Monthly Archives: January 2009

Leave A Message At the Tone, Period

rom the Aer Lingus first class lounge, Boston:

In the limo coming up here I find that I have a phone message left for me after 5 pm on Friday. It’s from someone on the West Coast requesting I provide something for a chapter newsletter, since I’ll be speaking there in March. I’m happy to do this.

But the message is left after my business hours during a weekend. When I call back today to leave a return message, the phone rings 12 times (most callers would hang up), then the individual leaves a one-minute message of his own, then the automated system gives its messages for leaving my message. The entire challenge takes over two minutes to complete.

My point to you is this: Make life easy for people, they just may be buyers or others who can help you. Consider THEIR time zone. If you forward your phone, arrange for it to be picked up within four rings. Keep you own message brief (I could care less about where you are or your saying for the day).

I’ve found that people who succeed get there first; make it easy to be reached; respond quickly; are focused on the customer, not themselves; avoid bureaucracy; and always shop their own business (or have someone else do it for them).

I wan introduced at a keynote in Boston yesterday with the introducer reading my bio verbatim. But then she said, “Let me add something,” and I tensed. But she said, “This guy promises to call back within 90 minutes and he’s done so every single time I’ve called him over three years. Listen carefully, we all have something to learn this morning.”

Especially if you’re looking for a favor, but just as good business sense, make it easy to work with you. That means you focus on the other person’s self-interest, not your own. “Leave a message at the tone” is really sufficient, especially if I hear it right away with no quotes from Gandhi.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

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John Updike

Ironically enough, on a day in which the New York Times runs an article highlighting the popularity of vanity publishing—self-publishing a book—which on average generates sales of 150 books in total, per author, it also dutifully records the death of one of our greatest men of letters, John Updike, who has sold millions of books to a public thirsty for his work.

As a junior at Rutgers studying creative writing, my instructor told us to choose one author and read his or her entire body of work. Accidentally, fortuitously, unthinkingly, I chose Updike, one of the great examples of why it’s often better to be lucky than good in your decisions.

I began and continued to read his works, and am currently finishing his latest, The Widows of Eastwick, providentially written about the area were I live (“Eastwick” is a combination of my town, East Greenwich, and the adjoining Warwick or Wickford, I’m not sure which). His final book will appear in June.

When I think of great, contemporary writers I tend to think of John Irving and Phillip Roth, but Updike has always stood apart for me, a man of enormous intellect whose non-fiction and criticism are as lyrical as his fiction. Best known for the “Rabbit Run” tetralogy, his works actually range far and wide, always describing the nuances of middle class life and values (or lack thereof).

Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom resides with Jay Gatsby as an epochal fictional presence in American letters. The “Rabbit Run” series is one of fewer than four or five I’ve ever read twice, at vastly different stages of my life, to gain further understanding.

I want to continue reading Updike’s body of work but, alas, it is approaching completion. I think back to that assignment in late 1966, and I realize that I, too, am nearing completion.

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Posted in Alan's Quest | 9 Comments

Spend A Day With Alan and Get A Charitable Tax Deduction

People often come to my home to spend a day to talk in depth about their business and life. Depending on a range of factors, that fee is typically $9,500 to $15,000.

I’m seeking to raise money for the Newport International Film Festival (I did a similar thing for Festival Ballet about two years ago).

Place your bid on the commentary to this notice (starting bid is $2,500). We will track them for two weeks, until noon, Eastern U.S. time, February 9. Whoever is high bidder at that point will receive:

• Dinner with me the night prior to our meeting
• A full day of coaching on subjects of your choice
• Free room at a nearby hotel
• Free local transportation
• A date that’s mutually-convenient and good for up to a year
• Transferable as a gift to someone else
• All meals while here
• The right to include a spouse, significant other, or business partner

You need only pay to get here, which means you can schedule it around your use of frequent flyer miles (or a car ride if you’re close). And, of course, your winning bid is deductible as a charitable donation (the check must be made out to the Film Festival, which can also accept your credit card).

You must list your name and email with your bid to keep this transparent, so that no one thinks I’m artificially boosting the bids!

The bidding is now open.

