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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 152, April 2012 )

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Techniques for balance

  • You can help ten people who want to be helped in the same time it takes to realize you can't help the one person who doesn't want to be helped.
  • I watched a well-dressed, well-groomed woman in an upscale restaurant last night fight her food as if it were self-defense. If she were trying to sell or influence me at a meal, she'd lose me at the appetizer. If that were her husband with her, he's doing her no favors, since he ate correctly.
  • Like it or not, our society in the US (and many other places) embraces gratuities. Many people depend on them for a decent living. If you're in doubt, tip. If you're in doubt about the size of the tip (assuming good service), use the upper range. The cost to you is very little, the benefit you provide is significant.
  • Think about the emotional, political, relationship, financial, and aspirational issues you deal with regularly. Then realize that the OTHER person, despite position, rank, or responsibility, has the exact same kinds of issues. It will level your playing field.
  • You want to feel good quickly? Allow another driver to enter your line or turn in front of you; say "thank you" to the people who fill the water glass and bus the table at dinner; drop some change in the charity boxes and canisters you encounter. You'll feel better about the day.
  • I ask people in workshops to list their top five talents. Many actually struggle, as if I had asked for the square root of 13,786.99. You probably can tell me immediately what you're not good at. But do you know what you're really good at? How else can you use your talents frequently?
  • People drinking liquor in first class at 8am are either trying to inappropriately get everything they can from an experience that is rare for them, or have a genuine problem.
  • You can arrange, choreograph, and orchestrate your day, but it's virtually never that black and white, but rather shades of grey. How adept are you at spontaneity, dealing with ambiguity, and operating "in the grey"?
  • People who put their convertible tops down when it's 55 degrees are simply trying too hard. (And people who put up those ridiculous windscreens and keep the windows up with the top down when it's 75 degrees, simply don't understand the concept.)
  • If you don't tell yourself several times a week, "This was a great day!" or "What a fabulous morning!" you're in the worst kind of rut. Get out of it.

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Before Johnny Carson became the canonical version of a talk show host, he emceed a game show called "Whom do you trust?" (originally "Who do you trust?" until the grammar brigade, still potent back then, forced the correction!). As kids, we played a game called "Truth or Dare?" (which had more interesting variations in college, or so I'm told).

We've been hearing forever that we are destroying the earth through overpopulation, with a lot of people still quoting Thomas Malthus whose most recent work was about 400 years ago. Yet contemporaries make cogent arguments about unchecked population growth and the deterioration of quality of life.

In the New York Times, however, regular columnist David Brooks ("The Fertility Implosion," March 13) recently pointed out that birthrates are too low, seriously imperiling growth and stability in countries from China to Germany, India to Japan. The Middle East, he notes, is having precipitous drops in birth rates. This information is in contrast to conventional wisdom (e.g., poverty and low incomes result in higher birth rates).

As with the Great Recession, stock market projections, and the local weather forecasts, we have to come to grips with the reality that NORK prevails (No One Really Knows). That puts us into dangerous ambiguity, I know, what with global warming, terrorism, international financial entanglements, food sources, housing, gas prices, and so forth. We take comfort with these imponderables by believing that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has the expertise, and actually KNOWS.

But NORK pertains. I remind you that in ever jury trial featuring expert testimony there are hired guns on each side of the issue, bearing enough degrees and expertise to befoul the courtroom. That's why we have juries, because after a while it's clear that NORK is the only truth we're hearing.

My advice is to get comfortable, maximize your news inputs, heighten your senses, and be judicious about what you believe. Just because they found the toys and camera that produced the most "reputable" picture of the Loch Ness Monster along with a deathbed confession of the perpetrator of the hoax, doesn't mean there's nothing down there. Whether there is or not, does it really have a bearing on what you decide to have for dinner tonight? Probably not.

Get comfortable with NORK. Otherwise, you're tempted to try to determine whether every expert, teacher, and ideologue is really Paul Revere or Chicken Little.

