Monthly Archives: February 2010

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 2/22/10

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

February 22, 2010—Issue #23

This week’s focus point: The mighty can fall with alarming suddenness. Toyota and Tiger Woods are merely two recent examples of organizational and professional calamity. The more successful you are, the higher standards customers expect. We can afford errors in honest execution much more than detriment to our reputations caused by dishonest motives. Ask yourself the classic question when faced with challenging decisions: Would I be proud of my behavior and my approach if the media exposed them tomorrow, e.g., if my clients and trusted confidents knew?

Monday Morning Perspective: Society loves its crime, but hates its criminals. — Psychiatrist Walter Bromberg.

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ISSN 2151-0091

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved

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Homeward

I was at the desk of The Stafford this morning checking out, when a man walked up next to me and told the desk clerk that he was departing and she could just leave the charges on his bill. She asked that he wait a minute to check his totals, while I was checking mine. I looked up to find Matt LeBlanc, of “Friends” and “Joey” fame, looking at me. We said hello, compared experiences on this being both of our first times in the hotel, and I offered to let him sign my bill as well. He declined (I’m sure he would have been in the penthouse if I weren’t), and we shook hands as I wished him safe travels.

At Heathrow, there was a very short first class line, but a Virgin Atlantic woman with a radio phone asked us to follow a man onto an elevator. I looked at my wife and wondered what kind of aura we had given off to get into trouble. But the man took us to a private check-in where we used to go before they suspended it due to security concerns, and we went through complete check-in and security in three minutes. Then, astoundingly, the VAT reimbursement took only five minutes with no line and a very nice agent, and two minutes after that we were ensconced in the club, from which I now record this.

I’ve completed Chapter 8 of Million Dollar Speakingafter a full English breakfast and a vodka and orange juice. Once I sign off here, I’m headed for some sushi. I’ve taken some videos with a new iPhone app, which I hope we can get up here in the next day. As I’ve written before, we leave the hotel early in order to spend more time at the Virgin Atlantic Air Club.

I love London, can’t wait to return. And last night I finally got to the Lanesborough garden cigar room!

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Odds and Ends Again

• A speaker sends out a promotional piece stating “over 1 million audience members over 17 years.” What are we expected to believe with all this stuff? (Do the math.)
• When I respond to nuisance spam from some guy I never heard of, he replies that “we’re connected on linkedin,” and he’s very familiar with my work. Then why is he sending me a blanket, hyped-up offering to “improve my marketing skills”? Some Internet “marketing coach” probably told him this was a great way to market.
• We saw “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” at The Palace in London, and it is screamingly funny, performed with rollicking bad taste, and I’d rate it as a “must see.”
• I am now thinking that the best restaurant in London my be Scott’s.
• Bentleys, Jags, and Astons are all over the place in Mayfair, but the Ferraris with the Arab plates have largely disappeared.
• British ongoing wry humor:
ME: Would you like me to fill out some forms so that my luggage can be Fedexed home?
CONCIERGE: No, sir, but I imagine Fedex might.
• If Greece is bankrupt, and the Greek government realizes it must conform to EU demands, but protestors on the streets don’t want any kind of austerity measures, then what DO they want?
• Never be too blasé about democracy. Turkey is one of the great democracies in the world, and it’s now reacting to the fear of a military coup, for which there is precedent in the not-so-distant past.
• The level of newscasts on British television is worse than that in the US, where I think it’s pretty dismal.
• Are there better descriptions than “mushy peas” and “potted shrimp” and “bubble and squeak” and “cocklee”?
• You cannot get in and out of a London cab for less than $15.
• Why do service representatives feel that it’s friendlier to immediately call you by your first name? Who on earth is teaching them that a customer actually prefers to be a peer with the customer service people?
• The famous cartoon states that “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Well add to that, “No one knows what to believe.” People seem to vacuum up names from their own data bases and elsewhere to send all kinds of irrelevant offers complete with phony credentials and ridiculous guarantees. On top of that, even legitimate companies aren’t paying attention. After buying a product which was exactly as advertised, I was asked for my email “to keep my registration on file for the warranty.” I asked that no promotional use be made of it. Sure enough, I began receiving email solicitations with an “unsubscribe” that demanded you log into their online store and “manage your account.” Good product, but they’ll never get a referral from me. (Recently, I was asked to sign up for a “major” international teleconference, where some big names were dropped, implying they were the presenters. The small print said that the material “was based on their work”!)

