Tom Peters on Excellence, Soft Skills, and Leadership – DisrupTV

Key Takeaways

  • The definition of excellence – someone who continues to educate themselves and prepares for a changing future
  • Project Oxygen was a study that looked at years of data to conclude what makes a manager great at Google
    • Having STEM expertise ranked as the 8th most important thing
    • The top 6 skills were all soft skills: Being a good coach, communicating well, listening well, possessing insight into other points of view, having empathy, and being supporting towards others
  • There are 220 workdays a year – that means there are 220 lunch opportunities to network or build relationships with other employees
  • “Don’t hire the jerks”
    • One rotten apple can destroy the whole culture of a team or even a company 
  • “When you’re 68, the only thing you will remember is the people that you helped grow”
    • There’s never been a tombstone with net worth on it”

Intro

Books Mentioned

Tom’s Book: The Excellence Dividend

  • “Excellence is always a good starting point”
    • If a 7-person team can be excellent, why can’t a 2,000 person finance department also be excellent?
  • Big corporations do two things: Maximize efficiency and destroy jobs
    • Tom loves entrepreneurs because they actually create jobs and hire people
  • Tom recalls meeting a refrigerator maintenance man who ran a 6-person team who spent his own money to go to a workshop about the internet of things and connected devices
    • This is excellence – someone who continues to educate themselves and prepares for a changing future  

Google Research Studies 

  • Project Oxygen was a study that looked at years of data to conclude what makes a manager great at Google
    • Having STEM expertise ranked as the 8th most important thing
    • The top 6 skills were all soft skills
      • Being a good coach, communicating well, listening well, possessing insight into other points of view, having empathy, and being supporting towards others
      • Tom adds – Hard skills are soft, and soft skills are hard
  • Another Google study showed that B-player teams significantly outperform A-player teams when it comes to the creativity of products
    • One contributing factor to this is that B-players spend more time talking and listening to one another

Women

  • “Women buy 80% of consumer goods”
    • Women also make 50% of all professional purchases
      • A woman can be putting together a $10 million RFP (request for purchase) one minute and making vacation plans for her family the next 
  • Women often make better managers because they are better listeners 
  • The world needs more female coders to counteract the bro-culture in Silicon Valley 

Additional Notes

  • There are 220 workdays a year – that means there are 220 lunch opportunities to network or build relationships with other employees
    • By building a personal relationship with someone, your professional relationship will also strengthen and both bonds will grow
  • “Don’t hire the jerks”
    • One rotten apple can destroy the whole culture of a team or even a company 
  • If you give a talk with 2,000 people, don’t expect everyone to be wowed. If even a handful of people come up to you after the talk to thank you for your insights, that’s a win.
    • Even after hundreds of talks, Tom still gets nervous before each one 
  • One study found that a teacher’s teaching style wasn’t as important as their passion for the subject
    • Lesson: You have to be deeply passionate about your message if you want others to absorb it 
  • One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to have your employees give a shit about your company
  • “When you’re 68, the only thing you will remember is the people that you helped grow”
    • There’s never been a tombstone with net worth on it”
      • Things that matter: Who you helped and who you supported
  • Management gurus need to help more SMEs (small-medium enterprises) because these are the companies that create jobs, not Fortune 500 companies
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