Friday, February 27, 2009

Friend of Simplicity - Scott Peters

Today my Friend of Simplicity is Scott Peters who uses pen name Bach Anon as the author of “Dropping Almonds” – one of the best business books I’ve read in the last few years. Scott and I bumped into each other through Tom Peters Blog and we have become good virtual friends. He has important things to say about how employees should be treated in business and the whole area of integrity of leaders and managers. We share very similar thoughts about these topics. I hope you enjoy reading Scott’s opinions – he is an author who pulls no punches – tells things as they really are in the cut throat world of business. I hope we see much more writing from Scott.

Trevor - Tell us where you are from and about your career to date.

Scott - Dallas, Texas. Graduated from Texas Tech University in 1992 and immediately began a career in home improvement sales and distribution. Served many roles in operations and sales before my first shot at General Manager for a lumberyard in 1998. Bounced around, a little, in the lumber industry before I received an opportunity as a Regional Vice President for a multi-hundred million dollar company in 2005. Served as a VP for 2 ½ years before I became completely disgusted with the position and office politics. Ended up walking away from that company at the beginning of 2008, with nothing lined up, and moved back into lumber sales for a competitor. I own Gigs-N-Rigs, Got Green Cups?, and work as a quasi consultant for Dropping Almonds. Dropping Almonds is very much in its infancy…

Trevor - Your book Dropping Almonds is brilliant. I really enjoyed reading it. What prompted you to write it and what is the key message in it for any one interested in business?

Scott - Thank you for your comments and thanks for the review. I very much value what you’ve said about the book. As an executive, I saw so many things that were incomprehensible and disappointing that I HAD to write a book. When I received the position and became an executive, I thought I’d gain knowledge of how the company operated and discover hidden secrets of upper level leadership and direction. In reality, I was surprised at how confused and watered-down much of the leadership was in the company. There seemed to be more focus on posturing and political bantering within the executive management team than what clients and employees required in the field. My key message has two parts: 1.) Always be honest with your direct reports, peers, and supervisors & 2.) Keep business and processes SIMPLE for clients and employees.

Trevor - Who have been role models to you during your career and what were their best qualities?

Scott - My role models, oddly enough, haven’t been great thinkers or gurus in a field. As I mentioned in the book, my stepchildren have been great role models for me to become a better father and Christian. I’ve worked with some wonderful General Managers that I’ve learned a tremendous amount from in my tenure as a GM and VP. There is an employee named Daryl that I worked with over the past several years. He’s been through two bouts of cancer and he’s got to be in his mid-sixties or later. He worked in a door shop as a laborer and could outperform anybody that was working beside him. Prior to his door shop position, he excelled at anything the company assigned to him. In the past 5 years, he’s been my biggest inspiration and role model. He didn’t make a bunch of money, and he didn’t understand strategy (I didn’t either), but the guy knew how to service clients and work hard to meet the demands of a marketplace. I would recommend that people adopt the qualities of a Carpenter turned leader about 2000 years ago to understand how to motivate and manage people, especially those that follow you.

Trevor - What are you reading at the moment?

Scott - Last night I was reading up on Herbert Hoover. My youngest was assigned a Presidential project and we were surfing the net reading about Hoover’s accomplishment and time during the Great Depression of the States; “A chicken in every pot and car in every garage.” There were high hopes for Hoover when he was elected and then the Depression set in. I’ve also been going back and forth between “Too Fat to Fish” by Artie Lange and "Simplicity is the Key" by this well known Englishman.

Trevor - You and I both comment regularly on Tom Peters Blog – what is your view of Tom’s impact on business over the last 25 years?

Scott - Great question because I enjoy the blog thoroughly. Tom’s been iconic over the past 25 years and his network of people is impressive. Tom has a target audience of executives to middle management in my opinion; I’m not sure if front line employees understand the cross-functional dynamically hillbilly-whilly-nilly lingo of Mr. Peters and some of the items he proposes, but much of what he says makes sense and interprets well to daily business activities. Sometimes I get a little worn out with his lists of 250 “whatevers” and 110 “gottahave” ideas that get promoted. Give me a few points that I can remember and implement, that’s all I really need. That’s why I loved Nebraska football (American) in the 80’s and 90’s, they ran the ball over and over and kept the offensive scheme simple. No bells and whistles, just simple offensive schemes that made them a great team.

Trevor - Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of business in the US and why?

Scott - Both. I’m not impressed with the US government’s involvement in bailouts and mortgage recovery programs. The more the US government becomes involved in decisions of big business, the more debt our nation assumes to finance bad leadership, corruption, and greed. With that said, I believe more Americans are looking for opportunities to start their own businesses to escape the large umbrellas of “Corporate America”. Small businesses and independents may have some great opportunities to react and respond to needs of consumers in the marketplace over the next 25. As Americans though, we can’t just rollover because of our current financial crisis, we must work a little smarter, create new ideas for world markets, and return many of our cities to manufacturing hubs.

Trevor - Any plans to visit the UK?

Scott - Possibly. I’m graduating another son from high school in 2010. We were considering a trip to Africa for the World Cup, but we’ve pondered the opportunity of England as well. I think we’ll probably end up in England and catch some of the Cup at some of your local pubs with you and Annie in tow. By then, you will have climbed Mount Everest after a successful marathon run. Best of luck with the fundraising, your training, and reward of helping out others through Running for Carers.

