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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 147: November 2011)

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Techniques for balance

  • Break all big projects into “chunks.” Painting a garage, writing an article, creating a new web site, looking for a new car—these don’t require that everything be completed at one time or in one day.

  • Ask the hotel concierge to arrange for your boarding passes. Don’t be shunted off to the “business center.”

  • I’m writing this on an airplane. We FedExed our luggage to arrive today at the hotel. FedEx just confirmed they were delivered (the plane has wifi) so I wrote an email to my hotel contact and asked that the boxes be placed in our meeting room and the luggage in our suite. If that’s not worth a couple of hundred dollars, I don’t know what is.

  • I’ve just been asked to prepare different presentations from various people. The key distinction between good and outstanding: enthusiasm. If you don’t believe it, why should I?

  • Don’t live through others vicariously. Why can’t you do what they’re doing, in your own way, by your own criteria?

  • When you’re asked for advice, try to solve the other’s problem, not relate your own successes. What are they capable of? It may be more or less than you.

  • It helps if you bear in mind that virtually every post you see on Facebook is for the benefit of the sender!

  • Repeating someone else’s platitudes or observations in support of your own position doesn’t necessarily make you correct. You both could be wrong.

  • When you find you’re almost at the end of something and are “stuck” or at some obstacle, it’s usually because you’re afraid of finishing.

  • When is the last time you went out and walked in the rain?

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Semiotics is about the observation and analysis of words and signs, including metaphors, symbolism and so on. Its Greek roots relate to being “observant of signs.”

I’ve always believed that language controls discussion, discussion controls relationships, and relationships control business. You might want to substitute “influence” for control, but you get my drift. Everything begins with language, and therefore what we think, and that which informs our behavior, begins with words and our ability to use them. All transactions are about communications. (A Rutgers professor once explained to our class that “War is simply the least subtle form of communication.”)

Words are like tools. My father-in-law, who could fix everything mechanical and most things non-mechanical, said to me, “If you have the right tools, you can fix anything.” We have these wonderful tools at our disposal, but too many fail to secure a sufficient quantity to address all likely scenarios.

Nuance is everything, and our language is rich with the ability to differentiate. Are you facing a hodgepodge, a farrago, or a gallimaufry? Is that a tomboy or a hoyden? Is the speaker implying or the listener inferring? Can you be on your back and prone? (No, only supine.)

“A long, wandering line” doesn’t help as much as a “serpentine” line, and a pointy nose is far better expressed as “aquiline.” “We hold these truths to be self-evident” grabs my attention more than, “We’re pretty sure that most of you would agree with this most of the time.”

As I listen to interviewees on talk shows, protestors on the streets, politicians on the stump, and athletes on a celebratory high, I’m aghast at how poorly they reflect their conditions and circumstances. Many are functionally inarticulate. It seems like those with the least ability to express themselves miraculously and insidiously wind up with the opportunity to face the largest audiences.

We should choose our words carefully, not out of fear of being misunderstood, thought that’s always a threat (hence, the neologism “misspoke”), but rather to ensure that we are maximizing our influence, furthering our cause, and helping our case.

This particular tool kit has a vast capacity. If you choose to pound a nail into a wall with a screwdriver, you might actually succeed, but with possible damage to the wall, nail, screwdriver, and fingers. If you use a hammer, thinks are apt to go more smoothly.

If you use the right verbal tools, you’re far less likely to cause hurt and to be hurt. How many new tools are you acquiring? Or do you still have the same old, tattered bag you had ten years ago?

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The human condition: Nitpicking

Not long ago I ran a free teleconference on referral business, certainly a key and vital aspect of almost all businesses. I asked only that anyone joining make a $10 contribution to the East Greenwich Animal Protection League, one of my favorite causes.

I’ve written 45 books. I understand that a contribution makes this not totally free, but most of my teleconferences are well over $100 and the $10 wasn’t for me. Yet, sure enough, the “gotcha” players had to point out that “free” wasn’t really true.

I, on the other hand, prefer to treat people as adults and believe they’ll get the point.

I notice in my workshops and Forum, some people never ask anything, they seldom compliment anyone, they are usually negative. They will find an obscure point or facet and raise it as a critique, even though the point has little to do with the overall value or validity of the effort.

Feedback should be timely, constructive, brief, focused on correctable issues, helpful, and new (not simply an iteration of everyone preceding). Telling someone their presentation was good but you are bothered that they are left-handed is not helpful. Someone once complained that a client tended to chew on ice, yet that bothered only the complainer.

When we nitpick (you have five typos in your book) we tend to devalue all the rest of what may actually be highly relevant help, because it is part and parcel of the minutiae of the transmission. A woman handed me her card once after a speech and told me she could “help correct my speech defect.” I’m in the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame. I guess no one else has noticed my “defect.” It’s not that my speaking can’t be improved, but I simply never sweat the small stuff. Neither should she.

