionomics book. That's the whole point. I love the term because it's an awful term, but it's the kind of a term that even a CFO could love.
And the power, measurable power of thoughtfulness and compassion.
And I've given away over 100 of the books now, probably 50 percent of them to healthcare people, but buy the book, read the book, memorize the book, Compassionomics. They've written the new one, which I have not completely read, which is also wonderful.
Madisun will buy that, and Madisun will buy The Female Brain for me to read. So we'll get on that.
One of my favorite Tom Peters concept is ‘Managing by walking around.’
So how does one manage by walking around in a post pandemic Zoom, Teams focused world?
I don't know about you, but I've got a pretty good idea.
When the pandemic started, my wife was being helpful and I was sitting on my butt and I said to my colleague, Shelly, "I know this is arrogant, but let's tell people that Tom would like to talk about leadership during a pandemic."
And I ended up doing something like fifty-five podcasts. I'm getting around to your question. The point is, you and I are having an incredibly intense personal emotional conversation.
Maybe or maybe not it would be better over a glass of twenty-seven year old California Chardonnay. I haven't had anything to drink since 2005, so I wouldn't know.
But I think, several things, I think when I finish conversations like this, my wife says when she sees me, "My God, you're as exhausted as you are when you walk off the stage after speaking to 1,000 people."
Zoom is not unemotional. Zoom is not inhumane.
Yes, it's different, but I really believe that, and I'm too old for this Guy, there are a million people you could interview who would have much, much better answers. My answer is that, go back to my mother's era, for God's sakes.
All the things we're saying about Zoom, they said about long distance phone calls. And it is just the depersonalization. Here was my definition of leadership at the time of COVID. I've got this team, we've had about twenty virtual meetings in the last x, and Maryanne, who is a superstar, has been on time for every one of those meetings and contributed.
And we're now having a little evaluation system.
And I smile and I say, "Maryanne, I'm going to give you a couple points off the perfection score. I happen to know that both of your parents are in assisted living. I happen to know that you've got a seven year old and a nine year old. Please miss meetings and come late. We're not looking to maximize productivity in this context."
This thing I did for the COVID-19 thing, I developed this list of seven things and they were: be kind, be caring, be thoughtful, be patient, walk in the other person's shoes.
And I would give my thirty minute speech depending on the audience, and I would say, “I've done my best in thirty minutes, but I can summarize the whole thing in four words. Don't be an asshole.”
So first of all, we've been virtualizing since at least the telegraph. The telegraph was Zoom, wasn't it? Pure, raw, unmitigated Zoom. And then the telephone.
If I were a teacher of ninth graders, I have no idea what I would do. I'm not an expert. I haven't thought through it at that level, so I cannot give an intelligent answer. That's the most important thing. I can say that I believe that you can have the same depth of thoughtfulness, caring relationships.
Maybe Guy, we're going to have to, and I hadn't really thought of this, I said a few minutes ago that hiring for EQ and promoting for EQ is incredibly important. Maybe it's even more important. Maybe it's even more important when you're leading in a virtual world. I'm not sure. I'll have to think about that, but it makes me think that's the case.
You've said something very interesting, which I want people to hear in great detail, which is that you should write your resume as if it was a eulogy.
And I just want you to expound on that as your last topic.
As you expressed it, it makes me larcenist. I stole the idea. The great New York Times columnist, David Brooks, had a column a couple of years ago.
And in it he talked about the difference between what he called resume virtues and eulogy virtues. And the resume virtues are Guy graduated first in his class, he was promoted six times by the age of thirty-five.
It's his accomplishments list. The eulogy virtues pretty obviously are how did he treat people? To what degree did he care? And I now say with some degree of practicality to people, "How's your eulogy virtue score today? Did you take that extra fifteen seconds to wait under the doorway and say, 'Guy, looks like your sniffles are getting a little bit better or what have you.'"
But I think it was Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal editorialist, et cetera. And there was a journalist who passed away ten or fifteen years ago, his name was Tim Russett.
And Tim was known as a tough guy, tough questioner. And Peggy gave this obit for Mr. Russett in The Wall Street Journal.
And if you could get through it without weeping, it would be a miracle. It was about the way he cared, the way he went out of his way to help people. And at my age, the eulogy virtues are exceedingly important, but I think they are at age ten.
I think they're the essence of parenting. How will you be remembered by your peers, your colleagues, the way you treated, assuming it's not all virtual, the grocery clerk?
And I don't know, obviously, the details of our audience composition, but I really want to make it clear for the seventh or seventeenth time that I'm not saying capitalism sucks, profits are for dummies.
