I start my days early. I am normally starting my work day by five am, sorting through the overnight emails, collecting my thoughts for the day, assembling my to do list, reading the news, and enjoying the magical powers of a full city roast coffee. My early morning habits started when I was responsible for the preload operations at UPS, drinking vending machine coffee while a great group of folks with similar job imposed sleep patterns made sure the drivers could get on their delivery routes by eight am. I never got out of the habit of getting up early. I also love the peace and quiet the early morning hours bring. A good time to reflect, which is what I did this morning.
I was thinking back on my career and how fortunate I have been to have met and worked with some of the real thought leaders in business. At the risk of unintentionally leaving someone off the list, here are the names that came to mind.
Tom Peters. I admire intelligence and passion. Tom may be the smartest guy I ever met, and no one can doubt his passion for excellence. My time in his organization has helped me to see the world of business, and life, through a different lens. And it is nice to be able to let your freak flag fly.
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Authors of the Leadership Challenge, a body of work I am most proud to be involved with. Jim, a mentor and friend that has made me a better consultant and Barry, a brilliant researcher who can make data tell a compelling and necessary story.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming. From the first time I heard Dr. D tell a group of senior automotive executives that they were “all hacks”, I knew it was going to be a fun ride. Eighty plus years old and he tirelessly pushed, supported, educated, and even screamed at us to understand the statistical nature of work.
Peter Block. Early in my organization development career, I happened upon his white paper titled, “The Positive Use of Politics”. It was the precursor to Peter Block’s great model of understanding influence in organizations. Listening to him speak to our group at GM, I remember just thinking how suddenly it all made sense. It still does.
Chip Bell. Not only brilliant, but very kind! I remember him working with my group at a midwest utility. He helped a group of young consultants understand professionalism and service. He was the first Navy Seal I had met..love those stories of plucking astronauts out of the ocean!
Robert Frame. Perhaps not as well known as some of the others, he should have been! Bob was one of the first to assemble a practical guide of interventions for the organization development practitioner. I got to work with him at GM and I still use his transition management model.
Jerry Hirshberg. Unbelievable. Painter. Clarinetist. Speaker. Author. Leaves design at GM with a passion for getting innovation right, starts and builds Nissan Design Institute. His book, “Creative Priority” should be required reading for anyone involved in product innovation. He has this cool house he designed with windows in the roof that lets you track the sun throughout the day! He designed my favorite car I have ever owned..the Infiniti J30.
Red Motley. President of Parade magazine. Met him while at UPS. I admire great salespeople and he gave me one thought that has always helped me sell. He implored us to be want creators, not need fillers.
Tom Peters said you can judge a person’s chance of success by the size of their rolodex. I am so fortunate to have these names in mine. Reflecting on them this morning was an inspiring way to start the day. Time for another cup of coffee. Added sending out thank you notes to my to do list.