Monthly Archives: April 2011

Graduation and Disney World

My son Jason’s “second” graduation took place this morning for the School of Fine Arts, where he received his MFA in theater. Then my daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters, Maria and I headed for Disney World, which we made in under two hours in the huge Dodge SUV.

There is strict security at the gates to the resort (Beach Resort) and then we were greeted and escorted by several “cast members” until we arrived at our villa, where we each have a separate “wing” and common living area. There’s are several small patios where I can smoke a cigar, which I intend to do tonight after dinner.

More on several aspects of all this with photos in the coming days. I’m glad we’re here, because it was my excuse to turn down the wedding invitation. Kate was furious, but I know she’ll forgive me.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Showing Up

If you want to succeed, “show up”:

Don’t ask for directions that are clearly stated in the literature or notice you’ve received. Pay attention.

Get to the meeting early and get your materials and support prepared. Find a good seat to listen and to influence.

Don’t get up to get coffee when the organizer says, “We’re ready to begin.” Stop talking to the person next to you while others are talking. And don’t think no one notices you’re texting. Is there another reason to be staring at your lap?

No one is impressed that you’re talking and laughing with others as the meeting or event is beginning. Sit down and don’t have to be asked three times.

Stop being a prima donna. Don’t ask for the temperature to be changed if you’re the only one uncomfortable. Put something on or take something off. Unless you have a true allergy problem, stop asking for a special meal to be prepared for you. And never take the meal that everyone else had at lunch and ask for it to be delivered to you after the program reconvenes.

You have no right to order Internet service in a conference room at a cost to the organizer, nor to ask for additional power strips.

Don’t ask for private time when there are 50 people in the room who would like the same benefit.

Arrange your calls and email during lunch or after the meeting. Stop taking longer breaks to reply to calls that are less than urgent.

If there was preparatory work, do it. Turn it in on time.

Bring business cards, extra batteries, writing implements. Dress appropriately. Act as if the event wasn’t a last-minute surprise to you.

Ask questions, don’t merely answer them. Stop trying to be a faculty member or the second smartest person in the room.

Make your travel arrangements so that you get there before it starts and leave after it ends.

If you’re on a teleconference, either don’t use a speaker phone or mute it. Spoiling it for everyone else with ambient noise and irrelevant conversations should be a criminal offense.

Show some tolerance. Don’t lash out at the hotel or the organizer because an elevator is out of service or the restaurant doesn’t stock Muesli.

Follow up. Send a thank you. Acknowledge the experience. Be someone who people are eager to see again, not someone whose presence discourages others from coming back.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Business of Consulting, Personal Improvement | 4 Comments

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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Dateline: Gainesville

We arose at 3:45 am, the stretch limo came at 4:15, and Danielle, Jan, Alaina, Gabrielle, Maria, and I piled in. The luggage was overwhelming. We arrived at Boston Logan and a redcap quickly checked seven bags. “No problem,” he said, gratefully accepting a twenty, six of you are entitled to 18 bags in first class!”

It was not only the granddaughters’ first airplane ride, but their first escalators, each pulling a junior “wheelie” with their packs. They were great on the plane, in their own seats, the flight attendant was fabulous, and I had to help her retrieve from the trash a Delta recognition card I gave her, which she thought was garbage!

Another great redcap, a woman, helped us pack a huge Dodge SUV at Orlando, and off we went to Gainesville here, to see my son get his master’s from both the University of Florida and it’s graduate theater program. (In the car, my entire family asked when was the last time I drove an American vehicle. I mumbled something, but don’t really remember.)

We’re at our favorite cottages down here, and after dinner at our favorite steak place, Mark’s, we see Jason in a play at the independent Hippodrome Theater tonight.

After a couple of days, we head back to Orlando for Disney World!

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Alan Weiss Joins Advisory Board of Web of Life Foundation

I’ve just been asked to join the Advisory Board of the Web of Life Foundation (WOLFoundation:, and I’ve accepted. The purpose of the organization is below, as are my fellow board members:

WOLFoundation is a non-profit organization aimed at encouraging fresh thinking and clear, accessible, enjoyable writing in the field of conservation and the environment.

We are looking for fresh ideas presented in an accessible, non-technical way. We welcome ideas that take any view on environmental issues—be they for or against any particular debate or point of view. Our requirements are simple:

• we encourage original thinking and discourage the re-hashing of tired ideas

• we look for clear, simple, non-technical writing in the English language

• we welcome any form of writing—essays, fiction short stories or any other form of


Professor Warwick Fox, PhD

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Central Lancashire, UK

The Hon. Dr Michael Frendo, LLD, LLM, MP

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Parliament of Malta

Professor Randy Malamud, PhD

Professor and Associate Chair, Modern Literature, Ecocriticism and Cultural Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

David Pilling

Asia Editor, Financial Times, Hong Kong

Dr Astrid Vargas, DVM, PhD

Conservation Biologist. Research Associate, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA

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Solutions in Search of Problems

I was asked by someone I’m mentoring whether or not to include a certain element in a workshop she is preparing.