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Shameless Promotion

I’ve just conducted a follow-up here in London for some of my Shameless Promotion Workshop grads, and here is a consensus list of what they’ve been doing to successfully increase their visibility and dramatically gain business:
• Improved web sites, as credibility statements, to state-of-the-art
• Created book proposals, sought and obtained agents and book contracts
• Obtained board positions with trade associations and non-profits
• Issued monthly or more frequent press releases
• Begun teleconference series
• Contacted trade association executive directors for speaking engagements
• Published manuals and booklets
• Created and/or increased usage of blogs, podcasts, and videos
• Put video testimonials on their sites and blogs
• Set up meeting with prospects while traveling for clients
• Analyzed and approved strategy as appropriate (the all HAVE a strategy)
• Become more assertive is seeking referrals from diverse sources
• Created lunch seminars to attract prospects
• Became objects of interest by hosting symposia
• Given up long-time business that was unprofitable or distracting
• Creating new brands or sub-brands

(Shameless Promotion Workshops admit only four people at a time, create monthly accountability phone calls afterwards, and are scheduled by mutual convenience. The fourth group will meet at the end of March. Participants have come from four countries thus far. You can find it at: http://tinyurl.com/ydcku8p.)

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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London Redux II

We’ve been to Les Trois Garcons, Greens, and tonight, Scott’s, one of the finest restaurants I’ve even been in. Spectacular service (the bartender allowed me tastings of two vodkas) and fish so good that it made me weep. Octopus carpaccio, smoked haddock, and for dessert, anchovies on toast! Six of us enjoying a rare meal with one of the finest Montrechets around, a Batard 2003. Martinis and two bottles later, we headed for The Strand.

We couldn’t get into the cigar garden of the Lainesborough Hotel because it was packed last night, so we settled for drinks in the upstairs bar. But tonight we saw Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at The Palace, which was drop dead hysterical.

The follow-up day for my Shameless Promotion grads was superb after two days of Mentor Mastery training. Tomorrow is allocated to sightseeing and buying things. My wife has already scoped out a $400,000 Bentley Arnage. Fortunately, the wheel was on the “wrong” side.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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London Redux

Arrived smack on time on Virgin Air. Security in Boston took all of 60 seconds, and immigration and customs at Heathrow took 90 seconds. Virgin gives you an express pass which is even faster, apparently, then having an EU passport. We had to find our driver amidst 50 or so holding signs (one doing so with his teeth, thank goodness not our driver), and The Stafford had our penthouse suite ready for our 8 am arrival.

Part-of-the-penthouse-suit

We visited Harrod’s, enjoyed high tea at the hotel, and made some additional reservations for the week. I have a separate office in the suite, sort of a corner nook, which is great for writing.

My-writers-Nook

I’d love to say I’m having withdrawal signs from Olympic curling competition, but I’m not! (I think Apolo Ohno is terrific, but going crazy over seven medals is a bit much when Bonny Blair won five golds and a silver.)

I’ve engaged a cartoonist, and in the next month you’ll be seeing a weekly strip here called “The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle.”

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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Off to London

Our driver picked us up at 3:30 and took us to Boston, where we’re ensconced in the Virgin Airlines upper class club, awaiting our flight to London. The club has been completely redone, no longer shared with Northwest, features a Charcuterie (I’m chomping on antipasto and stuffed grape leaves) of amazing variety, and a uniformed hostess takes your coat and bags and gives you a quick tour of the place. (The Virgin club at Heathrow, which we’ll hit on the way home, is simply the best in the world.)

Another person signed up for the March Million Dollar Consulting® College while we’re here via a phone message, and we’re going to have a very intimate (9) and fascinating group, including two Australians. Typically I get one or two more people in the final weeks (March 22 is the program). We’ll be at the venue that once held the America’s Cup races and now may well do so again!

