Monthly Archives: September 2008

Stories I Rarely Tell (Episode 25)

Part 1:

Part 2:

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© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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Posted in The Movies: The Writing on the Wall | Leave a comment

Weaker Link

The Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) does its best to try to herd cats–help solo practitioners to learn and grow. But it has been woefully behind the times in terms of value based fees, marketing, and so forth. After my “Weak Link” posting yesterday, I received an announcement from them today about their annual conference, and here is the pre-conference special workshop:

Optional Pre-Conference Workshop, The Consultant’s Guide to LinkedIn: How to Profit from Social Networking

You have to pay dues to belong to the IMC (I’m a long-time member for former board member) and I don’t exactly regard this as cutting edge. But, hey, this is ContrarianConsulting.com.

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Posted in Business of Consulting | 4 Comments

How You Can Tell This Isn’t the Business for You

Is the business you’re in for you? Perhaps. But before you decide you’d better listen to this podcast and to Alan discussing these topics and more:

  1. Should you pursue leads?
  2. What is your value as an outcome to others?
  3. What if you make mistakes and should you?
  4. What about methodology and marketing?
  5. Search engine optimization vs. body of work.
  6. And several other points.

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and now also on iTunes

Click Here for entire podcast series table of contents

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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

Weak Link

I’ve been on Linkedin for a couple of months, I guess, as a test after stirring up the “social networking” cult which seems to believe that constant contact on the Internet is the answer to all human needs. (You can read some of the vociferous posts elsewhere on the blog, but not the ones we deleted because they were obscene, incomprehensible, or just vacuous.)

Here is my experience on Linkedin with 144 connections and 1,841,000 linked to them, or so the site claims. There are 2,733 new people on my network since September 23, whatever that means. I’ve posted questions and responded, started one group (for my mentor program) and conscientiously replied to all invitations and queries.

• With the exception of staying in touch and perhaps finding traditional employment, I see zero benefit to Linkedin as a marketing tool for consultants.
• It has the potential to be a huge time waster. Most postings are irrelevant.
• There are mostly inanities brought to your attention, such as two people you’ve never heard of who are now “connected,” or the really stupid notifications such as, “Roger is staying up late to work tonight.” Oh, great, now my day is complete.
• Exactly two people inquired about any kind of business with me, for coaching in both cases, and both said that they were going to contact me through my web site but happened to see me on Linkedin. One joined the Mentor Program, the other did not.
• The questions posted were 95% pretty sound and useful, but were also overwhelmingly (at least in my case) low level human resources type of inquiries.
• People with whom I interacted were unfailingly polite and professional. Not one exception.
• I received buying solicitations from others who invariably replied, when I protested, either “My assistant made a mistake with my list,” or “I never sent that to you” (then how did I get it?).
• Some people collect connections like stamps, and told me that the entire idea was to maximize their “network.” I refused to link with “collectors.”
• The technology is surprisingly primitive and unreliable, such as when I click on an invitation and its says, “This was not intended for you.” I had to go to customer service to have a duplicate of me removed, which the system inexplicably created.

I could go on, but I won’t. This is a mild diversion with limited utility for serious entrepreneurs and consultants in a world where time is a non-renewable resource. Worse, it has created a cultish behavior among many of its adherents who see the leaf and not the tree or the forest. I’m still awaiting my secret decoder ring.

Contrarian consulting advice: Use your time to network qualitatively, and don’t rely on technological shortcuts which don’t immediately involve you with real buyers. I know some people will write in ignoring the fact that I am writing about consultants, because the cult blinds them. They need to spend less time staring at Linkedin on their computer screens and go taste the coffee.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Consulting Philosophy | 20 Comments

John Jantsch Interviews Alan Weiss

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing interviews the Rock Star of Consulting, Dr. Alan Weiss. In this terrific interview John discusses some of the following topics with Alan:

  1. Coaching vs. Consulting.
  2. Generating results for clients.
  3. Branding and the two most common business models.
  4. Charging what you are worth.
  5. How to build a million dollar practice?
  6. How do you measure results?
  7. How to begin marketing a new business?

And more exciting questions and discussions.

Click on arrow below for podcast to start

and now also on iTunes

Click Here for entire podcast series table of contents

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Podcasts Series: Brave New World | 1 Comment

Follow Me

In the “olden days,” as my son used to say, military aircraft pilots would follow a jeep or truck with a big sign saying “Follow Me” as they taxied after landing. The vehicle would lead them to their designated space.

