Marketing Podcast with Tom Peters
In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Tom Peters. Tom is coauthor of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business and is often tagged as the best business book ever. Twenty books and forty years later, Tom is still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented. He’s out with yet another co-authored book with Nancye Green called — Tom Peters’ Compact Guide to Excellence.
Over the decades, Tom Peters has gathered gems of wisdom from those who have been down in the trenches creating extraordinary places to work. In this episode, shares the lessons he’s learned and how to absorb that wisdom.
Questions I ask Tom Peters:
- [2:53] Do you spot trends or destroy them?
- [5:51] This book that you’ve recently written is very compact — is that part of the message?
- [7:33] Why was design such a crucial element of this book?
- [10:16] Do you think great design helps you deliver a great message in a lot fewer words?
- [12:41] What was your process for creating this book?
- [15:04] Could you talk about your thoughts on the idea that amateurs talk about strategy?
- [18:02] Where are people getting culture wrong these days?
- [26:03] Do you have a favorite quote from the book?
- [27:53] Where can people connect with you and learn more about your work?
More About Tom Peters:
- Connect with Tom on Twitter: @tom_peters
More About The Agency Workshop:
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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Outbound Squad, formerly Blissful Prospecting, hosted by Jason Bay. It's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Jason Bay is a leading sales expert, and he talks with other leading sales experts to get you the information you need. I have recent episode. He talked about how much time you need to spend prospecting. Really, really eye-opening. Check it out. Uh, listen to the outbound squad, wherever you get your podcasts. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Tom Peters. He is the co-author of In Search of Excellence, the book that changed the way the world does business and is often tagged as the best business book ever, 20 books. And 40 years later, Tom is still at the forefront of the management guru industry. He's single-handedly invented, and he's out with yet another co-authored book, uh, co-authored with Nancy Green, entitled Tom Peters Compact Guide to Excellence. So Tom, welcome back to the show.
Tom Peters (01:15): Thank you. Hey, pleasure to be back.
John Jantsch (01:17): So I don't wanna gloss, gloss
Tom Peters (01:19): Over. My pleasure to be talking to you in Colorado where all my kids are. So there,
John Jantsch (01:22): It's
Tom Peters (01:32):
John Jantsch (02:05):
Tom Peters (02:56): Uh,
John Jantsch (03:51):
Tom Peters (03:53): And you know, the the brand, the brand you thing, uh, which just had its 25th anniversary, by the way. Yep. That makes me sound like a genius today,
John Jantsch (05:31): So, so you weren't really, uh, uh, giving a nod to, uh, the Instagram influencer, uh,
Tom Peters (05:39): Is precisely on the money. Exactly. Right. Yes. So I guess if I had foreseen it, I could be a multi-billionaire. We wouldn't have to be bothering to have this conversation right now.
John Jantsch (05:50):
Tom Peters (06:07): Yes, it is. Stripping stuff down to the essentials. The book should you be so inclined, which I'm not particularly keen on having you be, so you could read the thing in an hour. Uh, because fundamentally it is, uh, a series of quotes. It is the, you know, the the boiling down of the boiling down of the boiling down. And what my great hope is that you would, you'd be working with your colleagues, you'd look through the book, you'd pull two or three things out that kind of made sense for you, and then dig into them yourselves without me offering 3000 words of commentary. It's, uh, it's, it's meant to be thought starters. It's meant to be a bit provocative. Uh, you know, Richard Branson said, we used it as a, as an epigraph years ago. Uh, you shouldn't do business unless you give the people who work for you enriching and rewarding lives. Uh, you know, that's, that's worthy of a, all of us sitting down and talking about it for the next day.
John Jantsch (07:24): Talk a little bit about, I mean, obviously you, you referenced this already. You have a book or a series of books on design specifically, um, is why was design such a crucial element of this book? Obviously the size is off, you know, a typical book. Uh, there are a lot of the graphics in this book. You had a great designer, one of the world's best designers, you know, collaborate with you. Um, so why was design such a crucial element of the book itself? Well,
Tom Peters (07:51): Design, I'm gonna have to backtrack. Design became a big deal to me, I don't know, 25 years ago or so. One of the biggest design companies is called I d O, right? And the guy who started I D O, David Kelly had a little organization called David Kelly Design, and his office in Palo Alto was two blocks from my office in Palo Alto. And so David was my teacher in a way, you know, I'm an engineer, engineers can't even spell design if you spotted us the first five letters. And, and it was just a, it was just a realization, but particularly in an age where the finance guys run the companies and cost minimization is the holy grail. Mm-hmm.