On tap this week: Training five people in the Master Mentor Program, which officially kicks off March 1, with 22 Master Mentors. Maria and I will host a dinner at Les Trois Garcons, dine at La Gavroche, Helen Duroze, and Scott’s. We’ll see the musical version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. We’re going to try for a tour of Buckingham Palace, as well as some serious spa work. There’s also my private gambling club where I’ve been a member for 25 years (no kidding, it’s called The Palm Beach Club), and a cigar lounge or two we plan to visit. We’re occupying the Penthouse Suite of The Stafford Hotel. When I told a senior manager there that we usually stayed at The Ritz, about three blocks away, he said, “Congratulations on upgrading, sir.”

This must be my 20th trip to London, the first one in a youth hostel in 1963. I believe I’m moving in the right direction.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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There Are Coaches, and Then There Are Coaches….

Here’s Ashley Bickford, running for Miss USA (May 16) whom I’m helping with her presentation.

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Seth Kahan Interviews Alan Weiss

This is a podcast you absolutely have to listen to. Seth Kahan, author of Freelance Fortune, interviews Dr. Alan Weiss as they discuss Alan’s mentor program and mentor mastery program.

In this interview Alan talks about:
* How he grew the Mentor Program from its inception in 1996
* Dramatic successes among participants
* Buddy and Koufax, his personal helpers
* His unique style of mentoring
* His decision to expand the Mentor Program by inviting exceptional participants to become Master Mentors
* His future vision of the Mentor Program
* How he chooses his Master Mentors
* What is beyond the Accelerant Curve
* His upcoming offering, Alan & the Gang
* Attitudes and behaviors that accelerate results

and now also on iTunes

http://www.contrarianconsulting.com/seth-kahan-interviews-alan-weiss/

Click Here for entire podcast series table of contents

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Consulting Lessons

Let’s take a look at recent events and see what they teach us as consultants.

1. Toyota
Ultimately, leadership relies on judgment. Judgment should always be in the customers’ favor. The first reaction to adverse feedback or conditions can’t be to adjourn to the bunker or begin to “spin” the facts. You can’t blame floor mats and driver incompetence for engineering errors that represent a frightening expense to correct, because sooner or later the truth “outs.” Get off the floor and hold your head high, where you can truly see the landscape. As of this morning, Toyota released a statement claiming the problems “aren’t as bad as the media report.”

2. The Olympics
In short-track speed skating, as the Koreans were headed for a sweep, the second and third-place skiers took each other out on the final turn. The fourth skater finished second. In the prior Olympics, the American woman far ahead in the snowboard competition fell on the final small jump when she mindlessly tried an unnecessary move, and the woman in second by 50 yards won the gold. The downhill ski competition and luge competition were decided by hundredths of a second. You need to play hard through the finish line and stay focused all the while. And even then, you only need to win by an inch.

3. Sarah Palin
No matter what your politics, this woman is a lightening rod of attention. I’m convinced that a great deal of the attention is actually generated by her detractors and the opposition, which in turn fuels media attention, and re-stimulates the cycle. The opposition keeps asking what is it about her that can possibly attract such interest and publicity. Maybe they should stop asking that question, stop attacking, and stop talking about her, and see what happens. One of the best ways to deal with your competition is to ignore them.

4. Late Night NBC
The decision to move Jay Leno to prime time and the ensuing mess has to rank as one of the worst programming decisions in the history of prime time television, and will wind up costing NBC hundreds of millions. Jay Leno will be back where he started, where he’ll try to regain that time slot’s old lead over David Letterman. Conan O’Brien is gone, with $30 million in his pocket but a questionable future in the medium. And Jeff Zucker, the executive who did it all, is still in place, still making decisions, and will probably be “promoted” and given more money when Comcast completes its acquisition of NBC. Bad decisions are not the fault of the implementers, and the higher the position you hold, the more you should be accountable. How do you improve with this guy still in a key position of any kind? Who’s accountable for THAT decision?

5. Steve Jobs
My understanding is that Steve Jobs is cooperating with Walter Isaacson to write an authorized biography. Isaacson’s credentials are impeccable—CEO of the Aspen Institute, former CEO of CNN, award-winning author and biographer—and the resultant work should be fascinating and, I suspect, overall, quite laudatory. Organizations and individuals should establish and control their “story” and image, and not leave them to others by default.

It’s not difficult for consultants to develop material, approaches, and examples. They are in the headlines every morning.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

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