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The human condition: TIAABB

This is a construct I created over a decade ago. It stands for, "There Is Always A Bigger Boat," and I believe it's right up there with SNAFU, TANSTAAFL, and other acronyms.

Trying to obtain the biggest and the best is the soubrette of materialism. High-tech billionaires competing with the Sultan of Brunei to build and maintain the world's largest yacht is like roller derby to me—there is no point to it. (Some of these dreadnoughts are so huge that they can't fit into harbors, so no one can see them anyway, anchored out at sea.)

I think that competition about size, longevity, expense, popularity (people collect followers on Twitter as if they were stamps in a disregarded and unviewed collection) is a sign of an abyss of self-worth. If you must prove yourself by acquiring solely the biggest "thing" and then making sure everyone knows it, their is something lacking in your general security.

I'm the last to say that the pursuit of material items, the good life, and fine experiences are inappropriate. But the distinction for me is that you should be able to enjoy yourself without the artificial assurance that you have the largest boat. If Paul Allen and the Sultan have nothing better to do than commission huge yachts that they seldom use, then there's something wrong with their lives.

As we succeed, we tend to indulge in finer experiences and more materialism (but not always, and that's hardly a prerequisite for success). If you're never satisfied unless you have the best vacation, the funniest joke, the best looking spouse, or the largest diamond, you're going to have to spend a lot of time proving to yourself that there isn't someone hiding around the block with a better, funnier, larger one.

Growth, ambition, and aspiration are wonderful attributes, but like any other, become dysfunctional in the extreme.

I remember long ago being shown a house on Belvedere Island in Marin, outside of San Francisco, with the harbor seals barking down below. "My God," I said.

"Is something wrong?" sniffed the realtor.

"Well, I think I just felt my reality rush past my aspirations, and I lost my breath!"

That was lost on her, but it's never been lost on me.



For some time, people who are veterans of my communities and events have asked for “special time” with others they believe are at their particular level of success and career progression, and with me, personally. I’ve tried to provide that with a variety of offerings and intimate experiences, but I think it’s time to formalize the opportunity for those who have garnered the learning and experiences requisite to grow dramatically—personally and professionally—within small groups. I’ve created two types of groups for such a growth cycle: Alan’s Roundtable™ and Alan’s Circle™. I’ve consulted with people globally on needs and preferences, and I’ve studied what some others are doing who have strong brands, long-time relationships, and requests for more intimate growth experiences. I’ve tried to synthesize what I’ve learned and heard with my unique communities and my own strengths.


London, May 8, 2012: Baglioni Hotel

In an extensive day of recorded role-plays and case studies, learn how to establish objectives, metrics, and value that will gain conceptual agreement with a buyer and lead directly to large proposals with almost guaranteed acceptance. We will provide everyone with videos of their simulations, and everyone is encouraged to record their own and others. I'm buying dinner for the first ten registrants in each city. This will sell out quickly. Sold out in Miami.


April 18, 2012
Alan's Home, East Greenwich, RI

January and February sold out. We take only six people through an intensive day of self-discovery and sustaining skills. Includes dinner the evening prior. Four seats remain for April. Join us for this personal and intense experience.


April 17, 2012
Washington, DC (venue to be announced)

Seth Kahn and Linda Henman, two award-winning veterans of Alan's mentoring programs, are presenting this content-packed, "turn key" day on how to identify, meet, and gain projects with economic buyers in all size private and public organizations. A small group with maximum personal application. You can immediately apply the skills and behaviors you'll develop.


May 22-23
New York City area (venue to be announced)

Learn how to implement strategy and change management projects. Implementation is where the value and the money are. Walk away with a huge tool kit to provide tremendous value where most organizations desperately need help: implementing strategic and tactical change. A two-day MBA.


May 24
New York City area (venue to be announced)

Learn from the master how to "run a room," provide your own IP to increase your value, handle discord and resistance, and gain consensus and accelerated speed. Discount if you attend The Implementation Workshop immediately before it (and observe the facilitation!).


