Monthly Archives: February 2011

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 02/28/11

February 28, 2011—Issue #76

This week’s focus point: General Motors may soon regain the title of the world’s largest auto company. Who would have thought that two years ago? Very few clients are so hopelessly lost or so untouchably in the lead that their positions can’t change with new leadership, new ideas, or new circumstances. Sometimes gradual change is sufficient, sometimes trauma is necessary, but never give up if you feel there is hope. And never give up on yourself no matter what you experience or are told. We are resilient creatures.

Monday Morning Perspective: The man who is neither bent upon pleasing his fellows nor afraid of offending them will enjoy great peace. — Thomas a Kempis

Alan’s Friday Wrap®: Weekly podcasts and monthly videos, and a full-day conference. Access to all archives: http://summitconsulting.com/seminars/friday%20wrap.php

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ISSN 2151-0091

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved

I remember a meeting with a boutique consulting firm that had fallen on hard times. The debate was whether or not to sell their magnificent conference table. “Where would clients sit?” asked one partner. “We have no clients,” stated the advocate of selling. You can’t cut your way to renewal or success. Top line growth is the key to bottom line achievement, for you and for your clients. Today is the time to invest in the future. Once you cut muscle, you’re powerless.
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The Consulting Bible: An Excerpt

Here is the opening of my new book, available in about a month from John Wiley & Sons, The Consulting Bible. It will be available for order on my site in about a week.

Section I: Genesis

Consulting as a profession

The origins, evolution, and basic requirements

of successful consulting.

Some realities are self-evident and eternal.


Chapter 1

Origins and Evolution

From whence we came

The role of a consultant

One day, somewhere in the mid-Pleistocene Epoch, after the last glacial period, a man was trying to create a stronger point on his stone spear head, so that he could better hunt and slay the peccaries that fed his clan, and protect himself from dire wolves that fed on his clan. He did this in the only way he knew how, which he learned watching his father—he laboriously abraded the sides of the point on a larger rock.

On this day, however, a stranger happened by who may have been seeking more interesting surroundings, or was exiled from his clan or, one could readily assume, might have simply been lost. Observing the work on the spearhead, the stranger demonstrated that the point had to be ground on a harder rock, not a softer one, and indicated how to choose them. Not just any rock would do. And, indeed, his method worked and the hunter fashioned a sharper spearhead more quickly. The stranger was offered thanks, provided with food, and bestowed with a lion’s tooth. He then went on his way once again, well fed, and with a talisman.

Consulting had been born.

The Gospel: The role of a consultant is to improve the client’s condition.

It may or may not have happened that way, but you can’t prove it didn’t. Consulting—advice, counsel, suggestions—has been around since people began living together. Claims of  “the oldest profession” have been misapplied to another career, though some would claim that consulting can also be somewhat meretricious if performed with poor motives or lack of skills.

Our job is to improve the client’s condition. Doctors are consultants, and one of the first things they learn in medical school is Primum non nocere (first, do no harm). When we walk away from a client, the client’s condition should be better than it was before we arrived, or we’ve failed. (That “we” may mean both the client and we have failed, but we share in the failure in any case.)

It’s that simple.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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Episode 54: The Night of the Living Clueless

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But Wait, There’s More!

There is a trend of incredible temerity and lack of ethics gripping seemingly desperate speakers and consultants. They want their moment in the sun, their Warholian 15 minutes, no matter what. Talent doesn’t matter, value isn’t a consideration. It’s a Kardashian moment.

Recently, a trainer I hadn’t spoken with in over a decade wrote me and asked if she could send me a copy of her new book. I said she could, and I received an uninteresting, uninspiring, self-published book that I tossed out. A month later, she sent another note around, obviously to a large group of which I was a part. She requested the following: “You’ve received my book, and now I’d like you to go to Amazon and write a five-star, positive review. Please do this even if you didn’t like the book. I greatly appreciate your help in trying to make this launch a great success.”

I am not making this up. I should lie about her product so that she can dupe more people while she has a nanosecond in the limelight. Really?

