Did McKinsey Fire Tom Peters Because of His Long Hair?

Did McKinsey Fire Tom Peters Because of His Long Hair?


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My guest for Episode #58 is Tom Peters, the legendary management speaker and consultant, author of 19 books including his latest: Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism.

You can also watch or listen to my interview with Tom back in August 2020 in my Lean podcast series.

Today, we talk about Tom's “favorite mistake” of getting fired from the consulting firm McKinsey for reasons that might include the long hair he had at the time.

FOUND! The long hair that contributed (perhaps) to his firing… and maybe he got a haircut before getting this photo taken for the dust jacket for In Search of Excellence. See Tom's comment below.

Other questions and topics include:

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban (0s):

Episode 58, Tom Peters, author of Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism

Tom Peters (7s):

I had to work my ass off, but I managed to get fired from McKinsey.

Mark Graban (16s):

I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. For show notes, links, and a chance to win a copy of Tom's latest book, you can go to MarkGraban.com/mistake58, please subscribe, rate, and review, and now on with the show.

Mark Graban (1m 3s):

Well, hi, welcome to my favorite mistake. I'm Mark Graban. It's early in the morning here in LA. I've got a cup of coffee, but I am joined thankfully by someone I think is a real energy booster. He is the one, the only Tom Peters. So before I introduced Tom a little bit more, Tom, thank you for being here.

Tom Peters (1m 22s):

Really appreciate it. My pleasure. I'm going to have problems with your basic thesis because I've made so many mistakes that ranking them all. Yeah, I presume we've got a minimum of an hour and a half, right?

Mark Graban (1m 34s):

We can, we can make this a series a series.

Tom Peters (1m 40s):


Mark Graban (1m 40s):

So Tom is known for many things for one, I find Tom's books really energizing his, his tweets and videos. I really do mean that. And Tom is known for many things. He's the author of 18, or is the new one 19?

Tom Peters (1m 58s):

No, the new one's 19.

Mark Graban (2m 2s):

My most recent mistake, but 19 books, including going back to 1982 In Search of Excellence, Thriving on Chaos, 1987 and then many books later, the latest is called Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism. So I'm excited to talk about that, Tom, but looking back at a very interesting career, I may give it your best shot, I guess, in terms of rankings, do you have a favorite mistake that you can tell us about?

Tom Peters (2m 33s):

Oh, absolutely. I had to work my ass off, but I managed to get fired from McKinsey and McKinsey, today, is in the midst of its scumbag period. We will avoid that or we can talk about it if we want to. But fundamentally I was working on the research for, In Search of Excellence and you know, that the backstory of that is, you know, it would take us forever. And I got totally caught up in what I was doing and I forgot all the rules.

Tom Peters (3m 17s):

Some people say subconsciously, I was doing it on purpose. For example, in 1977 at a place like McKinsey, you did not wear hair that came down to your shoulders. You did not sign up to teach a course at the Stanford Business School and not bother to tell McKinsey that you weren't going to do it. So I wasn't thinking of sticking it in their ear, but I was sticking it in their ear and they finally came through and should have come through and tossed me out.

Tom Peters (3m 60s):

I don't ever like the talk about money, but I will just, this one time In Search of Excellence was not supposed to sell. The first print run was 3000 and they thought that was generous and wild. And so when I got fired from McKinsey, I had to sign an agreement on royalties and I ended up percentage wise as I should with 50% of the royalties. And I think I paid 25,000 bucks for that. And you know, God knows what came in, but it wasn't 25,000 bucks, but I was so it's a story of my life in a way. I was so totally wrapped up in the project that I just excuse the language, didn't really give a shit.

Tom Peters (4m 43s):

I didn't care that McKinsey said this. And McKinsey said that. And I knew that I was treading on water. I mean, I will say that my coauthor, Bob Waterman once said to somebody, my major contribution to the book was spending 70% of my time keeping Tom out of trouble. And you know, there's probably that number is a little high, but I'm not sure it's very high. And would I do anything differently in that regard? I don't know. I was, I had, I would say, and this is probably true. I don't know what kinds of answers you get in general, if you're totally passionately engaged in something, logic goes out the window and probably seven out of eight times it goes bust.

