Monthly Archives: January 2010

Line of the Week

I’m running a Mentor Mastery session in London in February, and secured the presidential suite at The Stafford Hotel through American Express Black Card. All details were taken care of.

However, I thought it would be a good idea to talk to management personally, so I put in a call the other morning. A senior manager promptly called me back. I asked where the hotel was by landmarks, having been to London 20 times but never to this property.

“We’re about two blocks south of The Ritz,” he said, referring to one of the most famous, and most expensive, hotels in the world.

“Ah, I know where you are,” I said, “we usually stay at The Ritz.”

He responded immediately: “Well may I congratulate you for upgrading, sir.”

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Peregrinations, The Best of Life | 4 Comments

Dash (Episode 41)

http://www.contrarianconsulting.com/dash-episode-41/

Click Here for entire series table of contents

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Stupid Amateurism

I receive Google Alerts each day, which inform me of where my name, “million dollar consulting,” “value based fees,” and other aspects of my intellectual property appear. Overwhelmingly, these are favorable notices, and I always try to say “thank you.” (On occasion, I find someone stealing my work. A favorite tactic of the plagiarists is to “excerpt” tens of pages and place them in their newsletters, which they sell, as a “review” of my work. I ask them to stop, then my lawyer asks them to stop. All have.)

The other day, I found a pretty amateur consulting blog with an exchange between two readers One had said, “Don’t read ‘Million Dollar Consulting,’ it’s not very good.” And the other said, “Thanks, you just saved me the money.”

There are dozens of things wrong with this transaction, but here are the salient points:

• MDC has sold 450,000 copies or something like that since 1992, globally. That doesn’t happen to bad books.
• Even if it isn’t a great book in someone’s opinion, it’s one of the fundamental books on solo consulting, and you need to read it if you’re going to be knowledgeable in a profession that refers to it. It’s like a strategist refusing to read Peter Drucker.
• Consider the source. The guy who didn’t like it is hanging out on an amateur site, with no credentials and no one has ever heard of him. Why would he be your muse?
• The book, in used copies, costs just few bucks, and maybe $20 new (or less on Amazon). Why wouldn’t you make the small investment to find out for yourself?

There is something worse than stupid professionalism (“I forgot to set the next date for the review of the proposal!”), and that’s stupid amateurism.

In any profession, listen only to those who are successful at what you want to be successful doing. Make sure you are familiar with the major issues and intellectual property. And don’t blindly take advice or make assumptions. (I had heard that Malcolm Gladwell’s new book wasn’t that good. It’s terrific. I wanted to see for myself.)

You may be new, you may be struggling, but you can still be a professional. If you are, you won’t be struggling for long.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Business of Consulting | 7 Comments

Stiletto Questions

I’ve often spoken of the “martial arts” of language, which means taking the other person’s momentum and turning it back at them. For example, when you’re asked, “What is your fee?” you respond, “I don’t know, what are your goals?” (“What can you do for me?” “I have no idea, yet. Tell me about your priorities.”)

Lately, I’ve had more questions than ever about people trying to be tough negotiators in the preliminary stages. Once you establish a relationship WITH A TRUE ECONOMIC BUYER, then there should be no problem, since partners don’t try to take advantage of each other.

But if you are confronted with an obnoxious (and often, just stupid, objection) use what I call “stiletto questions.” Read on and I think you’ll understand the reason for the sobriquet.

Buyer: I’m not going to pay for anything before I see results. So you’ll have to create a payment schedule that reflects my paying once I see those results.

You: What business are you in?

Buyer: You know our business, it’s consumer electronics.

You: And do you allow customers to tell you that they’ll pay once they’re happy with the device, or do you charge them when they’ve made the purchasing decision?

Always turn the question around to the buyer’s business, and 99.9 percent of the time, you’ll find that you’re being asked to do something that the buyer wouldn’t condone in his or her own business.

Also, always be prepared for either answer. Example:

Buyer: I want you to give me a better fee. Reduce your fee by 25 percent and we have a deal.

You: Do you reduce your fees for clients by 25 percent just because they ask you to?

Buyer: Of course not.

You: Then why would you expect me to do that?

If buyer says: As a matter of fact, we do!

You: Then that’s why you need me, and fast!

Wittgenstein said that the limits of his language were the limits of his world. That’s certainly true of your business world. Mastering language requires no capital investment and can be quite rapid. But you have to have the tools (never “dumb down” your speech, that’s for amateurs) and the self-esteem (you’re not “selling,” you’re providing value).

