The Great Tom Peters

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The legend of management thinking, Tom Peters, announced his retirement recently.

Like many, Tom’s inspiration (which led to a friendship) is something that I both treasure and do not take for granted.
He’s been a guest of mine on Six Pixels of Separation – The ThinkersOne Podcast at least five times (and I’d welcome him 50 times more, if he would be willing).
Over two decades ago, I took a job as a Director of Marketing for a mobile content business. I was very excited about this opportunity because it involved working directly for Andy Nulman.
At the time, Andy was best known for being the founder of the Just For Laughs comedy festival, but he decided to try out the technology and content world.
On my first day, I walked into his office, and Andy handed me a copy of Tom’s book, The Project50 (Reinventing Work).
Up until that point, I don’t think I had ever read a “real” business book.

I devoured that book.

Not only did I devour that book, but it sent me on a life-long jounrey to read, consume and find anything and everything like it.
In short, Tom Peter’s thinking and writing style was the catalyst (along with some prodding from my friend/boss, Andy) to learn.
Not to read, but to learn.

Not to worry about school, but to get a real education.

Since then, I have read thousands of books (including every single book that Tom published), and my life is better because of it.
I can’t even count how many new and interesting authors Tom’s work has introduced me to (I still think that Funky Business by Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom is a gem!… and there’s no doubt that Seth Godin and I see things so similarly because of the connective tissue that is Tom Peters).
In 2003, right before Tom released his magnum opus, Re-Imagine!, I drove six hours (twelve total roundtrip!) to see him speak in Toronto.
I wound up going to local Toronto bookstore, where he was also doing an event in the earlier part of the afternoon, just so I could catch him twice in a day.

What happened at those two book events forever changed me.

I had never seen Tom speak in public before, so watching him prowl up and down the aisle (who needs a lectern!) and speaking to his audience in both a whisper and then a scream, inspired me to think differently about what a  “presentation” should be.
The way that Tom designed his slides (and used them) as a catalyst for the words that were coming out of his mouth, taught me that knowing your content is a whole other world away from presenting content in PowerPoint.

I was more than inspired… it was a personal religious experience.

From there, I’ve had the honor of not only sharing the stage with Tom on numerous occasions, but to connect, chat and become friends.
As someone who spent over a decade in the music industry, I would often tell people that they should never meet their heroes.
Well, Tom, is definitely one of the rock stars in my life, and am I ever-happy that I didn’t take my own advice.
When you get to know Tom, you realize that it only reinforces the words that he writes and the presentations that he gives.
When Tom writes about Extreme Humanism, it’s because he lives it.

Full stop.

Tom is compassionate, caring, real and a true human being.
Tom cares about success in business, but he cares more for humanity, people and equity.
Thanks, Tom… I don’t know where I would be without you.

It turns out that you can both retire and be a breath of fresh air in the same sentence.

Before you go… Tom is still available on ThinkersOne (so have him pop into your next meeting or client event!). ThinkersOne is a new way for organizations to buy bite-sized and personalized thought leadership video content (live and recorded) from the best Thinkers in the world. If you’re looking to add excitement and big smarts to your meetings, corporate events, company off-sites, “lunch & learns” and beyond, check it out.