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Alanism – The evolving collection of Alan’s Apothegms.

  1. Get the straw out of your teeth and get out of the cornfield.
  2. Big fish die in small ponds.
  3. When you are 80% done, then move. The final 20% is dysfunctional.
  4. Aim for success, not perfection.
  5. Tell the audience what they need to know, not everything that you know.
  6. Talk the walk.
  7. Wealth is discretionary time.
  8. Only the gifted few can wing it (and if you’re wondering who they are, you’re not one of them).
  9. You can always make more money, you can’t make more time.
  10. Unsolicited feedback is for the benefit of the sender.
  11. Give three options: change the question from “Should we do business?” to “How should we do business?”
  12. What’s your point?
  13. You can’t make this stuff up.
  14. I can’t believe how stupid I was two weeks ago.
  15. You are enabling their behavior.
  16. I don’t know what you’re asking me!
  17. If you don’t blow your own horn there is no music.
  18. You seem to be a best kept secret.
  19. Marketing IS work!
  20. You’re in the marketing business, not the consulting business.
  21. Don’t waste time on a gatekeeper.
  22. Life’s about success, not perfection.
  23. It’s all you, not me.
  24. What’s your question?
  25. You’re not talking to a real buyer.
  26. It’s about creating marketing gravity.
  27. Earth to Roberta…
  28. Believe me, I don’t need all this information.
  29. If you wanna be loved, get a dog!
  30. You’re overthinking this.
  31. 80% of the problem is self-esteem. Let’s move on!
  32. Move three things forward a mile, not a hundred things forward an inch.
  33. The 1% solution: improve by 1% a day, and in 70 days you’re twice as good.
  34. It takes 90 minutes to write an article, not 90 days.
  35. I only kid people I like.
  36. Don’t just drop your baggage. You’ve got to throw it off the train.
  37. You’re going around the block to get next door.
  38. You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.
  39. A sale is a series of small yeses.
  40. Think of the fourth sale first.
  41. What’s in the client’s best interest?
  42. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.
  43. Self-confidence in the honest-to-God belief that you can help someone learn. Arrogance is the honest-to-God belief that you have nothing else to learn yourself. Smugness is arrogance without the talent.
  44. You can’t square a circle.
  45. We just don’t agree, and you have the right to be wrong.
  46. There’s nothing new under the sun.
  47. TIAABB: There is always a bigger boat.
  48. It’s as obvious as a ham sandwich.
  49. Be diagnostic, not prescriptive.
  50. Frank Sinatra did not need an introduction. Everyone knew who he was.
  51. Be an object of interest to others to attract them to you.
  52. Keep your inbox clean – cut unwanted email off at the source.
  53. Schedule time to write, and keep it sacrosanct.
  54. Words are the tools of our trade.
  55. Don’t dumb down, not your language or your attire.
  56. It can’t be done, or is it just you that can’t do it?
  57. That’s exactly why you need me.
  58. Enlarge your playing field.
  59. People believe what they see, not what they read or hear.
  60. Your name is your brand.
  61. Who certifies the certifiers?
  62. There are more speech coaches than good speakers.
  63. You will have your Cell Phones, PDA’s and Huckelberrys with you for the rest of your life. You only have me for the next 60 minutes, so put them away and pay attention to me.
  64. This is not a democratic forum.
  65. Too much information.
  66. This is not rocket science.
  67. You’re not talking to the economic buyer.
  68. This person is a waste of time.
  69. Let go of it and move on.
  70. The first sale is to yourself.
  71. Language controls the discussion, the discussion controls the relationship, and the relationship controls the business.
  72. Only read this if you know me, otherwise you will be needlessly ticked off.
