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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 134: October 2010)

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Techniques for balance

  • Don't compare yourself to others. Compare your accomplishments to your own aspirations.

  • We all need "baggage." But our baggage should be packed by us and contain items that will fit us and help us today and tomorrow, not by people in our past with obsolete junk.

  • Find people to support and challenge you, not people who merely commiserate with you. There's no energy collapse equivalent to a bunch of people sitting around and wailing "woe is me" in unison.

  • Procrastination is simply fear expressed in wasting time.

  • Personal interaction is three-dimensional; the phone is two-dimensional; and email is one-dimensional. If you try to communicate in the exact same manner across all three, you will be less than successful two-thirds of the time.

  • Never take action based on a single piece of random, unsolicited feedback. If you think that it's at all accurate—positive or negative—go to people you trust and ask them what they think.

  • The debate whether you're reading books in hard copy or electronically is immaterial. The question is: Are you reading books?

  • I've been drinking wine for 40 years in restaurants, and returned only one bottle, and that was because one of my guests insisted and I didn't want to embarrass him. (And the second bottle is always great!)

  • People who are passionate are a joy to be around. People who cross the line into zealotry and continue to try to insistently convert you to their way of thinking about their "agenda" are bores.

  • Why does every GPS device I own have a woman's voice scolding me when I don't follow its instructions? I'm just saying….

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What prompts me to return to various sources for products and services I need? It's very seldom price, or at least price alone.

I like to be treated as a valuable customer. That means that the restaurant hostess doesn't ignore me while she chats with employees; that the airline isn't trying to charge me to use the rest room or have access to emergency equipment; that the bank isn't assessing fees to accept and keep my money on deposit; and that the call center representative can speak reasonable English and not read me a script.

In many cases, we've all become "transactions" rather than customers. We rave about great customer service and care when we encounter it because it's so darn rare.

If you're paying stiff rates for a hotel room, you shouldn't be assessed a daily fee to use the Internet, any more than you should pay a fee to plug in a phone charger or hair dryer. Theaters realize that people begin arriving more than 30 minutes before a play, so don't keep the doors closed until 20 minutes prior and stop delaying the curtain for 15 minutes after the announced time.

It's not important to know the server's name, which is always announced with such pseudo-camaraderie, but I would like my drink order taken within two minutes of my being seated, and I never want to have to wait ten minutes after requesting the bill.

In a consumer economy, organizations are supposed to provide value. So why don't they view customers as valuable? I can understand Rhode Island's Division of Motor Vehicles forcing people to wait three hours for routine transactions (I am NOT making this up) since they have no competition and the state has never employed a director with the interest or skills to fix this affront to human dignity.

I believe that FedEx values me. I think Apple cares. Singapore Air seems to adore its passengers. Tourneau believes that someone seeking a new watch is a special person. My mailman has a great attitude toward the customers on his route. Amazon appears to believe my business is very important.

It can happen, with organizations or individuals. It's not difficult. It's a matter of perspective and philosophy.

Booming economies create immense competition, and when this economy booms again and people have more choices, they will have zero loyalty to companies that tried to pick their pockets.

Do you know where I go for my automobile transactions? AAA—where membership has its benefits and they apparently think quite highly of their members.

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The human condition: Low expectations

I've been taken to task by some blog comments recently which stated that I shouldn't be critical of low-level employees, hourly wage earners (hey, that includes lawyers!), and various menial jobholders because "It's not their fault."

Ironically, these people are more bigoted and condescending than I would ever permit myself to be.

Just because someone isn't earning much money doesn't mean they're somehow damaged or inferior. I expect the girl at the window of Dunkin Donuts or the guy throwing chicken my way at KFC to be intelligent, personable, and competent. How else could they hold down the job or pass the interview? (Politics aside, I loved it when people accused former President Bush II of being "stupid." He learned to fly a jet fighter. How stupid can you be and still do that?)

I expect people to exercise basic competence and interpersonal skills in any job. A highly paid doctor who is arrogant and insufferable is not to be admired for those traits, despite skills with a scalpel. A person who cleans your yard for $20 an hour is to be respected and dealt with civilly, politely, and professionally. Who am I to make judgments based on someone's income? I know quite a few rich, horrible people. I know quite a few economically disadvantaged people who are a pleasure to be around and who perform their work with pride and dignity.

So, aside from stupid management who can put things in the way of any worker in any capacity, front-line people aren't "bottom of the barrel" in my book. To expect less of them is to sink deep into discrimination.

Conversely, when that person treats me rudely, or doesn't know the basics of the job, or shows zero initiative, I condemn them for those behaviors. That has to do with character not with W2 forms.

To critique me for being condescending when a low-wage earner is simply not competent, when the accuser is stipulating that the very aspect of being a low wage earner is reason to excuse the assumed incompetence, isn't just the pot calling the kettle black.

It shows you can be stupid even though you have the skills to use a computer and write to a blog!

Approaching Developmental Events


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. And join us in October for 25-40% discounts AND a free, new book! Get this weekly booster shot right away. Commences in January, but we have a complimentary demo for those interested.

Thought Leadership: Last Call!

October 13-15, 2010
The Breakers
West Palm Beach, FL

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. Marshall Goldsmith, the pre-eminent thought leader in executive and personal coaching, will be my guest as a discussion leader on the final morning. Two seats remain.

Alan Weiss 101: Last call!

Denver, CO,
October 7.
Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

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.


October 26-27
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, RI

Back for a second time by popular demand, use the extensive prep work, two-day event, teleconferences, podcasts, and coaching to create, develop, complete, and market your own new product, from text to electronic, from clients to prospects, from New York to Tokyo.


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. (Sign up for Thought Leadership, above, and attend this with my compliments!)


Jan. 26-27, 2011
Sarasota, Florida

Join us in Sarasota, Florida on Jan. 26-27, 2011 at the fabulous Ritz-Carlton for this "demanded" program based on one of my most popular teleconferences ever. Learn how to quickly frame a client situation, use instant examples, immediately set priorities, and generally organize your information and interactions better. Reduce labor intensity, increase speed, be seen as brilliant every time! Already 20 people registered, great topic, great place.


December 13-17
Castle Hill Inn
Newport, RI

Participate in the finest development anywhere for consultants and related professionals. This will be our 15th. The 2011 College is scheduled for London (see below).



January 12-13, 2011
The Change Management Workshop
Thrive! Workshop

Special combined offering, or choose either one. Come to one of the great cities to participate in two of my most popular programs.


April 4-8, 2011
Million Dollar Consulting� College

The first ever run in Europe, and our 16th overall.

Participate in the finest development anywhere for consultants and related professionals. Take advantage of exchange rates now!

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I am notoriously bad at tracking attendance at my events. I use Buddy Beagle to help, but he has only four toes and his typing suffers.

One morning I'm sitting at breakfast on the Monday opening of my Million Dollar Consulting® College, and a participant shows up to tell me his wife went into labor over night, and he must fly home immediately. I wish him well and he leaves me his materials.

Five minutes later, a woman walks in who wasn't on my registration list (this is a week-long program, with a substantial investment). She notices I look puzzled, and says, "My God, you didn't expect me?"

"What are you talking about?" I said, reaching down, "I have your materials right here!"

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.

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. And join us in October for 25-40% discounts AND a free, new book! Get this weekly booster shot right away. Commences in January, but we have a complimentary demo for those interested.

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 Odd Couple®

Las Vegas, NV,
June 25-26, 2011

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.

People are quick to tell you that life is short, but not all that many seem in a hurry to live it fully. —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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