If you want to help someone, especially if you’ve been asked, focus on the major issues which will make a major difference. And be prepared to take as well as give.

The last time I told someone particularly resentful of feedback that they were being overly defensive, she replied, “I am NOT defensive!”



November 16-17, Sydney, Australia

A “mini-Consulting College,” with a quarter century of consulting success presented in terms of thought leadership, Million Dollar Referrals, exploiting the two sales you make with a proposal, remote coaching and consulting, setting the highest fees of your life and getting them before the project begins, and much more. First 25 people get a free, third morning with a personal debrief by Alan. Dinner for 12 the first evening sold out. If you attend from outside of Australia/New Zealand, I’ll buy dinner on Friday! The one-time opportunity of a lifetime.


October 22-24, The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL
The third annual conference, limited to 20 people, which has featured Marshall Goldsmith and David Maister the past two years. Learn how to rise to thought leadership in your field with practical techniques and ongoing support. The graduate session is already sold out a year in advance! Fifteen spots remain. There is no other opportunity like this in the world. The finest venue, great interaction, top people. All lodging and meals are included, discounts only until December 15, 2011.

Read about the 2011 session here.

Sign up for 2012 here.


November 30, 2011
Hyatt Regency, Goat Island, Newport, RI

Base on my new book Million Dollar Referrals and a wildly successful teleconference, this day will enable you to create ongoing solicited and unsolicited referral business; learn and apply the best language to maximize referrals: provide profiles of your ideal referrals. We’ll video the predominantly live, practice work, and you're free to record all of your personal sessions.


January 25, 2012
Alan's Home, East Greenwich, RI

A maximum of six people will engage in both skill and behavioral development to raise and sustain high self-esteem levels. Based on Alan's longer programs in the U.S., Sydney, and Dublin. Four spots remain. Meals included.


March 6-7, 2012
Alan's Home, East Greenwich, RI

We have space for only 6 people in this session which provides six months of growth in two days. Create a powerful speech, practice it, set the right fees, and establish a marketing plan. Extensive prep work. All meals, lodging, local transportation included. A unique, intensive opportunity with ongoing and detailed feedback from Alan. Four spots remain.


Miami, February 7, 2012
London, May 8, 2012

In an extensive day of recorded role-plays and case studies, learn how to establish objectives, metrics, and value that will gain conceptual agreement with a buyer and lead directly to large proposals with almost guaranteed acceptance. We will provide everyone with videos of their simulations, and everyone is encouraged to record their own and others. I'm buying dinner for the first ten registrants in each city.


Washington, DC (venue to be announced)

By special arrangement with Alan, Seth Kahan, Master Mentor and Mentor Hall of Fame member, presents a full day on these two powerful topics. Attend a day of intense learning with a master presenter.


San Francisco, CA
June 1 - 3, 2012

The final Odd Couple with Fripp and Alan after nearly two decades. Be there for the final show! This is being live-streamed globally, with virtual participants from around the world, so you can attend wherever you are! Expanded session, speakers, topics. A Twitter gallery! Largest discounts last only into September. We already have 30 registrants, limited seating for the live show!


Join me for a 15-minute Friday audio, a 10-minute monthly video, and a full day of workshops during the year. Charge yourself up each week with pragmatic and direct advice, including questions from the wrappers. We had over 40 people from all over the world join us in Las Vegas in 2011.

Special: $750 for the public after December 1; $600 prior to December 1; renewals from 2011 wrappers, only $450 prior to December 1.


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.

There is a combined discount if you also subscribe to Friday Wrap, above. Offer good through December only.


A quick-hit primer and booster on the essentials of consulting marketing and delivery.

Digital Empire Creation
Provided by Chad Barr and his team

In response to many of his clients' requests, Chad Barr, who has helped craft and create Alan Weiss's digital empire, has developed an exciting and stimulating intellectual property creation program to help you create your own digital empire and achieve huge success.


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I complained to the audio/video guy at the hotel that my computer had drained of power, and clearly his projector was adversely affecting my new Apple MacBook Pro.

“That’s impossible,” he said.

“Yeah, well read the screen. It says I’m on reserve power, down to 15 percent, and we’re only at lunch.”

Looking at the setup, he suggested, “Perhaps you’d go up to full strength if you plugged your lap top into the power strip.”

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Join the Friday Wrap�

Weekly, 15-minute podcasts with segments on current business events, new intellectual property, and some humor. Monthly, ten-minute videos on business and self-development. And a full-day, free conference in mid-year. Three full work days—24 hours—of programming for a few dollars an hour in investment. Get this weekly booster shot right away. You’ll get all the archived material.

2012 Teleconference Series

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.

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 think you have all the right answers, you clearly haven't thought of many questions. —AW

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