Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 208, December 2016)

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• Spend less time worrying about upgrades and more time focused on business that will reward you with an excellent life not dependent on upgrades.

• No successful general ever had a strategy of trying not to lose. Every fortress is eventually overrun, circumvented, or starved out.

• Try reading a novel and nonfiction book concurrently, alternating reading. It’s diverse and refreshing.

• It seems as if the more media experts we have the less accuracy results.

• Every time I feel that airport security is a drag I remind myself of just how horrible those jobs are. I’m through in ten minutes, they’re through in eight hours.

• If you don’t respect your audience, your members, or your clients/customers, you should get out of that career.

• Assuming that anyone who disagrees with you is stupid is an ignorant position.

• If you want me to do you a favor, try to show me how it’s also in my best self-interest and I’ll act with more speed and commitment.

• “Listen to all the options because the choices have changed” is a lie to try to prevent you from hitting 0 right away to talk to a human being. My advice is to hit 0 right away.

• I’ve never had my credit card number stolen in an email, but I have at an airline counter and in a restaurant. Your liability is only $50 when you discover the fraud, and most companies will not charge you a thing.


Allow me to share my writing philosophy here in the hopes it might be helpful to some of you. Of course, it may be somewhat surprising, as well.

I don’t write for the readers in my free newsletters, I write for myself. I’m not trying to maximize subscriber numbers or plaudits. My belief is that intelligent people can read varying opinions and agree or disagree without going ballistic. I follow this philosophy here, in Million Dollar Consulting® Mindset, and in Alan’s Monday Morning Memo®.

Recently, I mentioned in the Monday Memo that it was stunning that with so much going against him (much of it his own making), Trump was nonetheless in a tight race (and look what happened after I wrote that). I made no political point nor did I take a side. Yet someone wrote to me and told me he was unsubscribing because I had “inserted a political opinion.” At another time, a woman threatened that if I wrote another column she didn’t disagree with, she’s stop subscribing.  

I remind you these are FREE newsletters! I was never threatened when a $100,000 client warned they might pull their business. I don’t scare easily. The  threat of not reading my free newsletter made my dogs laugh. I unsubscribed both protestors on the spot.

THEY are the arrogant ones, not I. I write to provoke, challenge, and make people think. I don’t care you if agree or disagree, and care even less that you let me know. Here’s F. Scott Fitzgerald: The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. I trust that you can open your mind to new or different ideas and decide for yourself whether they make sense and/or are right for you. I don’t expect you to accept proselytizing, attempts at conversion, or attacks on your principles. But I do expect you not to froth at the mouth if I suggest something contrary to your current thinking.

My feeling is that my best readers want to make sure that I don’t unsubscribe.


I am NOT making political endorsements or suggestions here, I am making observations. I thought President Obama’s comments about “peaceful transitions of power” were very impressive. I thought both Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s remarks after the results were final were impressive.

I’m not impressed by celebrities who threaten to leave the country, because they never do. Their fame and wealth are here, and they’re not about to abandon them. I don’t agree with protestors who clog the streets and cause damage, but freedom of speech is important to uphold and respect. I have to admit I am troubled by 80 million registered voters who apparently chose not to vote, but that, too, is their right.

The human condition is not necessarily one of polarization. While tribes and cultures have been fighting for land and resources and power for millennia, they have also been able to come together for mutual benefit. I’m writing this piece from Kyoto, and I own three German-built cars. We can afford neither to hold grudges in endless enmity among nations nor among ourselves.

The right to disagree, debate, and demur is important, even vital. But the belief that you’re with us or against us, you’re friend or enemy, is absurd. Despite the fact we may agree on a hundred other issues, this one issue creates an impregnable divide? Like the starship Enterprise, the emotional  “shields” descend and prevent rational discourse and even logic from penetrating. You’re the “enemy,” so I have no intention of listening.

I have never believed that someone else is “damaged” just because they disagree with my position, nor do I begin firing from the upper stories because someone has approached with an idea I dislike. And I think it’s the height of arrogance to consider someone’s education or degrees. I know a lot of non-graduates who are brilliant, and a lot of degree-holders whom I wouldn’t trust to walk my dogs. I want to respect the person, not the résumé.

Maybe this election will tell us something about ourselves beyond the fact that polls are pretty worthless these days, and people are not so easily influenced by the media.

I was once invited to a dinner by a very rich man, famously affluent, and a dozen of us sat around his table in splendor. I asked him at one point how he acquired 40 acres on the water. “We received a grant after the war,” he told me.

“World War II?” I guessed.

“No, the Revolutionary War.”

When we drove home, my wife told me I looked odd. I told her it was because of a parting comment. Our host had taken me aside and said, “I like you. If you ever need anything, call me, because it’s us against them.”

“What’s bothering you about that?” she asked.

“Well, if we’re ‘us,’ who on earth is ‘them’?”


After surgery to correct a crooked ring finger, I was given therapy instructions on how to massage it and gain flexibility. I absently would do this four times a day while watching football or sitting on a plane or reading a book.

One day I realized I had much greater flexibility and no pain whatsoever, so I must have “broken through” some scar tissue or critical resistance. When I looked down to see if the swelling had subsided, I realized I had been working on the wrong finger. (It did have, however, excellent flexibility.)


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