Drucker & Me

In 1982, a young, ambitious Texas entrepreneur was looking for an edge. The family business he inherited had been growing at a rate of twenty-four percent annually, but he wanted more. Not so much for the money—he had plenty—but because money was his way of keeping score. Bob Buford loved the thrill of the chase; loved growing the business. So he wrote a carefully worded letter to a man whose books he had read and ideas he treasured: Peter F. Drucker. Thus began a twenty-three year relationship that quickly progressed from paid consultant to valued mentor to close personal friend.

Drucker & Me is a warm and riveting account of that unusual and unlikely relationship. Separated in age by a generation, the two seemed to have little in common. Drucker spoke with a heavy Austrian accent; Buford spoke Texan. Buford owned a cable television business; Drucker did not even own a single television. Buford followed his beloved Dallas Cowboys; Drucker followed Japanese art.

But as their relationship deepened, they discovered a mutual passion for a phenomenon they both believed could literally change the world.

Although Drucker wrote thirty-nine books, and others have written dozens more about him, this is the first book that reveals an intimate and personal side of the “father of modern management” (a moniker Drucker hated). With Drucker’s permission, the author recorded their conversations over twenty-three years which covered everything from their mentoring relationship, to Drucker’s growing disappointment with corporate America, to his enthusiastic embrace of the non-profit sector, including his eventual involvement in what he called “the most important social phenomenon in American society in the last thirty years:” the mega-church movement.

Buford, author of the best-selling book Half Time, paints an intimate portrait of a man who he considers to be to one of the most brilliant visionaries of the twentieth century. “Peter was to management what Shakespeare was to literature,” Buford observed. “His mental horizons were boundless. The examples he used came from every century and every continent.”

Drucker & Me provides an inside account of how Drucker, counsel to global corporations like General Motors and proctor and Gamble, became energized by a series of under-the-radar meetings with an elite group of pastors of large churches. It takes you behind the scenes into the conversations he had with mega-church pastors and best-selling authors Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. And it traces his interest in the large evangelical church phenomenon to his belief that the goal of non-profit organizations is “changed lives.”

In addition to sharing the back story of Drucker receiving the prestigious Medal of Freedom, Drucker & Me takes the reader into his humble home in Claremont, California and shows how this prolific author never let his fame or fortune change his simple approach to life: a functional house within walking distance to a job that allowed him to do what he loved; a wife he adored who repeated the same April Fool’s trick on him every year; talented children who he loved; and his writing—thirty-nine books, including the one he was working on shortly before his death at age ninety-five.

Drucker & Me offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of a man whose interest in management was predicated on his passion for contributing to a “fully functioning society.” His serendipitous introduction to an entrepreneur from Texas opened a new world for both of them that resulted in the strengthening of a movement that they believed could play a significant role in restoring decency, civility, and compassion to a culture derailed by greed and dysfunction. Buford also recounts Drucker’s influence on his own personal transformation as described in his best-selling book, Half Time, and the global movement it fostered.

Where others have chronicled Drucker’s contribution to the literature and practice of management, Buford has woven a compelling and heartfelt story about the man behind the legend.Drucker & Me is destined to become a classic for the millions of Drucker’s ardent fans in the business, non-profit, and a mega-church communities.