Monthly Archives: February 2012

Consulting 602

• When you arise in the morning, your belief must be that you have tremendous value to impart to a great many people.

• Focus on that value in your conversations, writing, speaking, and collateral. Don’t talk about methodology, technology, or models.

• Gaining business is NOT about finding pain or creating pain and alleviating it. It’s about improving the condition of your buyer. For strong people, that’s gain, not pain.

• Every day, make your intellectual property apparent to your highest potential clients through a variety of avenues. Don’t kid yourself: Posting on Facebook is not marketing to corporate buyers, for example.

• Every week, contact people you know and ask for their business and/or referral business. If that seems awkward or an imposition, see point number one above.

• The first sale is to yourself. Your age, gender, ethnicity, education, and the rest of your background are irrelevant to all legitimate, healthy buyers. Self-esteem will support that, not initials after your name.

• Be careful about to whom you listen and with whom you hang. Too many people seek to bring you down to their level of performance and pessimism, rather than raising themselves to your level of performance and optimism.

• If you don’t blow your own horn, there is no music. Hiding your value, your intellectual property, and your power is like hiding your money under the mattress—no one will steal it, but no one will see it, either, and it will never grow.

• Treat every experience as a learning experience, not a “win” or a “loss.”

• Understand WHY you are successful, don’t settle merely for the fact THAT you are successful.

• You grow by building on strengths, not correcting weaknesses. Most “self-help” approaches assume you’re damaged and try to “fix” you. Ignore them.

• Seek success, not perfection.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 2/27/12

February 27, 2012—Issue #127

This week’s focus point: If most of your problems, setbacks, and defeats are caused by others, then how do you ever prevent them in the future? We need to “own” our failures, because that’s how we grow and conquer our fears. Blaming them specifically on others (“politics” holds me back at work) or creating imaginary resistance (“I have writer’s block”) simply deepens the hole you find yourself cowering in. Outstanding entrepreneurs, leaders, and performers take possession of their fears and obstacles, real or imagined, and overcome them. Face your fear. It won’t kill you, but allowing it to paralyze you will stop all movement. I’ve heard members of Mensa whine that they’re discriminated against because they’re “so smart.” If they’re so smart then they should figure out how to overcome that! (Disclaimer: I’m a member, and the only indication of intelligence that impresses me is not test scores, but success.)

Monday Morning Perspective: A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves. — Bertrand de Jouvenel

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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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A Rhode Island State of Mind

Vice President Biden recently visited Rhode Island to support the reelection of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, of whom we can only hope that his last name does not presage his future. The Vice President’s press release informed the media that he would be traveling to “Road Island.”

Many people believe that this place is in New York, confusing it readily with Long Island, which you can actually see in places along the coast, across Long Island Sound. There are about a million people here, the state is all coastline, and if you drive from my house 20 minutes south or west, you’re in Connecticut; 20 minutes north, and you’re in Massachusetts; 20 minutes east, and you swim with the fishes. (That’s largely metaphoric, since the New England Mafia is geriatric, in prison, or both, as satirized brilliantly in a Sopranos episode.)

Roger Williams founded the place in the 17th Century as a bastion of religious freedom in a time when most governments believed that conforming to an approved state religion was also patriotic. Atop the statehouse here (“the second largest free-standing dome anywhere”) stands “the independent man.” Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the U.S., is in Newport. I sometimes attend St. Mary’s Church in Newport, where John and Jackie Kennedy were wed.

The quality of life here can be quite high if you don’t have to work here, because there is very little middle class, and the state is rather business-unfriendly. Demographics skew toward blue collar or great wealth. The restaurants are awesome, better than Boston, per capita. The local arts and cultural scenes are rich in talent and diversity. (My wife and I have served on a dozen boards.) There is a significant academic presence: Rhode Island School of Design (arts); Johnson & Wales (culinary and hospitality); Brown University (ego).

Rhode Island, where I came propelled by the greed associated with the presidency of a firm I was to be fired from 27 years ago ( I still tell people I’m a New Yorker), is more a state of mind than a state of the union. I ask the jury to simply consider these facts:

• An amazingly large number of people here have never been to New York (three hours away) and some not to Boston (one hour away). I heard one man brag that his pickup truck had never left Aquidneck Island (Newport, reached by several huge bridges).

• About 90% of all boats in the hundreds of marinas never leave the docks, irrespective of weather, gas prices, or famine. Most owners simply drink somewhere aft, on an expensive floating bar. I guess we should feel relieved they don’t leave the docks.

• People have “summer homes” 45 minutes away from their main home. They pick up the mail and newspapers every day. Where I come from, a “summer home” is an airplane ride or six-hour car ride away. Here, it’s like going out for dinner.

• No one uses turn signals. This could be a state law, I don’t know.

• No one lets you turn across their lane. Absolutely no one stops to give you a break turning left. It’s a macho thing that has transcended gender, as in, “I may be an inferior, but I sure as heck can stop you from turning!” Unbelievably, this happens regularly outside our church parking lot with parishioners refusing to allow colleagues into the lot.

• People give metaphysical directions here. “If you want to try the new restaurant, turn left where Hugo’s used to be [a store demolished ten years ago] and then take a right where they removed the stop sign.” Oh. Thanks, that’s clear.

• Sprinkles on ice cream are called “Jimmies” here. My wife, the sommelier of ice cream, actually got into an argument at the window of an ice cream stand over it, when they told her they couldn’t understand her order. I dragged her away as she was screaming, “Do you SPRINKLE them on or JIMMIE them on, idiot?!”

• There are 30 or so municipalities, police departments, fire departments, library systems, medical response teams, school districts, and so on. The waste and duplication—in a state with grave financial problems—are vast. The place should act like Singapore, a city-state with coordinated services. Instead, it acts like a bad Boston bar at closing time.

• With all these problems, the governor, elected by a tepid 33% of the voters in a multiple-candidate election, announced that the annual Christmas Tree on the capitol grounds would be known as a Holiday Tree, so as not to offend anyone living under the sun. The verdict is still out on the Easter Bunny (Holiday Hare?). He’s going to have to do something about the Constitution, though, which clearly refers to a “creator.” Where’s Roger Williams when you need him?

• They pronounce my alma mater, Rutgers, as “Ruggers.”

• A common, quite physical landmark is “the great blue bug,” which is a termite that is 427,000 times actual size, perched on top of an exterminating business alongside Interstate 95. The thing is dressed up and lighted for Christmas (Holiday Time?). When there was a threat of demolition of the building, the then-mayor of Providence climbed up to the roof with the press in tow and issued a “stay of extermination.”

• It has snowed in this area at least since the onset of the Holocene Era, about 12,000 years ago. My math tells me that’s prior to Columbus, Roger Williams, and the New England Patriots. Yet every threat of snow here is regarded as Armageddon on the final day of the Mayan Calendar. People stockpile bread and milk; they exhaust supplies of snow blowers, portable generators, and bottled water. It’s the equivalent of natives in the Amazon rain forests fearing moisture. The “meteorologists” on television aren’t called, for example, “the sunshine boys,” but rather “THE STORM TRACKERS!”

• When people here say they’re going to “the city,” they mean Providence. They don’t seem to understand The City is New York.

We live an idyllic existence, with a great quality of life (we were at the fabulous Festival Ballet last night, a political satire produced by local journalists the night prior, and will be at Trinity Rep next week), with the means and ability to enjoy our environment and travel to New York whenever we wish. Even though I kid them, people here are basically friendly and nice.

They just need to get out more often, and when they are, allow a few people to turn in front of them.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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The Good Guys and the Not So Good Guys

I picked up a client at a nearby hotel and he offered to treat us to a couple of lattés at Dunkin Donuts on the way to my house. When we reached the window, the woman handed me the two cups.

“Can I have a tray, please?” I asked.

“No, we’re all out,” she said.

“Well, why don’t you tell us that when we order? What if I were alone or needed four coffees?”

“I guess we’d find a box for you,” she said, never apologizing. What’s happening here is that the franchise owner in East Greenwich doesn’t want to drive business away and is too lazy or cheap to find trays at sister stores, which are within two miles. The employee wouldn’t kid about it, didn’t apologize, and I was wondering why I was there.

Last night, my wife and I stopped in another chain, P.F. Chang’s, in the Providence Mall. We were seated in a booth although we had no reservation (and the place soon filled), were offered drinks within a minute, and the staff took pains to explain the menu options and suggest choices based on our preferences. The food was hot, great, and on time. The manager stopped over twice—the first time to make sure we were happy, and the second time to offer to buy dessert for us, as our welcome to his restaurant. He gave me his card and said that if I ever wanted to take people to lunch or dinner, which are generally packed, he’d get me in, no worries, just call his number.

Leadership is everything. It informs employee behavior, for better or worse. At Dunkin it’s a crap shoot. Some people are terrific, some act as though you’re disturbing them, and that’s because the owner doesn’t set a tone or example, but leaves things to chance. That’s why I often go to Main Street Café and not Dunkin. But for Chinese food, I’m going back to P.F. Chang’s.

Postscript: I bought my wife a new iPhone for Valentine’s day, following her new laptop for Christmas. I’m a very good customer of the Apple store in that same Providence mall. But for the first time, we had mediocre service. The woman checking people in at the door was busy chatting up her boyfriend, and when someone finally showed up to help us and I told him it was a long wait, instead of saying, “Sorry about that, let me help you now,” his response was, “What can you do, we’re busy.”

I’m guessing he used to work in Dunkin Donuts. And I’m guessing the manager there isn’t going to last too long.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Tell Me Where It Hurts

When you’re coaching people or simply observing clients, you’re well served never to assume someone else is “damaged” or malicious. We tend to make too many assumptions about others’ motives without any evidence.

There are four key vectors to consider when, in fact, people are being hurt. Develop evidence to support your conclusion so that you can properly help in each instance.

  1. Consciously hurting others. This may be through emotional manipulation, peer group humiliation, withholding important information, providing incorrect information, starting rumors, and so on. Passive/aggressive people deliberately hurt others, though seemingly unintentionally (though it’s highly intentional). Bullies (emotional, psychological, physical) try to hurt others because of their own perceived inferiority, attempting to lower others to their levels.

You must confront these acts with observed behavior and the ramifications of that behavior. If it continues unabated, it should be grounds for dismissal. I was the fourth in a line of coaches trying to prevent obscene workplace tirades and humiliation from an executive vice president whose division delivered large profits. He refused to stop his behavior or get counseling. I told the president that the entire workforce considered it HIS preferred behavior, and this man was his proxy, since the president refused to put a stop to it. A week later the vice president was fired. His division continued to produce large profits.

  1. Unconsciously hurting others. These people are generally oblivious to the world around them and/or totally self-absorbed. They are the people who speak loudly on the phone in public areas, use inappropriate language, demand attention at others’ expense (they monopolize the help in a restaurant), or drive at 20 miles an hour on a 45 mile-an-hour road because they are talking on the phone.

It usually helps to bring the behavior and its ramifications to the attention of the transgressors, since they are unaware of both what they’re doing and how it impacts others. “Why are you changing the temperature in the room when all the rest of us are comfortable, and you haven’t even asked us? Put on a sweater.” If they are apprised and refuse to change their behavior, then they enter category 1 above.

  1. Consciously hurting yourself. This can range from physically harming yourself (e.g., cutting) to emotional and psychological harm (e.g., constantly sacrificing personal objectives for others, denying yourself what is rightfully yours, and so on). This often stems from a need to punish, feeling alienated, and feeling unworthy.

In this case, people have to be encouraged to reveal their feelings of inferiority or lack of worth, or explore why they constantly accede to others because of intimidation or a false sense of protocol. Many people deliberately dress, use language, and comport themselves so as not to draw attention or praise. They are often afraid of exposing their own perceived ineptitude.

  1. Unconsciously hurting yourself. These are people with very low self-worth who “automatically” and consistently place themselves in inferior positions. They never try to “win” or to gain praise, or to stand out favorably in a crowd. When I once forced such a person to explain why she couldn’t speak up to a prospect who was asking reasonable questions, she said, “I guess I just can’t imagine why he’d listen to someone like me.”

There are people walking around believing inherently that they don’t deserve, don’t count, don’t merit any success and, if it comes, it was an accident, a stroke of luck. Their defeats and setbacks of course, are because of their own lack of talent. I’ve found that people in this category are carrying “baggage” and self-limiting beliefs that are never examined or even apparent. But they are guided by them nonetheless.

Examine why and how people are hurting and being hurt. Don’t assume it’s always the same reason or situation or solution. And it doesn’t hurt to ask this of yourself, as well.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 2/20/12

February 20, 2012—Issue #126

This week’s focus point: If you want to be regarded as a brilliant conversationalist, ask others questions. If you want to be perceived as a smart business person, ask others about their business philosophy. If you want to be associated with thought leadership, hang out with thought leaders and watch what they do. The worst thing you can do is to try to prove you’re “the second smartest person in the room” by constantly citing your sources, credentials, and experiences. Confident, bright, powerful people appear that way because they are content to listen to others, to prompt them to speak, and to analyze and learn in the process. I may be an exception, but I’ve never been able to learn too much while I’m speaking.

Monday Morning Perspective: The man who is neither bent upon pleasing his fellows nor afraid of offending them will enjoy great peace. –Thomas Kempis, “The Imitation of Christ”

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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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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Consulting 101

• If you’re unsure what to do with a client, or have conflicting objectives, simply ask this, “What’s in the client’s best interests?” If you let that be your guide, you’ll make the right decision.

• You should be able to cite three things you’re better at doing for clients than anyone else in your field.

• If I visit your web site and don’t find you credible in about ten seconds, you have a weak and undermining home page. (It’s probably self-centered, not client-centered.)

• No one cares about YOUR mission. They care about THEIR mission.

• Verbs such as identify, clarify, prioritize, list, review, and organize are so weak that they can barely stand without assistance. Don’t use them in objectives or actions.

• If you’re afraid to use adjectives such as unique, distinctive, and seminal, then you’re not any of them.

• If you want to joust, buy armor and a horse. If you want to fence, buy a rapier or an epee. If you want to present, lug along a projector. But if you want to converse as a peer, then bring along a lexicon that matches the buyer’s.

• Most successful dogs sniff around a while and smell the wind before becoming heavily engaged in a new situation. Not a bad approach for a consultant, either.

• There is more bad advice circulating in solo consulting circles than there are successful solo consultants. Be careful about what and to whom you listen.

• If you discuss “collaborating” or “alliances” without an actual client and business deal on the table, you might as well draw on an easel with your fingers. You’re merely doing a conceptual rhumba, and no one will notice once the music stops.

• The only way the bank will accept your mortgage payment is if you give the bank money. They won’t accept lists, hopes, intent, position papers, references, or PowerPoint. They want cash. So I suggest you spend the predominant amount of your time in front of people who can give you cash in return for your value, preferably on a continuing basis.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 2/13/12

February 13, 2012—Issue #125

This week’s focus point: Despite the historical claims that “involvement” and “consensus” and “commitment over compliance” are important for employee productivity and performance, I’ve often thought that high-performing cultures are imposed more than gelled. Referent, charismatic leaders can galvanize people to action and add the important element of speed, which is often the victim of consensus and involvement. Steve Jobs was known as a tough guy, as was Roy Vagelos as CEO of Merck and Jack Welch as CEO of GE. But they achieved startling results and developed loyal employees. Perhaps one problem is that instead of developing great leaders we’ve tried to compensate for mediocre ones by asking people to take on some of those accountabilities at lower pay grades. Order in the world often (usually?) must be imposed. Perhaps high performance must be 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 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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