Shadows of Schadenfreude

 Shadows of Schadenfreude

(Stuff I Should Probably Feel Bad About But Somehow Don’t)


• I want the kids in the surf who scream like banshees with every wave to get a mouthful of seawater until they stop, and for good measure I want their parents’ food to be stolen by seagulls.

• I love it when the moron tailgating me on a city street can’t make it through the light after I do.

• It’s rewarding when the cool dude who wanders into the bar to see if anyone in there is worth his precious time trips over a table leg on the way back out.

• Makes my day when the people who ostentatiously arrive at their front row seats at the theater late are mocked by someone on stage.

• It’s nice when a braggart “instructing” people about how to enjoy Italy based on his one trip there for a week learns he’s speaking to people who were born there.

• I’ve had it with people in church who allow their kids to scream during services so that nothing else can be heard, even though there are private rooms they can use and still hear the service.

• If you’re going to stop in a doorway to chat leaving a theater, you deserve to be trampled underfoot.

• People on motor scooters doing 20 in a 45 zone, refusing to move over for other vehicles, should run out of gas in a deserted area with no cell phone reception 50 miles from home.

• Servers who introduce themselves at length, offer gratuitous opinions about food and wine, and constantly ask how you’re doing should be caught stealing food and spend the rest of their employment washing dishes.

• The person talking to you but looking over your shoulder to see if there’s anyone more appealing to talk to should miss Bill Gates and Diane Sawyer departing right behind her.

• The people who insist on saying, “No problem” should have some problems.


© Alan Weiss 2014

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Pushing Off the Bottom

I was watching my daughter teach our (almost) six-year-old twin granddaughters to swim here in our pool in Nantucket. They had abandoned their inflation devices, and were swimming quite well. She told them, “If you ever find yourself sinking, push off the bottom strongly and you’ll go to the surface where you can breathe again.” She then helped them both to do this, which I thought was a great exercise.

It occurred to me that too many of us fail to push off the bottom. We hit a snag or setback or outright failure, and we are immobilized. If we’re lucky we float until someone rescues us, but otherwise we sink to the bottom, metaphorically unable to breathe, recover, or revive. We have become sediment.

What’s your “push” off the bottom? Is it a loved one, a coach, colleagues, self-talk? We all sink sometimes, lose buoyancy. But we’re seldom in deep water, just among family, friends, and business associates. The bottom isn’t far away, but you need to know how to and be willing to push yourself back up.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Flipping Pages

I was asked for an appointment next month, and as I flipped through my Filofax (no, I don’t use electronic calendars) I realized I had gone too far and I was in mid-October, not September.

In a half-second, I had lost a month. How often do you think you’ll get to something, there’s plenty of time, no hurry, and you’ve lost a month? Whether it’s a half-second or it’s weeks, it’s very easy to watch time go by with no action, no results, nothing happening.

Have you accomplished what you intended over the past 30 days?

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 8/18/14

This week’s focus point: We are not like tulips or tigers, pre-destined to grow into a consistent and identical form of life. We are sentient beings, who should form our own distinct persona, influence, and legacy. To simply follow the paths of others, to act without questioning, to show no interest in understanding life’s meaning or our relationship to nature–this is to be a herd animal. We seem to seek commonality, from fashion to recreation, from friends to careers. What we should be seeking is uniqueness, a different cadence, a new route. It’s easy to follow, it’s tougher to lead, but it’s toughest to be yourself in a world trying to make you generic. Resist, at all cost.

Monday Morning Perspective: Political language–and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists–is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. — George Orwell

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Save Salmon, Kill Birds? DASM

Salmon are being husbanded back to a presence in the Columbia River in the northwest, where resident birds find the new food source highly appealing. The people who have worked to bring back the salmon apparently feel that the birds should be shot (New York Times, today).

This is what happens in life and in organizations when parochial interests feel theirs is the ultimate cause. Let’s trample (or kill) anything in our path, because we alone are the righteous.

What’s needed of course, in business and in life, is a holistic, strategic view which takes into account a variety of legitimate interests. That requires leadership and compromise, priority setting and big thinking.

Of course, you can always shoot the birds. But whom do you shoot next?

© Alan Weiss 2014.

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The Power of Personal Worth—Yours!

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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Square Zero

I’ve never understood the concept of “square one.” If you want to start anew, then erase the board, tear off the sheet, delete the entry.

Square zero is your starting mindset approaching a prospect. There are two primary chords which seem to be played:

1. How can I get this business? How can I “sell” this person? What objections will I have to overcome? What are the weaknesses in my arguments? How much money can I make?

2. How can I best provide value? What improvements will be most impressive? How can I help this buyer exceed expectations and objectives? How much help can I provide?

You’re either walking in—and pre-determining you success—with a “take” or a “give” mindset. Every day I hear from people who want to “take” something from me. I ignore them or tell them “no thanks.” But I stop to pay attention to the very few who seem to sincerely want to give me something.

What’s your mindset at the outset?

Start again at square zero.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Social Work Doesn’t Pay

I admire social workers. They perform a vital role in society and receive very little money for their labors. I think it’s a calling for most of them, or at least the best of them.


But we have many “social workers” in our midst who believe they’re actually consultants and running a business. Thy are overwhelmingly worried about other peoples’ well being and create these excuses in their behalf:


“I need to give her more time to introduce me to her boss.”

“He might feel threatened if I went over his head.”

“She’s new to the job and I can’t push her too hard.”

“He must have a good reason for not introducing me.”


If you really believe you can help people, then you have to get to the people whom you can help and who can pay for that help. Allowing subordinates and gatekeepers to prevent you from doing so because you don’t want to threaten them or, worse, need for them to like you, is an express lane to failure.


Stop worrying about others’ positions and preferences. They are adults and clearly looking out for themselves. Don’t relay on them to promote you or market you. Simply use them for introductions to true buyers.


But if you want to be loved, get a dog. If you get a big enough dog, you can use it to clear out the gatekeepers.


© Alan Weiss 2014

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