One final example, against a very powerful rebuttal, one that sends most consultants scurrying for the exits:

Buyer: Please don’t waste your time, we have a policy against hiring consultants here.

You: You’d be shocked at how many of my best clients said that during our first meeting!

Speak powerfully and confidently, with expression and influence. The alternative is poverty.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Business of Consulting, Personal Improvement | 18 Comments

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 1/25/10

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo’s mission is to help readers to thrive.

January 25, 2010—Issue #19

This week’s focus point: Small businesses employ far more people than major corporations, and they create many more net, new jobs than do Fortune 1000 companies. They are the real engine of the economy. What value do you already possess—products, services, intellectual property—that can be immediately addressed to this market? They are poorly treated at the moment by the banks and the government.

Monday Morning Perspective: Cambiano i dischi, ma la musica e sempore quella. (They keep changing the record, but he music is still the same.) — old Italian saying

You may subscribe and encourage others to subscribe by clicking HERE.

Privacy statement: Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Contact information: info@summitconsulting.com
http://www.contrarianconsulting.com
ISSN 2151-0091

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved

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Latham Earns SAC® Board Approval

January 8, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Society for Advancement of Consulting
Elevates Ann Latham to Board Approved Status

The Society for Advancement of Consulting® (SAC) has approved another member to achieve the rare SAC® Board Approved designation. This approval means that the consultant has worked in a specialized area for a considerable length of time; has provided detailed, documented evidence of success directly from clients in that specialty; and has conformed to the Code of Ethics of the society, serving as a thought leader and exemplar in the profession in general and their specialty in particular.

Ann Latham, president of Uncommon Clarity, or Easthampton, MA has been Board Approved as Master Facilitator.

SAC membership consists of less than 1% of consultants worldwide due to stringent membership requirements, and less than 3% of SAC members have achieved Board Approval status.

“This is a tough position to obtain, at the height of one’s profession, and is a great criterion to apply when clients are considering consultants,” says SAC CEO Alan Weiss, Ph.D. “It’s difficult to choose the right resources in certain areas, and our Board Approval is evidence, not mere promotion, of real instances of consistent success in delivering client results.” The SAC office will serve as a reference point and share that evidence with any clients seeking more information on Board Approved members.

SAC is an international association of consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and have provided evidence of significant consulting results among their clients. For more information, please go to http://www.consultingsociety.com, write to info@summitconsulting.com, or call 800/825-6153 (401/886-4097).

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Five Named to Million Dollar Consulting® Mentor Hall of Fame

January 25, 2010
For Immediate Release

Five Inducted Into Million Dollar Consultant®
Hall of Fame

Five outstanding consultants from diverse disciplines have been inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. Criteria for membership in this elite group are:

• 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 2010 inductees are:

William Corbett, Loveland, CO: As president of Corbett Business Consulting in Loveland, Colorado, Bill melds forty years of profitable business experience with thirty years of working with hundreds of alcoholics, resulting in an unprecedented track record of 85% long term recovery (vs. 20% nationally). This unique blend of talents enables Bill to deliver dramatic results for his clients.
www.corbettbusinessconsulting.com http://www.corbettbusinessconsulting.com

Dave Gardner, San Jose, CA, helps clients eliminate business execution problems that threaten profitable and sustainable growth (http://www.gardnerandassoc.com) and helps manufacturers conquer the enterprise-wide operational challenges associated with highly-configurable products (http://www.mass-customization-expert.com).

Dr. Linda Henman, St. Louis, MO, the author of The Magnetic Boss, is a leading expert on setting strategy, planning succession, and developing talent. For more than 30 years she has worked with executives and boards of directors in Fortune 500 Companies, small businesses, and the military. http://www.henmanperformancegroup.com

Simma Lieberman, San Francisco, creates workplaces where people love to do their best work and customers love to do business. Her articles and ideas have been featured in publications throughout the world. Organizations seek her out to help them implement culture change that engages employees throughout the whole organization and leverage employee genius. Simma@simmalieberman.com.

Andrew Sobel, New York, NY is the leading authority on client relationships and the skills and strategies required to earn lifelong client loyalty. He is the author of three acclaimed books on developing long-term client relationships: All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships; Clients for Life: Evolving from an Expert for Hire to an Extraordinary Advisor; and Making Rain: The Secrets of Building Lifelong Client Loyalty. Andrew’s clients include many of the world’s leading services firms, such as Lloyds Banking Group, Xerox, Cognizant, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bain & Company, Ernst & Young, and Towers Watson.

