Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stocking Stuffers



For free shipping plus
 a 30% savings go to www.tomcollinsauthor.com and enter coupon code C214 when ordering signed copies of books by Tom Collins.


"The Language of Excellence just may be the only guide book to personal and business excellence you will ever need to read. A must-read for achievers."—Robert Hicks, New York Times 

Regarding his mysteries "Collins has a knack for painting a picture in the minds eye of the reader, using the history of Nashville and consistency of the characters leaving you wanting more."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Last Minute Gift--It is not too late!

For free shipping plus a 30% savings go to and enter coupon thelanguageofexcellence.com code C214.


It is not too late for that last minute gift. From now through December 31st, you can save 30% on signed copies ofmy book on how to deal with almost anything business or life can throw at you. I think it is the best gift one could give to a young professional.  Your gift will be invaluable to the entrepreneur starting a new business or a seasoned executive frustrated by the difficulty of steering an unresponsive corporate ship. For free shipping plus a 30% savings go to thelanguageofexcellence.com and enter coupon code C214 when placing your order.

"Tom Collins' The Language of Excellence just may be the only guide book to personal and business excellence you will ever need to read. A must-read for achievers.”—Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Can You Read Me Now?

As an author with dyslexia, I enjoy passing along demonstrations based on research done at Cambridge University.   The material in this post is not original, though at this point, it has been repeated enough that I have no idea who to give attribution to.  What research am I referring to? Here is a summary:
 “...aoccdrnig to  rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the  ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last  ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can  still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed  ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.”

If you think the above paragraph is “Azanming”, check this out:

  “7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!  BY N0W, Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17  4U70M471C4LLY  W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.”

Note that in the preceding paragraph not only are things mixed - up, numbers have been substituted for letters.

The demonstration warms the heart of someone with dyslexia.  This is the world I live in even when the letters are in the right order for everyone else.  Forget for a minute about the unusual text used in the Cambridge demonstration. Consider ordinary written text. A person with normal reading ability might be confused or put off by a misspelled, missing, or wrong word.  Not someone with my particular dyslexic tendencies.  I read images and context not letters or even words as you think of them.  I would not notice that the word was misspelled.  My mind would fill in the missing word and auto-correct a wrong word to match the context without even realizing it has done so.

How does it work when I’m writing.  In the early days my smart wife interpreted and reworked my efforts.  With success came secretaries who were told that it was not my job to get the letters in the right order.  That was their job.  I just had to get close.   Now I have technology— auto-correct, grammar and spell check, and as a backup, professional editors.

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Prepare for Opportunities and Contingencies

In a previous post I pointed out the five things that the successful do differently:

  1. They engage in the planning process.
    Five Things
  2. They set goals and objectives.
  3. They develop plans for achieving those goals.
  4. They prepare for opportunities and contingencies.
  5. They measure progress and hold people accountable.

The fourth item on the list is of particular interest to me.  In a way, it explains that the planning process is more important that the plan itself!

Planning is an ongoing process.  It is a way of thinking and communicating—where the team is nimble and quick on its feet, constantly adjusting and refining the plan due to changing conditions and expectations.  Goals and objectives are merely temporary targets. As time advances on the future, assumptions become more accurate.  Decisions and actions made on the front line close in on a target that moves from a cone of uncertainty to a clearer target. Unexpected events create opportunities and contingencies that call for changes in directions.

Unexpected,yes, but not unprepared for.  A few years ago, I suggested that an organization’s management team meet monthly just to think about things that could happen. Their mission was to identify strategies that would allow them to benefit rather than suffer from those events. Over time it was surprising how often their imagined events closely mirrored reality, but more importantly, the team developed a way of thinking that enabled them to respond to new opportunities and deal with contingencies quickly.

Practice prepares individuals and teams to take advantage of events that are likely to surprise others. As Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Do The Exceptional Do Differently?

One question keeps coming up. People want to know what the successful among us do differently.

Anyone can be accidently successful for some period of time—you can have your fifteen minutes of fame. Leave success to chance, however, and you are more likely to never reach your goals.

Purposeful long-term success is never an accident.  The people and organizations that achieve long-term durable success do things differently. Specifically, they do five things:

  1. They engage in the planning process.
  2. They set goals and objectives.
  3. They develop plans for achieving those goals.
  4. They prepare for opportunities and contingencies.
  5. They measure progress and hold people accountable. 

