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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 153, May 2012 )

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Techniques for balance

  • If you find yourself immediately resisting an idea or approach or a person, you're angry about something. Find out what the cause is.
  • If you want to be likeable, then like others more. Make your disposition positive and accepting, not aloof and resistant.
  • What is your self-regard? For example, employees at Ritz-Carlton Hotels refer to themselves as "ladies and gentlemen" (serving ladies and gentlemen).
  • I'm always encouraged by the people in veterinary operations (technicians, assistants, reception) who clearly love animals. Are you demonstrating that you clearly love what you do?
  • "Have a nice day" is too often stated with an attitude that says, "Now get out of my way."
  • I think the focus on "superheroes" in entertainment is partially fueled by our own feelings of helplessness and frustration, and the fantasy of striking back with special powers. But maybe we can be superheroes if we develop the skills, behaviors, and self-esteem to represent ourselves powerfully and well.
  • Carry a portable power source in your briefcase or pocketbook, and chargers in your car. Otherwise, I can guarantee your phone will run out of juice precisely when you will need it the most.
  • You don't believe in first impressions? I can tell you what kind of service I'm going to receive by the way the flight attendant greets me when I board the plane, and I can tell the type of business meeting it's going to be by the other person's handshake. What first impression are you providing to reliably indicate your value and worth?
  • When people often cancel on you, especially at the last moment, it might just be because you're enabling that behavior by never protesting it. Hence, you become the easiest person to forestall when priorities conflict.
  • I've had it with ridiculous contrivances such as "We're child free" (instead of "childless," deemed not politically correct). What does that make me, "child burdened"? If you're not comfortable living in your own skin, using euphemisms and camouflaging language isn't going to help.

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So many people ask me, "How can you do so much? You are extremely well organized."

Maybe the question should be, "Why aren't I doing more? What's stopping me from being more productive and efficient?"

We create self-fulfilling prophecies about or own work regimen and expectations. We believe writing is difficult and time consuming; we believe that we should be immediately responsive to email, phone, and personal interruptions; we readily acknowledge ambiguous traps such as "overwhelm" or "writer's block."

We clog up the arteries of our work day by submitting to false assumptions, others' demands, and our own negative illusions. We need to say that "I can write this in 30 minutes," "no interruptions until I'm done," and "whatever I have to say will be helpful."

In order to do this, we have to embrace a certain philosophy about ourselves and our abilities:

  • There is no law or mandate requiring we rewrite, edit, and censor ourselves. Despite what may have been drummed into you, the improvements of constant rewrites don't justify the effort to create them. Your audience won't know the difference.
  • Write the way you speak. I never hear of "speaker's block." Don't try to create literature for the ages. Simply write as if having a conversation.
  • Success will always trump perfection. The persistent seeking of perfection is the equivalent of the gerbil on the wheel: You'll run hard without making any forward movement until you die.

Highly productive people are confident that what they produce will help, even if not perfect, justified, or certified. Have you ever heard the person in the meeting who must justify every point with three references, an example from a client, and the words of an ancient Greek philosopher? That's because that person doesn't feel acceptance can be based merely on insight and analysis, but must be "anointed" by a respected third-party source.

All that does is waste everyone's time. We're all capable of determining whether someone has good advice for us or not.

I get a lot done because I spend zero time considering why I can't get things done and spend no time concerned about whether others will find me credible or not. You don't see any footnotes here in Balancing Act.

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The human condition: Reverse adapting

I wouldn't be surprised if the biography of Steve Jobs earned a second Pulitzer Prize for Walter Isaacson. It's an immensely fascinating book about an iconic American figure who will be installed by history in the business Pantheon among Bell, Ford, Edison, Sloan, Drucker, and the Wright Brothers.

The most remarkable aspect of the book for me is that Jobs could be absolutely horrid for prolonged periods. He (literally) stank because of bizarre diets and sanitary habits; berated others mercilessly and obscenely in public; lied and broke promises; often ignored (or at first didn't recognize) his family; and threatened others physically and emotionally.

Yet he forged the most powerful and valuable business entity in the world, and surrounded himself with intensely loyal, high caliber talent. He seemed to always have the consumer in mind and was clearly more dedicated to great products than merely making money.