Tom Peters (5m 31s):

But on the eighth time, if you're lucky and we had perfect timing within search of excellence, you know, you knock it out of the ballpark, knock it out of Dodger stadium, as they say in California.

Mark Graban (5m 44s):

So you did have long hair. You were in the Sea Bees, you had worked in the Nixon White House and I have trouble picturing you with long hair.

Tom Peters (5m 57s):

I think it was just, I mean, you said it right. You could not find a more establishment career — grow up next to the Naval Academy. So you had that around you, go to Cornell to be an engineer, go to the Navy for four years, including a couple of years in Vietnam, come out of the Navy and go to the Stanford Business School. And from there you go to McKinsey me, God almighty, what could be, I mean, I, my oldest son, I'm not going to go through what he does, but I adore him in general, but I totally adore him because he does his career.

Tom Peters (6m 37s):

Does it look like mine? He didn't do that. Check every frigging box sort of thing. And so I think it just, I don't know, Mark, it, it must've been explosive. I think I was, and I don't remember having thought I've had enough and I want to get out of here. I mean, it was awful when I was fired, you know, to my, to my psyche, but I was doing what I was doing and my damn head was down. And I don't like to say I wasn't paying attention, but I kind of wasn't paying attention. And I had no effing idea why the hell I grew the hair long, unless it was again, excuse the language to flip the bird at McKinsey.

Tom Peters (7m 21s):

And I never I'd love to talk to a shrink about it sometime it would be, but it wasn't a sorta thing. It was boom. I absolutely blew myself up. And so at the time

Mark Graban (7m 36s):

Caught you by surprise looking back at it in hindsight, you're like, Oh, okay. Yeah, it made sense why they fired you.

Tom Peters (7m 44s):

Yeah. I mean, I mean, Holy moly, I was a high performing person in McKinsey. I was getting all sorts of stuff. I had the Stanford course that I was teaching for God's sake. Steep teaching at Stanford is no small thing. And I was doing research that I really loved doing. And I knew I was pushing the limits, but I sure as hell never thought they would pull the trigger. And so it did come out of the light blue, if not out of the, out of the dark blue and yeah. And the, and there's no, there's no way to unravel the story easily. The book was a wild success and in my opinion, at least wild successes, our book was a pretty darn decent book.

Tom Peters (8m 34s):

And then God put his hand down on Bob in my head and gave us the most perfect timing in the history of the world. I mean, literally we, the week the book was published, President Reagan announced 10% unemployment and we hadn't had that number since the great depression. And we were getting the tar beaten out of us by the Japanese. As I said, it was really simple, their cars worked and ours didn't. And so the Americans would come out of World War II as the planetary gods were getting the heck beaten out of them. And particularly with that timing of the 10% unemployment.

Tom Peters (9m 15s):

And I said to somebody all around the country, the business books move from the back of the bookstore to the front of the bookstore. And it was perfect. Perfect, perfect timing. But we can come back to that because it's just a good life lesson.

Mark Graban (9m 27s):

Yeah. Well, so yeah, I mean, I'd like to hear that your, your story here, it makes me think of like, there are guests who have stories where their mistake leads to better things, which is what makes it a favorite. I'm curious if that, if, if what, what is the life lesson though that you took away from this? Cause the one thing I hear is almost sometimes good things, follow a setback.

Tom Peters (9m 55s):

Well, I'm going to give you a very lousy answer, but you can figure out whether I'm giving you a lousy answer or not. I would bet statistically, when you get totally engrossed in something and follow your passion, statistically, you're not going to end up with a number one best seller in the world, but my lesson and I'm not sure where it came from was if you fall in love with something, then, you know, give it your all. And I didn't care whether the damn book sold or not. I was, I couldn't believe that anybody had given us a book contract and you know, I was giving speeches on the material and people were interested in it, but I just fell more and more deeply in love with the subject matter.

Tom Peters (10m 44s):

And you know what, let everything else be damned. I just don't know how to answer your question because I love to give you the easy answer, follow your passions, but who, I mean, but that's not quite right. I followed my passions and then got lucky. And there are a lot of people who follow their passions that are completely moral and completely legal and they don't get lucky. You know, I mean, this is really important and I think we can tie it in to your subject matter. And to me, it's incredibly important. I've said there are three, three kinds of people I despise in this world.