The awards were announced 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, including the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Press Institute. The honors were announced in San Francisco at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on January 13.

At the announcement Dr. Weiss noted, “These people are readily acknowledged by their world-class peers to be fitting inductees. I’m proud to have been associated with all of these people.” 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.”

Honorees are chosen from the global participants in the Private Roster Mentor Program. The Hall of Fame and all members can be found here:

http://summitconsulting.com/hall_of_fame.html

There have been 26 inductees into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 1996, out of over 1,000 people eligible, who in turn represent the top consultants of over 400,000 globally.

More details:
Summit Consulting Group, Inc.
401/884-2778
Alan@summitconsulting.com
FAX: 401/884-5068

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Odds and Ends

WARNING: The following are personal opinions and may cause harm to your belief systems. Proceed at your own risk. We are not responsible for fainting or nausea. Please put your own oxygen mask on first.

• Over half of all union members in the US are now employed by the government, the first time this has ever happened (reported today in the New York Times). Union strength in the private sector has been declining, due to the downturn in manufacturing and construction. Imagine, though, one of the most inefficient, bureaucratic entities known to us—government—also a victim of union rules and bargaining. It staggers the imagination. American workers, by the way, mostly un-unionized, are among the most productive in the world, far more so than Japanese and German counterparts, for example.

• Television’s 20/20 ran a story last night of a 16-year-old girl who was abused and forced to have sexual relationships with a Starbucks store manager, who was her boss. The story was overwhelmingly in her favor. But the facts that emerged also showed that she had had consensual sex with many men prior, and had requested sex with him on occasion; that she never told her parents or police at first, and then when she finally told her parents, she continued to have relations with the man until her mother accidentally found out. The setting was in an expensive home with a very articulate mother, no mention of a father, and showed the girl at one point tending to a horse she had ridden. No one deserves abuse, no teenager should be pressured by a boss. The manager ultimately served time in jail. But the family, of course, is suing Starbuck’s.

• The NBC mess reminds me of the old story about the dog food company that spent $50 million to launch a new product, which was a disaster. The executives scurried to point fingers, citing the tremendous money pored into focus groups, nutritional content, and store promotion. Finally, an intern mentioned to the CEO, “The dogs just don’t like the stuff.”

With Conan, the dogs just don’t like the stuff. He’s a nice, affable guy, but he’s just not very funny. His numbers are the maximum he’s going to get for the avid followers he has, but there aren’t enough of them. Leno will go back to beating Letterman every single night, because Letterman is also at his max—he’s not that funny, and he’s still bitter over bad treatment he perceives by NBC and Leno decades ago. He’s bitter and vengeful, and it shows in his work. If he needs a therapist, then he can pay me.

The dogs just don’t like the stuff.

• And what about all the pompous writers who “look askance” at the imbroglio at NBC? Why shouldn’t O’Brien and Leno and Letterman get upset and take shots? Who says that they need to be some kind of avatars of propriety, according to the columnists?

If politicians, athletes, columnists, and everyone else hogging the media real estate can take shots, why should comedians be held to some higher level of relationship hygiene? Frankly, I thought that the on-air invective was when at last the dogs could like the stuff.

• There was a great deal of talent during the Help for Haiti telethon last night, and I hope you, as did we, contributed or will. The effort was laudable and generous, though typically Hollywood self-indulgent (muted colors, no indication of who was singing, recorded snippets of celebrities on the phones with donors).

The worst voice and least talent on the stage all night: Taylor Swift. I don’t get what that’s all about, but when compared so closely with all the others, she has a weak voice and zero excitement.

• Without Sarah Palin and the election, Saturday Night Live is excellent at putting you to sleep, so it’s in the perfect time slot.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Pacific Tales III

Last evening, our final night in Hawaii for this trip, we took a suggestion from Cori, the hotel’s guest services manager who learned that we love sushi, and trekked to Sushi Sasabene (which, roughly translated, means “trust me”). Paralleling the famous “Soup Nazi” in the old Seinfeld series, the owner and chef here is known sotto voce as the “Sushi Nazi.”

The cab deposited us on South King Street, which would have to undergo serious urban renewal to be called pedestrian. An unimposing storefront housed Sasabene, which seated perhaps 50 people between the large, u-shaped sushi bar and the surrounding tables. Although only half the sushi bar was occupied when we arrived, we were informed that we should wait until the chef was ready for us.