I'm saying exactly the opposite. If you take care of people, if you engage people, your bank account will grow.
Here is the worst statistic you will ever have heard in your life, Guy.
In September of 1970, Nobel Laureate, not yet at the time, Milton Friedman wrote an op-ed in the New York Times which ushered in the shareholder value maximization era in which he said, and I think my words are almost exact, "Business has no social responsibility."
In 1970 when Friedman said that, 50 percent of profits and the like went to shareholders, leadership team, 50 percent went to people, research and development, and so on.
2014, a study showed, I can't say the word without getting a nausea reaction in my stomach. Forty-five years later, 91 percent of profits went to the shareholders, share buybacks, and executives and 9 percent went to people and R&D.
Do you wonder why a lot of shit is going on down on the streets?
Friedman should take a large share of the response. 91 percent, Guy.
So resume virtues versus eulogy virtues.
As I said, I'm really a great quant and McKinsey study, they studied 600 companies that constituted 65 percent of the GDP and 147 of them qualified by several measures as long term investors.
The long term investors killed the short termers on every quantitative and profitability measure you can name and one in particular importance. They outdid them on job creation by something like 300 percent.
But Friedman deserves a special place in hell or we do for listening to him. As I say, it's so important to say this to the hard-nosed people who are here.
I'm not saying be a softy and it'll kill your bank account. I'm saying be a softy, get rich.
I said to somebody, I was trained well in math, so I have to have equations. I've got an equation.
It's called K equal sign R equal sign P, and it stands for Kindness = Repeat Business = Profitability.
So I'm not a pussy cat.
This is the way to end this podcast. That is a great ending statement.
Guy, I want to tell you that I have not had a more pleasant, and I hope helpful to our watchers, listeners, et cetera. This has just been a great experience and I want to say this on air. It is so fabulous to see you again.
Guy and I were never on the same payroll or anything like that, but we wandered around Silicon Valley and we were both so damn lucky to be there at that point. It isn't even funny.
We knew each other during the eighties.
Tom, you are truly a remarkable person. I count as a blessing our relationship.
Well, the feeling, sir, is very mutual.
I want you to tell people that I'm the best interviewer you have ever dealt with.
There's no doubt about that. None whatsoever.
I think you're a fantastic interviewer. But I do have a Kawasaki bias going in, you have to understand that. I don't come in as a neutral. I don't come in as a neutral.
I'll take that part out.
Yeah, no, we can leave that out.
So there you have it. The Tom Peters.
Don't forget his new book, Tom Peter's Compact Guide to Excellence.
In fact, I'm not going to let you forget it. I'm going to read you the thirteen central themes of his book.
Number one, execution, the last 95 percent.
Number two, hard numbers, plans, org charts is soft, soft, people, relationships. Culture is hard.
Number three, community/purpose.
Number four, long-term investors prosper.
Number five, people really first.
Number six, people really first, radical inclusion, put women in charge.
Number seven, extreme humanism designed that makes the world a better place.
Number eight, sustainability. The right thing to do, the profitable thing to do.
Number nine, the world's top two underscored markets. Women buy almost everything. Oldies have almost all the money.
Number 10, big stinks, SMEs rule.
Number 11, innovation. Most tries wins.
Number 12, leadership. You must care.
Number 13, excellence is the next five minutes.
That's what's in Tom's new book.
I'm Guy Kawasaki and this is Remarkable People.
Remember, we are on a mission to make you remarkable.
You might be wondering who is the we in we?
The we in we is Peg Fitzpatrick, Jeff Sieh, Shannon Hernandez, Alexis Nishimura, Luis Magana, and last but not least, the drop in queen of all of Santa Cruz, Madisun Nuismer.
Until next time, Mahalo and Aloha.
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I’m Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. Achieving remarkability is a difficult and painful process. We’re on a mission to make this challenge easier and faster.
Helping me in this episode is the remarkable Tom Peters.
Tom is the co-author of In Search of Excellence. This isn’t an over-statement: in the 1980s, this book changed the way the world does business.
Tom was on the first list of “100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley” from 1965 to 2000, and in 2017, he received the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tom was in the U.S. Navy from 1966–1970, and then employed at the White House as a senior drug-abuse advisor during the Nixon administration from 1973 to 1974.
Following his time at the White House, he worked at McKinsey & Co. from 1974–1981. In 1981, Tom founded The Tom Peters Company. Tom is a civil engineering graduate from Cornell and a Ph.D. from Stanford Business School.