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Interview For Williamson County Arts


Reporter Michael Ackley covers the City of Franklin for Homepage Media Group. Michael interviewed me several weeks ago, and that interview was published in the November 23th edition of the Arts sections of the Franklin Home Page. For the complete interview go to http://franklinhomepage.com/section/willco-arts.

One of the questions Michael asked me was "How much of what you write in your mystery novels is taken from your own life?"

The main character is Mark Rollins. There is only a one letter difference between Rollins and Collins. The difference between my avenging hero and myself is much greater than that one letter. However, there are similarities. We both know about technology and guns.  We both know about law firms, running a business, and leadership.  I like great wines and the best restaurants. So does Rollins. We both live in the Music City area.  Actually, we reside in  Williamson County, Tennessee which is close to Brentwood and Franklin and  part of the greater Nashville Tennessee area—Music City USA.

By giving the my main character my skill set and placing him in the same place on this earth, it is much easier for me to visualize and write about his reaction to the fictional events I create for him. As an author you have to start somewhere, and by starting with the things I know, I was able to get up and running as an author faster. When you don't start writing for publication until age sixty-six getting there faster is pretty important.


In the interview, Michael mentioned that I recently made the first novel in the Mark Rollins adventure mysteries available as a free download.  If you would like a free download of Mark Rollins New Career go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/470351.


# # #
For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Communication is a two way street

Lately, I have run into several situations when performance that deviated from the expected was explained away as “I didn’t know.” “I didn’t know” shouldn’t cut it.  That goes for employees, class room students, and even family members. Communication is a two way street.



 If you don’t know, if you aren’t sure, it is your responsibility to ask. While leaders, including teachers and parents, have an obligation to communicate expectations, individuals have an equal obligation to absorb what is communicated and to ask when they don’t understand or when they need new information or guidance in handling a situation. If the answer is “I didn’t know,” then either the leader is failing in his or her responsibility or the individual who “didn’t know” failed in his/her responsibility.  Sometimes, it is both.

Leaders must clearly communicate what is expected -- goals, objectives, ethics, and core beliefs. There are circumstances when detail instructions or policies and procedures are required.  But you can’t create rules for handling every situation and the conditions surrounding it. Even if you could spell out detail instructions for everything, humans are not capable of real time recall of every rule while on the front line. That is when an organization’s core beliefs or a family’s value system must fill in the blanks.

When we talk about individual responsibility, we are confirming the individual’s obligation to learn and understand what is  expected.  Rather than “I didn’t know,” it is his or her job to say, “I need to know from you.”


# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tom Peters on his number one goal

Peters can knock it out of the ball park with straight talk about what is important.  For example when he was asked “What is your number-one goal in life?”

Peters answer was “My number-one goal in life, at the age of 71, is to be able to walk past a mirror without barfing.”  He went on to say, "People say that fame is important, but in the end it really isn’t. People say that wealth is important, but in the end it really isn’t. My ex-wife had a father who was in the tombstone business. I’ve seen a lot of tombstones. None of ’em have net worth on ’em. It’s the people you develop. That’s what you remember when you get to be my age."

Okay let me translate:

  • First, take care of yourself.  If you don't you can't take care of others
  • Second, take care of others and develop their capabilities.  

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tom Peters on 21st Century Management

Tom Peters was one of the strongest influences on my life as an entrepreneur and executive and that influence is visible on the pages of my book, The Language of Excellence, dealing with leadership and management.  Recently, Peters was interviewed for the McKinsey & Company’s Quarterly.   You can read the entire interview by going to the McKinsey web site.

Talking about 21st-century management during the interview Peters says:

“My real bottom-line hypothesis is that nobody has a sweet clue what they’re doing. Therefore you better be trying stuff at an insanely rapid pace. You want to be screwing around with nearly everything. Relentless experimentation was probably important in the 1970s—now it’s do or die.”
His observation about experimentation is right out of the Model for Excellence—survival for long haul requires constant innovation.  You cannot continue to create and deliver the same product or service the same way and survive in the long haul. Experimentation and innovation are vintage Peters, and I might add the idea expressed also consistent with the teachings of Peters’s predecessor Peter Drucker.

