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Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 05/04/2020

Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 05/04/2020


When I was in third grade, I majored in trying to be the teacher’s pet. I was insufferable, but really quite adept at it. One day, a quite antiquated visiting English expert came to our class. She asked everyone to provide a word for each letter of the alphabet. I bided my time, crouched like a leopard, awaiting “X.” When she got there, I shouted “xylophone!”

“No, dear,” she said, “that begins with ‘Z’.” My third grade teacher stared at the ceiling. I realized there and then at age 8, that authority does not equal expertise.

Warren Buffet said yesterday that he’s optimistic. I’m with him, because he’s outrageously and consistently correct. I paid close attention to my scuba and ski instructors, but not to people giving me free advice. I’ve watched esteemed business leaders make avoidable mistakes because they were blinded by their own arrogance. My correcting them has bordered on doxology for the people who suffered from their sins.

I never assume anyone is “damaged” at the outset (though most self-help books make that exact assumption). I believe everyone is trying their best and expects the best from others, which is why I’ve never been nervous on a stage. I know the audience is supportive.

But you need to know the basics, to know how to spell if it’s your specialty, in order to influence others. The doctor at my antigen test, whose mask didn’t cover his nose, might have been a star in medical school, but I was happy he wasn’t the one who drew my blood.

I said that an expert was a fella who was afraid to learn anything new because then he wouldn’t be an expert anymore.—Harry Truman

I’m a scientific expert; that means I know nothing about absolutely everything.—Arthur Clarke

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Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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