Tom Peters (11m 29s):

Mass murderers are number one, child and spouse, abusers are number two. And number three is successful people who believe they deserve their success. That can be a mistake. I was in, I was in London and this guy was driving me around town and I other what we were chatting about, but it was, you know, Lincoln Continental. And so I was in the backseat or whatever the British equivalent of Lincoln Continental is. And he said to me, he said, you know, there are two kinds of people who write in the back seat of this car. And I said, okay, I'm all ears. He said, there are people who remember their roots and people who think they deserve to be there. And I really do get furious when, when somebody believes that they had a, I mean, there's so many random things that happen to you in life.

Tom Peters (12m 17s):

I mean, I was, you know, thinking about it the other day, I have have a new car, a Subaru Outback, but it has a huge center console and I'm still learning it. So I'm never looking at the damn road, you know, always looking at the console. And if I, and I know I should and I'm old and my reactions are not as good as they were. I can't imagine what it would be to seriously wound or kill someone. And, you know, at some level, every damn trip I take is a, is a lucky break when I come back without… And I know that the slow down pay attention and so on, but here's this screen and it keeps yelling at me, you know, but, but at any rate luck block, block, block, block, I won't go anywhere beyond that topic.

Tom Peters (13m 4s):

And I agree with them guy was driving me around. If you say you reserved your lock and a lock. I mean, think it, you know, we're talking about racial equality and so on right now, as we should be, do you really think I would be here? And I've had this success and I not born in 1942, white male, American, smart parents from the best country in the world to be from, I mean, yeah, it's at some level. I mean, that was the all-important first 99 and a half percent.

Tom Peters (13m 46s):

And the rest was details and there is a, I really got pissed off. I think it was after the George Floyd thing or something when people said, what's this white privilege stuff you talk about, I don't have any white privilege. Well, I sure as hell do, there is absolutely positively. No, no question about that whatsoever.

Mark Graban (14m 9s):

Yeah. I think it's a mistake to deny that or discount that. And you know, it's a to that, you know, people will say, well, you know, I had to work hard. Well, you know, privileged doesn't mean things are easy, but this idea of white privilege means to your point, certain things are handed to it. Certain things are easier.

Tom Peters (14m 27s):

Yeah. Much easier. I mean, you get, you get born in 2021 to incredibly wealthy parents and they're buying the football coach a house so that they can get him into Southern Cal or Stanford or wherever else it happens to be. And that's, you know, that wasn't your doing dude.

Mark Graban (14m 49s):

Right? Right. So it sounds like kind of key point mistake is thinking that success is completely the output of your own effort or talent. And not also based on factors that you were, that weren't your choice.

Tom Peters (15m 8s):

Well, I mean, w I, it also says, I think, and this is really not the way my mother brought me up. It sort of says, enjoy your life. Enjoy every day. There is not a straight road trajectory from where you are to where you want to get to. There will be setbacks on top of setbacks. There will be lucky breaks. And I think it's important, really important to know you can't control everything, you know, because I, among other things, well, I just think it's incredibly important.

Mark Graban (15m 43s):

There are a lot of things as you write about in your most recent book that you think are really important. And yeah, I'd like to explore that a little bit, but you know, first off looking at the title, Extreme Humanism, I mean, how do you define humanism and, and what is in a good way in extreme version of that? What are some of those traits or characteristics and leaders

Tom Peters (16m 9s):

I've written 19 books. I've been doing whatever I'm doing for 43 years. And it started out with the damned In Search of Excellence research. And fundamentally, I mean, I would love to have somebody buy all 19 books because I get 19 royalties. But the reality is it's one book repeated 18 subsequent times. And the big message was people. First people, first people, first people not spreadsheets. And, and then God, I'd hate to use the word luck with this. I called it in the book. Serendipity, the messages that I've been talking about for 43 years took on 10 times their urgency last March when the pandemic began and people first and decent behavior toward all of your colleagues.

Tom Peters (17m 4s):

You know, I said about that and I'm digressing here a little, well, I don't want to digress. I digress. I'll digress in a minute. People first was the heart of it. Execution is a hundred times more important than strategy. Any idiot with an above-freezing IQ can write a gorgeous strategy document. There was this wonderful quote that I use that came from the General Bradley, eventually five star who commanded all the American troops D-Day and, and he said, amateurs, talk about strategy professionals, talk about logistics.

