CUNA Corner

'The Little Big Things'

April 26, 2012
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"The Little Big Things" by Tom Peters is a rousing call-to-arms to American business to get "back to the basics" of running a successful enterprise.

The book's main message: Excellence is the result of many small tasks, all of which can be practiced and mastered.

Peters describes 163 ways to pursue excellence, each of which should be sampled a bit at a time, he explains. They include:

● Show up! (It's a start.) Based on Woody Allen's famous quote, "Eighty percent of success is showing up," this advice is humorous, but unchallengeable.

"It's true for me and you—and true in circumstances of the greatest import," says Peters. "'Woody's strategy' works in an office of five people—and when the fate of a nation is at stake."

● It's all about...the quality of the work force. On a football team or a symphony orchestra, for example, there are no "bit players."

"This applies in every industry and for every price-point strategy therein," asserts Peters. "This applies to companies of all sizes—from microscopic to humongous. This applies in good times—and especially in bad times."

Engaged workers and an unwavering commitment to excellence from those workers, he adds, are not the whole story, "but they are the bedrock upon which all else is built."

● Boring is beautiful. (Or at least it can be.) Some of the most successful businesses have very humble beginnings. From a lawn mowing company that now has 2,500 franchisees, to a $60 million basement clean-up business, often the boring part of a business is what consumers really need.

"For would-be entrepreneurs," says Peters, "there's more to life than biotech and Internet start-ups and 'boutique' financial planning businesses."

● Reward DNK (do not know). Bosses and "brilliant" staffers are prone to falling into the trap of not admitting when they don't know the answer or have trouble with a concept, says Peters. Instead, we should not only readily admit when we don't know something, but also actively seek out things we don't know.

"Publicly cheer the person who admits—in front of a boss—that he or she 'does not know' the facts here, or the answer to this or that," he says.

"does not know" the facts here, or the answer to this or that.

● The customer is "she." If women are your primary customers for a product or service, Peters suggests, "always, always refer to the generic customer as 'she.' "

Women are the primary customers for commercial and consumer goods in the U.S., he says. "One thing is certain: Women's rise to power, which is linked to the increase in wealth per capita, is happening in all domains and at all levels of society. Women are no longer content to provide efficient labor or to be consumers. With rising budgets and more autonomy to spend, this is just the beginning."

"The Little Big Things" is organized into 48 sections and an introduction. It's great for those little breaks in the day when you need a little inspiration. Peters will be a keynote speaker at CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference, June 17-20 in San Diego.


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efficient labor or to be consumers. ... With rising budgets and more autonomy to spend, this is 
just the beginning. T
is happening in all domains and at all levels of society. Women are no longer content to provide 
efficient labor or to be consumers. ... With rising budgets and more autonomy to spend, this is 
just the beginning. 

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