Monthly Archives: April 2008

Looking and Acting Like A Success

I met a woman at a fund raiser the other day, and she seemed quite impressive. She was well dressed, well spoken, had written a book, and knew some heavy hitters.

Then, when she explained why she was setting up a small office in another state where she spends some time, she said, “You know how expensive gas is to make that drive frequently.”

Whoops.

I still think she’s a very impressive woman, and I’d probably want to get to know her better. But that kind of statement tends to relegate you to second-class status. Successful people I know don’t bemoan gas prices, or complain about dining out, or express concern about taxes.

Someone mentioned to me during a recent practicum I conducted using a major business as our “laboratory”: “It was amazing. You introduced us as world class consultants and that’s how we were treated and heeded.”

Nothing amazing about it. It’s not just “dress for success,” it’s about behaving as though you ARE a success. Many people never give themselves that permission. When someone complains to me about Southwest Air and asks my opinion, I simply tell them that I wouldn’t know, since I don’t fly airlines without a first class cabin. If I’m asked about the price of gas, I remind people that the Europeans have been paying far higher prices for as long as I’ve been alive.

Successful people like to be around successful people, and your actions actually speak louder than your clothing and accessories. It costs virtually nothing to act successful. But you have to give yourself permission.

You may not have flown first class, and that’s fine. But when you start to brag that you saved $200 by checking fares at midnight, that’s not. You may prefer to travel in coach, and I can live with that. But if you tell someone else that they are foolish for traveling in first class, they’ll likely just think you’re a fool.

An old Roman phrase goes: De minimis non curat praetor. (The magistrate does not consider trifles.) Stop focusing on the life you think you’d have to lead, and start focusing on the one you should be leading.

People will regard you, first and foremost, by the way you regard yourself.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Business of Consulting, Consulting Philosophy | 9 Comments

Spring Awakenings

There is some deep, inexorable, terrestrial alarm that awakens things around here at this time in April. The Latin “aperire” means “to open,” and that’s what’s occurring throughout my realm. (April was once the second month in the Roman calendar, but then King Pompilius added January and February and April, well, was bumped.)

Eliot called April “the cruelest month” (The Wasteland), but he was a tad of a cynic to begin with when he wasn’t dealing with cats.

As if an alarm clock sounded at a pitch only animals and plants could hear, in 24 hours this place has blossomed, bloomed, and beguiled. Thirteen goslings hatched at once, a record ten to one pair of parents (pictured here). We’ve had from one to ten baby geese at times, which is a factor of how well the parents shielded the nest and fought off raccoons, foxes, and snakes. We suspect the ten came from a strategically sound nest on an island in our pond (Maria forbids me to call it a “lake”).

Ducklings will follow. The birds are all over the feeders, and goldfinches, cardinals, and blue jays create a rainbow in the yard while avoiding the occasional hawk, who’s more intent on the squirrels. Scores of turtles have dug out of winter quarters, and they climb atop the logs and rocks in the lake, er, pond, sometimes forming crazy house-of-cards pyramids. When they are startled, the piles of turtles seem to explode into reptilian chaos. The large snapper lurks in the mud, rarely exposing himself. You can see him here, also, on one of his rare expeditions out of the water. Soon, we’ll hear the basso profundo of the frogs at night.

The evergreens have been joined by their deciduous brethren, which are filling in all the gaps and isolating our property in magnificent privacy. The tulip trees must be 60 feet tall, and I’m reminded of C. Northcote Parkinson’s observation that trees seldom die from decay or sickness or, one presumes, from sin. They die when they reach the size, weight, and duration usual for that type of tree. (The same is true of institutions and organizations.)

My gardens are planted (I’m trying watermelon this year and beets again, among peppers and carrots and radishes), the pool will open in three weeks, the lawn guys are back, and the detritus of winter has been removed.

Meanwhile, we have new generations born and being raised in the water, on land, and in the air. I didn’t hear the alarm they all did, but I’m up and ready for a new day.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Best of Life | Leave a comment

Kimberlee Wilkerson Inducted into Hall of Fame

April 24, 2008
For Immediate Release

Kimberlee Wilkerson Inducted Into
Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame

Kimberlee Wilkerson, president of Wilkerson Consulting Group in Cedar Rapids, IA is the newest inductee into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame, one of only ten in the world so honored.

Criteria for election include:

• Serving as an exemplar to others in the profession.
• Manifesting the highest levels of integrity, ethics, and accountability.
• Achieving significant annual revenue and profit improvement.
• Contributing intellectual capital to the consulting profession.
• Engaging in continuing, challenging, personal and professional development.
• Taking prudent risk and demonstrating resilience.

The citation includes:
“As an example to all of us in committing herself to lifelong learning and the continual creation of new ideas to help others to grow their practices and enrich their lives, engaging her clients, colleagues, and audiences with her enthusiasm, wit, and innovation.”

