Balancing Act #174: February 2014



A free monthly newsletter about balancing life, work, and relationships based on the books and popular workshops conducted by Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Past copies are archived on our web site:

Copyright 2013 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved.

ISSN 1934-3116



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Balancing act is in four sections this month:

1. Techniques for balance

2. Musings

3. The human condition: Retribution




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1. Techniques for balance



2. Musings


I was sitting in a hotel club lounge having breakfast one  morning when a man sat down and announced out loud, "How can anyone watch this crap?!" I looked up at the TV for the first time and saw a Good Morning America piece on the proper application of mascara. (I think that's what it was, it could have been eye liner.)


"Who put this on?" he asked me, as if I were on the staff.

"It was on when I walked in," I mentioned, wondering if I had chosen an outfit that resembled a concierge. "Why don't you change it?"


"Ah, they're all the same," he said, addressing his eggs, which led me to believe he did not know how to change the channel.


I see people with ear buds and head phones all the time, many of them wandering into me like driftwood at high tide. A great many people walk into a hotel room and immediately turn the TV on, no matter what channel. I asked my wife once why she was watching something in the kitchen that looked to be about motorboat racing. She replied, "I'm not really watching, I just wanted some noise while I fed the dogs."


For a lot of us, background noise isn’t distracting, it's desired. I realize there's some difference between selected music and indiscriminate noise, but a great deal of that music isn’t closely attended, it's just melodic, pleasant, background….noise.


I actually enjoy the sounds of silence. I've had tinnitus for 25 years, so technically my world is never totally silent, but unless I focus on the ringing in my ears I don't realize it's there. Watching the world in silence can be a great joy. If you watch an athletic competition with the sound turned off and no announcers explaining every second or crowd noise indicating excitement, it's a very different experience. You have to pay closer attention and draw your own conclusions. Too often, the "great catch" is in the mind of the announcer or the home town, partisan crowd.


I'm not advocating we all become mute. But I am suggesting that the mindless, unconscious pursuit or noise to fill the silence isn't always the best way to focus, or enjoy, or relax.


And we ought to do it when it's within our control to do so. I've been in too many restaurants and on too many planes when I would have paid good money just to turn off the noise around me.


3. The human condition: Retribution


I'm sitting here in the Four Seasons in Palm Beach watching a very angry ocean through floor-to-ceiling windows in my suite. I've always loved that phrase, "angry ocean," though of course the ocean isn't mad at anyone and it's the wind actually kicking up the waves.


Nature simply exists, it doesn't attempt to "get even." No matter how much we anthropomorphize animals or plants, they don't seek revenge, they simply react as programmed. But unlike a cheetah or a tulip, humans are not programmed.


We do seek revenge.


We act as though bullying is a modern phenomenon, but it certainly existed in my high school in the mid-60s. Most bullies are insecure (many abused as children), and they seek to bring others down to their own perceived level of inferiority. You might say they seek "revenge" on those they see as superior.


The worst bullying, however, and the worst of the vengeful, are those who are in power and still insecure. The great cable TV show, "The Boss," starring Kelsey Grammar as a Chicago mayor, was brilliant in its depiction of vengeance. I find "House of Cards" with Kevin Spacey on Netflix of the same bloodline. But these shows merely limn current reality.


Michael Bloomberg, a kizillionaire, and Rudy Giuliani before him, strong New York mayors, have been relentless in combatting real and perceived enemies and opponents. Now Chris Christie, New Jersey's governor, with realistic possibilities for a presidential nomination in a year with no incumbent, has undermined himself with a crass decision to tie-up the streets of Fort Lee by closing George Washington Bridge access lanes, as punishment for that city's mayor not supporting his reelection. This crass act stalled ambulances, isolated school buses, and made thousands late for work.


Christie had already won that election, but he wanted his revenge. (He of course says it was his aides who did it without his knowledge, which is totally implausible.) The weakest, most sorrowful, most pathetic people to me aren't the 'losers," but rather the "winners" who aren't satisfied with victory but are only sated when they can punish those who dared disagree or oppose.


