Monthly Archives: May 2010

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 5/31/10

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

May 31, 2010—Issue #37

This week’s focus point: This is Memorial Day here in the U.S., and once again I’d like to take the opportunity to honor all those who have served in uniform in all countries in defense of freedom and human dignity, and who have responded to their countries’ call; especially those who have been injured, and most fervently to the families of those who, as Lincoln noted, “gave their last full measure of devotion.” May we all earn and honor that sacrifice.

Monday Morning Perspective: The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who do not take sides during a period of crisis. — John F. Kenned

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

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Alan's Monday Morning Memo | Leave a comment

Pivotal Moments

At one point after some minor surgery, I hadn’t eaten very much for two days, either on doctor’s orders or because I hadn’t felt much like it. To my pleasant surprise, I found that I had lost three pounds. I decided to leverage that, and watched my eating for the next few weeks, which led to another couple of pounds. After 90 days, I had lost 12 pounds and was at a level I like to maintain.

I had leveraged a pivotal moment.

Pivotal moments are those usually abrupt occasions which can be exploited for major advances and improvements. They occur with amazing frequency, but we’re often too preoccupied to notice and appreciate them, or too scared to spontaneously capitalize on them.

These aren’t “impulses” which can get you in trouble (as in impulsively buying that $85,000 car which is reduced to $70,000 because it’s almost a year old and the dealer tells you it will be gone by tomorrow. Not that that’s ever happened in my life, long ago). These are occasions which you can consider and ponder for a while, but they do have a short life-expectancy. My decision to further my weight loss needed to be made prior to my having a cheeseburger and fries that evening, for example.

A client may tell you that there’s an afternoon meeting with international people and you’re welcome to sit-in if you’re still around. You have the choice of rescheduling your departure to a later flight in order to meet and chat with potential new clients in the presence of your existing one. Or do you simply say to yourself, no, that’s not what I had planned?

You meet a piano teacher at a social event who tells you she’s having trouble staying in business because she has no idea how to market what she does. You realize that this may be your final chance to obtain piano lessons, on a bartered basis. Do you make the time to help her and help yourself? You find that, unknowingly, you’ve built up 75,000 points in a hotel program that you pay little attention to, but that you can transfer to an airline. If you also transfer your other programs’ points to that airline, you could take an unexpected vacation to Italy. Do you take advantage of that, or resort to the excuse that you’ve already planned two vacations?

Pivots are part of leverage systems. I think that pivotal moments exist when we realize that we can use the event or situation as a fulcrum to gain strength and speed. Archimedes said, “Give me a lever, and I can move the world.”

A successful article can lead to a column. A well-received column can lead to a book. A popular book can lead to speaking appearances. You get the idea. It’s not enough to correct weakness, you must build on success.

Where’s your lever? Watch for your next pivotal moment. You may already be well on your way to a key goal and you don’t even realize it.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Personal Improvement, The Best of Life | 6 Comments

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

b-and-k-13v.jpg

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Friday Funnies | 2 Comments

The Demise of Newspapers (Episode 45)

http://www.contrarianconsulting.com/the-demise-of-newspapers-episode-45/

Click Here for entire series table of contents

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Movies: The Writing on the Wall | 6 Comments

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 5/24/10

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

May 24, 2010—Issue #36

This week’s focus point: What we’re seeing in this disastrous gulf oil spill is that preventive action is never sufficient by itself. It may not work, it may be outdated, it may be inappropriate for a new development. What’s always necessary is contingent action, ready to be applied when preventive actions fail. The contingent actions for this emergency were neither immediately available nor totally effective. In your client dealings (and in your personal dealings) you should always have both strong preventive and contingent actions. You need a fire marshall and “no smoking signs,” but you also need sprinklers and an insurance policy.

Monday Morning Perspective: Thous hast not the power to harm me as I have to be hurt. — Shakespeare, “Othello”

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

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Alan's Monday Morning Memo | Leave a comment

Lost: Over Four Hours of My Life

I wasted four-and-a-half hours last night on the interminable swan song of the TV cult program “Lost,” and I’m trying to convince myself that I haven’t wasted an hour a week over the six years of its sporadic seasons.

The first two hours were billed as a retrospective, where we could all brush up on our understanding of the convoluted and confounding plot twists and time travel that had transpired. Instead, we were treated to the acting cast commenting on their experiences which, unfortunately, took on a pseudo-gravitas, as if they had just finished Gone With the Wind and knew it. Lost isn’t M.A.S.H., or even Law and Order. Flash Forward, which has been cancelled, has more of an intelligible plot, and Damages and Mad Men much more compelling characters (and a certain helpful feature called “good writing”). The superb Sopranos, whose ending caused great debate in its ambiguity, was downright fulfilling, specific, and unarguable after Lost got lost.

On top of that, the two producers/writers held sway during the prefatory, saccharine first two hours, giddy with happiness, sharing their self-indulgent, self-congratulatory party with us, apparently without any remorse or regrets that the series concluded on a predictable, boring, and incomplete note.

The first season of Lost was inventive and well acted, with decent writing and a plausible plot. But as the seasons wore on, the plots became conflicting and unbelievable—the best science fiction and fantasy are based on plausibility. The finale last night demonstrated that there was NO story arc, despite the claim the final episode was being considered two years ago. Short of the “it was only a dream” sequence on the grand soap opera Dallas, this was the most pathetically patched together attempt at “explanation” imaginable.
Everyone was dead. Really? I never would have thought of that.

How many deus ex machinas can one cram into one series? Apparently, an island full.

