Wednesday, November 29, 2006


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  ·   Happy Holidays from TPC!
  ·   Buying In and Embracing Change Through Projects
  ·   Where's Tom?
  ·   Happy Birthday ISOE!
  ·   Did You Miss It?
  ·   Cool Friends
  ·   Where's Tom? (part II)
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Tom Peters! Times December 2006

Happy Holidays from TPC!

It's that time of year again...although judging from the 60 degree weather here in Boston lately, you wouldn't know it! Since this is the last edition of TP Times for the year 2006, we would like to extend our warmest Holiday wishes to all of our loyal readers! From all of us here at TP Times/tompeters!company, may you all have a safe, happy, and healthy Holiday Season!


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Buying In and Embracing Change Through Projects

How do you move an organization through change? You've held the big meeting; you've given out new mugs, pencils, pens, and T-Shirts. You've come up with the new slogan/buzzword, and now you wait for change to happen.

Change comes only when you change a strand of DNA within the organizational gene. Change comes through projects - extraordinary projects - that matter, make a difference, and leave a legacy. What are you working on right now? Does it matter? Is it creating a change momentum? Do you care?

We invite you to join Jim Miller, CEO of Miller Agency, and Valarie Willis, Principal, tompeters!company, to explore how WOW! Projects(TM) can make a genetic difference in your organization. Jim Miller will share his story of how a very simple project approach can fundamentally change how you think about and execute your work, and raise the WOW! factor in your projects. Change comes through innovative thinking, creativity, passion and spirit. Valarie Willis will tell you that everyone has the potential to produce projects that make a difference, and almost any work assignment can become a WOW! After all, spirit, spark, passion, and creativity are marks of our human spirit.

We all live in projects day to day. By learning how to balance the tangibles and the intangibles, you can create passion, excitement, and enthusiasm by delivering projects of excellence that can change your organization.

Anyone involved in projects - from executives, to professionals, to support staff - that has ever been frustrated by projects not reaching completion or becoming stagnant should attend this webinar. Whole project teams have much to gain by attending together. A WOW! Project starts with you! Are you ready?

Join us on December 6, 2006 at 12:00 Noon, EST. As always, this is a free presentation.

For registration information, please contact Nick here: nadams@tompeters.com. Please note that once again, seating is limited, so sign up soon!

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Where's Tom?

Where oh where will his travels take him? Where oh where has he been? Here is what is on the agenda for the globe-trotting Mr. Peters:

December 2006

12/5 Costa Mesa, CA

12/11 Bahrain

12/19 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Remember to check Tom's calendar at www.tompeters.com for updates that may have been added after this newsletter went to print. Also, slides will be added after each event, so be sure to check for those as well. Finally, a list of Tom's recent travels, including links to slides, can be found at the end of the newsletter.

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Happy Birthday ISOE!

In Search of Excellence at (Almost) 25 ... and Standing Tall

Blog posting by Tom Peters, 11/24/2006

In Search of Excellence will be 25 next year-believe it or not. A few days ago a Web posting suggested that Bob Waterman and I had fudged the data in the book.

It's simply not true.

But if that perception is rumbling around in cyberspace, it's all my fault.

I did an interview on the book with my great pal Alan Webber, Fast Company founder, a couple of years ago. I made the wretched mistake, in casual conversation, of saying we'd "fiddled the data" for In Search of Excellence.

What I meant had nothing to do with "fudging," or "fiddling," but was a comment only on the differences between our methodology for company selection and that of Jim Collins in Good to Great. Jim apparently had no prior convictions about which companies he'd examine, and created his list by applying certain financial criteria to a huge company database-and sight unseen, a set of superb performers emerged. By that standard, Bob Waterman and I did it "backwards." We were enamored of the "excellence idea," wanted to write about it, and thence sought initial "excellent company" nominations based on McKinsey and academic and corporate experts' subjective evaluations; only after getting a "subjective" list of nominees did we apply the financial screens that caused any number-such as GE (this was pre-Welch)-to drop off the list. Thus, by fiddling I simply meant that we hadn't followed a pure model of starting from a big list and using only financial data to extract unforeseen winners.

(Fact is, any like process is about 90% subjective-e.g., if you use-juggle different data screens, different years, you will get wildly different results/lists.)