Tom Peters (17m 51s):

And it is those boring, dull details, which also then plays right again into the, into the people. First thing, because I'll come to your damn hotel because it's gorgeous. And it has a great location. I come back because the housekeeping department is great and it is spotless to the point that it glistens that's the repeat business thing. And that's when I put my finger on my mouse or whatever, and start recommending you to other people, execution people.

Tom Peters (18m 31s):

Design is huge to me. And it's huge in two dimensions design to me, Johnny Ive, the formal former Apple chief designer said, this may sound arrogant, but we hope to do things that contribute to humanity just a little bit. And I think that can apply to any enterprise of any size. I did this little riff in the book, which said no such thing as a commodity. And it was 10 or 12 or 15 attributes of a plumber.

Tom Peters (19m 12s):

Who's not a commodity. And it's everything from a clean truck to a clean uniform to politeness, to showing up on time, to explaining to Mark what went wrong that made this thing happen. So it might not happen again. And there are a hundred things and it's absolutely no different than owning a, a 300 room hotel fundamentally. And they differentiate you and they differentiate you radically. So when you talk about those interactions with people, people, people design. Those are, those are trying to think what I would put on my, on my top three relative to your show.

Tom Peters (19m 54s):

Now you are more sophisticated than I am, but I have my entire definition of innovation is W T T M S W whoever tries, the most stuff wins, and then to really put it into your, and I'm not sure I can do this. W anyway, the advanced version of that is whoever tries the most stuff and screws the most stuff up the fastest wins. And I mean, that is, that is innovation. I mean, it was really fascinating when, when Steve Jobs died in many, many of the obits, it said Steve jobs was not an inventor.

Tom Peters (20m 40s):

He didn't invent the damned iPhone. Blackberry was there and other things he was, and this is a perfect word. He was a tinkerer. He took something and he changed it and he changed it and it changed it. And in the end, it wasn't even recognizable, but it wasn't by, you know, sitting on a mountain top and having an epiphany, which isn't fair because he sat in Japanese tea gardens to understand the simplicity. That is the basis of the Apples, et cetera. But that's, but that's, that's another story.

Mark Graban (21m 9s):

So you're saying is, you know, if we're trying things, some of those things won't work out. No most of them won't work out, but let's learn from it.

Tom Peters (21m 20s):

Mark. That's what's Soichiro Honda said behind the founder, he said, success is that 1% that emerges from the 99% that's failure. Can't argue with them. Yeah.

Mark Graban (21m 31s):

So, one thing I see in your work, when we talk about the importance of learning from mistakes, you talk about a minute ago, you called it decent behavior. In this book, you talk about hiring people who are nice, and I've worked in workplaces where managers would yell and scream and blame when a mistake was made and like what people don't mean to make them steaks. And I would argue being nice. Doesn't give people permission to screw up. I would say being kind, being constructive, make sure people don't hide and cover up mistakes. That's better for the business. What do you, what do you say?

Tom Peters (22m 8s):

I totally agree. I mean, I was trained in the behavioral sciences in part and God in the behavioral sciences is, is BF Skinner. And Skinner said, negative feedback does not cause people to get better. It causes them to leave the playing field and not try again in that regard. And God, if there's a, you know, one of the top three messages, I'd love to leave in delicately. And everybody said, the research says there ought to be 30 positives for every negative. And again, as you said about the nice thing, it doesn't make you a chump. You know, somebody had this little riff that I came across a couple of years ago and it was new to me.

Tom Peters (22m 55s):

They said the magic words are yes. And rather than yes, but it's great job Mark, but you could have done more in chapter two as opposed to great job Mark. And, you know, I think we can really talk about some ways to make this better. And that might sound like semantics, but it's semantics like a 45 pistol being pointed at your head. It's huge. And, and you're right. People. I mean, you know that there's a critical point here for our friends who were in sizable businesses. And by sizable, I don't, I don't mean giants. I mean, let's say 50 or more. And that is the most important living human beings in the organization are your first line supervisors.

