: The little big things: 163 ways to pursue excellence (9780061894084) : Thomas J. Peters : Books
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The Little Big Things: 163 Ways To Pursue Excellence

by Thomas J. Peters
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Product Details

  • Publisher: HarperStudio
  • Publishing date: 01/03/2010
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780061894084
  • ISBN: 0061894087


#131 The Case of the Two-Cent Candy

Years ago, I wrote about a retail store in the Palo Alto environs—a good one, which had a box of two-cent candies at the checkout. I subsequently remember that "little" parting gesture of the two-cent candy as a symbol of all that is Excellent at that store. Dozens of people who have attended seminars of mine—from retailers to bankers to plumbing-supply-house owners—have come up to remind me, sometimes 15 or 20 years later, of "the two-cent candy story," and to tell me how it had a sizable impact on how they did business, metaphorically and in fact.

Well, the Two-Cent Candy Phenomenon has struck again—with oomph and in the most unlikely of places.

For years Singapore's "brand" has more or less been Southeast Asia's "place that works." Its legendary operational efficiency in all it does has attracted businesses of all sorts to set up shop there. But as "the rest" in the geographic neighborhood closed the efficiency gap, and China continued to rise-race-soar, Singapore decided a couple of years ago to "rebrand" itself as not only a place that works but also as an exciting, "with it" city. (I was a participant in an early rebranding conference that also featured the likes of the late Anita Roddick, Deepak Chopra, and Infosys founder and superman N. R. Narayana Murthy.)

Singapore's fabled operating efficiency starts, as indeed it should, at ports of entry—the airport being a prime example. From immigration to baggage claim to transportation downtown, the services are unmatched anywhere in the world for speed and efficiency.

Saga . . .

Immigration services in Thailand, three days before a trip to Singapore, were a pain. ("Memorable.") And entering Russia some months ago was hardly a walk in the park, either. To be sure, and especially after 9/11, entry to the United States has not been a process you'd mistake for arriving at Disneyland, nor marked by an attitude that shouted "Welcome, honored guest."

Singapore immigration services, on the other hand:

The entry form was a marvel of simplicity.

The lines were short, very short, with more than adequate staffing.

The process was simple and unobtrusive.


The immigration officer could have easily gotten work at Starbucks; she was all smiles and courtesy.




And . . . yes!

There was a little candy jar at each Immigration portal!

The "candy jar message" in a dozen ways:

"Welcome to Singapore, Tom!! We are absolutely beside ourselves with delight that you have decided to come here!"




Ask yourself . . . now:

What is my (personal, department, project, restaurant, law firm) "Two-Cent Candy"?

Does every part of the process of working with us/me include two-cent candies?

Do we, as a group, "think two-cent candies"?

Operationalizing: Make "two-centing it" part and parcel of "the way we do business around here." Don't go light on the so-called substance—but do remember that . . . perception is reality . . . and perception is shaped by two-cent candies as much as by that so-called hard substance.

Start: Have your staff collect "two-cent candy stories" for the next two weeks in their routine "life" transactions. Share those stories. Translate into "our world." And implement.

Repeat regularly.


(Recession or no recession—you can afford two cents.)

(In fact, it is a particularly Brilliant Idea for a recession—you doubtless don't maximize Two-Cent Opportunities. And what opportunities they are.)

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  • The Little Stuff Counts.
    From Amazon

    Tom Peters is extremely passionate about the pursuit of Excellence, and his passion is contagious. His thesis is that the so-called "little" things, like practicing the deliberate art of saying "Thank you" or treating your employees like your customers, really make a BIG difference and should be treated with the same seriousness that businesses treat the so-called "big" things: revenue, cash flow, etc. I recommend this book to anyone who understands that the Six Sigma approach to business (managing to minimize errors), while important, is no longer enough. It's also important to have a hyperawareness of the "soft" stuff that B-schools have traditionally ignored, because it drives emotional connection with your customers that ultimately effects the bottom line. Although the format of the book may turn off some readers (short, blog-like passages organized around common themes), I found Tom's writing style to be clear, cohesive, and engaging. Be forewarned that Tom's enthusiasm for his subject is truly palbable, so you should steer clear of this book if you're offended by the gratuitous use of exclamation points.

  • Big Things, in little chunks...
    From Amazon

    The problem for me in many business books is they attempt to create the BIG answer. You know what I mean - the tome, the answer for every variant, coining new terms as they go along to show how smart the author is and to create a branded solution, something like "Affinity, the Infinite Approach to Customer Interaction." Yuk. This is NOT that. Mr. Peters again (163 times) gives us snippets of wisdom that are actionable. These are snippets that can change us, our companies, and the way we do business. It is clear from start. #1 is clean rest rooms. Not just the obvious thing that having clean rest rooms means to your customers, but reminding us the most important restroom is the employees'. It is NOT how to use email or social networking to interact with your most difficult customers or vendors. Tom Peters thinks we can figure out the "how" of that on our own This IS "why" our difficult customer is important. It is NOT the "which" should be our big theme to change our small or large company, but instead reminding us that whatever the message is; it should be the first topic on every meeting agenda, the first thing you talk about with every one that works for you or that you work for. This is simple stuff. Stuff that works. Stuff that matters.

  • The Cure for the Common MBA: 500 Pages of Moving Exhortations to Care, Be Decent, Help Others, and Go the Extra Mile
    From Amazon

    "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'" -- Luke 10:35 (NKJV) If you have never had the pleasure of attending a talk given by Tom Peters, well, you've missed quite a treat. In a business world of connected boxes, encouragement to leave boxes behind, descriptions of blue oceans, and discounted cash flow valuations, he reminds us, "It's about being a decent, helpful human being, a Good Samaritan." (That's my paraphrase of this book's message.) If you are missing any element of appreciating how to exercise your humanity in business, one of these 163 ways (and countless lists) will grab you and soften you up to "do the right thing." The writing and book design are very appealing and make for fun reading. I took the book to a concert, and everyone was asking me why I was smiling so much while looking at the big orange book. As an avid business book reader, I was pleased to see this book quote almost all my favorites . . . and introduce me to a few new ones. I guess Tom has plenty of time to read as he jets around the world to give all those talks. I wonder if he has a Kindle reader. If you have read all of his earlier books, don't expect anything new here. View this book as the refresher course on what has gone before. And chances are that you will enjoy every minute. I admire his passion and wish I could bottle it. What can I do to help you in the next few seconds?

  • Create Your Action Plan One List at a Time
    From Amazon

    I love books that read like this - and nobody does the short, checklist, impact like Tom Peters. I've read and least eight of his books and marvel at how his writing style captures me and fills me with inspiration and ideas. If you don't get out your pen and start writing down idea after idea of ways to improve your business and your life after about five pages of reading this book, then you're not paying attention. John Jantsch author of The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

  • You can put this book down, but you can't stop reading!
    From Amazon

    Peters suggests putting this book in the bathroom and reading it in snatches. Great idea: It's the only book you'll need for weeks to come. It's jammed with wisdom from Peters's 40 years of helping people reach excellence in work. Part school-of-hard knocks lessons, part engaging personal musings, The Little BIG Things reminds us that humanity comes first, analysis second. Humanity is the fount of organizational effectiveness. I see in other reviews that some people don't like Peters's exuberant use of boldface and giant type. But that's a reflection of the author - and it's Peters's signature exuberance and passion throughout the book that inspire. I had to just keep reading. If you want multiple blasts of freshly expressed gems of management thought, buy a copy for every bathroom.

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