Finding Excellence

February 18, 2010

I have had the great pleasure to work with many luminaries, well-known technology and business execs, and politicians over the years. One person who stands out is Tom Peters.


It's been more than 10 years, but I still count the day that I met him as one of my more entertaining work days in my professional career. As a senior PR director for a large high-tech trade show company, we had Tom Peters as our keynote speaker at the Javits Center in New York. Prior to Tom's speaking engagement, I met him at Bloomberg for a live television interview I had set up for him.  He came walking into the station with a backpack on and I went over and introduced myself.  After the TV interview, we shared a limo ride across town and over to the Javits. I was pleasantly surprised how friendly he was. He asked me several questions about my background, growing up in California and where I had gone to college. I recalled how he had spent many years at Stanford, so he was familiar with the Bay Area. What I mostly remember from that ride over was that he seemed quiet and a bit shy. This surprised me as I had seen him on television a few times and in business school on video, and he certainly would not be classified as quiet or shy. But for this day that was the Tom Peters I saw.


After we arrived at the Javits, I made sure he was ready for his presentation and had everything he needed. Once he took that stage it was Wammo!...the green light was on.  This was the real pro.  He hit that stage, and within 10 seconds had grabbed the attention of the hundreds of senior executives in the audience. He was yelling, running around on that stage amplifying his point, and was filled with the more passion and energy of any speaker I had ever seen.


I had learned an important business lesson that day regarding speaking in a public forum. When it's time to "be on," it's time to be on. Put your best foot forward and let it go with all you've got. Don't expect anything less  from yourself other than total excellence.


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