Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 195, November 2015)

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  • To defuse hostile reactions, speak with a moderate and clam voice, do not respond with similar pyrotechnics. You need to remove the fuel from the fire.
  • Positioning is fine, but so is juxtapositioning. For example, don't schedule a critical client call just before you're going to be making a speech.
  • Whenever someone asks, "Can I just have a minute?" and you agree, they'll take ten. You're better off just saying "No."
  • If you have to take the time to explain a chart or visual, it's not doing its job for you.
  • Deal with what you see and hear. Trying to discern hidden meetings, motives, and magic will make you crazy (and far less effective).
  • Never be too proud to secure help. You can have either mentors or mistakes. Which do you prefer?
  • Stop asking yourself how to do something better, and begin asking, "What am I really trying to accomplish?"
  • Every internet offer I've seen to create an online platform for you where you make money passively when people purchase and subscribe to your videos, is overblown and of poor quality, and makes money only for the people selling you the dream.
  • I know a lot of you will argue, but doing business with friends too easily ruins both. You're better off giving free advice with no obligations.
  • If you seek to be provocative and interesting—an object of interest to those who matter—some people will be turned off and find you unappealing. So what?



I've had to place a warning on my site that any cancellations within 48 hours of an event will result in a forfeit of the fees. I used to provide a 100 percent credit without time limit.

No longer.

People took advantage. They just wouldn't show up. Or 24 hours prior, they'd tell me an "unexpected conflict" arose. They hadn't planned well or were afraid to tell a client or someone else that the date was unavailable, yet I was committed with the hotel or facility.

When I announce that a workshop is about to begin—no matter how high level or sophisticated—a dozen people rise and go seek coffee or head for the restrooms. Another dozen simply continue their conversations in the aisles.

I've had it. I now make fun of all of them, going and coming.

In a recent assignment with strict rules, one woman decided not to follow the rules. She simply did something else. I refused to consider it. Her money was paid, and I had established what my rules were.

These are examples of the Great Haphazard, those who vacillate, fluctuate, and oscillate because they never think five minutes in advance. (And many of them are consulting in planning and strategy!) The are enabled when their own lack of discipline is forgiven, or even rewarded, by others. If a program begins at 9, shouldn't all bodily functions be tended to prior? If there's a deadline at 5 pm on Monday which requires two hours of work, shouldn't that word be begun before 4:45? If you've made a commitment to attend an event, shouldn't it be on your calendar and take priority over later requests that can be scheduled at other times?

If the planes and trains ran haphazardly, we'd never get anywhere. If TV programming were haphazard, there would be no continuing audiences. If an orchestra were haphazard, people would run out of the concert hall. If football were haphazard, it would be rugby.

I'm done with this column, and now you're done reading it. Feel free to grab some coffee.


The human condition: Blame game

In the presidential candidate debates, I've noted a substantial amount of blame cast, hurled, chucked, thrown, and otherwise catapulted all over the landscape. The "blamees" include:

  • The other party
  • Dissidents in their own party
  • Poor performing allies
  • Battlefield enemies
  • Those who simply don't agree
  • Voters who make "bad choices"
  • The President
  • Members of Congress
  • Members of the Supreme Court
  • Members of the media


Well, you get the idea. Darn it, it's someone's fault and that's what we have to condemn and explore.

This type of blame game is found in great abundance in business, where marketing blames sales, sales blames finance, and finance blames the regulators. Someone is always pointing a finger. I think that most Congressional committees are trying to find blame so that the various rascals can be thrown out, and most attorneys are trying to find blame so that someone can be sued.

We're so busy seeking blame, like hounds on a scent, that we fail to find cause, which is often staring us in the face. If a position has responsibility but no authority, for example, the person in it won't succeed, no matter who is in it. The cause is the bad structure, though we take more relish in blaming the occupant.

We're so busy seeking blame, like a heat-seeking missile, that we fail to come up with new ideas, because we are obsessed with demonstrating that someone was at fault with the old ones. I've not heard 20 minutes of new, sound ideas from any candidate in any debate at any time. If current college tuition prices are too high, and the point is to lower them, then what, exactly, is the idea that will accomplish that without raising taxes through the roof and creating an even worse burden for people?

You can blame United Airlines all you want for the mechanical delay in Phoenix, but that won't get you home. Only your accountability to call Amex and have them place you on an alternative flight as soon as possible will get you home. Blaming United doesn't create movement.

Getting up off your seat and doing something creates movement. And blaming others isn't doing anything useful.


I was forming a new venture and incorporating. My lawyer wrote, "I'll need three names for the company," and I gave him my wife's, son's, an daughter's names. He then called me.

"I need three names you want your company to be called," he said, exasperated, "in case any one is already taken. Or do you want to call your company Danielle?"



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October 20, 2015

Abandon the scarcity mentality and adopt an abundant mentality:
  • Lack of guilt of afterthought when acquiring something for yourself
  • Genuine pleasure in obtaining items you desire to have
  • Comfort with your position and no need to "beat" another’s position
  • Original views and actions, not derivative ones ("He flies first class!")
  • Positive self-talk (“It’s time to do this,” not “What will people think?”)
  • Philosophy that more income is always possible
  • Not constantly seeking “deals” and deferred payments
  • Ignoring credit card cycles and interest
  • Helping yourself in order to better help others
  • NOT doing things that don’t suit you even if others do them
  • Refusal to constantly evaluate “ROI” on every investment
  • High faith and belief in one’s self and one’s talents
  • The understanding and acceptance of success

March 16-18, 2016

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As of 2015 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).
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People want you to succeed. Stop worrying about whether you'll disappoint them.

Alan Weiss