Tom Peters (23m 44s):

They are responsible for everything and business leaders wouldn't disagree with me, but they don't spend the time. They should on figuring out who to promote. And they are total suckers for promoting person who has the biggest sales numbers have the most technical skills. And all of leadership leadership is 100.000000% people. You got a tech problem, hire somebody. You can deal with tech problems. Your job is a leader. Is the people not the people have, but the people 99 and a half percent part of it. Yeah.

Mark Graban (24m 20s):

And so when you talk about leaders, one thing that you're very vocal about on, on Twitter is the mistake companies make. And there's research to back this up, that that it's a mistake to not have 50% women in executive roles, leadership roles. Can you tell us about that?

Tom Peters (24m 41s):

Yeah. If you read the section in the new book and I'm not trying to urge reading the book or making a statement, every thing, every time I open my mouth, meaning my keyboard look, I'm trained as an academic. I have a bloody PhD from Stanford. I don't open my mouth without data behind it. And I was trained. My thesis advisor was the biggest son of a bitch that you've ever met in your life. You know, I said to somebody, if you want to understand gene web, if you wrote in your thesis, you, the sun rose, you would have to cite Newton for God's sake. So, you know, these are not off the top of my head.

Tom Peters (25m 23s):

So now I'm going to say here's what the research says. And two key words for those who might get bent out of shape, on average, on average, on average, women are better leaders. On average, women are better salespeople on average, women are better negotiators on average, women are better investors. And if that's not enough for you, then you have the other half of the coin is that women buy everything. She is your customer. She buys 80% of all the consumer goods and in the United States.

Tom Peters (26m 8s):

Now over 50% of professional purchasing agents are women. So she is as likely to sign the RFP for the five-year $5 billion IS project as she is to pick the location and the family vacation. And as I said, on average, there are crappy women managers, and there are fabulous male managers, but on average, and relative to the things I talk about, it's, it's along the lines, because again, you just have to be so clear to say, there are many exceptions. Women tend to be more empathetic and that's right out of Darwin for God's sakes. You and I made our money in those days, by getting up early, sharpening our spear and running around, throwing at animals.

Tom Peters (26m 51s):

I mean, this is wonderful thing, which is so cool. I read this wonderful book called Compassionomics, Darwin never, ever, ever said survival of the fittest. That was some other guys. Spencer was his name, Darwin said survival of the best community. It was the opposite. If you have a great community, you raise more children. If you raise more children, you have a bigger community that can develop itself. If you have a greater community, you grow more food coming out of the ground, instead of just depending on the spear chuckers. And so it's just, I mean, it's, it's a wonderful book by the way everybody has to buy.

Tom Peters (27m 32s):

I'd like you to buy my book, but I'm forcing you to buy Compassionomics. And there's one story I'm going to tell out of that, out of that, but let's keep going.

Mark Graban (27m 41s):

Well, I was just going to say real quick, it sounds like, so you've pointed out a mistake. People misunderstand, or misportray Darwin in this often gets portrayed as you know, this individualistic idea. What you're saying is that it's more along the lines of the phrase that some people mock, you know, this phrase, it takes a village, but it sounds like, boy, that really is the case.

Tom Peters (28m 5s):

That is exactly the case, you know, for, for every, for everything known to humankind. Yeah. I mean the, you know, the, the Darwin, I mean, which also goes back to an earlier comment on the women's thing, men compete because we compete that the here's the investment story and why women are better investors. There's a whole book, by the way, by this next book too, you don't have to read it. It's worth it for the title. And the book title written by a senior person at the Motley Fool is Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl and Why You Should Too.

Tom Peters (28m 47s):

And here's, here's the problem. You and I are sitting at trading desks. We'll go back to F 2F world. You and I are sitting at trading desks and we know each other and you have a day probably mainly locked. That is absolutely fabulous. And now it's an hour before the market closes. Mark is not going to beat ass on Tuesday and excuse the language again. So I buy all sorts of risky crap in the last half hour with the sole purpose of beating Mark. And I mean, it's just, it's insane, but that's the way we boys operate.

Tom Peters (29m 28s):

And it's a loser's strategy. You know, the people who are screaming that you were talking about about, you know, are more, much more likely to be male than female. And it's just, it's just, it's, it's just, it's stunning.