The award was announced at the Million Dollar Consulting College Graduate School held at the Inn at Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Naples, Florida, by Alan Weiss, Ph.D., who conducts a global mentoring program for consultants. Dr. Weiss himself holds multiple awards in the consulting and speaking professions, and is the author of 27 books, include Million Dollar Consulting.

At the presentation he noted, “These are the best of the best and I’m proud to cite Kim as my colleague and friend.” The installation included the notation of “…the distinction of being regarded by peers as one of the world leaders in consulting, as evidenced by empirical accomplishments in client results, professional contributions, and intellectual property.”

More details can be found on the Summit Consulting Group, Inc. web site: http://www.summitconsulting.com.

Further info and/or photos:
Alan Weiss, Ph.D.
401/884-2778
alan@summitconsulting.com

end end end

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Koufax and the Cat

Listen to Alan’s take on politics, the primaries and tribalism. Why issues are the essence and what all of this has to do with Koufax chasing a cat.

Click on arrow below for podcast to start

Click Here for entire podcast series table of contents

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Podcast Series: The Way I See It | Leave a comment

Dumbest Thing in the Last Hour

It’s incredible how abysmally stupid people are in their marketing. Look at this piece of junk that came to me a few minutes ago:

Hi Alan, I wanted to update you on the status of 2008 XXXXXXX
Marketplace Resource Directory as I think it would be ideal fit for
Summit Consulting.

XXXXXXX is the fastest growing business community for corporate
executives in the world, and we’re preparing to launch our Marketplace
Resource Directory. Because of your company’s reputation, we’d like to
invite your participation as a qualified vendor. This exclusive
opportunity allows you to target thousands of top training executive
decision makers across the country, network among them, and drive more
traffic to your website to drive inquiries and more sales — all within a
single resource.

Here is an overview, XXXXXXXXXXXXX

We have limited space, so would you take a look and let me know of your
interest? Thanks, Alan.

I don’t know this guy, but the “vendor” and “training” and entire, dumb philosophy shows why you can make it as a consultant when so many others act so stupidly. Would you buy ANYTHING from someone who markets like this? Would executives use his directory to make decisions? Would they use it for anything at all other than to weight down the trash?

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Business of Consulting | Leave a comment

Superstition

I came home from getting coffee with the dogs and took off my baseball cap to settle down to read the newspapers. But I realized that Maria has come kind of superstition about hats on tables, so I was going to place the hat on a chair. But then I wasn’t sure whether it was hats or shoes that were bad luck on chairs.

As I began to toss the hat on the floor, I noticed Buddy Beagle lurking, with a glint in his eye, and I knew he’d grab the hat and take off before I could catch him. So, I did the only thing I could.

I left the hat on my head. I think that’s all right (unless there are clergy present—I forget the rule).

In my insane association habit, this prompted me to remember a visit to a Jaguar dealership when Maria owned the Jag roadster. I was looking at Jaguar umbrellas, and began to open one up to assess the size. The owner of the dealership began to scream at me from across the room. Now, we were good customers (ANY customer in a Jag dealership is a good customer).

“Don’t you know,” she aggressively inquired, “that it’s bad luck to open an umbrella indoors!?”

“You’re selling $85,000 cars, and you’re superstitious?” I meekly responded.

“CLOSE, AND STEP AWAY FROM, THE UMBRELLA!” she suggested. I beat a retreat.

I don’t mind adhering to some of these rules since it makes others happy and I don’t really need to put my hat on the table or open umbrellas in car dealerships. Fair enough.

But how many of these quaint dicta inform our own business behavior? Do you believe and act upon beliefs such as:

• The customer is always right.
• As long as you’re there, you should do what the client requires.
• Time is money.
• You sell through your web site.
• Meeting planners are important for speaking opportunities.
• You can’t mix social and business objectives.
• If you are delivering you can’t market, and vice versa.
• You can only handle a limited number of clients.
• You’re a fool to turn down business.
• You can’t fire a client.
• Intermediaries and “brokers” can provide you with leads.
• The loud guy next to you at a consultant chapter meeting is smarter than you.
• If it’s a published management book, it must be right.
• The client doesn’t owe you the full amount until the project is completed.

I could go on and on. It helps to challenge your basic premises, because some of them are nothing more than superstitions and folly, as is every single bullet point above.

Be rational. Expand your horizons. Break paradigms. Follow a black cat under a ladder. Just don’t put your hat on the cat.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Consulting Philosophy | 1 Comment

Nobody Asked Me, But….

Nobody Asked Me, But (with all due attribution and apologies to legendary sportswriter Jimmy Cannon, who originated this)….

