The Batsh*t Chapter



Story: “I’ve never met the CEO of the company I worked at before, let alone taken a selfie with him or her.” “That’s the first time I’ve ever had a conversation with someone at the VP level.” “I can’t believe the CEO actually responded to my suggestion when I emailed.” Those are the comments I hear when the CEO of our company and VPs spend a day with our new hires. We are only 5,000 plus people, so it’s easier in comparison with very large companies. Still, it’s amazing how aloof execs are with the core of the institutions they lead.

Key Point: When you put away the fancy spreadsheets, and big price tag consulting fees from smart “kids” with Ivy MBAs (who usually have never run or built anything), it always comes down to people first. Tom Peters, with his colleague Bob Waterman, wrote the iconic “In Search of Excellence,” in 1982. After 50 years studying organizations, he has published a definitive book called the “The Excellence Dividend.” It has a chapter on people that he privately calls his “batsh*t chapter.”  Why? Because it drives him batsh*t crazy that leaders just don’t get that people must come first. Here are some of his key points:

  1. “It’s people who do the work.
  2. It’s people who make the customer connection scintillating or sour.
  3. It’s people that matter— as individuals as much or more than service providers.
  4. So your brand is your talent!
  5. People before strategy.
  6. Treat your employees like customers.
  7. If you want your staff to give great service, give great service to your staff.
  8. Your customers will never be happier than your employees.
  9. Business has to give people enriching rewarding lives or it’s simply not worth doing.
  10. Leadership function is to produce more leaders not more followers.
  11. Employees are the first customers and most influential.
  12. If you want to wow your customers, first you must wow those that wow the customers.
  13. Don’t hire jerks, or shitheads.
  14. Treat hiring and promotions as life and death decisions.
  15. Develop and train the heck out of people constantly and expect them to develop and  train themselves accordingly.”

Ok, these are just a few of Tom’s passionate perspectives on people, and I mostly support every one of his views.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Stop the merry-go-round regarding who is really first. Double down on People First. If the soul of the organization does not commit and believe in people first, customers and the shareholders ultimately will languish.
  2. Honestly ask why your or any organization may not put people first. What observations do you make? Then, determine what you will do to address the issues raised. Start where you have control.

No Batsh*t in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: Think about that show “Undercover Boss.” The whole premise is that CEOs, while disguised, infiltrate their own companies to essentially check off Peters’ 15 points listed above. The disconnect is entertaining enough for a reality show, but flourishing organizations with strong connections between exec teams and the core workers aren’t negatively interesting enough to be featured. If you’re never approached to be on Undercover Boss, that’s likely a compliment. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis