Monthly Archives: October 2011

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/31/11

October 31, 2011—Issue #110

This week’s focus point: I’ve never seen a company or institution with unhappy employees and happy customers. Employees are assets, not expenses, yet many executives think they should be investing in equipment maintenance but not people maintenance. Among the worst offenders are banks, newspapers, and airlines. Apparently, Qantas would rather close its operation, ground its fleet, and inconvenience tens of thousands of customers than try to resolve its people issues. TWA, Eastern, and others were all driven out of business by horrible management-labor relationships. Neither unions nor management are always right or always wrong, but when you decide to take your ball and leave the playground you are a child, not an adult.

Monday Morning Perspective: He can board and carry an enemy frigate with guns roaring and drums beating in a couple of minutes; but that is no way to give a girl much pleasure. — Diane Villiers describing Jack Aubrey in “The Yellow Admiral,” one of Patrick O’Brian’s series of naval novels.

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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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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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When You Can’t Win Enough

As consultants, we have to guard against the insidious dynamic of “not being able to win enough.” It’s often an external stimulus: “Nice sales job this year, but of course you didn’t break that record set in 1988.” Or: “It’s wonderful that Stanford accepted you early admission. Your cousin, Rachel, did that with Stanford AND Harvard, remember?”

However, this is often an internal issue, especially with people whom we coach. When Jim Collins’s fine book appeared, everyone was talking about going from “good to great,” but very few knew what that meant, or how they’d know when they made progress toward “great.” Remember Michael Hammer and “reengineering”?  Everyone wanted to “reengineer,” though few would know it if they tripped over it, and some probably believed it meant running a locomotive.

When coaching clients say they want to be “extraordinary leaders,” “outstanding managers,” “state-of-the-art financial experts,” or “world class strategists,” ask them exactly how that condition would differ from their current one. I just completed my second annual Thought Leadership Workshop for two dozen people, and one major issue is: What are the traits that describe and typify a thought leader? With that knowledge you can tell what you should be achieving and measuring.

Do you want to be regarded as the top consultant in supply chain management? Or does your client want to be acknowledged as the finest sales executive in the industry? What would that look like and how would others know?

If you don’t pursue that level of specificity, you wind up in tendentious discussions about “best” and “ahead of the curve” and “innovative.” But those contribute to an amorphous mess if you can’t really specify what the “best” would be compared to “non-best.” When you are specific—with yourself or with your clients—you create the environment for clear objectives, crisp metrics, and obvious value, and concomitant high fees.

You can also discriminate among the important and not so important. A pharmaceutical firm needs world-class chemists, but probably not world-class accountants. The book that you write doesn’t have to be a best-seller, but only has to get you into a few dozen key new clients.

TIAABB: There Is Always A Bigger Boat. Don’t pursue grandeur for its own sake. Pursue reasonable growth goals. If you do that consistently, you’ll be in a very comfortable boat, with the wind and spray in your face, and others in your wake.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Episode 62: Inexplicable Realities

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Web of Life Foundation annual writing competition

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/24/11

October 24, 2011—Issue #109

This week’s focus point: Business growth superstar David Maister was my guest at my annual Thought Leadership Workshop in Palm Beach last week. Among his gems: “How much you really want something will determine how hard you work to achieve it. Most of us know what to do, we just don’t do it.” That’s why passion is so important in our personal and working lives. Don’t try to make money and become passionate about it. Find your passions, engage and help others, and you’ll earn a wonderful living.

Monday Morning Perspective: Whatever is morally necessary must be made politically possible. — Eugene McCarthy, when running for President.

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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 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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Thoughts from Thought Leadership

The 2011 Thought Leadership Workshop is now completed, with David Maister as my guest, following Marshall Goldsmith last year. (The 2012 session is October 22-24 in Palm Beach—contact me for participation or use my web site. I have 15 seats available, that’s all.)

Here are my most vivid recollections from the beach:

• Tell people what you think and what you believe will help them, prescriptively. Don’t struggle for consensus.

• The ideas don’t have to be new, they have to be pragmatic and immediately applicable.

• Use multiple media: books, articles, blogs, newsletters, speeches, interviews, video, podcast, teleconferences, and so on. Broadcast your message.

• Use metaphor and symbolism to emphasize and create memorability.

• Understand your own “sweet spot” (what you’re superb at helping others accomplish) and identify the support factors that emphasize varying aspects.

• Thought Leadership can be research-based, or anecdotal, supported by examples and evidence.

• “Hang out with” and interact with other, recognized thought leaders.

• The term is vulnerable to cliché. I like to think of “results leaders.”

• Thought leaders evolve and change and are public figures who are accessible.

• One of the truest tests is longevity, with evolution of intellectual property.

• Intellectual property isn’t supposed to be hidden under a mattress. If you’re afraid of it being stolen if you broadcast it, then your claim to it is tenuous.

More to come.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Summary of Thought Leadership Workshop Activities

(This is a summary of just one day of my Thought Leadership Workshop currently underway at The Breakers in Palm Beach. The notes are from Andrew Hollow, attending from Australia, who is a member of the Mentor Hall of Fame, and who posted these on AlansForums.com.)

Thought Leadership Summary by Andrew Hollo

Today we had David Maister join us for the afternoon, so these points combine Alan’s and David’s sessions:

1. If you meet resistance, don’t just give up, you have to make your point MORE strongly: either the idea, its instantiation (the conversion of an idea from the abstract to the concrete), its monetization or its exploitation.

2. The shortcut to determining whether my TL offers value is asking: (i) what’s a condition that needs to be improved? (ii) what’s the need that I can create? and (iii) what’s my response to this?

3. Focus my TL on my great clients. Then, my past clients. Next, prospects, recommenders and knowledgeable strangers.

4. Success trumps perfection (yes, again!) – From Alan: “People don’t examine a body of work closely; all it does is builds credibility”

5. A TL at the top of his/her game distills an accumulation of tested, repurposed, accessible IP and earns the right to express it didactically and assertively (viz. “The Consulting Bible”)

6. From David M:
- “Forget the big piece (i.e., the book). Write articles. After a year or two you’ll have 20 – 30 pieces which have been widely distributed and which you can assemble”
- “TL is not about originality; it’s about being the person they want to speak to about a topic”
- “A TL writes as if THIS is how he’s (already) running his life”
- “Train people to get used to me as a source of ideas”
- “Get a reputation as someone who shares content, not as someone who obsessively keeps ownership”
- “Tempt and seduce: give them (your audience) somewhere to go”
- “If you’re doing ANY marketing in consulting, you’re an idiot” (e.g., building databases of prospects is nearly always a less effective substitute for actually LISTENING to clients, preferably current clients with unmet needs)

7. David referencing Neil Rackham: As a Thought Leader, you won’t get directly to ‘powerful people’. Instead your TL will reach ‘receptive people’, who will put you in touch with ‘troubled people’ (those “whose ox is being gored”) who can help you reach ‘powerful people’.

8. The most potent TL is “what no-one helps you learn” (In David’s case, this was how to sell – when you have an over-developed intellect but an under-developed personality i.e., many accountants, lawyers and consultants).

9. You don’t where opportunity will come from. So write. And speak. And do both a lot. And don’t worry WHICH talk, or which article, or which book will generate the big lead.

10. Thought Leaders attract people who are attractive to other people.

11. Practice performing as a Thought Leader: high energy presentations; self-deprecation balanced with healthy ego; engaging and interactive with your audience; seemingly limitless content.

12. TL is as important as actual consulting: “What you do with your billable time is your income; what you do with your non-billable time (i.e., TL) is your future”

Two-thirds of the way there – another great day tomorrow.

Over and out.

Andrew Hollo

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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Guest Column: Don’t Get Stuck in the Ruts of Success

(Stuart Cross is a member of the Mentor Hall of Fame, a graduate of the Million Dollar Consulting® College, and one of 30 global Master Mentors. He is based in the U.K.)

Don’t Get Stuck In The Ruts Of Success

by Stuart Cross

Nothing fails like success.

Many companies struggle, not because they are bad at what they do, but because they are great at what they do. Kodak’s decline, for example, hasn’t resulted from the company being poor at film processing, but because it is great at film processing.

Or take Olivetti. It is now a small, loss-making subsidiary of an Italian telecoms business because it was great at making electronic typewriters, not because it was bad at it.

The problem that these and countless other competent companies have faced is that things change; markets change, the economy changes, technology changes and customer tastes change. Unfortunately many companies are either unwilling or unable to change their offer or their organisation as quickly as their external environment changes.

It is the same for consultants, trainers and coaches. Relying on your past and current successes – whether they are particular programs, services, clients, or capabilities – for your future growth is likely to result in a performance plateau and an eventual decline.

I know of a consultant, for instance, who published a book five years ago and had tremendous success in selling related training and development programs. He was so successful that he has come to rely completely on sales of the book and programs for his income even though, over time, interest and business has waned.

You have no option but to constantly re-invent yourself and your business. Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure that you don’t get stuck in the ruts of success:

  1. Continue to set new and higher goals. Decline often starts with satisfaction with your current level of performance. You must continue to raise your sights and your expectations and then find new ways to achieve them. This doesn’t simply mean setting financial goals. Chad Barr, for example, recently stopped me in my tracks by saying that, as consultants, we shouldn’t be focused on reinventing our business, but on reinventing our clients’ businesses. That statement has made me completely re-evaluate the work I should be doing. What new goals would enable you to break out from your current sources of success?
  2. Pursue adjacent markets and services. You don’t need to reinvent your business in a single leap – you can take a series of incremental steps. If you develop strategy, for instance, you could offer implementation services, and if you coach executives you can offer team coaching. What adjacent markets, clients and services could you pursue?
  3. Invest in yourself and your capabilities. You should build on your strengths, but that doesn’t mean simply relying on your existing skills. How can you further build your capabilities to enable you achieve more for your clients and to reach new markets?
  4. Embrace technological change. At a recent Million Dollar Club meeting with Alan we discussed the growing importance of “wisdom-on-the-go”. Our clients want access to ideas and insights at their convenience, and not just when they are sitting at their desks. The future of technology is mobile, as demonstrated by the explosion in apps. In what ways can you provide your value in more convenient ways to your clients?
  5. Be prepared to fail. The key to success is not to avoid failure but to fail as quickly and cheaply as possible. What are some immediate, low risk steps you can take to test new ideas and see what works so that you can rapidly develop new income streams?

Stuart Cross is the president of Morgan Cross Consulting, where he helps clients including Avon Cosmetics, GlaxoSmithKline and Alliance Boots to dramatically accelerate growth. His new book, The CEO’s Strategy Handbook, is out now. You can find out more by visiting his website at www.morgancross.co.uk.

© Stuart Cross 2011. All rights reserved.

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