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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 132: August 2010)

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Techniques for balance

  1. Buy quality merchandize. It looks better, lasts longer, makes you feel better. And it's usually cheaper in the long run than replacing inexpensive stuff every year.
  2. Contingent actions need checkpoints. In other words, that emergency kit in your car's trunk is worthless if, when opened in a time of need, the flashlight batteries are dead and the bandages don�t adhere.
  3. Sound precautions are intelligent, e.g., use strong sun block at the beach. But if you listened to every warning and admonition from every source you wouldn�t be able to leave the house. (One source claims it is dangerous to have dogs vaccinated against rabies.)
  4. Learn to accept a compliment. Don't deny the sender the joy of expressing it by coyly denying you deserve it or assuming an overly modest demeanor. "Thank you" will usually suffice.
  5. Reduce your wallet/pocketbook. Discard cards you never use, offers that have expired, old memberships, lint, and dead bugs.
  6. Why wouldn't you use the convenience of valet parking when it costs a tip of a couple of bucks? I�ve been at board meetings where colleagues who are worth millions brag that they saved $5 on parking by using a lot six blocks away. Somehow, I never paid much attention to their board comments.
  7. Two of the greatest "apps" in the world: Slingbox allows you to program and watch your cable TV from your lap top or iPad. And Dropbox creates immediate, duplicated files on all the platforms you include: desk top, lap top, iPhone, iPad, etc. No more need to transfer files, and you�re always updated, no matter where you are.
  8. If you have young children make tuition savings plans a high investment priority. The best private grammar school in Providence, RI now costs $25,000 per year, and $40,000 for the high school. Unless public schools vastly improve, this is going to be a serious consideration if you want the best education for your kids and the best opportunities for college.
  9. Ask yourself how much of others' behavior that bothers you is really enabled by your refusal to confront it or misguided efforts to tolerate it.
  10. Facebook and social platforms can create a misguided sense of importance that, carried over to work environments, create dysfunction. Business demands relevancy and profitable ideas, not simply random comment and noise.

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It's unusual to see a photo of my wife or me as children on the rides at the seashore, or playing outside, or on first and last days of school. There are posed photos at holidays, and a few rare vacation shots. There are no movies at all.

Our kids have been well-documented since birth, through graduations, and into adulthood—in hard copy, digitally, in "clouds," and forms I can't even understand. And our grandchildren, of course, are rarely undocumented these days.

When you combine all this with the ability of anyone to express their most mundane thoughts and banal actions publicly on social media platforms, I wonder if we�re not creating a generation (or two or three) or subliminal narcissists, young people who believe that every utterance is of equal importance and must be both acknowledged and reacted to. My daughter, an executive producer at MTV, tells me that interns react with astonishment when asked to make photocopies.

"That's a menial job," they point out.
"Who do you think is supposed to do the menial jobs if not interns?" asks my daughter.

When your every move is documented and broadcast by yourself or others, do you have an unreasonably heightened sense of importance, of privileges, of expectations? When anyone can produce an "ebook," or publish a video on YouTube, or for that matter appear on a reality show, it seems like a vast lowest common denominator is formed, one that makes Andy Warhol seem like an optimist. (Some day, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.) I don't know that I've ever witnessed a human being as deliberately vacant as Snookie of "Jersey Shore" fame. She admits to having read two books in her entire life.

The network news leads with a piece on Lindsay Lohan's latest legal infraction and her being sent to jail for 90 days. Then we see an advertisement for America's Got Talent (apparently less talent than I had imagined if these acts are representative) and a game show where you can win a million dollars by balancing nickels on your nose.

Have we become a society that craves so much individual limelight that the quality of the attention is subordinated to its quantity, and the constant documentation of our shrugs and moans from childhood create a sense of special privilege and entitlement?

I'll probably have to give this some more thought. But for now, I need to finish writing my personal newsletter.

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The human condition: Fustidiousness

Fustidiousness is one of my neologisms (like "obviousity"). I've created it to indicate those who are fussy to a fault; as an art form; focused on inanity and not sanity.

Our condo manager in Cape May is a nice enough guy, but very officious. When I asked him if I might pay for an extra parking space for my daughter's car when she visited us for five nights—and I observed that every night there were at least ten vacant spaces in a light rental year—he turned me down cold. It's just not done, there is one space for every condo, and that's that. This means that her car would have to be parked on a non-metered street overnight, which can involve a six-block walk.

I solved this dilemma by driving one block to the Congress Inn, under the same ownership as our condo but a huge hotel, and gave their valet $10, who promptly handed me a magic pass and asked if I wouldn't mind parking in the back lot. I would not mind at all.

The condo superintendent, a different manager, meanwhile, trades his space with my car every year, so that I can park unmolested with no cars near me. I provide a generous lagniappe for this courtesy.

Fustidiousness goes beyond the mere fussy, or particular, or even anal-retentive. It is the army colonel who told his corporal that he should not have initialed a receipt at his rank, and that he should erase his initials and then initial the erasure. (True story, you can't make this up.) It's the Broadway theater house manager who attentively watches her sweep second hand to open the doors at precisely 7:30, even though they can be opened earlier, it's raining, and other shows have let people in. It's the immigration officer who sends you to the back of the line because you didn't check off three boxes and he won�t let you do it at his window.

