Peters: It’s Good to be the Little Guy

Large providers can't supply the intimate experience that CUs and other small, local businesses can.

May 17, 2012
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Cheney: What is “Brand You?”

Peters: My father worked in finance as a middle manager at Baltimore Gas & Electric for 41 years. If you were lucky enough, as he was back in the ‘20s, to get a college degree, you went to work for AT&T, Ford Motor Co., or Baltimore Gas & Electronic with the full expectation that you’d either die at your desk or retire at age 65 with a livable pension.

Assuming you didn’t beat the heck out of a manager along the way, you were pretty much guaranteed a long ride.

Ain’t nobody guaranteed a long ride these days.

It’s an unstable world, and in an unstable world you need to stand for something. You can no longer be Badge No. 129 in the purchasing department of the Ford Motor Co. You have to learn and grow.

A lot of people have maliciously or inadvertently taken the wrong message from the “Brand You” thing. They think it’s about being selfish and they say, “Why would any boss want 23 “Brand Yous” working for him or her?”

My answer: It’s the boss’ great salvation. You want 23 people working for you who are determined to widen their networks, to grow, and to learn something new if not every day then every week.

This is something new relative to the last 60 years when many people worked in big companies. But if you look back to your grandfather’s day, he either ran a local insurance agency with six employees, or was a blacksmith another 70 years earlier, or ran an auto repair shop. He was a Brand You.

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineThere are jillions of them today. What else would you call the electrician who’s coming tomorrow to deal with a wiring problem in my house? If he doesn’t show up or if he does a crappy job, he doesn’t get invited back.

He’s always living on the edge and having to learn new tricks to his trade. He’s a Brand You. It doesn’t require some bizarre genetic combination to be entrepreneurial.

Cheney: It’s self-preservation these days.

Peters: Exactly.

In the last of this three-part series, Peters details his next “quest to the unknown,” explains what has and hasn’t changed in the business world since he published “In Search of Excellence” 30 years ago—and reveals why he won’t be a nice guy when he addresses the America’s Credit Union Conference in June.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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