Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the June
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
WOW! Your Way Up the Ladder
Business guru Tom Peters’ writing style takes
some getting used to. A sample: How about a Renewal Buddy? (Spouse
is fine.) Work with him/her on a pretty explicit Growth/Learning Plan.
(Hey, pharmaceutical companies live . . . or die . . . from massive
injections of R&D. Obviously. You, too. Less obviously. Just as
And that example is tame, minus the red letters, stretches of boldface
type, and strings of exclamation points that pepper much of his prose.
Peters is nothing if not enthusiastic. His first blockbuster book
was "In Search of Excellence," and was aimed mostly at
and owners. His latest series, on re-inventing work, speaks to cubicle
dwellers in short bursts, urging them to hop up and excel — at
everything. The new books are The Brand You50, The Project50, and
The Professional Service Firm50. The books preach the WOW! principle,
basically a form of knock-em-dead, but on steroids.
In addition to writing, Peters is a popular public speaker, and it
is easy to see why corporations are willing to shell out hundreds
of dollars a day to have their employees zapped by his enthusiasm.
For while he disparages loyalty to any particular company, he enobles
routine corporate tasks, telling office dwellers to make even their
most humble projects shout (what else?) WOW!
So much in demand is Peters that he has cloned himself, in a manner
of speaking, into the Tom Peters Company. Representatives of that
company speak on "The WOW! Projects" during a two-day workshop
beginning on Thursday, June 7, at 8 a.m. at Mercer County Community
College. Cost: $695. Call 609-586-4800.
In his new books, Peters, a graduate of Cornell who holds an MBA and
a Ph.D. from Stanford, breaks down his principles into 50 short
and divides each of them into high-energy info-bites. Taken together,
the books add up to a credo, whose tenets include: The Work Can Be
Cool! Y-O-U Can Make a Difference and Rip Up Your Dilbert Cartoons!
Here are excerpts from the Brand You50:
Martha Stewart and a handful of others — don’t think of ourselves
as "a package." Mistake! Everybody is a package. ("He’s
a ball of fire." "She’s a pistol." "He’s the biggest
bore I’ve ever met.") The trick for Brand You is making sure you
control your package and the message it sends.
Step No. 1: Go to the grocery. (No kidding.) Look at packages that
grab — literally — your attention. And those that don’t. The
ones that do (I bet) have: Energy! Vitality! Clarity! Economy!
Trustworthiness! Beauty and scintillating design! Not a bad set of
traits for thee or me/Brand You, eh?
I can hear what you’re muttering: Flashy? Me? That’s not me! What
am I supposed to do? See a surgeon? Get a personality transplant?
Fact is . . . excuse the statement of the obvious . . . you have a
personality. (Ask your close friends!) One of the (big Brand You
problems: Many/most of us suppress our personalities between nine
and five. We’re afraid to show just how quirky we really are. So we
snuff out our spontaneity and eccentricities . . . and nurture
resentments toward the boss and/or our co-workers . . . that manifest
themselves as passive aggression. Like doing a half-ass job. Guess
who gets hurt the most? (Hint: It ain’t the boss.)
Which brings me back to Packaging. Because Packaging is Expressed
Personality. For Ford. For Fidelity. For Harvard. And Brown. And
And for me. And . . . for you.
Golden Rule: Any-Damn-Task-Can-Be-Turned-to-Gold . . . with
(Don’t let on, but this is key: You don’t need the
project.) (Trust me. Please: In Search of Excellence emerged from
a project in which no one put any faith . . . or initial resources.)
It’s the "little," "unwanted" job — SHAPE UP OUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH A FEW MINOR VENDORS WHO ARE OUT OF SORTS — that
can literally unlock Pandora’s WOW!/Profitable Box.
And the Seriously Cool Ones invariably start from Innocent/Small/Wee
Beginnings. (Yes, invariably!) Papers to mark the hymns to be sung
fell out of his hymnal. An itch (little) to be scratched. Voila (15
or so years later): a billion $$$ Post-it product line for 3M.
It’s all a matter of attitude. Crappy assignment? Or Opportunity No.
1? (No one’s watching . . . precisely because it’s a "crappy
Volunteer for Rotten Jobs!
Next time a "crappy" "little" task pops up . . . take
it. Gleefully. Redefine it. Make it OH SO C-O-O-L. In fact, don’ wait
for a crappy little task to slither into your lap. Seek one out!
If Brand You is about your Signature WOW Projects . . and it is .
. . then you must somehow (consult the Time Management gurus) weed
out the 96(!) percent of distractions . . . and
WOW Project (come Bloody Hell and Bloody High Water). We all know
folks who are going to . . . start a business . . . write a book .
. . learn to skydive . . build a house . . . as soon as they "find
the time." (expletive deleted) When you CARE you MAKE the time
. . . and if that means saying "No!" to your friends, your
spouse, your kids (hey, I never said there would be no sacrifices),
well, there it is!
It’s hackneyed: But "it" is all we have. I went on some
early this morning. Two of the stores I stopped at were not open .
. . though their published hours said they were supposed to be. I
was furious. (Far more furious than the "little" lapse
But I’m writing a damn book! (Actually . . . three.) T-I-M-E! It’s
a-l-l I’ve got. (A-L-L: DO YOU UNDERSTAND?) Brand You = Time
Brand You = Time Fetish. Brand You = Obsession with Time.
folks aren’t great at sales . . . makes them uncomfortable as all
get out. They hate the idea of "pushing" themselves. They’re
shy, reticent, just want to concentrate on the work. All I can say
is: Ya gotta do it. (Sales, that is.)
Create a Clean/Clear/Crisp/Compelling "Selling
(It’s as important for Mary Jones, accountant, as for Calvin Klein.)
Do you "obsess" — right word! — on "Sales"?
Please take this s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y. The Best "senior partners"
at the Big Professional Service Firms are as Sales Oriented as Da
Guy who sells Used Cars.
SELL THE HELL OUT OF YOURSELF.
It’s the gospel truth for accountants at Arthur Andersen . . . and
for software programmers at Oracle . . and, of course, for Martha
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