Monthly Archives: August 2009

Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t, Damn!! (Episode 36)

Click Here for entire series table of contents

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Movies: The Writing on the Wall | 8 Comments

Buying Drinks in Reno

Any of you who are in my various communities and will be in Reno when I keynote at the IMC on Oct. 25 or when I receive the Fellow designation on the 26th, find me. I’m buying drinks. Maybe a small party in my suite.

If you want to register with our discount, if you qualify:

Anyone wishing to claim the affiliate discount to member rates for Confab should follow the steps listed below:

1. On page one, select the “Registration Type” of “Affiliate” from the drop down list.
2. Complete the items requested on Page two as appropriate.
3. On page three, select “Other” from the list of affiliates and type “Summit” or “SCG” in the text box next to “Other”. (This is for Alan Weiss associates only. Otherwise, type in the affiliate name.) Also on page three there is a question asking “How did you hear about Confab. Answer by selecting “Affiliate Marketing from the drop down list.
4. On page four select any of the optional sessions you may wish to attend.
5. On page five, type “IMCAFF2009″ in the text box that asks for your discount code. Then, click the “Apply Code” button. This will cause the program to apply the member rate discount. Continue by completing the payment information.

Don Scellato CMC
Program Chair
Confab 2009

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


Agenda: A list or outline of things to be done, subjects to be discussed, business to be transacted; a program. — Webster’s Third New International Unabridged (For those of you lost in Wikipedia, that’s a “dictionary.”)

You have to beware of people with an agenda. It directs all of their speech, their conversation, their philosophy, their outlook, their debate, even their reasoning.

When I finished a very well received speech at GE one time, two women approached me five minutes apart. The first said that I used equal numbers of masculine and feminine pronouns and examples, which was, to her, the mark of a good speaker. The second told me that I made light of women’s questions and didn’t give them as detailed answers as I did for men’s questions, which was the mark, or course, of a poor speaker.

I ignored both. Two agendas. One was a noncom in the infamous “pronoun police,” where content takes a second seat to form according to the evaluator. The second was the “timing terror” where content is totally ignored so that “equal time,” on her conditions, was provided.

I’ve read inputs on my private chat room (, on this blog, and on social media platforms where every comment is prefaced by or captive of a political, religious, or conspiratorial belief system. An example: “It may be unfair for some athletes to use steroids, but don’t forget that George Bush left National Guard training early.” (I have no agenda, except against agendas, so fill in whomever you would like for George Bush in the example!)

Clients will have agendas about any number of things. Many think that every single issue can be addressed through a “lean” approach, or Six Sigma, or Nine Delta. It’s nothing more than Maslow’s old “hammer/nail” analogy. Others will begin with a question about how to achieve consensus, or engage existing teams, or involve the customer, as though those alternatives were Holy Writ. One woman (oops) famously asked me, “Can you describe the binders you’ll be using because we win awards for our materials.”

People approach almost any issue with a certain, personal worldview, created by their education, acculturation, nurturing, experiences, family, associations, and so forth. That’s normal. But healthy people are flexible, learn, and add to those formative factors through interactions with others. There is an old, extreme rubric which maintains that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. On a softer note, I find intelligent people are constantly changing views as they grow, learn, and interact. Note that President Obama has been both praised and condemned for such change and learning. It depends upon the observer’s agenda. (I’ve noted for years that I’m constantly surprised by how stupid I was two weeks ago.)

It’s tough to argue with an entrenched agenda because the other party has a list of points that must be covered, a tight parameter around the issue, and a tendentious adherence to the program. I remember pointing out to a Loch Ness Monster advocate that the toys and photo equipment used for the most famous, faked shot were turned over to authorities on the perpetrator’s death bed. The Monster Man told me that it was a conspiracy, and the toys and photo were created to discredit the “real” photo of the “real” monster. Okay, agenda item number 14….

Beware of “agendanomics.” It’s an approach with admirable rigor and discipline, but not much fresh air or intellect. And it’s been around forever. As Oscar Wilde reported during a visit to the American South in the late 1860s, during the aftermath of the Civil War, his hosts were bemoaning the fact that everything was better antebellum.

To try to break the morose mood, Wilde commented, “But what a beautiful moon tonight!”

“You think so?” asked his host. “Well, sir, you should have seen it before the war!”

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Consulting Philosophy, Personal Improvement | 2 Comments

Hail to the Chief

On a dark, back road of Nantucket, we had a nighttime encounter with a flatbed truck driver who was pretty obviously drunk. The details are unimportant, but the guy got out of his truck, shouting obscenities, and ran after us because I used my high beams to see if I had enough clearance to get by. (Chasing a Bentley on foot is one indication of possessing a high blood/alcohol rating.)

When we got back to the inn, I called the police to report him, because I figured he would give other people the same grief, and maybe come back after me. The officer on the phone was dismissive, and wouldn’t even take my name. That ticked me off more than the truck driver.

