Learning from the Red Bull… Tom Peters style


I love this interview from Tom Peters. I’ve spent most of my sabbatical reading, so it sure feels nice to get Tom’s stamp of approval on that! 😉

Feel free to click through and read the interview for yourself. If you’d like the summary version, here are some of my favorite sound bytes:

“beating the drum for personal meaning and significance… it’s not about accumulating wealth or getting promoted to the top”

During my time off, I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring what is meaningful to me, and discovering the importance of my “I want” power (a la The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal).

“If you’re a leader, your whole reason for living is to help human beings develop—to really develop people and make work a place that’s energetic and exciting and a growth opportunity, whether you’re running a Housekeeping Department or Google… if you don’t get off on [helping people], do the world a favor and get the hell out before dawn”

Such a great sentiment. The best managers I had fall into this camp. People, development, and relationships first. Addressing performance and meeting milestones are more meaningful within the context of caring management.

“any idiot with a high IQ can invent a great strategy. What’s really hard is fighting against the unwashed masses and pulling it off—although there’s nothing stupider than saying change is about overcoming resistance. Change is about recruiting allies and working each other up to have the nerve to try the next experiment…

You bring [about change] one person at a time, face to face—when we discover we have some common interests and we’re both pissed off, say, at too many CEOs who talk about charts and boxes. And so we create a conspiracy. It’s a subversive act, and being coconspirators in a subversive act requires trust and intimacy.”

BOOM – there it is. As I always say, business is personal. Relationship, allies, like-minded people, trust, and intimacy. You don’t get to these places without getting personal: sharing of yourself and being open and interested in others.

“We tend to confuse 5 percent of leading-edge companies with the entire economy. And that’s a real problem. It’s also important to recognize that there’s Silicon Valley and then there’s ROP, Rest of Planet. The fact that Google and Facebook might be doing this or that particular thing is interesting, but they don’t exactly employ all four billion of the working people in the world.”

Great perspective and reminder. Living in the footprint of Silicon Valley, looking at what the tech giants and the startups are doing, it’s so easy to forget about ROP, the rest of the normal people out there, and how we can be serving the wider population.

“[per] former US labor secretary Bob Reich… put more women in management. They know how to do a work-around. Men don’t know how to do work-arounds… The male response is, “I can’t do anything about it ’cause my boss is really against it.” And the female response, by and large, would be, “Well, I know Jane who knows Bob who knows Dick, and we can get this thing done.” They do it circuitously.”

Wow. Good on ya, Robert Reich and Tom Peters! Women have had to work harder to get things done. We work around the systemic obstacles. We rely on connection and relationship to move work forward.

Where does relationship and getting personal fall in your work and leadership priorities?

Image credit: tompeters.com

Don’t Shoot the N00bie

Why would you hire someone* without community experience?

  • Because you don’t care about community
  • Because you don’t understand community
  • Because you have a community for the wrong reasons
  • Because you see community as a lever to get what you (the business) want(s)
  • Because you don’t believe community is a service for its members

* This rant brought to you by the letter “N” for N00bie

I met this particular newbie at a social business conference last week. He approached me at the reception food table, where I was trying to stave off becoming #hangry. He was polite, respectful, and non-greasy. He was new to the company, new to community management, and was now responsible for two established communities. He said he’d been reading up on everything he could find on community management. His question for me, “How can I encourage customers to help each other in the community?”

That’s a short question with a long answer. And my answer always starts with more questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What are your customers trying to accomplish?
  • Were the customers answering questions, and then they stopped?
  • Are there new types of questions you want them to answer?
  • What other challenges are you having?

It was at this point that he told me he was a new hire, had applied for something else but had “gotten” this position instead. He seemed eager to learn and to please, so I tried to be happy for him. But I was mad at his managers. What support were they giving him? What are their goals and expectations, for him and for the communities? One positive I can say is they did invest to send him to a great community conference.

My rant is not to say that a person with no community experience is a poor community management hire. We all start somewhere. The person I met was eager, polite, and willing to walk up to someone and ask for help. I hope he will grow and flourish in the role. But he has a hard road ahead. I hope he gets the support he needs.

If you’re in the market for a community manager, do you know what you’re looking for? And why?