(09:03): That's something that makes you smile. And that's really my design point. It's as simple as that, and complicated as that. And it is meant to be the enemy of, you know, these, these guys wrote a book that's quoted in there called, oh my God, the, whatever, the three, the three, the three laws. It's Deloitte and two guys. They took 25,000 companies. They boiled it down to 27 companies. And the three rules were revenue before cost, uh, I don't know, quality before, whatever. But the, and then rule number three was there are no other rules. Hmm. And you know, what they found was that the best companies created great stuff. And yeah, again, as you know, and that's a turn on for customers. It's a turn on for our own employees. And, you know, excuse my language, I don't know who our viewers are, but you know, what's the point of busting your ass to make shit products or products like everybody else's
John Jantsch (09:59): Products? Yeah. So in
Tom Peters (10:02): This book, this is a combination of that. Obviously this work, this work with Nancy is meant to be kinda the period at the end of the sentence or the exclamation mark at the end of the sentence.
John Jantsch (10:12): Well, one of the things that, that I know, you know, I know you've talked about it, it design great design, uh, helps you deliver a great message in a lot fewer words, doesn't it?
Tom Peters (10:21):
John Jantsch (11:39): Me. Are you an agency owner, consultant or coach that works with business owners? Then I want to talk to you about adding a new revenue stream to your business that will completely change how you work with clients. For the first time ever, you can license and use the Duct Tape Marketing system and methodology in your business through an upcoming three day virtual workshop. Give us three days and you'll walk away with a complete system that changes how you think about your agency's growth. The Duct Tape Marketing System is a turnkey set of processes for installing a marketing system that starts with strategy and moves to long-term retainer implementation engagements. We've developed a system by successfully working with thousands of businesses. Now you can bring it to your agency and benefit from all the tools, templates, systems, and processes we've developed to find out when our next workshop is being held, visit DTM world slash workshop. That's DTM world slash Workshop. I'm curious, as a, as, as a fellow author, uh, you, this book is essentially, um, a collection of curated, uh, quotes, um, broken up into 13 topics. I'm curious what your process was. Um, did you just have your notebook of favorite quotes and said, oh, I can apply this here, I can apply this here. Did you come up with the topics first and go looking for the quotes? I'm just curious what your process was.
Tom Peters (13:05): I read my prior book,
John Jantsch (13:07):
Tom Peters (13:08): I, my prior book, which Nancy worked on was called Excellence Now Extreme Humanism. And she did a brilliant job of laying that one out too. But I really was
(14:42): And I love the book. I mean, I would never say that about any of my other books, but I just love this thing. I love holding onto it. The, you know, Kous reviews, which is the big mother of all reviewers, called it an O Dart. Uh, and it, it is, it's in part, and that's kinda the message, it's the internal message, uh, and it's the external message.
John Jantsch (15:04): So you've talked about a little bit about some of the thoughts being provocative and making people stop. Um, frankly, I'll just go with the, the first one, amateurs talk about strategy. Um, you know, that's gonna have a lot of people scratching their heads. It's like, wait a minute. I thought strategy before everything thing. Um, and you're, you're basically turning that idea on its head, aren't you?
Tom Peters (15:28): Well, don't give me the credit, right.
(16:25): And we knew these companies like Hewlett Packard, which of course is a bureaucratic monster now, but which was a fast growing large SME at the time. And they've got turned on employees. You know, we were only a few blocks away from Apple Computer turned on employees. They're doing products that make you proud. Uh, and it's not just a piece of paper called a plan. It's not a strategy. It's, it's a way of life. I mean, the, the, the most kind of amusing part is my number one enemy at McKinsey and Company, in many respects was very senior guy by the name of Lou Gerstner. Lou left McKenzie Lou eventually became the c e o of b m when it was hurting and turned it around. Uh, and in a book that he wrote who says, elephants Can't dance, I remember him saying, I always thought strategy first, planning first, and so on.
(17:20): And then I came to this God awful messed up place, and I came to realize it was culture first. It's changing people's views, their minds, their attitudes and and so on. So, you know, that's, that's really where, that's where that comes from. Um, and, and I don't know, I I just get off on the people who do the work and their full scale engagement, and I want to know where I'm going in a general fashion, but mainly I don't want everybody to be turned on about doing the best damn job and the most innovative job and the most enjoyable job they can today. That's execution.
John Jantsch (18:02): So words like culture, which you already mentioned, humanism. I mean, I think the, those ideas are getting a lot of play these days, especially when people are finding it hard to find staff
Tom Peters (18:21): Boy? No, there's a good question.
John Jantsch (18:34): That, that was my next question, actually, but go ahead.
