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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 130: June 2010)

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Techniques for salience

Instead of "balance," let's try "salience": How we behave relative to others.

  • Be an excellent listener. You'll be the object of interest when you show interest in what others say and do.
  • Be an astute observer. You'll often see behaviors which speak far louder than words.
  • Contribute constructively. Don't "one-up" the other person, but add to and support their point.
  • Compliment without hesitation. Tell others that they've done a fine job, made a good choice, performed well. (If the wine doesn't kill you, tell them it's a good selection.)
  • Be widely read. You can compensate for not having been somewhere, seen something, or experienced an event if you know about it and have read descriptions and reviews. You can be an active conversationalist, at the least.
  • Come early, stay late. Chat with colleagues. Find out what the informal "buzz" is. Be available to hear and express ideas.
  • Be open to new ideas. There may just be a faster route, a better restaurant, a friendlier bank down someone else's road.
  • Understand the limits of technology. We all revel in its opportunity, but email carries no inflection or body language; people may not like receiving unsolicited email, no matter how funny you think a talking chicken is; and sincerity usually entails a phone call or personal, handwritten note for special occasions.
  • If you can afford it, be an early adapter. People love to talk about the iPad or the newest iPhone app. If you can't afford it, then learn from some people who are engaged with the leading edge.
  • Never assume the other person is damaged unless you have evidence to the contrary. Just because they exert discipline different from you doesn't make them poor parents, and just because they vote for another candidate doesn't make them dolts.

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I'm allowing for the fact that many of you are probably smarter than I, so I'm simply revealing what I know. You might know a lot more.

I know that the stock market is volatile, it goes up and down, and I can't predict it (nor do I know anyone who consistently can).
As a result, I simply purchase very good stocks of companies whose products I like or which have been impressive clients of mine, and I hold on to them.

I know that airline security will continue to be annoying and time consuming, and that any new threats will most likely complicate things still more.
As a result, I adjust my behavior: I get to the airport very early with things to read or columns to write, I wear shoes easy to remove and replace, and I've effectively miniaturized all liquids I need to sustain me. If I have more than carry-on luggage requirements, I use Fedex.

I know that things will break down and fail around the house, often at inopportune times, like the furnace failing on Christmas with a house full of guests, and the air conditioning calling it quits on the hottest day in August.
As a result, I follow the preventive maintenance recommendations (I have the filters cleaned regularly) and I have a golden list of contractors and repairmen whom I can call and get a response from rapidly. I always pay their bills on the same day received. (The plumbers restarted the furnace on Christmas in an hour.)

I know that cars undergo a lot of stress and strain and there are all kinds of hazards in the road, not the least of which are other drivers texting.

As a result, I don't get upset over minor imperfections, I never park where someone can swing their door into mine (even if I have to walk a bit), and I try to drive defensively (assume the other person will do the WRONG thing).

I know that clients may or may not heed my advice, and can make decisions which are based on ego, politics, emotion, or simply whim.
As a result, I make it clear that I can only give the best advice I can, I don�t get my ego involved in whether or not the client agrees with me (or gives me a testimonial or a pat on the back), and I make sure I'm always paid in advance or early in the project life span.

I know from observation that there are thoughtless, immature, emotionally damaged people who use the Internet and email for malicious, unethical, and unprofessional objectives.
As a result, I do my best to make sure they don't use up my oxygen. I unsubscribe when given the option (it usually works), I remove people from my lists of friends or subscribers, and I'll sometimes have my attorney fire a shell over the bow (which almost always works).

I know that I don't know it all.
As a result, I leave for you to decide what works for you.

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The human condition: The deadly ennui ray

I'm convinced that certain people�without any malicious, insidious, or even involute aims�have the innate capacity to bore the rest of us to death. I remember a jolly man who arrived in the cigar lounge of the Queen Mary II every evening to regale the rest of us with his life history, no matter what the rest of us were talking about.

A member of recently commented on a speaker so totally sleep-inducing that she was moved to offer help after she woke up, so that the madness could be ended. We've all heard a business speech, a sermon, a graduation address which made us wish that we could be sun bathing in molasses on a nest of red fire ants instead of being in our current location.

Inadvertently, these folks are stealing our lives away! I remember a woman at my health club who not only talked incessantly for nearly an hour to someone, interrupting her workout regimen, but pursued her out to her car in the lot and held her there at mouthpoint for another 15 minutes! The problem is, these people receive no feedback. We are empowering them in our stupor.

