Monthly Archives: December 2007

Happy Early New Year Down Under

I’m sitting in The Palace Hotel about six blocks from Times Square, and wanted to wish my Australian, New Zealand, and other friends in the area a Happy New Year, which I believe is now being celebrated. Over a million people are starting to gather in Times Square here!

– Alan

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The Worst and the Dumbest (Episode 15)

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No Frequent Flyer Points for Me

In 2007 I made only 31 business trips by air, logged only 37,497 miles (our of a total lifetime of 3,124,000) and had my best year ever with the least air travel ever (and my wife often with me). That is the wonder of a combination of strong branding, modern technology, and the intent to constantly forge new revenue streams of low labor intensity. If there were such a thing as RPAM, Revenue Per Air Mile, I’d be in the top ranks, I guess.

Wealth is about discretionary time and this is one metric of success I treasure.

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Miss Rhode Island/Miss America Coached by Alan

Ashley Bickford, the reigning Miss Rhode Island, won the interview competition after being coached by me and a panel I assembled. As you can see when Chad posts the photo, she needed no help winning swim suit and gown competitions (and also won for talent). The Miss America competition is January 26th, and I think her chances are excellent. This is a wonderful woman, and may have just prompted a new direction in my career! (I was a judge in the competition the year prior, when she finished third.)

You can learn more about her and see additional photos here:

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There’s Always A Bigger Boat (Episode 14)

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How Camest Thou In This Pickle?

Alonso to his butler Stephano
The Tempest–Act V, Scene 1
–William Shakespeare

Kelly Pickler was a finalist on the television reality show “American Idol,” which blows Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame all to hell. She has a moderately good country voice, is more than moderately attractive, and is monumentally stupid.

Lest you think I’m being judgmental, I refer you to the current sensation on YouTube, that great arbiter of American intellect (“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”—H.L. Mencken). The video depicts her appearance on the game show, “Are You Smarter Than A Third-Grader,” which apparently, she is not. (Click here to view)

Ms. Pickler indicated that she believed Europe to be a country, where they spoke French, but perhaps French was the country, and that she had never heard of Hungary, though she was familiar with turkey. (I’m not capitalizing “turkey” because I don’t believe she was talking about the ancestral home of Constantinople, if you get my drift.)

She was quite bemused by all this, though Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian and host, seemed to progress from amused to stunned to physically ill. Ms. Pickler absolutely reveled in her stupidity, teetering not only on her four-inch heels but also, methinks, on the brink of sentience.

And so the metaphysical question: Does an “artist” or celebrity (thinking Paris Hilton here, a Pickler without the central nervous system, if you know what I mean) need to know anything? That is, are they thought less of by their adoring public, or do they sell less, or demand less money, or have less access to the media?

It appears that au contraire is in order.

If anything, arrant idiocy and a profound lack of understanding about the world count for you, not against you. Now, you may make the case that so long as one is superb at one’s craft or profession, worldliness and sophistication and education are not vitally important. And I might make the case back that if those traits were nevertheless demanded, then gifted athlete Michael Vick might yet be making $25 million a year instead of serving two years in prison for promoting dog fighting and killing dogs. He may have just resisted all that bad advice around him.

Who knows, perhaps an athlete or two would have resisted the blandishments of performance enhancing, illegal substances?

Maybe our politicians wouldn’t lie to us so much if they had more respect for the voters as peers who were intelligent and demanding? Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

I’m stupefied watching Kelly Pickler (at least allowing us to share a cognate). I like some of her songs and she’s produced some good videos, as these things go. But to be so unabashedly happy to display world-class ignorance isn’t the mark of someone who is supremely confident or content. It’s rather the trait of someone who doesn’t have a clue outside of her particular talent and specialty. Is that the model we want for our kids or the standard we aspire to for our society?

How camest us in this Pickler? It’s a fool’s story….

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

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Why No One Measures Up – No One Is Reluctant To Throw The First Stone (Episode 13)

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Paul Revere and Chicken Little

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Why I miss Imus or: I’d Like Some Guts With My Coffee (Episode 12)

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Abercrombie & Hitch

I’m in a nearly deserted shopping mall in Warwick, Rhode Island on Monday, wandering through to find a few small gifts. To my surprise, I come upon an Abercrombie & Fitch, an upscale merchant which provides over-the-top catalogs and high-priced merchandise. Intrigued, I enter.

In I go. It’s like entering a ride in Disneyland. The store is VERY dark, with music playing, and its layout is fascinating because you cannot walk in a straight line. Rather, you must dodge and weave through plants and displays, toiling some three miles in one. (Listen to my Podcast on this site, The Calf Path, for an idea and the origins of that line.)

As my peregrinations proceed, I learn two things: I am the only customer in the place, unless some are hiding in the plants, and the store employees are totally uninterested in my presence. I have to traverse both the men’s and women’s departments, the main desk, and several floor sales people, two of whom are discussing their weekend plans above the music. Perhaps I’ve died, or turned invisible? Perhaps my outfit is too déclassé for the milieu?

I emerge into daylight, unscathed by any attempt to sell me a thing or even acknowledge me as a sentient creature.

This is why I can teach someone within a single week to be a great consultant. This is not rocket science, you don’t need models or coaching certifications, and all it takes is common sense. The store manager ought to be fired, along with the slugs inhabiting the employee parking spaces. The employees ought to know better, even if totally untrained, and the manager is not living up to the image or expectations of the corporation. He or she is stupid beyond redemption. They are running a store but not serving the customer. Input, not output.

A&F won’t be there next Christmas, because the store will be deemed a failure, either too “upscale” for the location, or inadequately promoted. In fact, it’s simply a victim of human failure.

They ought to just stick to their catalogs. I’ve never expected a book to acknowledge me, nor do I believe it can ignore me, and I’ve never felt lonely with one. As a matter of fact, I’ve always liked the pictures.

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

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