Tom Peters (18:36): Yeah. What, what I was gonna say is, when you or I, with or without one too many beers or glasses of wine, talk about why every restaurant in town really annoys and, you know, and we start talking about the things that we could do if it was, if it was our restaurant and we could do these cool things that might have to do with look, feel, taste, touch, menu, think of the people we could, we're, we're, we're I think where people get it, it's a, it's a, it's a whole way of life. You don't decide suddenly in the midst of the pandemic that you wanna be more at tra it's Right.
(19:34): Right? Well, what Larry's company does is transform your moldy, damp, old basement into a, you know, into a family room, into a second bedroom, or whatever else it is. And he is built a hundred million dollar company, but it's, it's excitement around basements, it's excitement around these sorts of, of things, which to me is the whole point. And I really believe, if you and I were incredibly excited about this restaurant, I think our enthusiasm would attract people to us. I really think people would be maybe not quite waiting in line, but you know, when, when we ca we can't find, you know, maybe I'm naive though, at my age, I would hope that's not the case.
John Jantsch (20:30): Yeah.
Tom Peters (20:30): And SMEs create well over a hundred percent of all new jobs, by the way,
John Jantsch (20:36):
Tom Peters (21:04): Well, and the statistics, alas, in some respects are, are on my side. Yes.
John Jantsch (21:32):
Tom Peters (21:33): Know, the, and the, and you know it, it's a fact they're all going downhill. I mean, the o the only, the only asterisk, which goes back to the beginning is I think if you and I are stuck in one of those monsters, and we have a group of 25 people working on something, I think you and I can in a way create our own small business within this giant bureaucratic monster. Right. You know, that's what I, one of the people who was in search of excellence, uh, was a guy by the name of Ren McPherson, who, you know, worked for a big Midwestern tool company, and he became c e o of the company. He said, my secret was every little piece they gave me, I turned into a stellar organization and people wanted to work there, and it was making money. And finally they said, well, you know, we can't stop him.
(22:19): I guess we might not give him the whole damn thing
John Jantsch (23:14): Yeah. Cause again, rather than somebody looking at that as an asset of the company, it's just a cost.
Tom Peters (23:19): Yeah. Just a cost. Just a cost. Yeah. I mean, for God's sakes, it's a, it's a cost. And what's your first name again? Oh, I'm
John Jantsch (23:26): Overhead
Tom Peters (23:30): Is it a one, is it a wonder that if your overhead, it doesn't necessarily enthu you to get outta bed an extra half hour early?
John Jantsch (23:37): All right, I wanna end our conversation today with like a, just an impossible question. Um, but you know, a lot of, you've been doing this for 40 years, you've seen change over 40 years. A lot of people are very fixated in like, the moment this recession or this global pandemic, you know, the change that's going on right before our eyes. Right. But as you look at a 40 year kind of
Tom Peters (23:56): Arc, well, given the God awful political mess, the concerns we have about violence and so on, it's a little bit difficult for me, uh, to be terribly optimistic at this point. Yeah. Uh, and particularly, you know, as, as we have this conversation, recession is being predicted as, as right around the corner, uh, I don't necessarily see a generally upward trend. I really wish I did. Uh, you know, I the best you and you're gonna, you res I'm gonna ask the question this time. You don't get to do all this
John Jantsch (25:27): Way? A absolutely one life changed
Tom Peters (25:30): Yeah. One, one life changed as a, you know, what, what, what's the, what's the, I never really understood this. It's a, there's a, uh, someplace, I think it's in Jerusalem, some places where a sing a tree is planted for you if you have saved a single life or helped a single life. And I'm getting that all wrong, and I'll be shot out by people who know the real answer,
John Jantsch (26:02): All right. Uh, do you have a favorite quote from the book? Everybody asks you that I'm sure.
Tom Peters (26:09): Well, my favorite quote in the book comes from a movie director, Robert Altman. Mm-hmm.
John Jantsch (27:43): Right. Right, right, right.
Tom Peters (27:58): About? Well, I'm happy to have, you know, I, I hate to say it, I use Twitter, though. I'm not sure I will very, very much longer with Mr. Musk's behavior. Uh, tom peters.com has pretty much everything I've done for the last 25 years, available for free for anybody. And, uh, love, love to have you come by sample. Uh, our interview will [email protected] after you, you've put it up live for a while, so, uh, stop by, say hello, comment, whatever. It's been a great oppor, I love great conversation. Well,
John Jantsch (28:31): Thank so
Tom Peters (28:32): Much and you doing your good work.
John Jantsch (28:33): I, I'll keep
Tom Peters (28:34): Be on the crap. I'm saying I'm the old guy in this chair,
John Jantsch (28:38): Oh, I, I thank you so much for stopping by the Duct Tape, my marketing podcast, and hopefully we'll run into you, uh, one of these days out there on the road.
Tom Peters (28:46): Okay, thanks.
John Jantsch (28:47): Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. Co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co. I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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