When Soft is Hard: An Interview with Dr. Tom Peters (Part II)

To view Part 1 of this interview with Dr. Tom Peters,
please click here.

To live our best life design, we need teachers who prod us to boldly step up, be unabashedly ourselves, and seek excellence in all we do. Dr. Tom Peters is one teacher I look to for these reminders.

It was a light bulb he lit that allowed me to fully own … I’m a people-centric, collaboration-loving, social science-geek who in one breath talks about the healing power of love and in the next breath is spouting statistics or sharing the latest scientific research.

At Best Life Design, we are passionate about supporting you in being the best version of yourself.

And the best version of yourself begins with you being, well… you.

Wholly. Unabashadely. Brilliantly. Magnificently. Fully. You.

If you’re not bringing your full self to the table, then it is time to do something about this.
It’s my intent that sharing the wisdom of Dr. Tom Peters, who has little patience for not doing great work (the kind possible only when you show up fully), will give you a boost.

And we all need boosts – even when we know who we are and what is important to us. The winds of life blow hard and can knock us off course before we even know what happened.

When I was getting beat up by some tragic losses over the past year and getting pulled off track from my highest work priority — completing my book Walking with Justice — Tom reminded me that leaders know at the depth of their soul when the world needs something and they are the only one who can bring it. He advised that leaders commit, “Come hell and high water, I will complete this” (you read that right…that is not an “or”).

Sometimes it rains. Hard. Leaders understand that this is how life works and prepare for these types of challenges that tend to sidetrack their greatest work. They find a way to move through them and get back on course. Posting this reminder by my computer helped me complete my book.

As you’ll hear on the video of our conversation, this passionate academic “can’t handle stupid” (said in classic Tom Peters fashion) and questions why people don’t listen to what the science of human behavior reveals and do more of what works.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from our chat:

1. The utmost form of respect: Listening. Whether you know someone for 15 minutes or are married to them for a lifetime, there is nothing you can do that will more powerfully affirm the other person.

2. All humans crave recognition and acknowledgement that we’re alive. Most people don’t get enough of it. Tell someone they do terrific work.

3. “Fake it ‘til you make it” works with many behaviors, including showing gratitude. Go through the motions — and the feedback will be so positive that it will soon become genuine. Full engagement and listening also are teachable, and they are a lifelong practice in which you continue to grow.

4. There is never any technology that is not a double-edged sword. Never. (Admittedly this even includes twitter, where Tom and I first met). Be careful with the consequences.

5. Smiles have been shown to change the course of history and impact the world at a global level. Political science is full of these examples (think Mandela). If smiling can change the trajectory of a whole country, what might it do for your business?

My personal favorite moment was when Dr. Peters talked about his utter fascination with people. This accomplished engineer and researcher, with more alphabet soup behind his name than a can of Campbell’s soup, confessed, “I am as fascinated by interactions among people as I was about the forces at work as a civil engineer when you’re trying to build a bridge or a dam.”

I found this interview so compelling that I prepared a one-page Nuggets of Wisdom with Tom’s reminders of how “wasted time” with others is often the source of the real stuff. This includes his favorite quote about respecting another by making them feel that they are the only person in the whole world.

If you’d like a printable copy as a reminder to keep you on track, please click here. And please leave your thoughts, questions, or comments below about bringing your full self to the service of others.

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Leave A Reply (4 comments So Far)

  • Tina McCoy-Hearn

    Very powerful messages and reminders! I appreciated the synopsis of Dr. Tom’s wisdom nuggets and have it posted next to my computer.  Thank you for continuing to promote thoughtful and meaningful encounters into my daily interactions!

    • Tina – thanks for letting me know the wisdom nuggets were helpful to you. As I said…I’ve posted one of Tom’s comments by my computer, too 🙂 And it kept me moving forward on some tough days. We all need these types of reminders.

  • Molli thanks again for sharing this inspirational video. I am a huge fan of Tom’s and it is great to see that he has lost none of his sparkle and passion.


    • Oh, he has plenty of sparkle and passion 🙂 I was so fortunate to hear him speak and get this time with him – pleased I could share it. And so grateful for the fire he rekindled in my life.