For what it's worth, Bob and I subjected our subjectively determined candidates to six tough financial hurdles (see In Search of Excellence, page 22 et seq.), three representing growth, three representing absolute financial returns. Growth measures: compound asset growth; compound equity growth; average ratio of market value to book value. The "absolute" measures were: average return on total capital; average return on equity; average return on sales. We did our research in 1980, and arbitrarily used data covering 1961-1980. To qualify, a company had to have been in the top half on at least four of the six measures for the full 20-year period. Most handily exceeded this standard, but 19 of our original 62 company nominees dropped out, and we concentrated our research on the remaining 43.

Far more interesting, I think, is that given our subjective nomination process, we ended up examining companies that, in 1980, virtually no one had looked at. Absurd as it may seem, these "stealth" "cool" companies, circa 1980, included: Emerson Electric, Texas Instruments, Hewlett-Packard (then a $1-billion firm), Frito-Lay/PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Caterpillar, Marriott, McDonald's, Intel, Disney, Delta Airlines, and, yes, little Wal*Mart.

While I'm on the topic of In Search of Excellence and retrospective perceptions thereof, I'll deal with the second "charge" against the book; namely, that several of "our" companies "failed." (For some wholly unknown reason, some people say "most of" "our" companies failed????) To be sure, the likes of Wang and Atari and K-Mart are today embarrassments. Nonetheless, the overall performance of "our" firms has been little short of stunning. In 2002, on the 20th anniversary of the book, forbes.com held our publicly traded companies up to a high-amp searchlight ...

To read the entire blog, click here.

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Did You Miss It?

If you missed "What's Culture Got to do With it?" you can download it here.

On November 11th, Juli Ann Reynolds, President & CEO of tompeters!company, and Jeff Tetrick, Vice President and CFO of Pinnacol Assurance, co-presented on the effects of measuring and aligning corporate culture. Finally, there is an objective way to measure alignment throughout an organization. The discussion was dynamic and fun, and we want to thank all of you who joined us.

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Cool Friends

Maxine Clark is the Chief Executive Bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop(R), Where Best Friends Are Made(R). To date, they've sold 42 million bears! She wrote The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart, and she is our new Cool Friend. You can read the interview here, and visit her website here: www.buildabear.com.

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Where's Tom? (part II)

As promised, this is where Tom has been. Slides included (when available)!

11/2 Chicago, IL: Discover Financial (private event)

11/8 Las Vegas, NV: Dealertrack (private event)

11/17 Chicago, IL: HSM (private event)

11/30 Madrid, Spain: ONO Companies (private event)

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(C) 2006 tompeters!company


Legal Blog Watch

Weil's Big Deal: Women and Flex Time

Last week, law firm Weil Gotshal announced the election of 20 new partners. Not in itself a big deal, but the announcement included this:

[F]or the first time, the new partnership class was comprised of a majority of women. Further, the firm stated, this election was also marked by the creation of a new partnership category, "flex-time partner," which was created for new partners making a long-term career choice to work on a flexible schedule. Among the newly elected partners were included two flex-time partners.

Big news, or not? At Counsel to Counsel, Stephen Seckler suggests that Weil's announcement means "large firms are finally getting worried about retaining talent." But at Law Blog, Peter Lattman asks, "Is Weil touting something it should be proud of, or should its 'achievement' be a matter of course these days?" Lattman's question elicited a number of comments to his post, as well as one from Morra Aarons at blogher, who writes that the news is, indeed, a big deal:

"Hallelujah. It's a reality, whether or not it should have happened 20 years ago or not. ... I'll take progress in whatever form it comes."

The folks at JD Bliss obviously agree with Aarons. They've named Weil Gotshal a Work Life Winner.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 28, 2006 at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepper Adds Spice With Podcasts

At his LawMarketing Blog, Larry Bodine opines that the recently launched Pod Center from the 450-lawyer firm Pepper Hamilton "sets a new standard in podcasting by law firms." The podcasts, he writes, are structured as interviews with attorneys who are experts in the subjects covered. Topics of recent podcasts included private-equity dividend recapitalizations, taxation of online software purchases, criminal background checks by employers and workplace smoking policies. Apart from the topics, Bodine is impressed by the setup:

The Center itself is set up as a blog so that listeners have the option of subscribing to RSS feeds that feature audio only, or audio plus text. Readers can also listen to broadcasts directly from the blog using a convenient "Play" bar.