Every day I get requests from people who want me to vote for them in some Internet contest about being a great author, or having a great web site, or being great at asking for votes about being great. When I wrote back to one woman that I had no idea who she was, she told me that she had been in a session I ran seven years ago, in a group of 50. Well, I’m clearly qualified to comment on her new cartoon book about working mothers, right?

Have you seen the book solicitations where you’ll receive “thousands of dollars” of bonus material if you buy the $24 book? Most of the bonus stuff is from people I’ve never heard of offering “tip sheets” of a few worthless ideas which they “value” at $300! (Disclaimer: I know this because I recently agreed to do this for a respected author, and I provided one of my teleconference downloads which sells on my site for $100. When I was offered a view of the total package, I found scores of people, only a few of whom were of the author’s caliber, some offering “invaluable” manuals and $1,000 worth of ideas. It was painful, and I thought unnecessary for this person’s very good book. These others wanted to have their names involved. I learned my lesson.)

Have we come to an age where we need these kind of faux inducements to attract people, where value and repute alone are not enough? Is a better ranking on Amazon worth conspiracy and deception?

I have a book coming out next month from John Wiley & Sons, The Consulting Bible. For $25 you just get the book, nothing else. Well, maybe something else: You get the ideas, models, techniques, and practical application to vastly improve your business. How’s that for a return on investment?

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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The Dog Star: Not All Batting Averages Matter

(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)

Every single morning, Buddy Beagle attempts to take a toy through the kitchen door and out into the yard. He is not allowed to do this, since the stuffed animals are ruined in the rain and snow. But he tries every single morning, and there is a veritable zoo of inanimate animals gathered around the kitchen door, where they have been confiscated by my wife and me.

However, once every week or so, he makes it. He pretends to drop the animal but keeps it on the side of his body away from us, or drops an alligator and picks up a frog. Sometimes Koufax will bark and distract us, because there’s a squirrel in his sights. But Buddy does succeed, and his success rate clearly is gratifying and motivates him to continue trying. He has never, ever brought a toy back into the house from the yard. That is not the fun of it.

Buddy apparently is not concerned about his batting average or even improving his game. He’s simply involved in having some fun with us in the morning, and I’ve come to realize that, win or lose, he is simply having a good time. He wasn’t grumpy or upset when we grabbed the animal from him, and didn’t even fight to keep it (and he has tremendous jaw strength). Nor, when he managed to liberate a giraffe or skunk, did he sit there with it in his mouth in the grass, taunting us. He simply played the game for the fun and then moved on to other canine things.

Some things we should just do for the sheer delight, win or lose. We shouldn’t invest our egos, track the results on a spread sheet, or try to Google more advanced applications. We should simply rejoice.

I like to try to grow things, but I have varying degrees of success, from transplanted pine trees thriving at the pond, to vegetables that were devoured by forms of vermin I never even realized existed. I once had a huge electric train layout, and I don’t ever remember operating it for more than 20 minutes without a derailing, crash, or other failure (including one small fire). I love driving exotic cars, but every one I’ve ever owned has had a flaw or fault somewhere.

The point is to enjoy everything you can that needn’t be competitive or judged. There is enough in our lives to place us in competition and evaluation. When we try to extend metrics to all of our lives, we can never “win enough” or “be successful enough.” It’s like playing Angry Birds: There’s always another, tougher level.

Be happy with the sheer joy of life. Sometimes an accomplishment once every week is sufficient. Here I am, successful against Buddy’s habit six days out of seven, and feeling like I’m a failure! I need to get over that….

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 02/21/11

February 21, 2011—Issue #75

This week’s focus point: We are watching popular uprisings gain traction or fail largely based on whether those in power and the military are willing to turn their guns on their own people or refrain from doing so. In organizations, the ability to change for the best is often a question of whether senior people will listen and offer avenues for communication to do so, or whether they are insulated and aloof, and those with new and bold ideas get “whacked” by the status quo. Professional firms (law, accounting, architecture, consulting, etc.) often suffer from this as well.

