Balancing Act: The Newsletter

(No. 247, March 2020)

Balancing act is in four sections this month:

  1. Techniques for Balance (Great Questions in Society)
  2. The Human Condition: Vulnerability
  3. Musings
Techniques For Balance

Great Questions in Society

• Why do store cashiers ask if you would like a bag when you’ve purchased 12 items? Do they think you’re going to juggle them on the way home?

• Who taught dentists and hygienists in dental school to place their implements on the patient’s chest, as if the patient were a work tray?

• Have people who use their fingers to push food onto their forks in a good restaurant been raised by wolves?

• Since the only tunnels connecting Penn Station in New York under the Hudson River to points west and south are 110 years old, why do no politicians assume there’s going to be a major commercial catastrophe?

• Why have Super Bowl commercials gone from witty and brilliant to sophomoric and dull?

• Am I playing Frisbee for my dog’s pleasure, or is he playing it because he knows it’s important to me?

• Do people who shout about intimate personal and business issues on their cell phones in public understand that they appear to be oblivious morons?

• Would it be justifiable to knock someone down who, exiting a crowded theater, stops in the doorway to chat?

• Why do the people praying with me at the end of the church service refuse to allow me to merge a few minutes later when exiting the parking lot?

• Are lightning bugs (fireflies) able to mate when there’s ambient light?

• Was Wile E. Coyote the Acme Company’s sole customer?

The Human Condition


I want to introduce “the lobster principle.”

No one really knows how long lobsters live or how big they can grow. One that was caught was 44 pounds and estimated to be over 100 years old. There is speculation that the female European lobster has an average lifespan of over 50 years.

Theoretically, a lobster can live forever. Their skeleton is external, their shell, and they molt when they grow too big for their current exoskeleton, a benefit to having it outside and not inside. Although the shell can become infected if damaged, this molting process can continue indefinitely.

When the lobster molts, it is highly vulnerable until the new shell is completed. So the lobster tends to hide from predators which would otherwise be no trouble for its shell. But the lobster must go through this vulnerability periodically if it is to grow and continue to live.

I’ve found that people do not grow unless they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to shed the “shell” of protectiveness and fear of candor that provide for one’s development. Some people who come to me for coaching only want to be told they’re doing just fine. They’re going to stay in their current shell and eventually suffocate. You’ve seen this at meetings where there are people who are immediately defensive, non-sharing, dishonest.

These people are not devious, they’re scared.

When you allow for vulnerability, you allow yourself to be susceptible to feedback from trusted others which may be unpleasant or surprising. But that feedback has the potential to help you understand things you weren’t seeing or appreciating—issues which can help you to grow.

We don’t grow by maintaining a single shell and refusing to shed our fears. Predators aren’t after us. We can’t live forever, because our skeleton is on the inside and can’t be changed. But we can lead the best possible life we’re capable of by shedding the shell of fear and allowing for growth.

Realistically, we can live a life of continual growth providing incredible value. Unlike the lobster, we don’t have to hide in order to grow.

We merely have to be unafraid.


One of the great aspects of free societies is the right to protest. Sometimes I agree with the nature of the protest and sometimes not, but I always agree to the right to rally in the streets, so to speak. The US Constitution guarantees the right of free assembly.

What I’ve noticed is that some protests—both by groups and by individuals—are not so much expressions of resistance as they are of impotence. It is as if people have given up, are frustrated by their lack of influence, are bewildered by their non-success in their cause.

I’m an independent. Sometimes I vote Democratic, sometimes Republican. I’m not a “single issue” voter, in that I examine a candidate’s entire platform. I wish most of all for a return to decency in debate, and civility in communications. Right now, it’s more of a wish than an expectation.

During the State of the Union Address, I watched President Trump refuse to shake the hand of Speaker Pelosi, a tradition, and Speaker Pelosi refuse to introduce President Trump with the traditional “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States,” and simply stating “the President of the United States.” I thought less of both of them. The President was rude, even to the woman leading an impeachment effort, and should have shown more dignity. The Speaker, even after being snubbed, should have shown she was above such petty insults. Neither, in that opening minute, represented themselves, their parties, or the American people well.

At the conclusion of the speech, Ms. Pelosi ostentatiously ripped up her hard copy on camera, tossing it aside, as if tossing the President aside. I believe this was more an act of impotence than it was of protest, more frustration than fire.

Protests work best from a position of strength, not necessarily strength in numbers, but rather strength in one’s integrity and belief in one’s cause. It’s not about denigrating others but about influencing others.

I have two degrees in political science and was elected to the National Political Science Honor Society. I cite that credential, because what I’m about to tell you is not partisan but, rather, analytic: The Democrats have paid little attention to President Trump’s policies but rather focused on the superficiality of his words. The Republicans had paid little attention to his words and have focused on the meaning of his policies.

Protest to bring others to your cause. When your protests alienate others, you’ve lost your cause.

Only Read This if You Know Me Well

I arrive at the gym for my standard 8 am appointment with my trainer at 7:45. I warm up as usual, but my trainer continues to work with a client well past 8. I try not to act annoyed, but I’m on a tight schedule and he’s a great guy.

Finally, at 8:15, he sees me no longer warming up and watching him. He shouts over to me, “Alan, is everything okay? You’re don’t usually arrive here this early.”

It’s 7:15.

Development Opportunities
Million Dollar Consulting® Convention in Sydney

Million Dollar Consulting® Convention in Sydney

Join me for the first such event ever held outside of the US. We have 86 people registered, we can only accommodate 100, and there is a special discount for people from Australia and New Zealand. I’ll also be donating 5% of gross revenues to wildlife support groups in Australia. Australia is in dire need of restoring tourism and investment, join me and extend your stay if you're from outside the country.

Creating Dynamic Communities


A small group will meet in an intense day to practice with me, and with each other, the most difficult conversations they encounter or anticipate. You’ll emerge from this prepared to handle any buying situation, request for referrals, fee conversation, and so forth, whether in person or remote. Limited seating.  Fee: $2,500. Date: April 23, Los Angeles. (If you attend the Getting Started session below on April 22, this fee is reduced to $2,000.) Language controls discussion, discussion controls relationships, relationships control business.

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Creating Dynamic Communities

Creating Dynamic Communities

Learn the techniques to create communities of evangelists, whether corporate or consumer. These are people who will enjoy the benefits of becoming peers and colleagues while the credit for the connections accrues to you. THIS is how to “make money while you sleep,” and how to leverage your existing value and offerings.

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sentient strategy

Learn how to market and implement a novel approach to strategy for all kinds of organizations with a minimum fee to you of $50,000 and more in my 1.5-day intensive experience. Subscribe here. Next sessions in New York City March 4-5 and LA on April 20-21.



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Alan Weiss’s Balancing Act® Newsletter is a registered trademark of Alan Weiss and Summit Consulting Group, Inc.
© Alan Weiss 2020

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