Also straight from the Model for Excellence is Peters’s explanation to the interviewer of what business executives are in. It has nothing to do with products or services:
“If you’re a leader, your whole reason for living is to help human beings develop—to really develop people and make work a place that’s energetic and exciting and a growth opportunity, whether you’re running a Housekeeping Department or Google. I mean, this is not rocket science.
It’s not even a shadow of rocket science. You’re in the people-development business. If you take a leadership job, you do people. Period. It’s what you do. It’s what you’re paid to do. People, period. Should you have a great strategy? Yes, you should. How do you get a great strategy? By finding the world’s greatest strategist, not by being the world’s greatest strategist. You do people. Not my fault. You chose it. And if you don’t get off on it, do the world a favor and get the hell out before dawn, preferably without a gilded parachute. But if you want the gilded parachute, it’s worth it to get rid of you.”
While I gave the Model for Excellence its name, the model is drawn from ideas expressed in Peters’s  A Passion for Excellence. The model is explained in third chapter of The Language of Excellence. It was also discussed in an earlier blog post under the title The Pursuit of Excellence is the Only Sound Strategy.
 # # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Change


Change is constant, and I am engage in making a number of them.

With regard to web sites, I am moving to a new site TomCollinsAuthor.com. There are a couple of reasons for the move:

  • First, having the site under my name as an author makes sense.  People are more likely to search the web by my name than by the either the publisher name, I 65 North, Inc.  or by the name of my mystery services, Mark Rollins adventure mysteries.  In the near future people searching for markrollinsadventures.com or i65north.com will be rerouted to TomCollinsAuthor.com.
  • The second reason for the change is that switching to Squarespace as the site provider for improved graphics management and for its the simplicity of its ecommerce features. Consistent with its mission statement Squarespace.com provides more elegant solutions 


At the same time I make this change, I am consolidating my blogs.  I will no longer maintain both I65northblog.com. whataboutebooks.com.  I65northblog is being renamed TomCollinsAuthorblog.com  and I will discontinue maintaining whataboutebooks.com.

If you have any doubt that change is constant, check out T-shirt the gang at Juris had made of “me” to celebrate one of my birthdays when I still had hair.  I forget which.

When the above changes are fully implemented there will be only two active “official” web sites:


As for the Newsletter, right now it is taking a rest while I concentrate on finishing my current novel DIVERSION.


# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Can an enemy win by losing?


What would you think of a story were a militarily advanced industrial society, MAIS, is pitted against a non-industrialized cult enemy? Let us call them The Cult. The Cult’s generals have identified the MAIS’s military might as their weakness.

The Cult’s motivation is to kill anyone who is not a member of the cult.They believe that they can win a war against the MAIS by losing. The Cult fights from the back of pickup trucks. While the MAIS fights back using budget busting machines and smart bullets that cost millions of dollars each.  The MAIS puts its fighters in uniforms that identity them as targets. The Cult’s warriors disappear into the civilian population when pursued. When the MAIS shuts The Cult down in one place, they just move to another place. The MAIS fighters have rules of engagement, and they observe civilized rules of war. The Cult believes in savagery and brutality.

The Cult’s strategy is to keep the MAIS winning until they have no bullets left—their will to fight gone and their economy exhausted. How do they accomplish their strategy to keep the MAIS fighting?  Tactically, The Cult commits acts so abhorrent to civilized mores that the MAIS is compelled to attack, and attack and attack.

What do you think?  Does this seem believable? Does it make a good story?

# # #
For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mentoring and Coaching Services

Since publishing The Language of Excellence, I have been asked about training services.  Yes, I am available for training sessions as well as mentoring and coaching services.



In addition to mentoring services Tom Collins is available for selected readings and lectures. To inquire about a possible appearance, contact PLA Media at 615-327-0100 (info@plamedia.com) or to contact the author directly email tom.collins@i65n.com.
# # #
Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

How a Book Will Increase Your Business

A Florida company just purchased one hundred copies of The Language of Excellence as promotional items to get the attention of their VIP prospects. Here are more good reasons to consider a bulk purchase of this unique book on leadership and managing for excellence:

As a door opener—a gift for the very important decision maker
To increase existing business—reward your loyal customers and take the opportunity to find out how you can do even more for them
For team training—equip your team to handle just about anything business (and life) can throw at them


Paperback—unsigned standard edition regularly $29.00:  

Bulk Price, free shipping
3 to 24...................$19
25 to 99................. $12
100 or more............ $10

Hard Coverstandard edition regularly $39.00:

Bulk Price, free shipping
3 to 24 signed by author............ $29
25 or more signed by author........$26

To arrange for a bulk purchase just email me, tom.collins@i65n.com.


Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook editions only are available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and Smashword.com.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Winners—No Losers at Book Signing

The book signing event at the Franklin Art Crawl on Friday, August 1st,
was a great success. A good many fans stopped by the signing location at the law firm of Stites & Harbison that is located in historic downtown Franklin at 604 West Main Street.  In addition, an impressive number of new mystery readers purchased their first Mark Rollins adventure—a signed hardcover copy or the new audio edition.

Ed Binkley won the drawing for a 28-year-old claret from my private cellar. Two people won the opportunity to have a character named after them in my next mystery, Nancy Hagen and my friend Janet Jones.  If my memory serves me correctly, both Ed and Nancy purchased the audio edition of The Claret Murders during the event.  Janet is a long time friend and the wife of Ray Tarkington.
Previous character name winners at other signing events include:
Connie Maynord
Kathie Fuston
Mick Hendrickson
Edwin Myers
Sue Hadfield

Connie Maynord has a busy career as an actress and model. This past month, her on camera roles have ranged from a fun loving mature age Aunt Jackie, to a ghost/wife who has come back to a husband who is dying, to a happy Golden Girl!  She has been cast in the upcoming productions S.O.U.L. as Nurse Hazel and Candles as a News Reporter, and Connie is also an associate producer on Candles. In addition, Connie has had several appearances in commercials.  To learn more about Connie Maynord check out www.conniemaynord.com.

The new mystery is about one-third complete and has the working title Diversion. Diversion deals with drug diversion -- legal medications diverted for illegal purposes and all the bad things that surround addiction and drugs. Our character winners could be drugged out teenagers or just someone who can't get off their pain medication and has no way to get them except on the street -- from very unpleasant people. Alternatively, the winner could be a DEA hero who saves a teenage druggie from a horrible life or an undercover cop posing as an unpleasant person on the street selling happy pills. They might turn out like Kathie Fuston who in the early draft is a pregnant, unwed mother in the visitor section of the Manchester Jail waiting to find out if her man is going to be released.

# # #
Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Literary Murder and Mayhem in Franklin

I will be bringing literary murder and mayhem to Franklin, Tennessee this
Friday, August 1st, as a part of the city’s First Friday Art Crawl. The crawl, which invited me to attend and sign copies of my adventure mystery The Claret Murders, features over thirty galleries and studios which all showcase a variety of magnificent works ranging from books to blown glass.

The Claret Murders is an exciting mystery that takes place during Nashville’s devastating flood.  It's Nashville…with  a beautiful lawyer, a deadly secret, and wine to kill for. The novel is my most recent installment in the adventure series which also includes Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker and Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer, all which feature Nashville as a backdrop.

The week’s First Friday Art Crawl will run from 6-9pm and complimentary wine and hors d’ouevres will be offered at many of the participating locations. The Downtown Franklin Association puts on this free event each month to showcase Franklin’s beautiful downtown core and the local talent that surrounds the historic hotspot. I will be signing copies of The Claret Murders at Stites & Harbison, located at 604 West Main Street, Franklin, TN 37064. For more information on Friday’s event, visit www.franklinartscene.com.
Stop by the book signing location, Stites & Harbison,  and enter your name for a chance to win a 28-year-old Claret, 1986 Chateau Certan, from my private collection.

For those of you who regulary follow The Language of Excellence Blog, I have taken a little time off from the blog to work on a new mystery, DIVERSION. I have finished about one-third of the book.  It deals with drug diversion in and around Nashville. Yes, there is trouble; I say trouble, right here in Music City.
Drug diversion is legally prescribed pain medication diverted for illegal purposes. It is a big business, and it spawns other illegal businesses. One tragic off-shoot in the world of drug diversion is the disappearance of young girls who are seduced by drugs into a life of prostitution. A life that only profits the sex traffickers and drug lords.

 If you have had experience dealing with this subject, your suggestion and insight is welcome. You can email me at tom.collins@i65n.com.

# # #
Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vacation Time Discount

It is vacation time, and if you are planning to drive to your vacation spot, listening to a good book while traveling will make the time seem to go faster.

Between now and August 31, 2014, you can purchase the CD edition of the audio version of The Claret Murders for the flat price of $24.00 with free shipping. You can purchase the CD version from my online store. Just click on purchase now, or to keep it very simple, just email me tom.collins@i65n.com with your shipping address.  I will ship your CD edition and invoice you.

If you don’t need the CD version, you can download the audio version to your iPhone or iPad for even less. The last time I checked, Amazon was selling the $19.95 downloadable version for only $17.46. Go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI, or if you prefer go to iTunes or Audibles.com.