I'm against unsolicited feedback as a rule. But I believe that our need to protect our time and sanity justifies letting people know when they have an ennui ray emitting from their mouths. It's a public service, but it's also the same as protecting our health or our money.

"May I interrupt, I've enjoyed this, but I have to continue with my workout in silence or I'm going to lose my concentration," isn't a bad way try to get the verbal glue off your gym sneaker. "Excuse me, but I haven't heard from Gloria, and I know she has some ideas I want to hear," is a decent rock to hide behind in the linguistic wind. "Enough! I don't want to hear any more about your Civil War lint collection!" would be a polite New York riposte.

I recognized a priest I knew from another parish having dinner at the bar of one of my favorite restaurants one night. He beckoned to me, and I looked forward to a discussion of the church in society or the distinctions between ethics and the law. Before I could say anything, he said, "Alan, for the love of God, one of my colleagues is killing us with his sermons. Tell me you'll work with him!" Needless to say, that one was pro bono, but I also chalked it up to, shall we say, deferred compensation.

My point to you is this: It's justifiable to give people some feedback about their logorrhea, just as you would about lettuce in their teeth or a button missing. In fact, it's very similar. You just need to tell them to button it up.

Upcoming Events

Just Announced:


Write to me: [email protected]
East Coast Resort,
October 13-15

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. This will be on my web site within a week, write me directly now. Early opportunity (and attend Change Management, below, for free).


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

Accelerate your 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.

A Special Teleconference: Riding the Recovery

July 1,
One hour,
Noon Eastern,
free download to follow.

As I write this, the market is leaping forward about 400 points in half a day. That kind of volatility will continue, but on an upswing, which I predicted amidst the "doom and gloomers" last year. Just as I did in "Accelerate Your Business in A Dismal Economy," and "From Panic to PROFIT," this is a very special hour, packed to the rafters with practical techniques to turbo-charge your progress in a turbulent but unmistakable recovery. Choice of free book included.



September 16-17
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, 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 26-27
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, RI

If you've ever wanted to create your own products and passive income, this is the experience for you. Through a combination of workshops, teleconferences, podcasts, and print materials, we will take you through conceptualization to creation. There are three optional levels of participation, including third-party promotion and selling the product on my web site!


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.

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I had to buy some bird food on a Sunday morning, and the only place I could think of was the humungous Stop and Shop, 40 glistening aisles, thankfully looking like a ghost town. I parked the dogs outside and ran in. The helpful woman at the information desk gave me the aisle and compass coordinates, and a mere half-mile later I had bird food and dog treats (couldn't resist).

Then I encountered the automated check out lanes.

Not looking, I stumbled into a self-service checkout. An automated, woman's voice (the same one that tells me on my GPS, "I TOLD YOU TO TAKE THE LAST RIGHT, NOW YOU HAVE TO MAKE A U-TURN! RECALIBRATING!!!!!") that I had to move my scanned 25-pound bird food sack to the "packing and loading area." After unsuccessfully trying to figure this out, the actual cashier on the next lane had to come over, use a special card, and instruct me on how to scan and then load. But I had another problem with the next bag, and she had to return with a quite discernable sigh. Finally, on trying to pay, the machine kept telling me to sign a "signature pad" which I could not find, as I stabbed the entire unit with the stylus on the security chain.

The woman returned with the footsteps of Frankenstein. "There!" she pointed with her omnipresent magic card, "the signature pad is beneath you!"

"It certainly is," I dryly commented, scoring no points with Ms. Exasperation. "Tell me," I said, "what's the point of all this, anyway?"

"To speed things along," she said, eyes rolled up in her 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.

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 Art and Science of Process Visuals

Las Vegas, NV
(site to be announced)

A second offering of the popular original program, scheduled the day prior to The Odd Couple� in Vegas (see below). During this intense day, you will:

  • Create prepared process visuals to use consistently
  • Create potential process visuals to use opportunistically
  • Learn to create process visuals "ad lib" to shine stylistically

The program includes both my books on the subject with their two CDs which you are free to use to incorporate these great time savers into your own work. You will emerge with both the content�multiple process visuals for your brand and value—and the process�the ability to create them ad infinitum.

The Odd Couple®

Las Vegas, NV,
June 12-13, 2010

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.

If you have good ideas and high value, but you're worried about "interrupting" people, you're not cut out to be an entrepreneur.—AW

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

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