The past 30 years have been an extremely exciting time for management, and I am thrilled to have been allowed to play in the middle of that. I look at life as a series of experiments. There are things that didn't work out as well as they might have, but I made the best decision that I could at the time. I sometimes think we don't learn very much from our mistakes, but it's a nice idea. The thing that I would do over is that I'd try to have broader interests - I am so absorbed by my work. Churchill had his painting, Roosevelt had his stamp collection.I wish I had a true abiding passion for something like that.
One thing I wouldn't change is that my mother turned me into an inveterate reader, and so absorbing ideas and researching is really central in my life. If I had to take my degrees over, I'd take history.
I consider myself a frustrated academic. The notion of spending four years of your life delving into original papers about someone who was significant 100 years ago, and discovering a long-lost box of correspondence between Franklin and Jefferson or something like that would be marvellous. I don't think I have the disposition for the total engagement with people to sit through life in a big company. The notion of a day that consisted of seven meetings would drive me out of my mind.
I don't believe in obedience. If you've worked for yourself for 20 years, the idea of being heavily involved in an organisation where someone else is in charge becomes much less attractive. I never think of retiring. It's not wired into my genes.
Management guru Tom Peters, co-author of In Search of Excellence, is founder of tompeterscompany!. He has worked as a partner at McKinsey & Co and published his latest book Re-imagine! in November.