If you prefer to read The Claret Murders while you are by the pool, you can download the Kindle version for only $2.99 or order the paperback edition for less than $15.00 by going to the same Amazon link, http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI.

I would be remiss if I did not also point out that you can purchase signed copies of The Claret Murders or my other books by going my online store at http://store.markrollinsadventures.com/.

# # #

 Purchase Now

Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Don’t Count on Your Gut!

Most of the time, experienced and seasoned leaders are served well by their gut. That “gut feeling” doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes from experience—their own and those of others who shared theirs. From those experiences, we develop biases (core beliefs) about what does and does not work. It is those core beliefs that drive our gut reaction to events and circumstances enabling us to make most decisions quickly without research, consultation, or analysis.

However, the excellent leader also knows there is a time when their gut is not up to the job. They don’t “bet the farm” casually. Material or bet-the-farm issues are often those that bring into question the very validity of your core beliefs given new conditions and circumstances. Yielding to your gut when you should be adjusting to new conditions on the ground leads to adverse results. When I look back over my 55 years of business experience, I can point to numerous competitors that no longer exist because their leaders followed their gut when the game board was in transition.

To be an effective leader, it is important to recognize when to follow your gut and when to take an analytical approach seeking advice from those with special know-how and experience. When the stakes are big, don’t count on your gut!

# # #

Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Genius of the AND

In a prior post, I referenced “Tyranny of the OR,” and, apparently, the reference was new to many people.

In the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Scott Porras, the authors noted that the common decision process is merely choosing between two or more choices—it is an “either/or” process. For example, shall we minimize cost or maximize quality. It is an approach that “…pushes people to believe things must be either A OR B, but not both.” That, of course, dampens the imagination, limiting the possible. It is this Tyranny of the OR that led President Kennedy to say, “We need men who can dream of things that never were.”

The authors describe the Tyranny of the OR as a rational view that cannot easily accept paradox. Influenced by the Tyranny of the OR, these men and women cannot deal with two seemingly contradictory forces or ideas at the same time. On the other hand, what distinguishes the truly remarkable leader and organization is, in the words of the authors, “The Genius of the AND.” Groundbreaking individuals and organizations have replaced the traditional OR approach to decision making with an AND approach—for example, rather than choose between low cost or high quality, they ask, “Why not both?” “Why not give our customers both the highest quality at the lowest cost?”

Consider Apple and its leader, Steve Jobs. Given the choice between robust complexity and simplicity—Steve Jobs insisted on both, complexity and simplicity. Given the choice between utility and beauty, Steve Jobs chose both. “The Genius of the AND” is to dream of things that never were and say why not now! Because Steve Jobs did, Apple changed the world.

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Preparing for Opportunities and Contingencies

One of the best ways to look for new opportunities is through purposeful imagination. It inspired President Kennedy to say, “We need men who can dream of things that never were.” There are great undone things to be done. To find some of them, all you have to do is turn off the mental constraints and free your creativity. Purposeful imagination is at the heart of the “Blue Ocean Strategy,” and it is the counter to the “Tyranny of the OR.”

Opportunities are often created by events. Those at the right place at the right time to take advantage of events did not get there just by accident. As the French scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” Purposeful imagination is about preparing for opportunities and contingencies. How do you do that? It isn’t hard to do. It is thinking about things that could happen and then imagining how to react to them. It is about doing so with an eye toward the opportunities those events would present.

You do it by setting aside one day month, or a half day every two weeks, with your management team for the exercise of purposeful imagination. Future events that are problems for others become opportunities for the trained mind. While future events may not mirror exactly those practiced as hypothetical, your team will have gained the skill for quick reaction. Like building muscle memory for an athlete through practice, you will have trained your organization to deal with surprises as opportunities rather than problems.

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.




Thursday, May 29, 2014

Free audio edition of The Claret Murders

For details of this limited offer for free downloads of the audio edition of The Claret Murders go to E-mysteries.com.


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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Succeeding for the Long Haul

On May 20, somewhere in the neighborhood of 40+ people fought the Franklin afternoon traffic to attend my session on Succeeding for the Long Haul and purchased a signed copy of my new book, The Language of Excellence. While we covered a lot of the material in the book, Tom Peters and Nancy Austin wrote the punch line more than 30 years ago. In The Passion for Excellence, they wrote the following:
“…there are only two ways to create and sustain superior performance over the long haul. First, take exceptional care of your customers (for chicken, jet engines, education, health care, or baseball, etc.) via superior service and superior quality. Second, constantly innovate. That’s it. There are no alternatives in achieving long-term superior performance…”
Peter Drucker said the only sound objective is the pursuit of excellence; anything else is at best only competent and that leads to marginal.

