Tom Peters on Leadership in Troubling Times

Two years ago I was fortunate enough to interview one of my business heroes—management legend and author Tom Peters. This was a once-in-a-lifetime podcast event. Or so I thought. A couple of weeks ago, Tom reached out again wanting to talk about the unique challenges of leadership and work in these troubling times. I couldn’t wait to catch up with Tom and to share our conversation with you. Enjoy!

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Tom Peters

Tom Peters is co-author of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business and often tagged as the best business book ever. Seventeen books and thirty-five years later, Tom is still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented. What’s new? A lot. As CNN said, “While most business gurus milk the same mantra for all it’s worth, the one-man brand called Tom Peters is still reinventing himself.” His most recent effort is The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last (Vintage, 2018). Tom’s bedrock belief: “Execution is strategy—it’s all about the people and the doing, not the talking and the theory.” In November 2017, Tom received the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Episode Highlights

Excellence in leadership now. “The way that leaders behave relative to the people that work with them throughout this crisis—let’s call it the last two months and the next 2–3 months—what they do and the way in which they do it will be the landmark of their adult career.” Tom opened our conversation with this call for caring and compassionate leadership. You can view our entire conversation in the video below.

Advice for grads and MBAs today. At the Tippie College of Business where I teach, we talk a lot about what’s changing today for our students at all levels. That’s why I asked Tom how undergrads should plan for a career in this new world of work and how MBAs should build employee engagement and connection. He had three tips:  (1) “We don’t know yet. Don’t believe that you can read two articles in the Harvard Business Review and Fast Company and have a formula. (2) Experiment. (3) Calm down.”

What should you do with your next five minutes? “Excellence is the ultimate short-term strategy.” While most think of excellence as something big that happens slowly over time, Tom is quick to note that it’s really about the next five minutes. As such, I asked Tom what we should do with our next five minutes in the midst of COVID-19: “Ask people how they’re doing. Ask them how they feel. Ask about their families.”

What brand has made Tom smile recently? Tom shared his love for his Subaru Outback including a story about getting caught speeding in it on Martha’s Vineyard!

To learn more about Tom, check out As he noted during the show, all of his written and speech material covering the last 15+ years is available here for free. You can also find the two new manifestos we discussed during the episode as well.

Can’t get enough of me interviewing Tom Peters? Check out Tom’s first appearance on the On Brand podcast from May 2018.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

  • Subscribe to the podcast – You can subscribe to the show via Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcherTuneIn, and RSS.
  • Rate and review the show – If you like what you’re hearing, head over to Apple Podcasts and click that 5-star button to rate the show. And, if you have a few extra seconds, write a couple of sentences and submit a review. This helps others find the podcast.
  • OK. How do you rate and review a podcast? Need a quick tutorial on leaving a rating/review in iTunes? Check this out.

Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!