Monday, September 13, 2004

Fresh Pastry

I like getting up early in the morning. When I used to live in France, you could get up early and smell the fresh pastry being baked. Good stuff. Throw some clothes on -- aren't clothes handy? -- and tear down the street to score the first croissants of the day.

And that's what my INBOX feels like some mornings. I get a whole bunch of new ideas, freshly baked, arriving on a daily basis. Take a whiff. Delish.

Tom Peters cooked up something great this morning. It's all about "you say TOMato and I say TomATO." And he's not in a patisserie in France. He says he's in a new deli in India ... I mean ... well ... just read it.

tomAto, TOMaTO
Tom Peters

New Delhi. Thirteen September 2004. I awoke, jetlagged and sweaty, at 3A.M. I’d had a nightmare. Stark realism. I was, as usual, accused of overstatement and a few (or more) too many exclamation marks (!!!!!). Only this time I’d acceded to “They.” The “They” who believe in The Plan and Built to Last and Continuous Improvement and Quiet, Humble Leaders. No! No! I had failed, in my dream, to live up to my Fervent Beliefs! This must not pass! In a sweat, fearful that the time would not come ‘round again, I turned on the light, picked up a pad of paper, and began to scribble frantically. Herewith the result.

Tom’s Re-imagine Manifesto:

They say … my (Tom) language is extreme.
I say … the times are extreme.

They say I’m extreme.
I say I’m a realist.

They say I demand too much.
I say they accept mediocrity & continuous improvement too readily.

They say “We can’t handle this much change.”
I say “Your job and career are in jeopardy; what other options do you have?”

They say Brand You is not for everyone.
I say the alternative is unemployment.

They say “What’s wrong with a ‘good product’?”
I say Wal*Mart or China or both are about to eat your lunch. Why can’t you provide
instead a Fabulous Experience?

They say “Take a deep breath. Be calm.”
I say “Tell it to Wal*Mart. Tell it to China. Tell it to India. Tell it to Dell. Tell it to

They say the Web is a “useful tool.”
I say the Web changes everything. Now.

They say “We need an Initiative.”
I say “We need a Dream. And Dreamers.”

They say Great Design is “nice.”
I say Great Design is “necessary.”

They say I “overplay” the “women’s thing.”
I say the share of Women in Senior Leadership Positions is a Waste and a Disgrace and a
Strategic Marketing Error.

They say the Women’s Market Opportunity I harp on is “doubtless important.”
I say 9 out of 10, make that 99 out of 100, companies aren’t within striking distance of
accurately estimating the potential of the Women’s Market … let alone exploiting it.

They say the boomer-geezer market is also “doubtless important.”
I say the boomer-geezer market amounts to a Redefining Moment.

They say we need a “project” to exploit the women-boomer-geezer market.
I say we need Total Strategic Realignment to exploit the Women-Boomer-Geezer

They say “Wow” is “typical Tom.”
I say “WOW” is a Minimum Survival Requirement.

They say “effective governance” is important.
I say bold-brash Boards that are representative of the market served—more than a
token woman or two and an empty seat for the “forthcoming Hispanic”—are an
Imperative. Now.

They say “Plan it.”
I say “DO IT.”

They say “We need more steady, loyal employees.”

They say “We need Good People.”
I say “We need Quirky Talent.”

They say “We like people who, with steely determination, say, “I can make it better.’”
I say “I love people who, with a certain maniacal gleam in their eye, perhaps even a
giggle, say, “I can turn the world upside down. Watch me!”

They say “We must speed things up.”
I say “We must Radically change the Corporate Metabolism until Insane Urgency
becomes a Sacrament.”

They say, “Sure, we need ‘Change.’”
I say we need “REVOLUTION NOW.”

They say (acknowledge), “Okay, we need revolution.”

They say “fast follower.”
I say “battered and bruised leader.”

They say “Conglomerate & Imitate!”
I say “Create & Innovate!”

They say “Market share.”
I say “Market CREATION.”

They say “Improve & Maintain.”

They say “We like words such as ‘calm’ … ‘certainty’ … ‘is.’”
I say “I like words/phrases such as ‘turbulent’ ‘opportunity’ … ‘might be’.”

They vote for Republicans and Democrats.
I vote for Independents and Libertarians.

They say “Normal.”
I say “Weird.”

They say “Happy balance.”
I say “Creative Tension.”

They say they favor a “team” that works & lives in “harmony.”
I say “give me a raucous brawl among the most creative people imaginable.”

They say “Peace, brother.”
I say “Bruise my feelings. Flatten my ego. SAVE MY JOB.”

They say “Vanilla.”
I say “Cherry Garcia.”

They say “Basic Black.”

They say “Branding is for the likes of Nike.”
I say “Branding is for Everyone & Anyone with the passion & tenacity to foist their
Wonderful & Weird Point of View on the world … and the world’s (read: Web’s)
power allows-encourages such “silly” (until recently) visions-of-ubiquity to become
reality, perhaps overnight.”

They say we need “happy customers.”
I say “Give me pushy, needy, nasty, provocative customers.”