It is all about the Model for Excellence:


You can only achieve excellence through people who truly care about their customers. Moreover, you do not get to decide if you have achieved your objective. Excellence must be earned through the eyes of those who judge you, your customers. Once you achieve it, you can only maintain it through constant innovation. All that—the right people, superior customer care, and constant innovation—requires a common sense of direction [something I call I-65 North] and in-touch leadership for which traditionally “Management by Wandering Around” was an essential tool. Today social media has provided us with extraordinary new ways for the leadership to stay in touch with customers, employees, vendors, and even competitors—never has in-touch leadership been so easy. Unfortunately, few take advantage of it, and fewer follow the advice of Peters and Austin.

As I made my closing remarks, I was surprised by the appearance of Tennessee State Representative Glen Casada who presented me with a proclamation of the Tennessee House of Representatives recognizing me for my business and literary achievements—a nice surprise.

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Secret to Success for the Long Haul

Anyone can be accidentally successful for some period of time--they can have their fifteen minutes of fame!  But, long term durable success doesn't happen by accident. So what do those who achieve it do differently? What is the secrete for achieving business success for the long haul?  It is simple. However, very few ever follow this simple formula for achieving long-term superior performance. As for those who do, join me on May 20 to find out what they do differently. 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What people are saying about The Language of Excellence.

I'm on the road, in Sacramento right now. But, I wanted to take time to share with readers what people are saying about The Language of Excellence. 

Gary Slaughter, author of Cottonwood Novels said "I can't tell you how many leadership and management books I have read in the past past 50 years or so, but yours fall in the top 5." He also said its like the "Joy of Cooking" that in the 50's and 60's became a standard in every home--The Language of Excellence is a cookbook for achieving success in business.

Robert Hicks, New Your Times best selling author of The Widow of the South and  A Separate Country said, "Tom Collins' The Language of Excellence just may be the only guide book to personal and business excellence you will ever need to read. Borrowing from a lifetime of achievement, Collins lays out clear guidelines that can help you find your own success while enabling you to offer others the same 'excellence' that has marked both his life and career. A must-read for achievers."

"Author Tom Collins is both left-brained and right-brained. His creative side has given birth to the Mark Rollins mystery series which features the author’s love of wine and mystery, set in and around the Nashville area. His logical side calls upon his vast business experience to offer the wisdom of his years in his latest book, “The Language of Excellence.”-- Donna O'Neil, Author and former Williamson Herald Managing Editor

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New CareerMark Rollins and the RainmakerMark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online  store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go tohttp://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Plans Cannot Predict the Future, but Planning Can Prepare You for It

Rob Millard, founder and partner of Venturis Consulting Group, once wrote, “All too often, I find myself facing blank stares from clients who want me to help them craft a plan that will lead them to greatness. This is only possible where the future is certain. Which, of course, it is not.”

The point is that strategic plans are based on assumptions about the future, and those predictions are too inaccurate to reliably steer an organization. Thus, if you unwaveringly pursue a plan based on those inaccurate assumptions, you will eventually implement the wrong strategy—you will “successfully fail.”
Now wait just a minute! We know that planning is one of the five things that distinguish successful organizations from the “also-ran” and the unsuccessful. Now you are telling me that following that plan will lead to successfully failing?
You got it. The “plan” must be to change the “plan”! Plans provide an essential fixed point for reacting to future events—for revising your assumptions, tactics, and strategies as the future becomes clearer. You can’t accurately predict the future, but by revising your predictions and your plans, you prepare your organization for it. Make sense?

The inaccurate character of assumptions is why planning must be a continuous
process. Through that continuous process of changing the plan as the future unfolds, successful organizations achieve that success by doing the “right things.” It is because of the continuous nature of the planning process that I emphasize that the tangible product of strategic planning, “the plan” should consist of words, phrases, and sentences, not paragraphs, pages, and chapters. It is the “play book,” that coordinates and shapes an organization’s actions and decisions, and that is changed by those actions and decisions on the front line in reaction to an unfolding future. Taking a line from the Pirates of the Caribbean about the Pirate’s Code, “It is more of a guide than an actual code.”