“Why will participants need that?” I asked.

“I’ve been doing this for years,” she said.

“Yes, but why?” I persisted. “What does it provide for anyone?

The answer, of course, is “nothing.” It’s simply another “good idea,” or favored option, or comfortable activity. This is the alternative in search of an objective, the solution  in search of a problem.

Individuals and corporations do this all the time. It’s like the old Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland MGM musicals, where “Let’s put on a show!” was the answer to every challenge, from bankruptcy to poison ivy.

Why are you upgrading your software every two weeks? Why are you attending meetings? Why are you providing reports? Because all of that is truly needed by you and the client, or because you think it represents some kind of forward movement satisfying some need?

Why does your client schedule meetings, run customer surveys, require ten years of experience for certain positions? Because they represent qualitative improvements or because someone things they “make sense”? How many of those survey really tell you anything, or are actually used in terms of their feedback? How many of those meetings are really needed? How many of those ten years were qualitatively worthwhile?

If you want to streamline your life and work and improve your life balance, stop implementing alternatives when you don’t know why you’re doing it, when they don’t provide obvious improvement for you and/or others, and when you’ve never asked yourself if you may be better off not doing it.

Do you want to gain a day a week, a week a month, a month a year? Examine your activities and ask if you’re performing them to improve your or someone else’s condition, of if you’ve simply “always done it that way.” I can guarantee you that you’re doing a lot the client doesn’t even feel or sense, almost as atonement or out of guilt.

Let me give you my best therapeutic analysis: Stop it!

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 04/25/11

April 25, 2011—Issue #84

This week’s focus point: Yesterday, the New York Times offered me eight electronic op ed columns. Every one was negative, from politicians “ignoring reality” and high speed rail being a “folly” to critique of tax credits and even why a Pope should not be canonized. Perhaps all of this is relevant and important, but it seems to me that there is a lot of good news that’s also relevant and important. When we’re besieged with harsh and negative information, we tend to lose sight of the positive and productive. Find the optimistic people and news in your life and your profession, because the default position isn’t all that exhilarating. I look at each new day as an opportunity to thrive with my head high, not as a long, slow, cautious crawl through enemy territory holding my head down.

Monday Morning Perspective: Technology is just a way of organizing the universe so that man won’t have to experience it. — architect Max Frisch

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© Alan Weiss 2011. 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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Episode 56: European Stuff That Makes Sense

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Posted in The Movies: The Writing on the Wall | 8 Comments

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

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Aim, Fire, Ready

When I was touring the extraordinarily emotional Normandy beaches, I saw the evidence for the noncoms urging men forward, to keep moving, into the guns, and not to stop. Despite the withering fire, the soldiers were safer if they moved toward the obstacles and tried to engage. If they stayed where they were, they would eventually be killed by the unceasing havoc directed at them.

To paraphrase Will Rogers, if you’re simply content to be on the right track and sit there, a train will eventually come along and hit you.

Consultants seem to get stuck on the beach and not move toward clients. The “enemy fire” in this case doesn’t come from the prospect, but from their own poor perceptions. They hesitate if there is an objection, instead of seizing it as an opportunity. They focus on ultra-protection and 26 technology backups instead of common sense and having one good one. (If the world explodes, it really doesn’t matter if backups of your files are circling Alpha Centauri awaiting you.)

No one told the troops on the beach to get ready. They told them to point their guns forward and start firing as they headed in that direction—over obstacles, up hills, and into close combat.

You don’t engage prospects by email, nor close business on the phone. You can’t spend hours on social media platforms, digging foxholes, and actually claim you’re marketing to corporate buyers. You can talk forever about theoretical “alliances” and “collaborations,” make lists, and attend every trade association conference in the world to exchange techniques with your peers, and you’d still be on the beach.

Get off the beach. Follow me. Ask for referrals daily. Get in touch with your past clients. Put proposals in front of buyers within 24 hours of your meeting. Don’t deal with non-buyers (who live on the beach offering sand dunes for protection and who are scared out of their minds themselves). Aggressively write, speak, and network. Broaden your appeal (get more weapons) and abandon the ridiculous mentality that you should specialize in an age of diverse needs.

The soldiers didn’t get ready on the beach, and they weren’t really ready for what they faced. They could have stopped to check their gear or clean their guns or rearrange their equipment. They didn’t. They charged.

Get off the beach. Those are prospects up there on the heights, and the tide is rising behind you.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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