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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 169, September 2013 )

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  • Start and end the day telling yourself how fortunate you are, reviewing your passions, and acknowledging your very best traits and competencies. You'll be able to call upon this good news more readily at times when you really need it.

  • When on business, keep the rental car clean and washed. No one says, "Ignore it, it's a rental car," they say, "That person is driving a filthy car."

  • Ask questions during formal talks. Outstanding speakers enjoy responding to questions in real time. (Caveat: Do not attempt this during church sermons.)

  • Read headlines quickly. If they have some appeal, read the first and second paragraphs of the story. If you're interested enough to read on, it's worth it. If not, move on.

  • It is NEVER worth negotiating over a couple of dollars (unless you're in a culture where this is considered polite and necessary).

  • I haven't sent back a bottle of wine in 30 years. I've had some inferior wine, but none that merited sending back. And if the host has asked you to taste it and you're uncertain about it, simply ask your host to taste it, too. I once had a guest send back a bottle that was perfectly fine to suit his ego. I wanted to send him back.

  • Science fiction legend Robert Heinlein: Love is that state that occurs when someone else's happiness is an essential part of your achieving happiness.

  • The doping and steroid scandals have a very positive message: Blind idolatry and adulation are silly to bestow on most mortals. It's the excessive adoration that created the shocking falls from the pedestals.

  • Being a volunteer is not an excuse for acting like an amateur and ignoring one's commitments.

  • We all gamble. Paying hundreds for a Broadway play or trying a new vacation spot involves prudent risk. But at least the odds aren't inevitably stacked against you.

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I'm writing this in the Madaket section of Nantucket Island, off the Massachusetts coast, in the study of a house about 50 yards from the beach. The long grass is swaying in the wind, the gulls are soaring without moving their wings, and the sun at my back brings the light and hope of a new day.

I'm staring at the deceptively clear horizontal boundary of sea and sky. I suppose that if I were to follow my gaze I'd wind up in Portugal or Spain. No matter what boat I was given, I couldn't make that journey, knowing nothing of seamanship or navigation. Yet nearly six centuries ago, men made the trip from Europe to these coasts, not only uncertain of what to expect, but having learned others tell them of a flat earth, sea serpents, and unknown dangers.

As if rickety wooden ships in 20-foot waves with limited supplies traveling for months wasn't dangerous in and of itself.

My father was in the first parachute regiment ever formed in the U.S., and jumped without a reserve chute into enemy guns in New Guinea. Many people in his unit never returned. He told me someone had to do it, and it seemed like a good idea at the time! He's 97 today, living independently.

I mention these seemingly disparate facts because no one is asking you to sail into uncharted waters on flimsy vessels, and no one is shooting at you. You may face, over your days, peer pressure, your own fears, ego needs, unfamiliarity, and even discomfort. But no one is trying to kill you.

There are no sea serpents under the surface of your daily life.

What's stopping you from trying new ventures, overcoming fears, daring to be different?

That unalterable horizon I'm watching right now will appear exactly the same tomorrow, and the day after that. But I won't, because I'm different each day in ways of my own choosing. After all, I just wrote this.

And now, you've just read it.

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The human condition: Motives

I observed a man in church the other day kneeling while staring at his iPhone. My first thought was, "What's so important?" But then I realized, he was undoubtedly reading a prayer on the screen. (I was correct.) Later, at breakfast, I very politely asked a woman standing near me at the counter where were seated to move a few inches, since her hair was very close to my food! She gave me a dirty look and explained she was there only because she was trying to stay out of the waitresses' way.

I was disappointed that I didn't assume a more positive motive at first glance for that man, and I'm discouraged that so many people take even polite requests as personal affronts.

Recently, I posted on my, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" (You'll see my eventual answer at the bottom of this column.) There were scores of responses, from humorous to philosophical, from cynical to supportive. I was taught in my first consulting firm to never jump inside a person's head and assume you know what's going on. Even the psychologists aren't all that good at it, and lay people are simply guessing, often with poor frames of reference themselves.

My mantra to the consultants I coach globally is to never start by assuming the other person is damaged. Assume they are healthy and searching for appropriate answers and actions. Similarly, don't assume someone else's motives are suspect. Of all places, I should be giving someone the benefit of the doubt in church! And a simple request to mover a few inches shouldn't be interpreted as an unwarranted display of force or power.

When you're dealing with a relative, prospect, colleague, superior, subordinate, friend, merchant—whomever—don't assume skeptical motives or, worse, evil intent. You're free to believe the worst once you have evidence, such as being lied to or undermined or fooled.

A man once approached me to coach him but refused to tell me the nature of his intellectual property because he was afraid I'd steal it. My motives were immediately suspect to him. I of course turned him down, and I've never heard of him again.

I suspect no one else has, either.

Once again: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Answer: Who are we to question the chicken's motives?




Hard copy with audio files optional (containing a great deal of additional material). We expect actual printing on August 15, will ship thereafter. Great reference work, rich in techniques and approaches, provocative philosophy. A great gift, the book should be on every consultant's shelf.


Sept. 11, 2013, 10-11:30 Eastern US

In this unprecedented live streaming event, I will play the role of a consultant with a buyer (who will be played by Suzanne Bates, a globally-recognized expert and author on communications, with scores of CEO clients). In the first role play, I'll portray an "average" consultant, and the conversation, questions and results will reflect that. In the second role play, I'll portray an excellent consultant who pursues the true value and results of the project, and produces a more effective proposal for the client and the consultant.