After I returned home, I found the Nantucket Police Department on Google, and was impressed that Chief William Pittman had a direct email address. I wrote to tell him about his indifferent officer, because if I were he, I’d want to know.

He called me personally today, apologized, and told me what corrective actions were being taken. He even figured out who the trucker driver was, and told me the issue should have been handled far differently. He was totally professional, and service-oriented. I know if I had been wrong, he would have told me that in the same manner.

I’m impressed. No one is perfect, no department is perfect. But when leaders are determined to be responsive and constantly seek improvement—and not be defensive—good things happen. And maybe a future assault is prevented.

Compare this to another experience in Nantucket: I’m waiting for my wife at a convenience store, where all the parking spaces are filled, so I’m in a loading zone, with the motor idling, at 9 at night, when no one on earth is going to load or unload on Nantucket. I notice a heavy guy walking down the street looking at me, and it looks like he has a holster, though I figure it’s a cell phone.

Next thing I know, he’s next to me in an SUV bellowing at me, like a small town, redneck, tough guy. He screams at me not to stay in the loading zone, and I notice the light array on the SUV and look down to see “Sheriff” on the door. Politely asking me to move would have had the same ultimate outcome, right?

I recounted this at the Wauwinet bar the next night and a local guy asked me, “What kind of car do you drive?” Curious, I told him, and asked why that mattered.

“Because you ran into our sheriff,” he said, “and he just hates anyone here with money.”

“Aren’t we the ones who help the economy, and don’t most people on this island have mney?” I asked.

“Go figure!” he says.

So, hail to the Chief, at least he sets a shining example on Nantucket.

(Do you have a good or bad police authority example? Make a comment below!)

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Good Ones | 7 Comments

Alan Weiss Named Fellow of IMC

Washington, DC
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Institute of Management Consultants, USA, has awarded international author and Certified Management Consultant Alan Weiss, PhD, CMC, with its prestigious Fellow of IMC USA (FIMC) for distinguished service.

“Alan’s contributions to the ethics and professional performance of management consulting are recognized globally,” said Drumm McNaughton, Chairman of IMC USA. “Not only has Alan been recognized for outstanding service to his clients world-wide, he has fostered professionalism in the industry through the more than 30 books he has authored on the profession of consulting and business development, many of which have become integral parts of curricula at such notable institutions as Wharton School of Business, Villanova and Temple University. Alan continually gives back by sharing his expertise with nonprofit and trade organizations through numerous pro-bono speaking engagements as well as mentoring young professionals”

The award will be presented during a formal ceremony at Confab, IMC’s 32nd annual conference to be held in Reno, Nevada, October 24-27; the largest conference in the US for consultants and by consultants.

Weiss is one of only two dozen individuals in the United States who have been awarded both the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation and the Certified Management Consultant (CMC®) designation. The National Speakers Association has previously honored Weiss with its Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE) and by inducting him into the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame®, making him one of only two people in history to be elected as CPAE and FIMC. He is also the only non-journalist in the 80-year history of the American Press Institute to be granted its Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Peer recognition is a wonderful reward in any profession and I am honored to be held in such high esteem by the profession that has enriched my life in so many ways,” said Weiss. “The fact that I’ve been acknowledged by both IMC and NSA is rare and beyond my expectations”

IMC USA was founded in 1968 with the primary purpose of assuring the public that its members possess ethical standards, professional competence, and independence required to practice as management consultants. IMC USA is the sole certifying body for the United States, authorized to award the Certified Management Consultant (CMC®) designation.

Bette Price, CMC
Media Contact
Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc.
Washington, DC

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Announcements | 10 Comments

The Dog Star – Bone of Contention

What is the essence of power and why is important to for you and others to know that it is there? Listen to this podcast and find out.

and now also on iTunes

Click Here for entire podcast series table of contents

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Podcast Series: The Way I See It | 1 Comment

The Newspaper “Network”

I’m growing really bored with newspaper owners and management whining and crying about unfair competition and the generally nasty ways of the universe. Compete or close. Newspapers won’t be “lost,” they will just be in a different alignment.

Radio hit its stride when networks were formed, so that dramatic shows, musicals, comedies, and news could be heard at the same local hour in widespread communities. (Don’t forget that railroads put many local stores out of business once the Sears Catalog could be distributed and fulfilled that way. The “Internet distribution” is hardly new.) Radio didn’t immediately lose ground to television, but did so only when TV networks were formed in the early 1950s. Cable, Apple TV, on-demand and all the rest use basically similar distribution but with many less restraints on language and depiction, and much more flexibility in time shifting and remote viewing.

Newspapers had a hard time dealing with radio, so the fact that the Internet may be their “last stand” in this form is hardly surprising. Or cause for the rending of garments, for that matter.