They say they want to partner with “best of breed.”
I say “give me Coolest of Breed.”

They say we need “supply chain harmony.”
I say we need “supply chain Innovation.”

They say “We seek Harvard MBAs.”
I say I seek Certificate-free “PhDs” from the School of Hard Knocks.

They say they want recruits with a “spotless records.”
I say “the Spots are what matter most.”

They say “Integrity is important.”
I say “Tell the Unvarnished Truth, All the Time … or take a Long Hike.”

They read Jim Collins and grok on “quiet, humble leaders.”
I say “Give me the Bold, the Brash, the Brassy, the Egocentric Dreamers who, like Steve
Jobs, ‘Dent the Universe.’”

They say they need a “vision” born of McKinsey.
I say we need a “Grandiose Dream” born of a Passionate & Intemperate Belief that the
world can be a different, better place.

They say healthcare, our biggest industry, is “a mess.”
I say our hospitals, which kill over 100,000 patients a year, are part of a system that is “a

They say “obesity is a problem” … “lose some weight.”
I say Re-imagine the entire healthcare system … NOW … to focus on Prevention &

They say “no child left behind.”
I say “education” is leaving ALL our children behind, as it is totally mis-aligned to deal
with tomorrow’s (this afternoon’s) uncertain, ambiguous, creativity-driven economy.

They say we need to “bring effectiveness to the supply chain.”
I say we need an IS/IT/Best Sourcing revolution based on nothing less than an Entirely
Original Vision of what organizations are and how they interact.

They say “Globalization is a bumpy road.”
I say India and China and Asia in general are within two decades of running the show:
Get ready or get trounced.

They say “defense” and “consolidation” are musts for a global game.
I say encourage Offense, nurture a Generation (or 10) of Entrepreneurs, cherish
Creativity & Risk-taking from primary school onwards … and don’t expect to be saved
by a bunch of bulky, retro behemoths commanded by a phalanx of Old White Guys
who think 30 minutes a day on the corporate treadmill is a fit defense against

They say “men.”
I say “WOMEN.”

They say Diversity is a “good thing.”
I say Diversity is a Fresh Breath of Creative Air … Absolutely Necessary for Economic
Salvation in perilous times.

They say “Wait your turn, honor those who have marched these corridors before you.”
I say Get Off Your Butt & Go for the Gold … TODAY … or sign the transfer papers
willing your job in perpetuity to a Chinese or Indian who Gives a Shit and Gets Up
(VERY) Early and works Saturdays & Sundays.

They say “offshoring” is a “blight.”
I say the Earth proved not to be the center of the Solar System … and the USA is not the
epicenter-in-perpetuity of the Earth … and that we had best learn … NOW … to
prosper and take pleasure in a dynamic, exciting, creative, multi-polar economic
environment. (Damn it.)

They say “It’s a fright.”
I say “It’s a Helluva Ride.”

They say it’s “daunting.”
I say it’s “a hoot.”

They say “Life is a marathon; husband your strength.”
I say “Life is a sprint. Begin planning your World-beating Me Inc. start-up … TODAY.”

They say lifetime employment was a boon.
I say lifetime employment was Indentured Servitude, modern-day Slavery.

They say “safety net.”
I say “I am my safety net; give me the ‘Ownership Society.’” (And I’m a lifelong Democrat.)

They say “zero defects.”
I say “A day without a screwup or two is a day pissed away.”

They say “Think about it.”
I say “Try it.”

They say “Plan it.”
I say “Test it.”

They say “continuous improvement.”
I say “Bold Leaps.”

They say “Keep on Improvin’.”
I say “Keep on Leapin’.”

They say “Built to last.”
I say “Built to Soar. We’re all dead in the long run … live your Insane Fantasy. Devil
take the hindmost.”

They (Jim Collins) say “Walgreens is Cool.”
I say “I love Larry Ellison.” (Oracle rules … at least for the next ten minutes.)

They say “Play the odds.”
I say “Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.” (Thanks, Phil Daniels.)

They say “Eighty-hour weeks will kill you.”
I say “Work 35-hour weeks, and the Chinese will kill you.”

They say “Install cost controls with teeth.”
I say “Ha. Ha. Ha. Blow Up the existing enterprise and start with a Clean Sheet of

They say “Install cost controls with teeth.”
I say “Grow the Top Line.”

They say “Radical change takes a decade.”
I say “Radical change takes a Minute.” (See AA.)

They say “Times are changing.”
I say “Everything has already changed. Tomorrow is the First Day of Your Revolution …
or you’re Toast.”

They say “We can’t all be Anita Roddick or Maxine Clark or Stan Shih or Les Wexner or
Jerry Yang.”
I say “Why not?”

They say “We can’t all be Revolutionaries.”
I say “Why not?”

They say “We can’t all be a Brand.”
I say “Why not?”

They say “Beware the Hype.”
I say “Been to China lately? Visited Infosys in Bangalore lately?”

They say this is just a Rant.
I say this is just Reality.

They say “The man is not nice.”
I say “The times are not forgiving.”