I kept hoping for the best, that the audience’s cult fascination would stimulate the early inventiveness to return. But no one here seemed to become refreshed, despite the exotic location. With the exceptions of Terry O’Quinn (Locke), Naveen Andrews (Sayid), and Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), the acting was pedestrian, though there wasn’t much that could be done with the mediocre writing and the consistently unrealistic predicaments. (How many times can someone be shot or stabbed, even in a semi-real, half-dead, time-shifting, largely imaginary place?!)
At least women viewers could rejoice in the frighteningly good looking Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and the men in the exquisite Kate (Evangeline Lilly, who may be the most beautiful woman on television).

At the end, Vincent, the dog, lay down next to Jack on the island as Jack lay dying. There was something strange about Vincent’s face. When I rewound the tape and looked more closely, I realized—he was bored to death.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Critic | 8 Comments

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

(The Dog Star is a symbol of power, will, and steadfastness of purpose, and exemplifies the One who has succeeded in bridging the lower and higher consciousness. – Astrological Definition)

Buddy Beagle was barking (that nutty howl/bark that only Beagles do) at the base of a huge tree in the backyard, staring up into the branches. A few yards away, Koufax was silently staring at a low branch in an adjoining tree, where the squirrel Buddy had originally seen had scampered over for refuge. Apparently, Koufax was hoping for a strong wind, or a misstep, or simply trying to stare the rodent into cardiac arrest.

Buddy was barking up the wrong tree.

I watch a great many consultants bark up the wrong trees:
• They listen to people at professional meetings who either have no track record of success themselves, or have some self-serving reason for pontificating.
• They deal with low level, non-threatening, non-helpful functionaries within prospect organizations..
• They continue to try to perfect their methodologies while their marketing relegates them to the “unknown” category, off all radar screens. They seem blind to the fact that this is a marketing and relationship business.
• They avoid real buyers because they fear rejection (or, worse, don’t know how to act as a peer).
• They think time is important and bill by the hour or day. They actually listen to unsuccessful people who claim that time-based billing is the only way to conduct business.
• They think in terms of “deliverables” and not outcomes.
• They don’t read, don’t develop themselves, and have a single “solution” to every prospect’s problems. They aren’t objects of interest or centers of expertise. In fact, they are dull.

There are significant risks in the entrepreneurial world, and if you choose to accept them, then you should be entitled to the potential of the exceptional rewards. But too many people would rather play it safe than play the game. They would rather listen to people who rationalize their own lack of success than listen to those who can help change behaviors to create success.

Buddy eventually looked over at Koufax, looked up, sniffed, and joined the German Shepherd in sentry duty under the right tree, until the squirrel left. The dogs seemed satisfied, because the yard was rid of the squirrel, and they knew that dinner would be available as always in the kitchen later on.

If Beagles can learn from bigger and smarter dogs, so can you.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Business of Consulting, The Dog Star | 3 Comments

Value Based fees from Australia’s Chief Justice

Courtesy of Australian consultant Gary McMahon, one of my avid followers in one of my favorite places in the world, here is a short clip of the Austrian Supreme Court Chief Justice telling what appears to be a stunned legal audience that hourly billing is completely inappropriate and ought to be thrown out in favor of focusing on value.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/05/17/2902081.htm?site=southwestwa

When I was speaking in Sydney during one trip, I keynoted for the Australian Legal Management Association on this very topic. After accountants and consultants in Melbourne and Sydney had been extraordinarily responsive, the legal people sat there virtually deaf to the same ideas. I kept hitting the mike to see if it were working. (This is why I’m always paid in advance.) Tell me again why some of you entrepreneurs have lawyers on your advisory boards?

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Alas Babylon, Business of Consulting | 2 Comments

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in The Friday Funnies | 2 Comments

Leaving On A Jet Plane (And He Won’t Be Back Again)

Remember John Denver’s song? I have a modern version.

A colleague who was coaching in a large, complex organization, found out that the president required coaching, but that he needed someone accustomed to top level executives, and not someone working with subordinates. My colleague recommended me.

The president and I spoke by phone, hit it off well, and he made a big show of flying to see me on the corporation’s jet. I picked him up at the private air terminal in Providence in my Bentley, and he told me he also had one. While I had ordered mine custom-built and waited four months, he had chosen an early model off the showroom floor and paid a “premium” of $15,000 over the sticker price.

Off we go to my home, and I discover that he has problems with the organization’s founder—still his boss—and with a subordinate who covets his job and is openly hostile in public venues. We talked about what was needed, got along well, and then I had to rush him back to his jet, because he had a dinner meeting from whence he came. He had come for two hours, but said he was satisfied and looked forward to my proposal, which I sent the next day via Fedex.

The highest option in my proposal was $45,000 per month for an estimated three-month minimum. That was completely consistent with analogous work I had been doing for over a decade at top levels.

When I followed up, he told me that the highest option was, indeed, the only one that made sense for him, but that he could never justify it. Employees would talk, his rival would use it against him, and his boss might question it. I asked how anyone else would know what he was paying me, and he said, “Accounting people talk.” I then told him that he could pay me out of his own pocket, which was not unheard of. He told me he couldn’t afford that.

I don’t know what that airplane round trip cost with him as the sole passenger, or what his travails with his subordinate and boss were costing the operation, or how he can pay for a quarter million dollar car out of his own pocket but not invest in his own future. I do know that we often run into this type of cognitive dissonance: The top person, the avatar, the leader, is afraid of what others will say and do.

Let this be the lesson: I’ve been in hundreds of executive suites, and the politics, emotions, assumptions, internecine strife, and bad decisions are no different from the sales force or the factor floor. They’re just playing with larger amounts of money.

You can fly high without riding high.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Business of Consulting | 12 Comments