Newspapers will become more networked. We already have network-newspapers: USAToday, The Wall Street Journal, national editions of The New York Times, and so forth. That will intensify, so that people in Denver or Dallas or Dayton will subscribe to the Times, which will carry locally-relevant sections (not unlike current “zoning” done by metropolitan papers trying to appeal to neighborhoods and suburbs). Will San Francisco collapse without The Chronicle or Boston disappear without The Globe? I kind of doubt it. Declining readership and advertising tells you that they are no longer the pillars of community information or business.

We have survived well in this country through the trauma of NOT manufacturing televisions any more and watching GM declare bankruptcy. The current recession is clearly ending, though it will take some time, things are looking up. Not every city requires or is entitled to a local daily newspaper. When I was younger, New York had six dailies. Today, there are three, barely.

Incidentally, these aren’t idle ramblings. I’ve had as clients The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Singapore Straits Times, The Providence Journal, and a dozen others, and I’m the only non-journalist in history to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Press Institute. Newspaper ownership—predominantly families (Hearst) or conglomerates (Gannet) in the past—have taken zillions out of the newspapers during flush times. No one has been inventive and innovative enough to compete in tougher times, with rare exception.

Newspapers will be around. But they are going to change through economic circumstances since they apparently couldn’t or wouldn’t of their own volition.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Business of Consulting, DASM | 1 Comment

Nantucket Confidential VI: Escape

We’ve been facing Hurricane Bill 150 miles to the east, and a line of storms west of Boston. Nantucket was beautiful—a few very temporary showers—but there was a chance our 9 pm ferry, the last one of the day, would be cancelled due to high seas. (They tend to cancel, we learned, at 22-foot seas. So would I.)

That bumps you pretty badly, since you then have to wait for available space, and these ferries are packed. (There were 85 cars on the standby list just today). The Wauwinet promised us space if we had to return, so we went into town, to church, and to dinner as always. Then to the ferry dock, where things were comfortingly normal. I’m writing this on our way across Nantucket Sound heading for Hyannis. We’ll dock at 11:30 and probably be welcomed by Koufax and Buddy about 1 am.

We had dinner at the Club Car, which is simply spectacular, one of the THE finest restaurants in Massachusetts, never mind Nantucket. It has an extensive list of half-bottles of wine, which include Opus, Stags Leap (which I couldn’t resist), Caymus, etc. You don’t normally see that. I had a wonderful, spicy octopus dish, we split a beet salad, and then each had extraordinary soft shell crabs.

Maria’s birthday, the twins’ first birthday, and their Christening all coming up to be celebrated together in September. Be sure to watch my September Writing on the Wall, Episode 36, where the twins make their production debut, we use high def, a new car, a new opening, and Koufax continues his career.

I’m watching the Little League World Series on the ferry, and heading for my traditional homeward bound hot dog. My best from the high seas.

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

Laugh for the Day

You may have seen these, but if not, they’re good to cheer you up!

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Personal Improvement | 1 Comment

Nantucket Confidential V

Fabulous day on the beach. Yesterday, a big Lab trotted into the water, swam into the surf, paddled in circles for a while, then swam back on shore and shook so hard I though his head would come off. Then he wandered over to his house, obviously having done this a hundred times prior.

Today, Maria says, “Look, a dog is out there much too far.” It turns out to be a seal, staring at us. Since they’ve become protected, their population has boomed, and now there is a dangerous concentration of great white sharks between Nantucket and Cape Cod, who regard seals as a gourmet treat. I’m wondering if one says, “I had seal stuffed with cod,” and his colleague reports, “I had seal stuffed with lobster and shrimp.” The seal was the size of a freezer, but the great whites sighted here are 16-20 feet.

We are between Hurricane Bill, 200 miles east, and bad storms on the mainland, just west of Boston. There is a 50/50 chance our 9 pm ferry tomorrow will be cancelled due to rough seas. If cancelled, we have to wait until room clears, which can take days. There is room at the inn, however, so we won’t have to sleep in the car.

Our options:
1. Maria flies home and I stay here with the car. (Not an option, she won’t fly in small planes without me.)
2. I fly home and Maria stays here with the car until a ferry is cleared. (Not an option, period.)
3. We both fly home and leave the car here until we can retrieve it. (Yeah, right.)
4. We stay here, “marooned” on Nantucket, until a ferry clears. (Now THAT’S an option.)

We hope you’ll all think good thoughts for “The Nantucket Two,” who may have to conduct business from the island for days. Fortunately, I brought extra cigars. (I filled up the car tonight, just in case.)

Dinner this evening at Dune, terrific lobster appetizer followed by extraordinary tuna with chunks of chorizo. I will only order very special white wines, but Maria prefers them, and they had a great Chassagne Montrechet. We will return there next year.

As is my 17-year habit, I conclude with a cigar, chocolate bar, and Johnny Walker Blue on our deck, thankful for this wonderful, rare life we lead. We don’t know if we’re going home or forced to stay here tomorrow, but we’ll muddle through!

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Peregrinations | 1 Comment