  73. The next time you’re REALLY ANGRY, remember that virtually all such rage is actually self-anger being transferred elsewhere. Take the time to find out why you’re so unhappy with yourself.
  74. You never know where the next hit is going to come from.
  75. There is no objection we haven’t heard. You may not be able to effectively rebut every objection, but it’s negligent not to at least be prepared for them.
  76. If you’re always going to be number two in your market, it’s time to take a sharp right.
  77. Look at life through a telescope, not the microscope.
  78. Ain’t I a great facilitator?
  79. If you’re in consulting and don’t at least know of me, you’re just kidding around.
  80. Consulting is just common sense.
  81. It’s hard to learn while you are speaking.
  82. Build on strengths, stop correcting weaknesses.
  83. Life is what you make of it, not what life makes of you.
  84. The difference between the buyer’s “Wants” and the buyer’s “Needs” is your value distance.
  85. Buyers know what they want, but they rarely know what they need.
  86. Negotiate your wants, never your “musts.”
  87. You are not selling, you are enabling the buyer to buy.
  88. Relationships are everything.
  89. Live Large!
  90. Do the best you can, then move on.
  91. Buyers are supposed to buy.
  92. You don’t have a business life and a personal life; you have a life.
  93. Good consultants give help, not solutions.
  94. A professionally published book is the gold standard. A referral is platinum.
  95. Don’t let the client tell you how to consult.
  96. Is there a question in there somewhere?
  97. Why in the world would you waste your time on that?
  98. Hold on, I have to whack- a- mole!
  99. Lighten up.
  100. You are not selling anything, you are providing high value.
  101. You are world class consultants, but had better believe that first.
  102. Whatever you do, it is not going to affect the course of Western civilization.
  103. That was a “yes or no” question, why are you still talking.
  104. Maria never cooks. Ever. I hide her Christmas gifts in the oven.
  105. Life is like working out: You go for as long and hard as you can within the time you have available.
  106. You don’t have to write “War And Peace.”
  107. I’d like a very cold, very dry, Effen Martini.
  108. It’s about controlling the room with intellectual firepower.
  109. Don’t ever ask me that question: Is there anything else I should have asked you that I haven’t?
  110. Use your head.
  111. What are you waiting for?
  112. Value deserves payment.
  113. Referrals are the coinage of my realm.
  114. AW: “Have you been paid already?” Me: “Yes, handsomely” AW: “Then stop whining!!”
  115. You show up, do the best you can, and then you go home.
  116. Stop enabling your client’s terrible behavior!
  117. Don’t fall in love with your methodology.
  118. Don’t pity the martyrs, they love the work. (Citing George Ade)
  119. What’s your Ferrari?
  120. And there you sit! (Response to unsolicited criticism, or negative feedback.)
  121. Don’t assume the other person is damaged.
  122. Don’t swat a fly with a howitzer.
  123. Keep your days light and your weekends free.
  124. AT the end of the day: clean desk, clean floor.
  125. Check your ego at the door.
  126. Who certifies the certifiers?
  127. I don’t want a ski instructor to teach me how to ski from his stool in the bar; I want to see his rear end ahead of me on the slopes.
  128. Welcome to success. You have to be prepared for success.
  129. You are either in the game or you are not!
  130. You must think bigger!
  131. You don’t negotiate fee but you can negotiate terms.
  132. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  133. Minimize detail and maximize results.
  134. Lead the way to the next yes.
  135. Leadership is driven by values and measured by results.
  136. They are dealing with someone of tremendous power and success.
  137. You can’t be of help if you feel you are intruding.
  138. No one grows by correcting weaknesses.
  139. If it hurts, stop doing it.