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“In this exciting age of fast-paced growth and innovative communication technology, Tom Collins has managed to incorporate timeless principles with modern advancements to achieve results-driven success in today’s business world. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be enlightened by its contents.”—Jack Grant, Business Management Consultant

Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes& Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Exceptional Customer Care—The Mystery Ingredient

I recently sold a vacation home and selected Allied to move furniture from Florida to Tennessee. They were a class act. I will not go into everything that made the organization stand out. I will just focus on the driver and his helper. We were not present when they picked up the furniture, but we met the truck when it arrived at the storage facility we had selected to house the items until needed. Throughout the unloading process, my wife and I were struck by the courtesy (politeness) both men showed to each other. Of course they were nice to us—the customer—but why to each other?

I have always talked about common courtesy as a job requirement in any organization.
Common Courtesy
Customers accept nothing less. If they do not get it, then when they have an alternative, and eventually they will, they will take it. However, this was different. It was common courtesy kicked up a notch—it was “kindness.” Both men showed kindness and concern toward each other and to us. It was something more than just common courtesy.

I decided to do a little research and it lead to a book by Ed Horrell, The Kindness Revolution: The Company-Wide Culture Shift That Inspires Phenomenal Customer Service. Lydia Ramsey, a business etiquette expert, writing about Horrell’s book said:
“From the rampant indifference that we all encounter on a daily basis, he recommends that companies, large and small, switch to an attitude of kindness. He's not suggesting that the boss simply tell everyone “to be nice.” He states that kindness starts at the top and penetrates every level of the organization. When everyone within a company treats everyone else with courtesy, respect and compassion, that attitude automatically gets passed on to the customers.”
Tom Peters, a writer on business management practices, states flatly that there are only two ways for an organization to achieve long-term durable success. One has to have exceptional customer care and practice constant innovation.

It may well be that “kindness” is the mystery ingredient. I recall the first planning session that I held with the new Juris team. The startup company at that time had only nine employees. When asked what kind of company they wanted us to be, the answer was “We want to be a company that likes its customers and is liked by them.”

How does one achieve exceptional customer care, common courtesy, kindness, and customers who like you? As a leader, you have to practice it yourself. You have to verbalize it and reinforce it through constant communication. It has to be a performance standard. It has to be a “core belief”—a fixed unshakeable point on the moral compass of the organization.

I was not surprised when, upon completing the unloading job and shaking hands with us, the driver said, “When they ask you how we did, I hope you can give us five stars.” That is right; the company measures and rewards performance.

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Listening for 900 Miles

Last week I drove 900 miles from Naples, Florida, to Franklin, Tennessee. I hate driving. However, this particular trip went by quickly. Why?

I purchased an audiobook before starting my road trip. The book turned a normally unpleasant fourteen hours into an enjoyable listening experience. It was one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher mysteries and had a little more splattered brain matter and destroyed knees than I prefer—but then there were a couple of drivers I encountered during the trip that I would have liked to introduce to Jack Reacher in a dark alley.

If you are planning a driving trip anytime soon, consider purchasing the audio version of my book The Claret Murders. Even if you previously read the book, you will enjoy having the mystery and the Nashville flood experience brought to life through the voice of the reader. The audio version is available on Amazon.com or iTunes. Did you know there is talk of TV and movie rights? If you missed it, you can read the announcement for release of the audio edition by going to http://t.e2ma.net/message/vcadh/rptxeh.

While I don’t recommend reading it while driving, I hope you will soon read The Language of Excellence if you haven’t already. It is my fifth full-length book and the first focused on business. I am particularly happy that the book is being talked about as a breakthrough for its clarity and simplicity in its treatment of leadership and management issues. The CEO of LIVESTRONG said it teaches you how to deal with almost anything business or life will throw at you. The book is available in print and eBook formats on Amazon, other online bookstores, and through your favorite bookstore. The Language of Excellence is the perfect gift for someone about to graduate from college or for those already in the business world in pursuit of long-term durable success. To purchase from Amazon go to http://amzn.com/0985667346.
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Tom Collins’s books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer, and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders, go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The eBook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Destination Is More Important Than Transportation

Which is more important—where you are going or how you get there?
To put it in business-speak terms: which is most important “Doing the Right Things” vs. “Doing Things Right.”

Execution is everything! I ran into this again last night. An “expert” was expounding on the virtues of “execution” as the reason behind the success of every great business.