The firm's marketing manager, Brian Dolan, tells Bodine: "We think the new Podcast Center is an innovative program that positions the firm as cutting edge and tech savvy."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 28, 2006 at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Second Life' Spawns First-Impression Issues

Real-world legal issues involving private property and IP piracy are beginning to arise from the virtual world known as Second Life, as two recent developments illustrate.

At the Fortune magazine blog Legal Pad, Roger Parloff tells of Anshe Chung, Second Life's first virtual millionaire. This is not Monopoly money, Parloff writes, explaining that Chung's Second Life holdings have made her real-world wealthy, "i.e., someone whose holdings in a make-believe world are legally convertible into genuine U.S. currency worth more than $1 million." (Read her announcement of how she parlayed $10 into $1 million.) How does her achievement raise legal issues? Parloff explains:

Some online game companies have attempted to prohibit, through click-through agreements, the real-world buying and selling of online property created by players, which the companies maintain remains the company's intellectual property. ... Second Life, on the other hand, openly authorizes and facilitates exchanges between its currency and real-world currencies, so that particular legal issue does not arise. Still, you might ask whether [Second Life developer] Linden Lab is courting legal liability if its servers should suddenly go down one day, destroyed, say, in some real-world earthquake, leaving Second Life denizens devoid of "property" or at least expectations in which they've invested so much real time and money.

Meanwhile, in a Business Week article, The Dark Side of Second Life, Catherine Holahan discusses the increasingly vexing problem of piracy within Second Life, in which users copy others' characters, objects and buildings, "potentially eroding the value of people's virtual property." In fact, she writes, piracy is just one aspect of a larger "crime wave" sweeping the virtual world and causing many users to demand "an official system of law and order." The piracy problem, in particular, has Second Life users "plenty worried," she writes:

Andrea Miller, a Las Vegas marketing director who co-owns the Panache clothing store in Second Life, says she is concerned about her creations getting ripped off. She closed her store, which handles about 20,000 Linden dollars a day, in protest of what she believes is a lack of sufficient action by Second Life's creators. "You believe your work will be protected," says Miller. "But it's just not. It's disheartening."

These virtual disputes may lead to real-world lawsuits, Holahan suggests. But there is also pressure on Second Life's developer, Linden Labs, to come up with its own procedures for dispute resolution. The site's creator, Philip Rosedale, told a recent "town meeting": "Longer term, Second Life is going to have to develop its own law or its own standards of behavior."

At ZDNet's IP Telephony blog, Russell Shaw explores this idea further. What if a clothing designer or a musician uses Second Life to demo creations for real-world clients? he asks. What if those creations are hacked or misappropriated "and my ability to use SL as a demo for real-world aspirations and real-world dollars is compromised?" Shouldn't that be actionable in a real court? he wonders. You can take Shaw's poll, or tell us what you think by adding a comment below.

For now, at least one real-world jurist is making himself available to residents in Second Life, if only as a lecturer -- 7th U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner.


Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 28, 2006 at 02:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Making Legal History, One Schuss at a Time

Call it one small step for lawyers, one giant slalom for legal podcasting. Evan Schaeffer has, in one fell schuss, made both legal and podcasting history by recording the world's first legal video-podcast made while downhill skiing. No one is likely to argue with Schaeffer's claim that he is the first-ever lawyer and poor skier to take a blue slope while recording a discussion of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He makes the trip with the video camera in his right hand and his podcasting notes and ski poles in his left, narrating the whole time. "Don't watch it for the substance," he writes on his blog. "I was having a hard enough time just keeping myself in an upright position."

Later in the podcast, Shaeffer moves from the FRCP to diet tips. When he first started blogging, he explains, he gained weight, but he has since dropped several pounds through healthier eating and less beer drinking. It is good that Schaeffer told us that he had cut his beer drinking, because otherwise, as we watched this video, we might have wondered about that very question.

Not to one-up Shaeffer, but I can now reveal that J. Craig Williams and I are planning to record an episode of our Coast to Coast podcast while competing in the Iditarod sled dog race through Alaska.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 28, 2006 at 02:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)