On the Red Sox and Strategy

Last night my wife and I were in a skybox owned by the Boston NBC affiliate watching the Red Sox play Tampa Bay. These boxes are stocked with food throughout the game, air conditioned with a wide-screen TV and leather furniture inside, and have 20 tiered seats outside, where you can take your food and watch things al fresco. We had a great view on the third base line midway to home plate. The stadium was packed, as was the …


Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 6/28/10

Alan's Monday Morning Memo

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo’s mission is to help readers to thrive. June 28, 2010—Issue #41 This week’s focus point: In school I ran the sprints, and we were taught to “run through the tape.” You can’t let up as you approach the finish, you have to pretend the finish line is ten yards farther down the track, so that you don’t slow down when your effort counts the most. That’s what the best athletes are doing in the World Cup …


Working From the Front

I was sitting in the truck whiling away my time as my wife shopped for flowers to plant. We have six acres, and we’re running out of planting room. But that’s another story. It was too hot for the dogs to be with us, so I was taking in the surroundings, and became fascinated, as usual by the strange equipment and vehicles the nursery had on hand. (My son and I once laid plans to steal an asphalt reclamation machine …



The Martial Arts of Language II

I also use a neat trick I call “identical differences.” It involves taking two words that many people assume mean approximately the same thing and differentiating them strongly, so that the other person says, “We’ve never considered that. We need you.” Some examples: Teams/Committees: These are entirely different structures, with the former requiring everyone to “win or lose” and the latter providing for some to win and some to lose. You can’t engage in “team building” with a committee. Mentor/Coach: …



The Martial Arts of Language

I’ve often spoken and written about the sequence I discovered over a decade ago: language controls discussion, discussion controls relationships, and relationships control business. The problem is that so many professional services providers don’t use language well or underestimate its impact. Here’s a specific example of just one of the techniques I coach and teach: changing content into process. Situation: A buyer says to you, “We have four different insurance products that need promotion, but only enough staff and budget …


On Deductive Reasoning and God

Let’s see if I have this straight: 1. The French soccer team beats Ireland for a World Cup berth on the basis of an egregious and widely seen handball, an illegal and pathetic act in this venerated game. The French refuse to concede or do anything remotely honorable about this, despite an international outrage. 2. And, the same team then humiliates itself and its country, by gaining only 1 point, suffering through resignations, obscenity-laced player tirades against the coach, players …


Beware the Passive-Aggressive

Passive-aggressive behavior, which seeks to hurt under the guise of help, is highly malicious and potentially damaging. (“Oh, your son was accepted into UCLA? Was that his second choice?”) In the June edition of HR Magazine, Signe Wilson offers these telltale signs that you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive personality: • avoids responsibility • performs less or deliberately underperforms • misses deadlines • withholds information • uses communications other than face-to-face dealings • arrives late for meetings • gives lip services to suggestions which …


Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 6/21/10

Alan's Monday Morning Memo

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo’s mission is to help readers to thrive. June 21, 2010—Issue #40 This week’s focus point: A little action trumps a lot of words. In sports, weeks of “trash talk” fades when the game begins. In business and politics, tangible improvement (and even mere efforts) are far stronger than speeches, documents, “initiatives,” and reports. Small victories—and small efforts in the right direction—will build the momentum and commitment to support you in the long haul. Most plans sit …