If execution is everything, then great managers could make any bad idea (or destination) a success. It isn’t, and they can’t. Bad execution can rob one of their successes. It can lower results from what is profitable. However, being in the right place at the right time pursuing the right idea rules the day. "Getting the right people on the bus” may be the way to go from “Good to Great,” but having the right bus to start with is pretty darn important.

The issue of “Right Things” vs. “Things Right” gets to the core difference between leadership and management. There is a definite difference. Many leaders are not good managers—if, by management, we mean masters of execution. Leadership has more to do with being in the right place at the right time with the right idea and then, of course, getting people to believe the vision.

While there is a tendency of management experts to attribute the qualities of “doing things right” to organizations that achieve great success, most achieved that success by having done the “right things.” Unfortunately, time catches up with us. Once others begin to imitate such success, execution becomes the important differentiating factor. “Right thing” leaders like IBM, Federal Express, and eventually even Microsoft fall prey to the imitator with superior execution.

Perhaps the best summary is that Leadership (doing the right things—picking the right destination) is essential for achieving success. Management (doing things right) is required to stay successful.

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For more insight into the mystery of Leadership, read The Language of Excellence now available in print and eBook formats.


Tom Collins’s works include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels, Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer, and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders, go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Understand How You Perform Best

In writing about Managing Oneself,  Peter Drucker placed a great deal of importance on the need, particularly for knowledge workers, to understand “how you perform” best. 

Are you a reader or listener? Fail to understand which you are and then relying
on the wrong one and you will not perform or achieve excellence.  Drucker points to Dwight Eisenhower who learned by reading and excelled as Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe when supplied with written briefs.  But when he stepped into a new roll as President and attempted to follow the oral briefing methods of Truman and Roosevelt, both listeners, he appeared ill-prepared and equipped in front of the Press. The opposite was true of Lyndon Johnson, a listener, who inherited his predecessor’s staff.  Kennedy was a reader. Johnson never effectively absorbed written briefs.

Some of us (I’m one and you could also be) do not learn by either reading or listening.  We learn by writing. As it was for Churchill and Beethoven; neither reading nor listening is enough.  I must write about it to learn.  I must write about it to develop the idea or craft the strategy, the solution, the transaction, the opportunity, etc. We are sometimes mislabeled as people who have to “sleep on it”.  We make our best and most creative decisions after we have found a quiet corner and written about it.  

Just as listening and reading are not enough for writers, there are those who learn by hearing themselves talk. They need people in the room listening to their ideas and explorations.  Drucker, himself a talker, says that learning through talking is by no means unusual and notes that successful trial lawyers are often talk learners. 

There is no right method.  There is no wrong method.  But try to be what you are not, and you greatly reduce you effectiveness.  Once you have your own answer, tell others.  When those you work with understand how you “perform best,” the collaborative results are improved.  That, of course, means that next you should determine how others around you “perform best”.  Who are the readers and listeners? Who are the writers and talkers?  Understanding each other improves team results. 

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.



Friday, February 28, 2014

Drowned by Drops

Ever think of suing or, for that matter, going to court rather than giving in to someone’s demands? Here is a bit of advice from Charles Dickens. In his novel, The Bleak House, he warns that whatever one does they should stay away from the Chancery [Court]. “It’s being ground to bits in a slow mill; it’s being roasted at a slow fire; it’s being stung to death by single bees; it’s being drowned by drops; it’s going mad by grains.”

Even putting aside the vision of being “drowned by drops,” the cost of litigation in terms of money, time and disruption frequently outweighs the benefit—even when you are in the right. Therefore, mediation or negotiated settlement is usually the better course.
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March 11 reception to introduce my new book:
I will be having a VIP reception and book signing for the release of my fifth book,
The Language of Excellence, Tuesday, March 11 at Landmark Booksellers in Franklin. The event starts at 5:30 pm. Join me for a little wine, caviar, and other treats. Unlike my previous books, this one is not a whodunit; however, it does tackle a mystery—the mystery of leadership. The event is an opportunity for us to discuss the Two Certainties in life as well as some of the other concepts in the book for dealing with just about everything life or business can throw at you. Landmark Booksellers is located at 114 East Main St., Franklin, Tennessee.

If you are not able to join me for the March 11 event, you can purchase my books on Amazon, other online stores, or at your favorite bookstore. Books include The Language of Excellence as well as my adventure mystery series including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer, and The Claret Murders.