Credit: Collected, compiled, and recommended by the members of Alan’s Professional Communities, edited by Alan to protect the innocent.

Click here for the PDF version of this collection. To contribute to this collection please comment below and add your favorites. We will review for quality and accuracy and update this thread.

(This thread last updated on  11/20/09)

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Posted in Alanisms | 42 Comments

Let Me Get Back to You on That

What are the reasons people don’t return message and what should you do about it? You will have to listen to this podcast and especially the to last few seconds to find out.

and now also on iTunes

Click Here for entire podcast series table of contents

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Podcast Series: The Way I See It | 4 Comments

New Opportunities

People are nagging me so I’ve caved: There will be another session of the workshops “Zero to 300K” AND “From Six Figures to Seven” on May 19-20 (2 days) and May 27-29 (2.5 days), respectively. These will be on my web site in the next couple of days, but you can register directly with me via email ( The first ten people in 0-300 will have dinner with me at one of my favorite places the first night of the program. Both sessions will be in the Providence/Newport area.

So, all of you who needed more dates or more time, here’s your chance!

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Warning on Speakers Bureaus

Top speakers often circulate among them the names of speakers bureaus which act unethically, don’t pay, renege on promises, and so on. One of the worst offenders is someone named Thom Lisk. I want to warn anyone who speaks professionally, especially new people, to steer clear of him. Here is a typical piece of his spam sent to me today, although I’ve asked to be removed from all mailings and he’s repeatedly promised to do so. Note the lie that begins the piece, “I was reading about you today.” I think it’s a tremendous service in any community to prevent members of that community from wasting precious time and resources, and I despise the people who give professionals such a bad name. Stay away from this guy and his “bureau.”

Dear Speaker,

Today I was reading about you while doing a cross reference check for great speakers for our client needs.

We book lots of speakers as you can see by our bureau website–link below.

Your information sent to this email would be of great interest to us as we have a couple of clients right NOW that we would like to consider offering you to.

We work for speakers on a straight commission when we book speakers quoting you at whatever fee you give us, of course. Our President has successfully booked terrific speakers for 32 years and is the author of the top book in America about the business of how to be a success as a Professional Speaker.

I hope to hear from you ASAP.

Also, I hope you do not mind that I added you to a list today of speaker friends whom we send news to once in awhile… therefore, we may forward you a monthly newsletter sent to a few others earlier this week. Please do read it and complete the survey when you have time, okay? Thanks.

For now however please know we have excellent references booking pro speakers to the Fortune 500, local elementary schools, and every other type organization you could mention at one time or another.

Do send us specific Word Docs or PDF files, etc. about yourself and a link to your website even if you have never worked with “TOP QUALITY PRO SPEAKERS BUREAU” like ours before, we welcome your information. Learn about us via our website–link below. If you want to talk before sending materials call us during regular business hours M-F eastern standard time.

This is a confidential request for you only.

Forgive me please… if you have sent us info in the past I do not have that handy… we would like updated info. If you have a demo tape we would welcome that, if not that is okay too.

Thank you.

Respectfully yours, in service, for your success,

Emily Bright, Customer Service/Administration

Professional Speakers Bureau Int’l

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Posted in Announcements | 19 Comments

Alaina Arrives Home!!

I’m pleased to announce (really happy as hell, I should say) that our second granddaughter came home from the hospital today, having successfully completed her car seat test, hearing test, and, apparently, SATs (tough hospital). Both girls are now home and settling in.

Maria and I, and our daughter and son-in-law, want to thank all of you for your prayers, wishes, and support. In the near future, I’ll announce when, Maria and I are having a mass said for all of you—Christians, Jews, Agnostics, Atheists, Muslims, and everyone of every other persuasion—who provided their best wishes and prayers. It mattered. (And you never want to hedge any bets.)

Thank you all.


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Posted in Announcements | 13 Comments

From Zero to $300,000

I’ve just concluded this two-day workshop, which went extremely well. I’m being asked to schedule another. I need at least a dozen people to commit, no deposits, just an expression of interest subject to final dates, probably late spring or early fall. If you are interested (or know who might be and want to alert them) drop a line to We plan to videotape this one if we do it.

Thank you.

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Posted in Announcements | 7 Comments

You Mean I’m A Thought Leader for Only $5,000?

I’ve just received an “invitation” accompanied by a cheap serving dish made in China. I’m invited, as a “thought leader,” to something called SANG in Las Vegas. When you go to the web site you find the usual suspects have organized this, all the “hot shot” marketing stuff promising you’ll make $40 million in the ensuing 15 minutes. All that for $5,000 or so, and let’s hope the refreshment breaks are good.

The invitation, a card sent with the serving dish in an “express” looking envelope, includes the following, and I AM NOT KIDDING YOU:

“You are cordially invited to join the worlds top thought leaders….” How many of them are thought leaders in punctuation would you think?

It’s by “invitation only.” If you want mine, let me know.

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Posted in Alas Babylon, Business of Consulting | Leave a comment