Tough competition is needed in politics, business, and life. But revenge after World War I created Hitler in Germany. After World War II we created great allies in Germany and Japan, focused on reconstruction, not revenge.


There are two words for people for whom vengeance is the only answer: personality disorder.





Join a very small group in my suite on the morning of April 25 to be provoked, hounded, and intimidated into success. We'll develop more aggressive approaches and marketing expressly for each person in the room that morning. $2,500: [email protected]



Up to six people only, at my home, Feb. 26-27. Some feel it's the most powerful experience I create. Sold out, wait list only.



April 1, New York City, Palace Hotel

There are critical thinking skills which can be used instantly with impressive influence to solve problems, make decisions, innovate, negotiate, and so forth. This session will explain them in both detail and rapid fire use, and make you adept at utilizing them.



March 31 in New York, June 2 in LA

Learn improve in the morning, how to apply in the buyer's office and stay in the moment in the afternoon. Unique. $1,495.



May 5-9, Newport, RI

I keep moving out and they keep pulling me back! I've had requests and people throwing money, so I'll do another at a time of year when it's often possible to have drinks on the beach. Join me for the longest continuing major event I conduct, now in its ninth year.



Four Seasons, Palm Beach

Oct. 22-24


SOLD OUT, wait list only. Dan Pink thrilled everyone this year, and 18 of those participants immediately signed up again! The internationally famed political analyst James Carville is my special guest. The fee is $10,500.




Personal Power


London, April 23

Bali, July 10


This workshop will explore and build "presence" and charisma. We'll create and practice the traits that work for you to:


• Command a discussion

• Influence a meeting

• Turn objection into advantage

• Be instantly accepted and heeded

• Enable others to be successful by being with you

• Set the standard for others

• Build personal and/or professional communities


We'll use actual examples and then create scenarios where participants will role-play with feedback from peers in a "fishbowl" environment.


In one day, we will increase your personal power. What's that worth to you?


Fee: $1,495 until February 1. $1,795 thereafter.

Growth Cycle discounts, Alan and Bentley Cards apply.


Note that Bali setting will be in a casual "retreat" atmosphere.

10% additional discount on Bali sessions until February 1!


The Pivot Point


London April 24

Bali, July 11


The pivot point is that point at which you dig your foot into the conversational turf and change direction. You "run to daylight" in the immortal coach Vince Lombardi's words.


Great athletes turn quickly toward opportunity. People do the same in successful careers and conversations. This is how to escape wandering and meandering discussions and "run to daylight." Your daylight, of course, is a proposal and a project.


In this half-day session, we'll:


• Practice the language and techniques to suddenly shift a discussion

• Identify and master how to use others' language to change course

• Accelerate the speed of progress suddenly

• Practice standard and customized pivots


We'll use extensive role-play which participants are encouraged to record for personal reinforcement.


Bonus Option


In the afternoon, we'll practice in an informal discussion group for anyone who chooses to perfect these skills still more. We will challenge each other with instant feedback on progress. This will be a strenuous workout.


Fee: $750 for the morning until February 1. $1,000 thereafter.

Bonus afternoon: $495 until February 1. $$750 thereafter.

You must attend the morning to attend the afternoon.


Note that Bali setting will be in a casual "retreat" atmosphere.

10% additional discount on Bali sessions until February 1!



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The service in the concierge lounge at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong is among the best I've ever experienced. Every need is anticipated. There is a full-time chef, 24-hour service, great food.


So I was surprised when no one came to fill my coffee cup during breakfast. I held up the cup and smiled at one of the managers. He smiled back. I held up the cup a second time and pointed inside it. Apparently still uncertain he approached the table but without a coffee pot.


He then reached next to me, took the pot already on the table, and poured me a second cup, bowed slightly, and returned to his post.


"Some day," my wife said, "you'll take the time to turn your head."



Don't try to interrupt the self-absorbed. Just pass them by. -- Alan Weiss