June 7
Marriott Hotel, Los Angeles International Airport

We drew 250 people to the Boston session of this presentation. Join Alan at a ridiculous price for six hours on buyers, fees, objections, language, options, leverage, marketing plans, and much more. He's even buying lunch! Hear directly from his Master Mentors who will be helping small groups.


June 6
Marriott Hotel, Los Angeles International Airport

Go to the site above and watch the free, content-packed videos. The final one will provide a $550 discount for this unique event. The public price is $1500. Learn how to actually get things done without procrastination�how to organize, set priority, create speed, and see results. If you ever feel overwhelmed, or lost, or scattered, you can't afford to miss this event. One day, one time.


October 22-24, 2012
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, FL

The third annual event, featuring as our special guest Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science, which is being re-released in an updated edition at the time of our conference. Our prior guests have been Marshall Goldsmith and David Maister. Join us to learn how to quickly emerge as a thought leader in your specialty or segment, using unique exercises and diagnostics. Includes lodging and meals. (The Graduate Program following is already sold out.)

Million Dollar Consulting� College

December 3-7
Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI

The is the only Consulting College scheduled in 2012, and the first in over a year. There may not be another until 2014. This is a singular event for consultants seeking to raise their game. Still personally run by Alan in a world-class property. Including almost all meals and extensive materials. Limited enrollment.


Join me for a 15-minute Friday audio, a 10-minute monthly video, and a full day of workshops during the year. Charge yourself up each week with pragmatic and direct advice, including questions from the wrappers. We had over 40 people from all over the world join us in Las Vegas in 2011. This year we're in San Francisco in June.

$750 gives you access to ALL PAST recordings as well as this year's presentations!


Join me for topics such as processing information more quickly, constructive confrontation, and the "mental gym." This year there is a learning guide distributed prior to each teleconference. Free downloads within 48 hours. We begin next month. Free downloads after every teleconference.

Digital Empire Creation
Provided by Chad Barr and his team

Work with the strategic technological genius, Chad Barr, Master Mentor and Mentor Hall of Fame member, who is behind all of my web activity (and co-author with me of Million Dollar Web Presence coming out next year). His team will create "instant" intellectual property from your material and place it in a variety of forms on the Internet on a continuing basis.



Gaining 1,000 subscribers a month. A quick-hit primer and booster on the essentials of consulting marketing and delivery.

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I held our periodic Mentor Summit at the Delano Hotel in Miami, which is upscale and so hip you could swear you had found the Fountain of Youth. The service was fabulous, not the least of which was the "door opening girls" who simply performed that chore between the lobby and rear terrace where the outdoor restaurant and pool (and our bungalow) were located.

This detail might be important: Every single one of them looked like Miss Venezuela, Miss Philippines, or….well, you get the picture.

One day my wife and I are having lunch and my chair was oriented in such a way that I was looking over my wife's shoulder toward the door opening girls. It was of course shear coincidence, and I thought I kept my behavior in correct constraint. However, a waiter suddenly rushed over from the entrance.

"Yes, sir?" he asked.

"I don't need anything at the moment," I said.

"But I thought you nodded at me," he explained.

"No," said my wife, "just get out of his line of sight."

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2012 Teleconference Series

Next year there is a learning guide before each teleconference, and a free download, as always. Join us for �Conversation Domination� and �The Mental Gym,� as well at 8 other sessions of advanced skills building.

Shameless Promotion

East Greenwich, RI
Scheduled on demand

One-to-four people participate in a rigorous two days of promotional "mayhem," in which we create assertive and powerful approaches to mold thought leaders, "go to" people, interviewing targets, and objects of interest. The second course is now completed, and we ensure compatibility by vetting applicants. Nothing else like this if you seek to "rise above the noise." One to four people, scheduled at mutual convenience. The third one has recently been formed.

You can pine for yesterday, fear tomorrow, or maximize today. That's not really all that hard a choice, is it? —AW

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