The Good Old Days

One is immediately ostracized for suggesting that the “old days” were better in some way. You are portrayed as an “old timer” who just doesn’t understand the modern sophistication of, say, Lady GaGa or Jon Stuart or raves.


Yeah, well.


I love the modern, with all the latest technology, speed, instant gratification, and all that jazz. But some olio that includes extinct past practices might improve all our lots. Specifically:


• People used to dress up on airplanes. Men and women wore suits. Conditions were (believe it or not) not as comfortable as they are today. I’d rather wear a jacket than sit next to a guy with a tee-shirt and flip-flops, or a woman with her hair all over the seat with dirty bra straps prominently displayed. (And that’s first class.)


• I like music with intelligible lyrics, which is why the Great American Song Book and jazz and blues were so popular with all ages. Someone screaming at me just feels as though I dented their car. The Beatles perpetuated the past with carefully chosen words.


• Humor was achieved without gross profanity. I’ve heard comics on some of the cable channels who throw in an obscenity (usually the same one) every 30 seconds, and the audience roars. That’s not humor, that’s just classless. (And it’s stupefying on Facebook where some people seem bereft of adjectives and just rely on mindless profanity.)


• Standing ovations were once rare, granted to magnificent performances. Now they are constant, granted to the audience for themselves as if to say, “It was worth the $400 dollars, even if I didn’t understand it and wasn’t crazy about the story or acting.”


• There were no such things as “all you can eat buffets” which I find totally disgusting along with the people scarfing down food as though they’ve never eaten, although their waistlines would belie that.


• People agreed on some issues and disagreed on others. It wasn’t “single issue politics” in which one disagreement created polarization. Moreover, people admired success, they didn’t fall victim to sophistry about “soaking the rich” as though that would take care of everything. People sought success, not revenge.


• It was rare to have a single-parent family unit, and it was heinous to conceive several children by different women and not support any of them.


• No one expected the rest of society to change to meet their every need, whether it was a fragrance allergy, a food restriction, or learning problem. People dealt with their own issues and didn’t automatically become victims of them. People first looked to families to help. (Some guy on Facebook told me that my new retreat center, named after one of my dogs, should be “dog free” to accommodate his dog hair allergy! Yet he’s not a client and I’ve never heard from him before. He’s just his own agenda-peddler telling me I should change my life.)


• In baseball, shortstops hitting .230 didn’t receive $20 million contracts; in basketball, even the stars were called for walking and palming; in football, players made great plays without launching a celebration as if they’d just invented penicillin; and in all sports, there were no performance-enhancing drugs. (In fact, stars such as Mickey Mantle and Max McGee routinely drank alcohol to excess and played with diminished skills.)


• There were dinner tables where kids were able (viz.: were forced to) talk to their parents, learn values, explore difficulties, hear of the world around them, and mature socially. When I do see families dining together today in restaurants, every member has a face buried in an electronic device. That’s not “bon appetite,” that’s bonehead.


• There were no “reality stars” in scripted shows pretending to be extemporaneous, and no one in the public view named Kardashian.


© Alan Weiss 2014

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 4/21/14

This week’s focus point: Bentley, my white Shepherd, runs everywhere. He’ll stop to sniff or play with something, but then he’ll run along to his next appointment or adventure. He only walks when he’s on a leash, and he seldom has need to be on a leash where we live. He’s certainly cramming all that he can into his life. Yet I watch people and companies simply amble along, in no particular hurry. They meander and sashay, with no great urgency. They miss the opportunity, the best view, the market window, the competitive advantage. In grammar school the teachers would admonish us not to “dawdle.” You don’t hear that word any more, but you see the practice a great deal. I know all about the tortoise and the hare. But I’m from New York, and the tortoise losses that race 999 times out of 1,000.

Monday Morning Perspective: I must point out that my rule of life prescribes as an absolutely scared rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them. — Winston Churchill

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle


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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 4/14/14

This week’s focus point: Almost anything taken to an extreme is going to run counter to the original intent. I find health and exercise fanatics who look, well, positively unhealthy. Barry Goldwater was warned not to use the phrase “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” but he did and he was swamped in the election by Lyndon Johnson. Now we have Larry Ellison who is making about $38,000 an hour (if you use a 40-hour week) at Oracle. He has dated three female subordinates, routinely breaks commitments, and simply does what he pleases. Capitalism is a wonderful system at generating wealth, but not terribly good at distributing it. We need to be sensitive to that. The American Revolution was born out of frustration to being taxed with no voice. But the French Revolution was largely from disgust with the profligate nature of the monarchy.