I believe that Jobs created an environment that suited his particular, idiosyncratic personality. (For example, his board has titular but not real power and he could dismiss his own board members at will.) Many people have pointed out that I actually educate my clients in how I want to work with them, to my great benefit.

This is no small issue or minor trait. The degree to which people can organize their environment and the people in it to behavior most consistently supportive of their own objectives, the more successful and time efficient they are going to be. And this is a prerogative especially available for entrepreneurs and those not working in nine-to-five, hierarchical, organizational environments.

We often put a premium on people's ability to adapt to the world around them. I'm suggesting (and Jobs certainly proves) that a reverse adaptation is extremely powerful, wherein the world around you adapts to you. My guess is that this is what happened with Franklin Roosevelt, Donald Trump, Michael Jordon, Oprah Winfrey, and Gandhi.

Issacson calls Jobs's trait "reality distortion," in that he simply did not accept what others believed to be empirically true (e.g., you can't rewrite a program's code in two weeks), which can also be deadly (e.g., he refused to believe the advice about his cancer and put off the initial operation until it was too late to be effective).

Are you constantly dancing to the beat of others' needs, or are you playing the music that directs their movement?



London, May 8, 2012: Baglioni Hotel

We had over 40 people attend this unique experience in Miami, and there are 25 enrolled for London. We have only five places left. Learn how to "run past the tape" and close business faster and with more certainty. Too many people reach the buyer, but then lose the connection.


May 22-23
W Hotel, Hoboken, NJ

Alan provides two rare days on implementing projects of all sizes, including reducing labor intensity, overcoming turf battles, using the buyer's clout, and avoiding resistance. And see below for a third day on facilitation, a related need. (These programs are in the city where Alan was born, on the Hudson across from New York.)


May 24
W Hotel, Hoboken, NJ

Learn from the master how to "run a room," whether with six people or sixty. Understand how much more valuable it is to insert your own intellectual capital. Become comfortable in leading others effectively to their destination.

The Resolve Event

June 6
Marriott at Los Angeles Airport

Travel beyond accountability, discipline, and organization to that state where you repeatedly and accurately obtain results, complete projects, and maximize time use. Merely being accountable doesn't result in actions unless you acquire RESOLVE in this one-day, unique event.


June 7
Marriott Hotel, Los Angeles International Airport

We drew over 250 people when this was presented in Boston, and this is the West Coast edition, with 50 people already signed up. For a fee that's "almost free," join Alan and a few of his Master Mentors for a day devoted to the fundamentals of business growth, marketing, and higher fees.

Thought Leadership Symposium

October 22-24, 2012
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, FL

Our third annual event, this featuring Margaret Wheatley whose seminal book, Leadership and the New Science, is being re-released at the time of our session. Join us for three days of intense work to help make you the thought leader in your field. Ten places remain. Meals and lodging included.

The Super Language Practicum

November 12, 2012
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, San Francisco, CA

Learn how to use powerful, concise language in oral and written communications, including rapid rebuttals, reframing of issues, metaphor, analogy, and examples. Control every subsequent conversation and impress people in email and correspondence. Nothing else like this in the world, only 25 people admitted, 15 seats remain.

Million Dollar Consulting� College

December 3-7
Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI

The only one taking place in 2012 and there are none scheduled for 2013. This is the 18th such offering over the years of a full week of intense work in all aspects of professional services development, from marketing to implementation. Small group, incredible property, includes subsequent mentoring.

And this terrific session authorized by Alan:

How to Acquire Clients, Value Based Fees, How to Write A Proposal

October 2, San Francisco Bay area

Learn from Linda Popky, who has mastered and applied Alan's approaches, the fundamentals of smart professional services business growth. Extensive interaction and wonderful learning from someone who can share her immediate experiences.

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 coming out next year). 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.


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I'm sitting in the back of the room waiting to be introduced at a business meeting while the hosts are running an icebreaker with the group. They ask people to get up and find a partner whom they haven't yet met.

A woman approaches me and says, pleasantly, "I've watched you sitting alone and I'll be happy to partner with you. I'm sure our keynote speaker today wouldn't want you sitting here by yourself."

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.

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Next year there is a learning guide before each teleconference, and a free download, as always. Join us for �Conversation Domination� and �The Mental Gym,� as well at 8 other sessions of advanced skills building.

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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.

Your changes in the future will only be the result of conscious choices you make now. If you don't make them, don't expect much progress.—AW

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