Printer Friendly Format

Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 174, February 2014 )

Follow me on Twitter! You can find me here:
Every day I provide 2-3 brief, pithy pieces of advice for growth. Join the thousands who read these �quick hits� every morning.

And find me on Facebook:

Free consulting newsletter: The Million Dollar Consulting� Mindset:
Monthly, fast advice on consulting techniques with case studies.

Return to Top

  • If you're not willing to spend money or travel, that's your decision. But you're not going to be successful as a consultant.

  • Part-time avocations are fine. But part-time occupations don't work, for example, consulting in your spare time. That's because I'm not familiar with part-time commitment or part-time passion.

  • When in doubt, tip. And when in doubt about the size of the tip, err on the side of high. It really costs you nothing in the long run and there is no down side.

  • The most useless, overrated focus since Y2K is SEO. If you don't know what that means, good, just read on.

  • When someone doesn't buy from you it doesn't mean you have poor value or you're a lousy sales person. It means solely that that person didn't buy on this day. Get over it.

  • Adjectives are cheap. Everyone is a "best selling" author or a "sought after" speaker or a "world class" coach. Nouns are more expensive: How many BOOKS, how many SPEECHES, how many CLIENTS?

  • Manners are not situational. Thank the person who pours the water at the restaurant, or the doorman who holds the door open. Every job has dignity and should be respected.

  • You should be able to carry on a discussion with almost anyone on almost any topic, not necessarily as an expert, but as an informed person. Read the New Your Times and Wall Street Journal every day, and you'll be able to. (No, not cover-to-cover, just scan the headlines and read things of interest.)

  • The laziest questions in the world are "What should I have asked you that I haven't?" or "What else can you tell me?" or "What other thoughts to you have?" I never answer them. Develop specific, high interest questions.

  • The ocean's waves infallibly erode whatever structures were created in the sand. That's what constant stress will do to the structures you try to build in your life. You can't stop the ocean, but you can stop the stress..

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.


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
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!


This is a free newsletter which is my fastest growing, with monthly, brief insights about consulting and expressing expertise. NEW: For those of you who would like more of an experiential approach and to accelerate learning and results, I'm offering a Professional Subscription. For just $50 I'll provide in addition:

  1. A quarterly teleconference expressly for Professional Subscription members, which will include Q&A and a free download within 48 hours.
  2. A quarterly video on implementation and methodologies. This will also be a free download.

The first two alone are worth between $200 and $400, and you'll receive 8 learning experiences which you can retain and replay whenever need. This will be all new material. The deadline is January 31. That's $6.25 per video and audio!


Do you have a small niche audience, or a book commercial publishers don't understand, or a need to launch a book quickly? I've self-published, have a crack team, and we can get books into print that are highly impressive, hard copy and/or electronic. We can even create special web pages and video promotion.


I have selected openings in the Super Coaching Program (KAATN: Kick Ass and Take Names)

I've helped people: obtain six-figure contracts, make major media appearances, gain meetings with top people (some nationally known), have proposals closed, start new businesses, gain greater visibility, build self-worth, obtain book contracts, create new brands, improve their web sites and blogs, and so on. The original group's nine months is about to end, so there are a few openings.


now available for 2014

As of 2014 there will be a Diamond Alan Card. (Colleen Francis calls this "all in," which is a poker term, and Colleen gambles on cards. My biggest gamble is wolfing down shellfish at dives on the Jersey Shore.) The card will entitle the bearer to partake of my offerings below (I've indicated as much as I can about next year and whether fees will increase or be stable).

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). 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.

Return to Top

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."

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase "Balancing Act" is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.

Video Rant

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

Visit my blog

Two new podcasts every week. Special cigar smoking room.

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

E-mail [email protected]
P.O. Box 1009 � East Greenwich, RI 02818-0964 � Telephone: (401) 884-2778 � Fax: (401) 884-5068

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2013 Summit Consulting Group
ISSN 1934-3116