Well, I don’t put signs on the Bentley, so, metaphorically, follow me.

People are asking whether these are good times or bad to be a consultant. The times are neither. The times are what you make of them.

The question isn’t about price, or the economy, or the competition, or anything other than VALUE. Are you providing value that others find sufficiently worthwhile to pay for?

I’ve had people tell me recently that they’re not sure how they help clients (they just “do”), or that they’re uncertain about what to say if they do get in front of a buyer, or that they don’t feel their value is easily explained. Well, that’s not going to work in the greatest economy in the universe, much less this one.

There are close to 300 million people in the US and something like 7 billion on the planet. There are a lot of buyers in there, trust me. The questions are:

• Do you know who they are?
• Do they know who you are?
• Can you reach them?
• Can they reach you?
• Do you know how to assign a fee for your value to them?

A lot of you reading this can’t answer those questions well, let alone those who aren’t sufficiently invested in their own development to bother to read this. Don’t be distracted by the events swirling around us—there’s not much you can do about them, sorry to say, but there is a lot you can do about your own situation, happy to say.

Specify your value. Brand it. Promote it incessantly. Seek out buyers who will benefit from it. Make it easy for those buyers to appreciate your expertise and find you.

Rinse and repeat.

Follow me.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Business of Consulting | 2 Comments

A Lemon to the Emmys

I love television, especially shows such as “Madmen,” “Damages,” and “30 Rock.” So my wife and I settle in to watch the Emmys on an annual basis. Given current conditions, I was wondering how they’d handle the awards ceremony last night.

In the first 20 seconds, I realized: Horribly.

First, Oprah Winfrey cruises across the stage in a gown that reminded me of a schooner under full sail. She proceeds to tell us that this is a special and glamorous night, and to suspend all else because of the extraordinary nature of the awards. This on a day where the morning news shows were talking about the brink of economic collapse and many people are concerned about their life savings, we have one of the wealthiest people in the world telling us how great things are. What was that about?

This was followed by an appallingly awful opening with a gaggle of “reality show” hosts.

A digression about what’s known as “reality television”: It ain’t. The show “Survivor” is pretty heavily scripted, and there’s nothing real about dumping people on an island and filming them trying to gain 15 minutes of fame. “Deal or No Deal” is certainly “real”: A couple of dozen high fashion models done up like donuts allowing carefully screened contestants to try to find a million dollars in a totally random method. Happens every day. Dancing with the Stars? Come on. I like some of these shows, but “reality”??

In any case, the “reality” hosts showed that they need less reality and more scripting as the opening skit went quickly down the tubes.

I thought the awards were mostly deserving, except that John Hamm should have won for “Madmen.” But I found the tone, the superciliousness, the detachment from the true “reality” of the people who watch and support these shows to be startling. This is stochastic, of course, but I believe that the people on stage were actually afraid to take on the economy and the bizarre discordance of the awards ceremony.

You need a keen intellect, true perspective, and fearlessness to mock danger. The people I saw last night, with the sole exception of an eighty-ish Don Rickles, seemed to lack all three.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

PS: My daughter and the twin girls continue to do well, thank you for all your prayers and best wishes. Don’t stop now!

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Posted in Alas Babylon | 1 Comment

Incredible Journey

I’ve been absent for a while in my travelogue. I try to lead a dramatic life, but sometimes events let you know that drama is created by a far greater power.

We were on the ferry from Naples to Capri last Saturday afternoon. About 20 people relaxed on the 200-person craft, and the Mediterranean was a tad too rough to allow me to read during the 40-minute trip. Randomly, I pulled my IPhone from my pocket to see if it would work.

It did, and there was a message from my daughter. It had been sent at 7:30 am New York time. I knew it couldn’t be good.

My parents, who live independently, are in the 80s and 90s. Maria’s mother has Alzheimer’s, is in her early 90s, and resides in an assisted living facility. Danielle is expecting twins in December.

I didn’t tell my wife, sitting next to me, and returned the call. Danielle answered, and informed me we were grandparents to twin girls born at 27.5 weeks. I told my wife, though I didn’t have to, as she looked at my face, and we just stared at each other, speechless, in the middle of the sea. Before we knew it, we docked in Capri.