Monday Morning Perspective: The best is the enemy of the good. — Voltaire

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

I remember a meeting with a boutique consulting firm that had fallen on hard times. The debate was whether or not to sell their magnificent conference table. “Where would clients sit?” asked one partner. “We have no clients,” stated the advocate of selling. You can’t cut your way to renewal or success. Top line growth is the key to bottom line achievement, for you and for your clients. Today is the time to invest in the future. Once you cut muscle, you’re powerless.
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Million Dollar Referrals

An excerpt from my new book to be released by McGraw-Hill in a few months:

I was introduced once to a top client team by their boss who had hired me, who had used my help in a prior company and who, himself, was once a consultant in a former life. He opened with, “Alan is a consultant who, like any good consultant, will work closely with us until, like some incurable disease, he has taken root in our systems and we will not be able to get rid of him.”

That brought some nervous laughter—including my own—but I understood his point. Good consultants want to do such good work and meet so many potential buyers that they spread their tentacles throughout the organization seeking sustenance. This is because my mindset is that they need my value, not because I’m “searching for business” or “trying to reach revenue quotas.”

In your calendar, or diary, or Filofax® or cocktail coaster (whatever you use for critical reminders) you should note the following referral potential sources and check off whether you’ve inquired about them. If you don’t discipline yourself, you’ll tend to overlook sources. Feel free to copy this right out of these pages. Note how many of these sources there are, and that you cannot afford to overlook any of them in each client.

Potential Referral Sources to Be Sought

o      Buyer Peers                                    o      Buyer Superiors

o      Buyer Subordinates                      o      Client Vendors

o      People in Parent Organization   o      People in Subsidiaries

o      Professional Colleagues               o      Acquaintances and Friends

o      Client’s Customers                        o      Trade Associations

o      Regulatory Groups                        o      Media Contacts

My estimation is that it is about 20 times more difficult to bring in new business than it is to develop repeat and referral business. It also costs five or six times more in money and time. Think about it. Asking for a referral or another project within a client takes little time and zero investment. Trying to unearth a new client—turn a cold lead into a warm prospect and then a hot client—is laborious and expensive in terms of trips, time , and managing the process.

Thus, your hunt for referrals is an excellent investment with a significant ROI.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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The City

On our recent trip to New York we had wonderful meals (Il Tinello on 54th), stayed at the Peninsula, saw The King’s Speech (superb), and spent time with the family and our super-bright, adorable grandchildren (a lot of me in them, easy to see). A typical long New York weekend.

We also stopped in at the Café Carlyle, where we’ve seen great talent, to catch the penultimate show by Paulo Szot, the wonderful singer who played the planter in the hugely successful revival of South Pacific. He won a Tony for the role.

We usually sit at the stage, a few feet from the performer, but Mr. Szot is a tall man with a big baritone, so we chose to sit in a corner banquet. (The maître d’ is always accommodating, and quite gracious in responding to good cheer.)

After dinner, at  show time, the lights dim and Mr. Szot enters from the rear of the cozy room (90 people virtually on top of each other, the waiters do a ballet to get food and drink to the tables) singing as he proceeds, “Some Enchanted Evening,” which mesmerized the place. He is a large, impressive presence, with a great voice and wondrous range.

Launching into his second selection, my wife leaned over and said, “I’m in love,” clearly not indicating I was involved. I leaned back and said, “I just discovered I’m gay.” (Please don’t write letters, try to lighten up.) We were both charmed.

As the show draws to a close he wisely saves “This Nearly Was Mine” for the last piece (before his single encore with “If Ever I Should Leave You). One of the most magnificent songs in the Great American Songbook (Rodgers and Hammerstein), it brought the musical to a lengthy standstill during an ovation with Mr. Szot alone on stage. He sang it equally magnificently in this small room, and it was one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever experienced in my life.

This is what New York is about. (People in Rhode Island say, “We’re going to the city, meaning Providence. I have to teach them that The City means New York.) The room was packed with sophisticated people and tough critics, and we were blown away by an awesome talent.

That’s not a bad way to spend four days, requiring only two, three-hour train trips. Batteries recharged. Who cares about snow! Life is grand!

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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