Do you have a small niche audience, or a book commercial publishers don't understand, or a need to launch a book quickly? I've self-published, have a crack team, and we can get books into print that are highly impressive, hard copy and/or electronic. We can even create special web pages and video promotion.


I have selected openings in the Super Coaching Program (KAATN: Kick Ass and Take Names).

I've helped people: obtain six-figure contracts, make major media appearances, gain meetings with top people (some nationally known), have proposals closed, start new businesses, gain greater visibility, build self-worth, obtain book contracts, create new brands, improve their web sites and blogs, and so on. The original group's nine months is about to end, so there are a few openings.


Five minutes every week no matter where I am in the world, providing insights into opportunities around us for our lives, relationships, and professions. All back issues provided. An excellent companion to Alan's Common Sense Consulting® Weekly Video. Sign up and see a sample:


For $5 a week receive a weekly five-minute video to increase your marketing and delivery effectiveness and efficiency. For a few extra bucks, we'll send you all 50 episodes of Season One if you missed them. We begin Sept. 3.


September 11

Watch and participate (through Q&A in real time) an "average" and "outstanding" consultant meet with a buyer, and receive after the session the proposals that each created so you can see the differences created by the distinctly different approaches. This can be saved if you can't watch it live. (We're accepting ten people to sit in the actual conference room during the broadcast, five seats left.)


A very rare, extended (90 minutes) webinar with Alan on how to immediately create excitement and interest in a meeting, speech, phone call, or chance encounter. "Walk in the door" and be fascinating. The session is followed by video, audio, and text reinforcement aids.


October 10, New York City, 9-4

My analysis is that the "conversion rate" among consultants is far too low. That is, when you are successful finding and meeting the true, economic buyer, the potential business slips away like water in a sieve. In Lasting Impressions, we will use extensive role plays (every single person who volunteers and most who don't) and examples of the language, behavior, demeanor, and nuances that will create lasting, positive, impressions.


December 9-13
Newport, RI

I've had to add another due to demand, and it's a third filled already! Join the 220 elite people who have participated in this unique program that has been offered in Newport, Boston, London, and Sydney. Everything you need to begin a business or dramatically grow an existing business, from marketing to delivery. There is no other offering like this in the world.


Sept. 17, 2013
The Sanctuary
Kiawah, Island, SC

I'm going to be tackling a new but vital topic: How to manage your money, because it's not what you make, it's what you keep. I'll be discussing how to use or not use debt; how to pay your bills most efficiently; how to vary your salary and use external sources (bookkeeper, financial advisor, tax experts); how to bill clients and ensure payment; how to pay yourself first; how to create credit with your bank; how to maximize retirement savings; how to be dollar/euro/pound-wise, and not penny/farthing/sou-foolish. And of course, I'll touch on how to charge $125,000 instead of $25,000 for the same value. 

How's that for something different? The investment is $750



October 21-35, The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL

In the all-new Fundamentals Experience, Oct. 21-22, you'll learn how to formulate, nurture, and consistently create the IP which leads to thought leadership. MY SPECIAL GUEST IS RANDY GAGE, the global thought leader in prosperity and abundance-thinking whom you would otherwise never hear in a small group.

Oct. 23-25 is the Thought Leadership Graduate Experience, focusing on leveraging prior participants' success and solidifying thought leadership. MY SPECIAL GUEST IS DAN PINK, author of "Drive" and other best-sellers, who will chat interactively about gaining and sustaining thought leadership. Both Randy and Dan will be at some of our meals for more informal talk.

There is no place else in the world to experience a week like this in your development and success track. ONLY ONE SEAT remains in the Graduate Experience. Can you afford NOT to attend? If you attend the first two days you are qualified to attend the next three if you so choose.


CONSULTING TRIPLE PLAY: How to Acquire Clients, Value Based Fees, How toWrite a Proposal

October 15, 2013, San Francisco Bay Area

Back by popular demand. Three of Alan's most popular topics covered in one jam-packed day by marketing expert Linda Popky, who has mastered and applied Alan's approaches for smart professional services business growth. Extensive interaction and wonderful learning from someone who can share her immediate experiences.


The card will be $55,000 and will entitle the cardholder to $75,000 of personally selected participation as enumerated below. (Installments can be arranged but will cost an additional $5,000.) So, I'm offering a nearly 30% discount to be used on offerings that are individualized. (If someone were to exceed the $75,000, I'd offer a 10% discount on the overage.)

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). 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 read a hotel contract and saw that it had the wrong number of rooms and times. I put in an exasperated call to the sales manager, and left a message that the details had to be changed, and this had to be done immediately.

He sent me an email telling me he was having the contract rewritten, but that he had followed the terms in my earlier conversation with him, and thought he was following my specifications.

I was about to blast him when I looked at his signature file and realized I was making my demands of a hotel sales manager in Florida for an October program, but that the specifications I was using were for a New York hotel in September—where, I found, they had it exactly right.

I left a message for the Florida guy that what he sent me was fine and made more sense than what I had wanted changed. I then forwarded my phone.

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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Why is it in a world of "social media" we're more uncivil than ever? Being free to speak your mind doesn’t require that you do so.—Alan Weiss

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