Mark Graban (29m 43s):

So, one other question I want to ask you before we to wrap up here, I'm an introvert. So this is, there's a little bit of selfish motivation in this question, you advocate for introverts. You say it's a mistake to think that noisy people are the best leaders, the best at sales, the most creative. Why is that?

Tom Peters (30m 9s):

Because I steal shamelessly with attribution, from a book called Quiet, the author of whom is a woman by the name of Susan Cain. And again, it is a book. Susan was trained as a lawyer. There's no BS in this book. This is again, all hard nosed research and introverts. I mean, I w it was such an incredible book. I was, you know, here I was 70 when the thing came out and I thought, God almighty, you've implicitly been on the side of noisy people for the last 50 years. And Susan shows that that's always the deal.

Tom Peters (30m 52s):

The noisy guy gets the promotion. And the quiet guy is the best leader because he actually listens to people. And when they do all this group research where you put 10 introverts and 10 extroverts, and they work on some problem, the extroverts come up with 25 solutions, all of which are random bullshit. The introverts come up with three solutions, but they've really been thought out. And in baseball terms, the odds of getting at least a ground rule double are a lot higher for the introverts. And it's just, as I said, I really felt I've been running around the world.

Tom Peters (31m 38s):

And I had been diminishing and dismissing the incredible importance of finding, promoting the quiet people. And it's just, and she shows a million times the instinct is if somebody talks, that means if she goes through all this stuff, if you talk a lot, you are more intelligent. You are more physically attractive. All of these things that are associated with noise and it's that late, which may surprise some people who are watching us is in Susan's book. There's a really good introvert extrovert test. And I bet I scored as high as you did on the introvert scale. And which doesn't mean I can't give a good speech.

Tom Peters (32m 22s):

I mean, the classic example, my wife and I, in the days of F2F have a Christmas party or something like that, there are 30 people there it's an hour long party. I always talk to the same person for an hour and you're ready to go home first. Right. But it's a classic example. You know, I, I dig in to you and we had this incredible conversation about what's on in the world. The extrovert flips and flips and flips. And Susan always grabs me. And she said, this is our party, Tom, you need to talk, talk to someone. I, we went through a summer party a couple of years ago. About a month later, I ran into the woman whose home it was one of those, you know, things to do on a July 4th afternoon or something.

Tom Peters (33m 7s):

And I said to her, I said, Kate, I am so backwards. I said, we came to your party. I loved your party. And I never came and said to you, thank you for inviting us to the party. I ran into Dick Smith right after I came in and we talked for the next hour and a half. And that's what introverts tend to do.

Mark Graban (33m 32s):

So I was not expecting to hear about Tom Peter's party mistakes.

Tom Peters (33m 41s):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, there is, there is that. Well, the, the other thing relative to the, the, I guess I'd call it the deeper phenomenon. There are personal mistakes that I've made that I have no intention of sharing with you. And that 50 or 60 years later, I am deeply ashamed of and ashamed of myself. And I think almost all of us, you know, have a, have a few of those in our background. So if you've got a couple of those, don't think it makes you an idiot makes you normal. But you know, I, a lot of people want me to write a memoir. And I said, I can't because the value of a memoir is honesty.

Tom Peters (34m 23s):

And there are half a dozen things that probably have influenced my life that I would no more put in print than fly to the moon without a spaceship. Understandable. Let me just tell you this one thing that is vaguely related, it's definitely related to extreme humanism. I fell down a couple months ago and hit my head pretty hard. And so they did a brain CT scan. So we'll talk about CT scans. I get, I go in to get my CT scan and there's a tech and the tech or two techs administer the cat scan.

Tom Peters (35m 13s):

30 minutes later, if it was an emergency and 18 hours later, the radiologist, the big dude reads the CT scan. Okay. So they did this experiment and the radiologist is looking at wavy charts and graphs, data pouring in front of him on his, on his big screen. And they did this experiment. I'm going to say, when I, they did not do this with me. When I come in the metaphorical, Tom, they say, would you mind if we took your picture? And so they take my picture and I just assume it's for the files. So we have two states of nature and the research radiologists who have no picture.