A few minutes later, with no perceptible sign or utterance, we were told that the chef was now ready. We were seated on the side, thank goodness not looking directly at the exalted one, but clearly within his peripheral vision. He is a very handsome man, with what seems like a steel patina directly under his skin. I realized that I couldn’t think of the last time I had used the adjective “dour,” but it immediately came to mind. Everyone was dressed in black.

The assistant chef, a rather cheerful fellow, served the food, never the chef himself, who prepared it. There are no choices at all except for your brand of saki or beer. The chef decides what you will eat and in what order. The assistant does his best to save your life. For example, serving us tai (snapper) and sake (salmon) simultaneously, he would strongly warn, “No soy, please, on snapper, only on salmon!” and, just to make certain he had done everything in his power to protect us, would hold his hands over the soy bowl to further indicate it was not to touch the snapper under any conditions.

One does not return food here. You eat what is in front of you. At one point a staff member loomed over my wife’s shoulder as she struggled with her chopsticks to remind her that sushi etiquette required she eat the sushi in one bite, not two. Nervously, I peered over my saki cup to see if the chef were looking. I would have hated to see her ejected.

The courses came in waves, with always enough time to thoroughly savor and digest each. The people on our right, who came in after us, gave up and departed, filled to the gills. However, I had noticed a couple to our left who clearly had an uni (sea urchin) course, which we had not.

Eying the chef warily, I said to the assistant nonchalantly, “Is there an uni course?”

“Ah, yes, I can get you one. And for you, miss?” My wife hates uni. “She’ll have one, also,” I jumped in when she had hesitated for a nanosecond. A few minutes later, the assistant arrived with two orders of uni, winked at me, and placed both of them on my dish.

All this time the chef is preparing fish with the rapidity of a machine gun and the attention of a diamond cutter, while also constantly looking around the entire restaurant. Above his head hangs a sign, “We reserve the right to deny service to ANYONE.”

I’ve eaten sushi for over 30 years, all over the world, and many times in Japan. On one memorable trip to Rio, I had to speak Spanish to the Portuguese-speaking assistant, who then spoke French to the Japanese chef. It took 20 minutes to order hamachi (yellow tail).

We consumed last night six different kinds of tuna alone, as well as lobster, oyster, crab, snapper, squid, salmon, mackerel, and I don’t know what else.

It was the finest sushi I’ve ever had in my life, bar none.

If you’re ever in Honolulu and you love sushi, make a reservation at Sasabene. Just don’t make any demands. Or requests. Or sudden moves.

Trust me.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Pacific Tales II

I’ve finished, on this trip, Pirate Latitudes (Crichton), Last Night At Twisted River (Irving), I, Alex Cross (Patterson), and am halfway through What the Dog Saw (Gladwell). Had a great time speaking at Rob Nixon’s coaching club event, and fine food every night. (Unlike Maui and Kauai, Oahu has very good restaurants.)

Last night we hit Alan Wong’s: The elevator was out so we hiked up four floors, and then the elevator alarm sounded at high pitch for 20 minutes. No one complained! The food is astounding. I also highly recommend The Beach House and Roy’s. Tonight we’re visiting what the guest relations manager calls “The Sushi Nazi,” with shades of Seinfeld.

And I made about $150,000 while on the beach.

But now the real point of my story, and it’s going to offend some of you, je regrette.

It’s a guy thing. There are some things that, well, make me sad. Guys who wear a short-sleeved shirt and a tie. Guys who use pocket protectors. Guys who bite their nails to the nub. Guys with three holsters on their belt for pagers and phones as if that’s a sign of power. (The sign of power, of course, is NOT carrying such hardware.) Guys who use their knives like a dagger.

But the saddest guys are those guys roaming the beach with headphones, a pathetic little sand sifter, and a metal detector attached to their arm. Has anyone EVER found enough precious metal to pay for one of those things?

And if you did find a valuable ring or metal on a bulging billfold, shouldn’t you return it to the hotel fronting that beach? It really isn’t yours to keep, any more than that wallet I lost in the cab returned by the honest cabbie was his to keep.

Here we are on Waikiki, Diamond Head lordly overlooking the scene, with boats and surfers and catamarans and outriggers on a placid, glass-like sea. And what are these guys doing? Walking the sands amidst the palm trees with metal detectors and headphones, sweating like wart hogs, with a hobby only slightly weirder than Civil War re-enactors.

Yes, I know, I’m painfully judgmental. I’m not fair. Who am I to make such observations?

I’ll tell you who, someone who knows strange behavior when he sees it.

I know how to make money on the beach. By providing value that creates income while you lounge. The only detector I need is the one that tells me where the waiter is who can fetch the mai tais.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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