After a frightening ride at speed up a twisting, narrow mountain road, we arrived at the Caesar Augustus, high atop Ana Capri. We were shown to our room and I made a cell phone call to my most powerful contact. In less than 20 minutes, the rest of our trip was cancelled, and the next day we had a taxi, ferry, limo, reservations from Naples to Paris and Paris to New York on Air France, and a limo from JFK to the W Union Square Hotel. We awoke in Capri and went to sleep in New York.

We had dinner Saturday night at the Caesar Augustus, toasting our good fortune but worried about the future.

As far as anyone knew, we were still away. The first 72 hours are the most critical for premature babies. We spent Monday and Tuesday visiting Danielle and her husband, Jan, in the hospital, and looking at these two miracles. (The hospital has a level 3 natal intensive care unit, and is famous for work with premature births.)

We returned home Tuesday night, and Maria will return to New York next week to see Gabrielle Victoria and Alaina Marie again. They are still critical, but stable, and doing well under the circumstances. Danielle is recovering nicely.

My wife and I are still trying to understand what we’ve been through. We do realize that we have two miracles, and are blessed.

I am sharing this to be honest and to include my community in what we’ve been through. And I have a favor to ask.

Please DO NOT send us email, regular mail, or phone messages about the girls. These will complicate, not help, our lives right now. We know that you understand the gravity of the situation and what we’re all going through. Feel free to post here on the blog.

But please DO take a minute out of your day to say a prayer—however you tend to do so—for the girls. We’re convinced that will help, and we’re appreciative of that effort.

I’m running my business as normally as I can, because we have to get on with our lives. Feel free to call and write as you normally would in terms of our relationship.

Just don’t forget that small prayer. Thank you.

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Posted in Announcements | 34 Comments

Pound Stupid

A woman from Australia had placed a $180 book order, which I told her would be filled once my trip was over.

She wrote a day ago to cancel it because “the Australian dollar has declined against the US dollar, and she’s going to wait until the exchange rate is more favorable.”

I told her she would never make it in this business with that kind of small-time thinking, and she became very offended. She told me that she wasn’t as clueless as I supposed. I told her that I thought she was, and that she ought to be thinking about the next hundred thousand dollars and how professional development would help her get there. If she orders again I might not fill the order, because I don’t like wasting my books.

The markets are going crazy, but people are on the streets, buying coffee, discussing sports, and debating politics. People will eat in restaurants tonight, and cars will be purchased. (What do you know, oil prices are declining because usage declined, which is a natural market reaction.)

If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, you had better be thinking about the next hundred grand, not the next dollar or thousand or ten thousand. Stop worrying about where to buy less expensive furniture or cheaper gas. It doesn’t matter in the long run, and it provides for a poverty mentality.

You don’t have to look far to find successful people in this and other professions. Are they better than you? Luckier? Liars?

No, they are simply disciplined, organized, and big picture thinkers. They don’t panic. The look through a telescope, not a microscope. They don’t spend $3,000 of their time trying to save $50 on a new cell phone.

This is a business which calls for powerful people to be impressed by your value and authorize a check for it, whether or not it’s been previously budgeted, or the timing isn’t perfect, or the operation will be disrupted.

They aren’t going to buy from someone who asks for their parking ticket to be validated, or who waits to read something helpful until the exchange rate is better and they can save three bucks.

I know I don’t want to deal with them.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Business of Consulting | 5 Comments

London: Day 3

Dinner with the great group from The Coach last night. I take the first 10 people to register, since they ensure the program. We have people from five countries and two planets. They’ve asked if I’ll do my Self-Esteem Workshop in Dublin early next year, and we may already have 12 participants, so that will be exciting.

Finished the program this morning and it was a delight. Great to love your work. The small teams practiced coaching around the pool.

Then we were off to The Britain Tate (there is more than one Tate, and we first took a $20 ride to the wrong one—apparently the country is so old that they’ve run out of names for major buildings). We saw the Francis Bacon exhibit, an incredible assortment of creative but grotesque paintings by a man who was gay when it was a public crime. Extraordinarily moving.

A light lunch, some down time, then off to Wollesley (next to The Ritz) for a dinner of sardines and grouse, which I hadn’t had since breakfast.

We leave at 8:30 tomorrow for Gatwick and on to Naples and a ferry to Capri. I’ll report tomorrow if I feel like it, otherwise I’m taking the day off.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Peregrinations | 1 Comment