Tom Peters (36m 0s):

And so Tom is ones and zeros and wavy lines and radiologists who in the upper right hand corner of their screen have a photo of Tom. And the numbers are staggering. The num amount of time they spend on doing the diagnosis doubles. If my photo is up there, their term is anomalies. What they're looking for in the picture is some weird thing. It's just a little bit out of kilter that that might give you a clue about what's going on. They find many, many more times anomaly anomalies. If the picture is there. And it's just that. And as you know, I really hope everybody listens to that.

Tom Peters (36m 41s):

And, you know, we have all intelligent people listening to us so they can make the transfer to their working life. Just humanize it one way. And suddenly you've got an entire different planet. I mean, I just love that example. And I love it because you can tell it in two minutes and because it's a clobber you over the head example and dammit, all of this is we will one hopes get past the pandemic, but we are not getting through past artificial intelligence. Anytime sooner, it's going to accelebrate accelerate on a path that looks like that.

Tom Peters (37m 23s):

Not like that. And what I argue throughout the book is the best defense. And I don't use the word I make clear. I'm not best offense is to humanize the products and the services that you deliver and use every tool known to humankind to deliver your podcast or whatever else it is. But the focus is on the human. And, and you know, and this is not just because of my age. I don't know what the hell happens in 40 years, but what I know is that in order to get to 20 years from now, you've got to live through the next 20 years, starting this minute with our conversation. And so it's lovely to talk about the longterm, but you gotta get through the next six months, you got to get through the next six years.

Tom Peters (38m 11s):

And for the next six or 10 or 15 years, AI is not going to take over the planet. I mean, self-driving, I mean, self-driving, I've talked to a lot of people it's going to take roughly forever. The technology's there, but 83,726 different municipalities have to pass regulations for self-driving. And that ain't happening before dawn tomorrow And can Tesla. And these other companies practice leadership styles that embrace extreme humanism so they can create better design, better, better Companies, and better and better, better companies.

Tom Peters (38m 52s):

I don't want to reveal my political leanings. And I don't believe that the union has ever answered everything by a long shot. I hope the Amazon people in the warehouses get their union.

Mark Graban (39m 2s):

I hope they get better working conditions. One way from what's been reported. Yeah.

Tom Peters (39m 9s):

I mean, the union is not the point, but the point is something radical has to happen. We don't need improvement. We need Uncle Jeffy to wake up in the morning and say, well, I've already got my trillion dollars. Maybe I could share a couple of pennies with Mark and Tom. Well, Tom, I, I hate to cut you off because I love everything that you're sharing here. And I would love to have the 90 minute discussion or the three hour long Joe Rogan podcasts, but I'm told we don't have that much time. So Tom, it's been a real pleasure to be able to interview you again. The most recent book again is Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism Tom's website is Tompeters.com and you can find him on Twitter.

Tom Peters (39m 52s):

He's a lively follow. I'm just going to, I'm going to add two seconds to this thing. When the pandemic came along, my wife was doing a lot of community stuff and so on. And I thought, here you are Peters, sitting on your ass. And so I didn't pretend to have expertise, but we started going around and saying to people with podcasts, Tom would like to talk about leadership in the time of COVID-19 and along the way. And this is a good ending point maybe for both of us, but certainly for me came the COVID 19 leadership seven as a leadership seven are be kind, be caring, be patient, be forgiving, be positive, be present, walk in the other person's shoes.

Tom Peters (40m 48s):

I have said, and will continue to say to leaders the way that you have behaved and are behaving now during this once a century, we hope pandemic will define your professional career. It's as simple as that, this will be the moment. How did he behave? Know he, I mean, this is why you're here. Here's my definition of good behavior. On the part of a boss, the boss is running a 20 person group and they have maybe even a couple zoom meetings a day. And you know, there is, we'll call it Jane or Harry.

Tom Peters (41m 30s):

It doesn't really matter is one of the people on my team. And, you know, we've now probably had 40 meetings and Jane or Harry has always showed up on time and always been on their seat in their seat on time. So I on a private call or whatever I call Harry, and I said, Harry, I'm going to give you some feedback. And I said, it's going to be negative feedback. And I said, here's my negative feedback. Would you please miss some meetings? I happened to know that you've got two kids at home. I happened to know that you have an a, which a boss always know an 80 year old mother who is in an assisted living activity.

