Tom Peters

One of the Most Influential Business Thinkers of All Time

Exclusively WSB

"Tom Peters [is] the Red Bull of management thinkers." 
-Bo Burlingham, Inc.

"In no small part, what American corporations have become is what Peters has encouraged them to be."
-The New Yorker

"We live in a Tom Peters world."
-Fortune Magazine

"In Tom's world it's always better to try a swan dive and deliver a colossal belly flop than to step timidly off the board while holding your nose." 
-Fast Company

"Tom Peters is the most provocative and engaging (as well as annoying and threatening) management guru running loose in America today." 
-CBS MarketWatch

"Peters is ... the father of the post-modern corporation."

-Los Angeles Times 

“If they’re onto a good thing, management gurus generally milk the same business mantra for all it’s worth. However, one guru par excellence is going against the grain. The one-man brand that is Tom Peters is still reinventing himself.”


2,500 speeches / 67 countries / 50 states / 5,000,000 people

17 books / 12 e-books / 10,000,000+ copies sold

600 syndicated columns / 250 miscellaneous articles

3,000 blogposts / 50,000 tweets / 130,000 followers

Born in Baltimore in 1942 "with a lacrosse stick in one hand and oars over my shoulder," Peters resided in California, mainly Silicon Valley (where he was on a list of "100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley"), from 1965-2000. Peters earned his Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree and Master of Civil Engineering degree from Cornell University and was included in the book The 100 Most Notable Cornellians. He earned his Master of Business Administration and Doctorate of Business Administration at Stanford University, and holds honorary doctorates from institutions that range from the University of San Francisco to the State University of Management in Moscow, and has been honored by dozens of associations in content areas such as management, leadership, quality, human resources, customer service, innovation, marketing and design. In the U.S. Navy from 1966-1970, he made two deployments to Vietnam (as a combat engineer in the fabled Navy Seabees), and "survived a tour in the Pentagon." Peters was a White House drug-abuse advisor in 1973-1974. He worked at McKinsey & Co. from 1974-1981, becoming a partner in 1979, and went on to co-founded McKinsey's now gargantuan Organization Effectiveness practice. Peters founded Skunkworks Inc. and The Tom Peters Company in 1981.

In 1982, with the publication of In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies, Peters and Bob Waterman helped American firms deal with a crushing competitive challenge to their primacy by urging them to get away from strategies based on just the numbers and re-focused on the basic drivers of all successful businesses throughout time: people, customers, values, action-execution, and the self-renewing entrepreneurial spirit. As "obvious" as these ideas are, they were, are, and always will be the bedrock and differentiator of excellent enterprise and subject to constant and remarkably rapid slippage if left unattended for even a moment. Peters and Waterman also effectively introduced the world of business to the notion of Excellence as a state of mind, and daily practice not normally associated with enterprise, but an inspiring and pragmatic and profitable aspiration.

In Search of Excellence was honored by NPR as one of the "Top Three Business Books of the Century". It was ranked as the "greatest business book of all time" in a poll by Britain's Bloomsbury Publishing and was the most widely held library book in the United States from 1989-2006. Peters has followed Search with well over a dozen additional international best-sellers: A Passion for Excellence (with Nancy Austin); Thriving on Chaos; Liberation Management; Re-imagine: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age; and The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. Most recently, Peters has devoted significant "at home" energy to the award-winning blog,, a "Top 500" blog. Also, beginning in 2009, he has actively engaged a growing global network via Twitter. In 2012, he began to produce a series of iBooks/eBooks on topical subjects.

Peters, praised by Thinkers50 as “Charismatic, passionate and insightful, [he] virtually invented the modern thought leadership industry,” was among the first class of the thinkers inducted into the “Thinkers50 Hall of Fame” in 2013. When the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI), a Swiss think tank, and MIT created "Thought Leaders 2014: The Most Influential Thinkers," Peters was again amongst the greatest thinkers of our time. Using software-based calculations to determine answers to questions like “Whose ideas engage people most frequently?” and “Who are the most influential thinkers?”, they produced a simple influence rank or measure of the global importance of creative minds. Tom Peters is 32 on a list that includes Pope Francis and Tim Berners-Lee, among others.

More Praise for Tom Peters:

“The U.S. recovery was weak and fitful…It’s often debated whether Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts or Paul Volcker’s monetary medicine got the U.S. off its back. The answer is both, but let’s add a third and fourth reason...A fourth reason was a book that came out in 1982 and turned out to be the bestselling business book of the decade: In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman (Harper-Collins). Yes, I am claiming that a single book belongs up there with tax cuts, a strong dollar and the PC as a pillar of the American renaissance.”

-Rich, Karlgaard, Forbes

"Mr. Peters is an enthusiast, a storyteller and a lover of capitalism. He says that effective management is management that delivers more value to customers and more opportunity for service, creativity and growth to workers. He is saying that the decent thing to do is also the smart thing. It's a wonderful message."

-Paul Weaver, The Wall Street Journal

“I suppose the most significant contribution Tom has made to ‘management thought’ is his capacity to articulate in graphic and persuasive terms what it is that organizations and managers must do if they want to create successful human communities (and also make a profit). He put into words what a lot of people had been talking about but never tool all that seriously. And he writes with unbridled lucidity. If Peter Drucker ‘invented’ management, Tom Peters vivified it. He goosed us all, managers and academics alike. …  “One last thought: Tom is a dreamer, and thank God, a dreamer who can put his thoughts into clear and radiant terms. ‘For a dreamer,’ said Oscar Wilde, ‘is one who can find his way by moonlight and see the dawn before the rest of the world.’ That’s Tom’s gift—the creation of a waking dream—has inspired us all.”

-Warren Bennis, University of Southern California

Though his tenure was relatively short and he left under contentious circumstances, Peters is the most famous consultant McKinsey has ever produced. His influence on the firm was enormous and helped raise its profile beyond Bower’s wildest dreams. ... Peters helped rebrand McKinsey as a group of thinkers…“[In Search of Excellence] wasn’t talking only about financial management. It was also talking about how you treated the people who worked for you. It was, in short, the first great manifesto of the idea of corporate culture.”

-The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald

"Tom Peters has probably done more than anyone else to shift the debate on management from the confines of boardrooms, academia, and consultancies to a broader, worldwide audience, where it has become the staple diet of the media and managers alike. Peter Drucker has written more and his ideas have withstood a longer test of time, but it is Peters—as consultant, writer, columnist, seminar lecturer, and stage performer—whose energy, style, influence, and ideas have shaped new management thinking."

-Bloomsbury’s Movers and Shakers: The 100 Most Influential Figures in Modern Business