Printer Friendly Format

Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 133: September 2010)

Follow me on Twitter! You can find me here:

New consulting and leadership tips posted daily!

And find me on Facebook:

Return to Top

Techniques for balance

  • It’s perfectly fine to occasionally scream and yell, if you’re by yourself, not driving or operating heavy equipment, and just need to safely vent..
  • Not all feedback is valid. The act doesn’t automatically impart truth.
  • You have to give to get. Want a favor, a referral, a donation? Then give one first, far in advance of your need.
  • Passion is great, but it becomes zealotry when you feel the need to convert others to your beliefs or pursuits.
  • Four keys to superb communications and influence:
    1. Read with comprehension
    2. Speak with influence
    3. Write with expression
    4. Listen with discernment
  • Before someone can understand “how” effectively, they usually need to know “what” and “why,” first.
  • More often than not, family members are interacting with you based on old and often inaccurate perceptions, not current reality. Take that into account.
  • Volume isn’t accuracy. When someone shouts at you they’re really trying to be heard above their own doubts.
  • The high-speed Acela train can only reach its maximum speed of 150 MPH during two brief stretches of its six-hour run from Boston to Washington. Vehicles—and people—can’t perform at their best if they’re not on good roads.
  • The best thing you can do for friends who are mourning is to help them to mourn. They’ll emerge only when they’ve completed that journey.

Return to Top

I’m thinking there is something worse than “not having things.” It’s having things and not appreciating it.

We’ve spent our annual August week in Nantucket at a beautiful location. I meet a variety of people at the upscale bar having my evening martini while awaiting my wife and heading out to dinner. At the very fine restaurants, we encounter quite a cross-section or people.

Some of these folks have spent their entire lives in affluence and luxury. They have a waterfront house because it’s been in the family for many years. They have homes in several locations around the country, belong to clubs, and are accustomed to the best.

And many of them are miserable.

I hear complaints about marriages and in-laws; about “lousy” service (that was perfectly acceptable in my opinion); about the “unfairness” of the market; about others who, apparently, are spending all their waking hours trying to cheat them. It’s depressing.

I remember once waiting for my haircut appointment at the John Barrett Salon in New York, on the top floor of Bergdorf Goodman. As usual, I was one of the few men in the place, and I was surrounded by quite wealthy women, well dressed, highly accessorized. And most of them looked quite unhappy. They just stared into space, not reading a book, not even chatting with each other. They used their hairdressers as bartenders in that they complained about a great deal even I didn’t want to hear. I went back to my book.

I appreciate every single benefit that I have, and I realize I have many that others may not, and lack some that others may have. Such is life. I made my own way. I’m in control of my destiny, to the extent that’s possible.

To sail through life as if you own not just the boat, but the ocean underneath and air above, and become unhappy and offended when the wind picks up and the waves douse you, is a mindset I just don’t comprehend. Understand what benefits you have, and whether you earned them or were just lucky. Then appreciate them.

Somehow, a guy complaining at a bar that his wife is too harsh and his mother-in-law impossible, but who has a $20 million home due to his father-in-law’s talent and a nice income because of wonderful connections, doesn’t elicit a whole lot of sympathy from me.

What it elicits is another martini.

Return to Top

The human condition: Conniving

I know some of you will take exception to this, but hear me out before you write me the letter. (“Dear Alan, I find that your opinions are far too strong and don’t represent….”)

Every day I meet people trying to connive. I seldom get to use that verb as an infinitive, but there you have it.

They hang around the airline ticket agent, smooth-talking, trying to get a free upgrade to first class. They want option 3 for the price of option 2. They want to “pick your brain” or “barter” services: You help introduce them to your existing client base and they will give you a free copy of their self-published book on tripling your money raising artichokes. They fly through an unnecessary stop to maximize frequent flyer points, or drop someone’s name to try to get a better table in a restaurant. They take a better, empty seat at a theater or sporting event when they suspect no one seems to be occupying it a few minutes after the start.

I find the same phenomenon in the workplace: people who jump in for credit at the last minute, having contributed next-to-nothing during the project; who try to build relationships with people they think can help them rather than simply doing great work; who try to apply for special treatment as a minority- or woman-owned business by bringing aboard a minority or woman for that particular project.

I used to go to a store where the same woman tried to jump the line every day, explaining, “I’m doubled-parked outside, let me pay for this before I get a ticket!” I don’t even think she had a car.

My feeling is that if people applied the same amount of cognitive and physical energy in doing the right thing, they would be successful enough not to have to connive. If you’re successful, you can afford to fly first class, purchase the best seats, take credit for the project you headed yourself. And you can afford to wait when you have to, or calmly concede that someone else was fortunate or smart enough to get a better seat.

It doesn’t crush your self-worth.

Robespierre, I believe, said, “No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character.”

Not even by conniving.

Approaching Developmental Events


September 16-17
Hyatt Regency Goat Island
Newport, RI

A rare third offering, due to popular demand. Building on my work with individuals around the globe, I want to help you:

  • Identify the uncertainties, perceived vulnerabilities, and situations which cause you to perform at less than your optimal capacity.
  • Understand the causes of those dynamics, and receive timely yet non-threatening feedback about how to resolve them.
  • Master and apply techniques that will help you maintain and manifest a high self-esteem level "in the moment" when it is most needed.
  • Avoid the debris and detritus in your life which tend to damage self-esteem, and focus on the routes of least resistance to self-worth and its manifestation.

In brief, personally and professionally, you will be able to deal with daily routine and exceptional circumstances; with varied and often tough personalities in your life; and to overcome the problems caused by pressure, unfamiliarity, and perceived threat.


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


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

Accelerate you 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.


September 27, 2010
Sea Pines Plantation
Hilton Head, SC

The ability to write with influence, facility, and speed is critical in creating articles, position papers, proposals, blog entries, business correspondence, reports, inquiries, and, of course, books. Imagine being able to write a superb article within an hour, a winning proposal within two hours, an enticing booklet within a day, an exciting book proposal within a week (and a book in two months)?! I'm inviting you to join me to learn my secrets (over 10 million words in print) in a single, intensive day of learning. Optional small group Writer's Circles will emerge for monthly phone meetings with me. (This is scheduled immediately prior to my Private Roster Mentor Program Summit at the same property.)


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!)


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!

Return to Top

On vacation, about to walk over for breakfast, I reported to my wife, “I’ve lost the keys to the terrace door.”

TLM: Did you check the pants your wore last night?
ME: Yes.
TLM: ALL the pockets?
ME: Of course.

Maria walks over from the other room, opens the closet, puts her hand into my jeans pocket, and pulls out the terrace door key, which she puts in my hand as she walks out to have breakfast.

(You can play along. Just substitute any husband and wife in the above sequence and you’ve become a writer!)

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.

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.

Don�t look for �deals.� Look for things that please you. —AW

E-mail [email protected]
P.O. Box 1009 � East Greenwich, RI 02818-0964 � Telephone: (401) 884-2778 � Fax: (401) 884-5068

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2010 Summit Consulting Group