  • People just look goofy when they walk around with a blinking blue light in their ear. If they’re dressed well, they look even goofier. I told a lawyer in Atlanta that I wasn’t going to talk to him until he took it out of his ear. (Was he going to take a call during our meeting?)
  • The customer or the client is not always right. In fact, if the client were usually right about the issues you’re discussing, you wouldn’t be discussing them.
  • If you read a book on management and do not mark a single passage to be copied and considered or used at a later date, then I wouldn’t exactly rush out to buy works from that author again.
  • I watched people enter a conference room where a participant, with permission, had a dog in a cage. The dog was a puppy, extremely well behaved, and just happy to be there. There were, sure enough, two kinds of people: those who said, “What a cute puppy!” and went over to make its acquaintance, and those who frowned and steered a wide course around the area. Barring those with dog hair allergies, guess with whom I want to spend my time?
  • I watched a sizeable blackbird at the pool in Naples unsuccessfully attack a stale piece of food found under a table. After a minute, the bird picked up the morsel, hopped to the side of the pool, and dunked the food until it became soft to enough to break apart. Three minutes later he was done and departed. If a black bird can do that, why can’t you make your client interactions more malleable?
  • When the buyer says, “I have no time,” or “We don’t have budget,” you have made some minor errors but your position is recoverable. If the buyer says, “I don’t see the value,” you’re probably cooked.
  • When a female airport security officer has carefully applied eye makeup and lipstick, and has her hair well coiffed, yet acts like a Gestapo interrogation officer, I don’t think she’s understood what “putting on the right face” really means. (She works at the Naples Airport, look out.)
  • If you’re telling me that you’re “technologically illiterate” and don’t have an email address or use a computer for speed in gathering information or ordering merchandise at times, you might as well tell me that you can’t read or are afraid to use the telephone. That excuse was cute 15 years ago but it’s downright dumb today.
  • I’ve just facilitated a real-time consulting practicum, in which two teams worked on issues at a major U.S. organization and developed recommendations within two hours that were presented in 30 minutes, which the buyer thought were “awesome.” And, what, you still want to bill by the hour?
  • There are two equally ridiculous extremes: Refusing to look at business email on the weekend, and refusing to go to the beach during the week. You don’t have a business life and a personal life. You have a life. You might as well maximize its potential.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Best of Life | 1 Comment

Alan on ABC

Click here to watch Alan’s terrific seven-minute, unprepared and unscripted interview on ABC.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Movies: Life in Reel Time | Leave a comment

Hold the Tiger

There was once a small company bothered by insects in the cellar, which occasionally buzzed out to annoy and distract the staff. So they found a pest control expert, but they demanded “natural” means to deal with the problem, no poisons. This was a highly responsible company, led by a compassionate owner.

The pest control expert pointed out that the most natural remedy for the insects was a toad, since toads eat prodigious amounts of every insect imaginable, and can do so in total darkness. “Okay,” said the company president, “bring on the toads.”

The toads finished up inside a week, but then took off to find more food in the various nooks and crannies of the cellar, and began to make an enormous racket of “dribbet” and “kerouk.” There were fears that they would begin breeding down there, and employees were refusing to go into the cellar for supplies. Once again, the president consulted his expert, but demanded a natural remedy.

“I reckon a snake would do it,” he said, “since they are the natural enemy of toads. A good sized constrictor would take care of all of them I believe.”

And so it was that a seven-foot red constrictor was allowed to slither into the cellar, and the croaking quickly stopped, after some frenzied leaping about into the walls. As you may assume, no one could round up the snake, and no one would go near the cellar door, so another meeting took place.

Before the president could speak, the pest control expert said, “Mongoose.”

“Do it,” said the president.

There was an awful racket for the next couple of days. Finally, only the nagging, persistent squeal of the mongoose could be heard, but it was heard over everything. “What would take care of a mongoose?” asked the president. And the next day, a hyena trotted down the cellar stairs, snorting and sniffing. The hourly animal rental charges were mounting up.

To make a long story short, these are not called “laughing hyenas” for nothing. The cacophony was unbearable from this single animal. And so a final meeting was held down the street in a coffee shop, since it was now hard to hear anything in the office and most employees had taken to wearing earphones. Supplies were being trucked in from a retailer in the next town.

The pest control expert said, pensively, while stirring his coffee, that there was no cause for alarm, he had a solution.

“Natural, no guns or toxins?” asked the president.

“No, a natural enemy,” replied the expert.

“What is a hyena’s natural enemy?” asked the president.

“A tiger.”

“Just in case,” queried the president, tallying up his mounting debt, what is the tiger’s natural enemy?”

The pest control expert was shocked. “Why, it has no natural enemy,” he explained.

It was about at that time, up the street at the office, amidst the hyena’s mocking laughter, as the tiger was being contemplated in the coffee shop, that the insects returned.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Alas Babylon | Leave a comment

The Frog Story

In addition to the funny boom box story I previously posted here is one more I caught on tape during the recent Million Dollar Consulting College®. Enjoy, Chad

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Movies: Life in Reel Time | 1 Comment