Tom Peters (42m 10s):

And I know that upstairs, your wife is teaching a third grade class. And I said, take care of yourself to care of your mom, the care of your family. And it's really okay not to be awesomely productive, be like miss the meeting, blow us off. You know, obviously not a hundred percent of the time, but put first things first. And first things are not an eighth of a percent productivity hit for our group.

Mark Graban (42m 39s):

Well thank you for that reminder and for your advocacy there. So Tom, really a pleasure to have you here on the podcast really, really enjoy it. Thank you. Thank you for the time.

Tom Peters (42m 49s):

Well, I thank you at least as much or more been doing this. As I say several times in the book for 43 years, the message is straightforward. Not enough people are listening. And so you are giving me the opportunity to talk about the stuff that is most important in my life. So I don't know whether you've got a good deal or not. With this half hour. I did. I got to talk to some more people. Yeah, it ain't rocket science. I said to somebody, I have all these degrees, but if you want to understand everything in my books, you must show me a signed certificate of graduation from the fourth grade.

Tom Peters (43m 31s):

That's the extent of it. Be decent, take care of people, play around one thing when I know you can get a hold of Michael Schrage at MIT, but there's a term of his that I should have used today. He says innovation, the key to innovation. And this is so much on the failure thing is listen to this term, serious play, trying stuff is playful, serious play. It doesn't mean, you know, being sloppy, but the trans lation of the word play into the notion of innovation in a business enterprise or any other enterprise is a very cool thing that can't be resolved by me saying it in 30 seconds.

Tom Peters (44m 13s):

Grab Michael, if you can. He's an MIT professor and he's a good guy. Right?

Mark Graban (44m 18s):

Okay. Great idea. Thank you for that. And again, thank you for everything that you're doing and continue to talk to do. Last thing I'll say is, you know, in the book you said some light, you know, it's your last hurrah. I hope not. I'm sure book 20 will be here.

Tom Peters (44m 43s):

Well, who knows? I really relative earlier comment, I realized while writing that this book is my memoir. It's about the ideas that I've spent 43 years of my life on, and I have a neighbor. Who's a world famous social psychology, and she's a psychologist and she's doing a memoir and she called it an ideas memoir. And it is a memoir. I mean, this is what I've been doing, you know, 2,500 speeches, seventy-five hundred flight legs, 20 f-ing books. And so on. This is what I do. And you know, the only reason I'll write number 20 is my frustration. Once again, boiling over that this is stuff that doesn't require more than a fourth grade diploma, and yet we don't do it.

Tom Peters (45m 32s):

And let us both pray whether we are atheists or whether we're six morning masses a week. People let us pray that some of the decent things in terms of behavior that have come during this pandemic will stick and that we will not unwittingly just go back to business as usual. I just, I mean, literally, you know, down on both knees and just hoping that this will turn a little bit of a corner. And again, the other thing, because we have practical people watching this, all the data is clear, do the right stuff with people and you make more money. This is not, this is not sweetness and light and ignore the realities of business.

Tom Peters (46m 16s):

It works. It's not going to get you the win in the next 60 days. But when we extend the timeframe to a year or a couple of years, the best behavior toward our people is just plain carrying bags of hundred dollar bills to the bank,

Mark Graban (46m 37s):

Tom. So again, thank you. Thank you so much for being here

Tom Peters (46m 40s):

Really, really appreciate it. Well, as I said to you, the feeling is mutual. You've given me a bigger opportunity that I've given you.

Mark Graban (46m 49s):

Thank you. Well, again, I want to thank the one, the only the legendary Tom Peters for being a guest and being so generous with his time here. If you want to enter to win a copy of Tom's latest book Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism. You can go to MarkGraban.com/mistake58. If you like the episode, the best thing you can do to help me out and help out the show is to share this episode with a friend or a colleague. If you want to share it on LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook, it would be much appreciated. And I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes and how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me they've started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work.

Mark Graban (47m 34s):

And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems, cause that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me myfavoritemistakepodcast@gmail.com. And again, our website is myfavoritemistake podcast.com.

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's upcoming book is The Mistakes That Make Us. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.