8 comments:

TB/EnchantDesert said...

Thank you, Scott Peters, for all you have done for those of us who don't have a "loud" enough voice to be heard (especially within the corporation you left). Thank you for standing up for, and representing the honesty, loyalty, and integrity that your subordinates looked to, and your superiors lacked.

Trevor Gay said...

TB/EnchantDesert - thanks for your comment - I endorse what you say.

Scott has done the bravest thing in getting it from an organisation where integrity is a forgotten word.

I admire him greatly for making the decision to leave and also for speaking up about it.

Too many of us put up with things that are just not acceptable because it is easier to ‘stay’ than to leave for a step into the unknown – we get settled into our ‘comfort blanket’ without realising that blanket is not actually ‘comfortable.’

As I read Scott’s book ‘Dropping Almonds’ I realised we do not have to put up with a lack of integrity from our bosses.

It is better for our health to leave than to stay around and become 'infected'

I am looking forward to more of Scott’s writing - he has important wisdom to pass on.

dave wheeler said...

It was terrific to see a "front liner" be thought of as a role model. I too have had the pleasure to work and learn with many "Daryls" in my professional lifetime and have learned that they truly are the ones who enable any organization to achieve and sustain excellence.

I lived in Lincoln Nebraska from 1963 to 1966 and have long been a monster Cornhusker fan. One can learn a great deal about the pitfalls of "change" for change sake from the struggles of this program since from the retirement of Coach Osborne to the present.

Thanks for the excellent interview!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dave - I've learned as much from front liners in my career as I have any manager.

J.KANNAN said...

Trevor,

A very good interview as usual-but the participant, Scott, is a personality with different oulook, approach and concept towards employees with excellent opinion.

Wow!
Graduated in………………………………………1992
GeneralManagerin………………………….1998
RVP of a multi hundred million $ Company in……………. 2005

All in a matter of 13 years, too a short period to climb up the ladder without slips and falls.-Great and Very Good. During this period Scott has also built up Guts & Confidence to the core to make a beginning to be independent.

Politics, it seems did not spare even professionals, leader and Managers. If we have more and more people like Scott, I am of the opinion we can get away politics from these areas.

On bail out and mortgage recoveries plans by US Government, Scott is absolutely right and in fact it will further deteriorate US economy. Well, let Obama learn out of his own experience with the bunch of bureaucratic leaders around him, with unviable solutions. No doubt that small business and independents will rule over “Corporate America” in the course of short time say in less than 15 years- Well Wait & Watch

Remembering of Daryl and mentioning him is a great example by Scott and it reminds me of:-

“Never take some for granted. Hold every person close to your heart and in esteem because you might wake up one day and realize that you have lost a diamond, while you were busy collecting stones.”

And in the case of Scott he did not look busy collecting stones as he found diamond already.

Looking forward to more writings of Scott to read and gain knowledge.

J.K

Scott Peters said...

TB----

You are a wonderful person and a pleasure to work with; amazing successes we accomplished together during our time. The feelings are mutual.

JK-----

So glad you commented because I value your blogs and opinions. My rise to the top of an organization came with its hardships. At the same time I was promoted to VP, I was/am diagnosed with heart disease. Parallel universes were crashing down on me during my struggles as a VP; two of many wonderful trials during a lifetime.

Daryl is a wonderful man and him and I sat down to coffee a few months back. His zest for life and success in relationships and the workplace keep me grounded in my own wants and desires. Daryl is a very SIMPLE man with a huge heart (probably not as big as mine...literally) and I'm a better man for him calling me a friend.

JK, if I could only show you the stones I passed on (W-2's of income from '07-'08) to truly find my diamond with people and God, you and I would have much more to share...maybe we will some day.

Dave----nothing like Cornhusker football, they will return to glory, much like the economies of the world some day (I checked out your site too...well done).

13 years to help me find out who I am to others; most people don't figure this out in a lifetime. I am truly blessed.

And even though the language of Dropping Almonds can sometimes take on a caustic tone, I am very much a Christian and value the teachings I've learned from our Carpenter and my fellow employees.

Trevor Gay said...

Dave, TB, JK and Scott - it is a great pleasure for me to facilitate such terrific discussion. I am still amazed how much I learn through this Blog.

Thank you for the terrific exchanges. The world is becoming one very small classroom for those ‘students’ willing and prepared to learn from each others experiences.

I feel blessed to have such good friends.

J.KANNAN said...

Scott-
You are really a great man with abundance of tenacity and will power, that’s the reason you could bear and withstand effects of crashing down of parallel universes-Scott,Jesus was with you and was holding you firm and in tact with his both the arms-believe it…….
I am keen to know more about what you have mentioned in your last paragraph for me, and shall wait patiently.

May Jesus continue to be with you all the time to protect you and your family and all your future endeavors.

Trevor-

I too have learned a lot from “Simplicity” and still learning and shall continue to learn more and more- I am a student of great teachers of “Simplicity” readers as these readers are the one who helps me a lot with their input/interaction and I feel of being a blessed one.

J.K