People are fustidious when they lack power. They make up and/or enforce menial rules in order to provide themselves with some psychological solace for their perceptions of powerlessness. (Power does NOT corrupt, by the way, powerlessness corrupts.) This knows no economic or hierarchical bounds. We were once "entertained" at a wealthy person's home with a small group of people, and we were allowed one cocktail each with solely one ice cube, and men could not remove their jackets even though it was 80 degrees since our host did not turn on the air conditioner short of 90.

I felt as if I were in a zoo. As one of the animals. Though they have some rights.

Almost every customs official I�ve ever met is fustidious.

But, then again, that's an obviousity.

Approaching Developmental Events


September 16-17
Hyatt Regency Goat Island
Newport, RI

A rare third offering, due to popular demand. Building on my work with individuals around the globe, I want to help you:

  • Identify the uncertainties, perceived vulnerabilities, and situations which cause you to perform at less than your optimal capacity.
  • Understand the causes of those dynamics, and receive timely yet non-threatening feedback about how to resolve them.
  • Master and apply techniques that will help you maintain and manifest a high self-esteem level "in the moment" when it is most needed.
  • Avoid the debris and detritus in your life which tend to damage self-esteem, and focus on the routes of least resistance to self-worth and its manifestation.

In brief, personally and professionally, you will be able to deal with daily routine and exceptional circumstances; with varied and often tough personalities in your life; and to overcome the problems caused by pressure, unfamiliarity, and perceived threat.


September 27, 2010
Sea Pines Plantation
Hilton Head, SC

The ability to write with influence, facility, and speed is critical in creating articles, position papers, proposals, blog entries, business correspondence, reports, inquiries, and, of course, books. Imagine being able to write a superb article within an hour, a winning proposal within two hours, an enticing booklet within a day, an exciting book proposal within a week (and a book in two months)?! I'm inviting you to join me to learn my secrets (over 10 million words in print) in a single, intensive day of learning. Optional small group Writer's Circles will emerge for monthly phone meetings with me. (This is scheduled immediately prior to my Private Roster Mentor Program Summit at the same property.)


October 13-15, 2010
The Breakers
West Palm Beach, FL

An incredible three full days, focused on building your profile as a thought leader and "go to" person in your niche. We will have an outside, undisputed thought leader for one discussion segment, videos to deconstruct, three books to discuss, a personalized commercial book outline created, elegant meals, and a great deal more under my very aggressive leadership. Emerge with a clear blueprint, which will include my Stairstep Methodology, to become THE thought leader in your field. Maximum 16 people admitted, all meals and luxury lodging included. Marshall Goldsmith, the pre-eminent thought leader in executive and personal coaching, will be my guest as a discussion leader on the final morning


Denver, CO,
October 7.
Venue to be announced.

Accelerate you speaking and consulting career, the lowest price workshop I've produced in many years, intended for newcomers, people who are "stuck," and veterans who need a boost. An intensive day in Denver, includes a free book. Take a day to move your career ahead by a year.


October 26-27
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, RI

Back for a second time by popular demand, use the extensive prep work, two-day event, teleconferences, podcasts, and coaching to create, develop, complete, and market your own new product, from text to electronic, from clients to prospects, from New York to Tokyo.


October 28
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, RI

This is a methodology workshop analogous to The Strategist and The Coach. I only touched on change management in my Best Practices Workshop, due to the volume of material I was covering This workshop is intended for consultants who are (or who seek to be) engaged in change management efforts in large and small businesses, non-profits, government, and/or educational institutions. (Sign up for Thought Leadership, above, and attend this with my compliments!)


December 13-17
Castle Hill Inn
Newport, RI

Participate in the finest development anywhere for consultants and related professionals. This will be our 15th. The 2011 College is scheduled for London (see below).

Participate in the finest development anywhere for consultants and related professionals. Take advantage of exchange rates now!

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Desperately trying to make small talk (which I'm dreadful at under any circumstances) with a dinner host in his home who was so wealthy he could have bought and sold me ten times, I finally said, gazing out over his 40 acres on Greenwich Bay and rambling home, "How did you come to live in this place?"

He said, "It was right after the war that my family built here."

I figured I could carry on with this, estimated his age, and so I ventured, "Were prices very good after World War II?"

"What? NO!" he said, moving away, "this was a land grant from King George. You know, the Revolutionary War...."

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Video Rant

See Writing on the Wall, featuring Koufax the Wonder Dog.

Visit my blog

Two new podcasts every week. Special cigar smoking room.

2010 Teleconference Series

A powerful, exciting lineup for the coming year. For the first time we'll be dealing with setting priorities, living large, spirituality, creating communities, and much more. Free downloads and recordings of every session are included.

The Odd Couple®

Las Vegas, NV,
June 25-26, 2011

We're baaaaaack!! Alan Weiss and Patricia Fripp in Vegas, for their 13th presentation of this now legendary workshop. Two days solely on marketing for professional and aspiring speakers, including technology, social platforms, building communities, and the accelerant curve! Don't miss the learning or the fun!

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.


January 12-13, 2011

January 12-13, 2011 I'm offering the Change Management Workshop and the Thrive! Workshop on successive days in Berlin. Join us for this first offering in one of my favorite cities.


April 4-8, 2011

Million Dollar Consulting� College. The first ever run in Europe, and our 16th overall.

I've found that optimism and pessimism are rarely situational. They are usually philosophic positions. You have two alternatives. Which are you choosing?—AW

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