Monday Morning Perspective: What is moral is what you feel good after; what is immoral is what you feel bad after. — Ernest Hemingway

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The Dog Star: The Three Tests

(The Dog Star is a symbol of power, will, and steadfastness of purpose, and exemplifies the One who has succeeded in bridging the lower and higher consciousness. – Astrological Definition)

When my dogs encounter something new for the first time, they immediately check to see if it’s edible. You should be checking with new people as to whether they represent potential business.

If the object is non-edible, which is quickly determined with a few sniffs, they investigate whether they can play with it and move it around. This would be moving non-buyers to help you find buyers.

If the non-edible object can’t be moved and is of no other interest, the dogs will urinate on it to leave their scent and then move on to  more interesting endeavors. This would be you abandoning people who can’t help you and whom you can’t help.

These are metaphors, of course. Usually.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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In the Catholic Church one confesses sins (Reconciliation) prior to Easter. The Jews have a day of atonement, Yom Kippur. I thought it was time for me to make some secular confessions:


• I don’t get Pharrell.


• The NCAA playoffs may be the purest major athletic event remaining in the US.


• Why is it that the country/western genre has more talented, beautiful female singers than any other?


• I drove an electric car and I would have rather been in the back seat reading a book.


• Please don’t talk to me about cultural differences, you don’t kill zoo animals to cull them, and you don’t invite the public to watch.


• Why is it okay—and generates awards—to mock Mormons on Broadway but it’s risky to even criticize Muslims in an editorial?


• Say what you will, but the voting in Afghanistan the other day, with people in line for hours in adverse weather despite terrorist threats, shows more interest and hope than the lousy voter turnouts here.


• After all this time, I find Facebook represents vast loneliness to me, with neediness in second place.


• I would not trust most of the people I’ve been exposed to as a member of Mensa to walk Buddy Beagle.


• Why people watch The View astounds me.


• I look back nearly six years and see nothing at all exceptional about the accomplishments of the President and his administration.


• Unionizing college athletics may be legal but that doesn’t mean it’s not dumb.


• Some people seem to exist just through inertia and momentum. Matt Lauer comes to mind.


• The people I would deport are those who begin every day in an ugly mood.


© Alan Weiss 2014

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle


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New WOLFoundation Essay Competition

We are pleased to announce that entries are now open for the 2014 WOLFoundation essay competition.

 Whether it relates to environmental degradation, personal privacy, the functioning, or otherwise, of our democratic processes and many other issues, many people feel that we are suffering from an almost global crisis of leadership. An inability to break out of the status quo to enable societies to address some of the growing social and environmental issues that we all face.

The theme of this year’s competition is: Leadership: What are the characteristics of effective leadership in the 21st century?

We encourage entrants to focus on the nature of leadership itself rather than the specific issues that leaders should be addressing.

Visit our Guidelines page for more details about this year’s competition.

Please share this email with any of your friends, colleagues and organizations that may have an interest in participating.


We look forward to receiving your entries.

All best wishes

Joe Zammit-Lucia

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Dumb-Ass Stupid Management: The Wall Street Journal

The WSJ asks me to renew my digital version. They send me an online code, which their site will not accept. The site says that the code requires a phone call, despite the fact it’s supposed to be entered on the site.

A phone call places me in the Philippines, with a guy who can’t speak English well and keeps repeating scripted questions. When I ask for a supervisor he puts me on “hold” and leaves me there.

I then try the “live” online help, where I get another guy in the Philippines. He does manage to have someone call me on my home line within 10 minutes. This person also keeps repeating himself and, when I get the promised email to click a link and verify my address, it doesn’t work!

How can this dignified newspaper—which absolutely hounds me many months early for print and digital renewals—be so screwed up in its customer service? I’ll tell you how: Dumb-Ass, Stupid Management. You can see how effective it is, for example, outsourcing customer service to the Philippines.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 4/7/14

This week’s focus point: Try telling stories. That’s what I do in my speeches, informal talks, even my conversation. They are the shortcut to comprehension, and prevent long discourses where a quick example is sufficient. People identify with personal stories, put themselves in the exact place you want them to be. At Princeton, neuroscientist Uri Hasson’s research shows that brain patterns of listeners can change to be consistent with those of the speaker when a story is emotionally captivating. Your raw material is all around you. You don’t need to cajole, or maneuver, or use 60 persuasion methods. You merely need to embrace people in the stories of your life.

Monday Morning Perspective: No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. — H.L. Mencken

Improv for consultants and coaches: A huge hit in New York, join us in LA in June:

Rational processes for consultants to implement: Full room in New York, I’m only doing this once more, in LA (too much work!).

Super Esteem: Four spots left (of 12) at my new Retreat Center, May 27-28 Write me: Do you have the esteem to experience Super Esteem?

Million Dollar Consulting® College: May 5-9, nothing else like it, 4 seats remain. Reach the top of your game.




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