Alanism – The evolving collection of Alan’s Apothegms.


  1. Get the straw out of your teeth and get out of the cornfield.
  2. Big fish die in small ponds.
  3. When you are 80% done, then move. The final 20% is dysfunctional.
  4. Aim for success, not perfection.
  5. Tell the audience what they need to know, not everything that you know.
  6. Talk the walk.
  7. Wealth is discretionary time.
  8. Only the gifted few can wing it (and if you’re wondering who they are, you’re not one of them).
  9. You can always make more money, you can’t make more time.
  10. Unsolicited feedback is for the benefit of the sender.
  11. Give three options: change the question from “Should we do business?” to “How should we do business?”
  12. What’s your point?
  13. You can’t make this stuff up.
  14. I can’t believe how stupid I was two weeks ago.
  15. You are enabling their behavior.
  16. I don’t know what you’re asking me!
  17. If you don’t blow your own horn there is no music.
  18. You seem to be a best kept secret.
  19. Marketing IS work!
  20. You’re in the marketing business, not the consulting business.
  21. Don’t waste time on a gatekeeper.
  22. Life’s about success, not perfection.
  23. It’s all you, not me.
  24. What’s your question?
  25. You’re not talking to a real buyer.
  26. It’s about creating marketing gravity.
  27. Earth to Roberta…
  28. Believe me, I don’t need all this information.
  29. If you wanna be loved, get a dog!
  30. You’re overthinking this.
  31. 80% of the problem is self-esteem. Let’s move on!
  32. Move three things forward a mile, not a hundred things forward an inch.
  33. The 1% solution: improve by 1% a day, and in 70 days you’re twice as good.
  34. It takes 90 minutes to write an article, not 90 days.
  35. I only kid people I like.
  36. Don’t just drop your baggage. You’ve got to throw it off the train.
  37. You’re going around the block to get next door.
  38. You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.
  39. A sale is a series of small yeses.
  40. Think of the fourth sale first.
  41. What’s in the client’s best interest?
  42. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.
  43. Self-confidence in the honest-to-God belief that you can help someone learn. Arrogance is the honest-to-God belief that you have nothing else to learn yourself. Smugness is arrogance without the talent.
  44. You can’t square a circle.
  45. We just don’t agree, and you have the right to be wrong.
  46. There’s nothing new under the sun.
  47. TIAABB: There is always a bigger boat.
  48. It’s as obvious as a ham sandwich.
  49. Be diagnostic, not prescriptive.
  50. Frank Sinatra did not need an introduction. Everyone knew who he was.
  51. Be an object of interest to others to attract them to you.
  52. Keep your inbox clean – cut unwanted email off at the source.
  53. Schedule time to write, and keep it sacrosanct.
  54. Words are the tools of our trade.
  55. Don’t dumb down, not your language or your attire.
  56. It can’t be done, or is it just you that can’t do it?
  57. That’s exactly why you need me.
  58. Enlarge your playing field.
  59. People believe what they see, not what they read or hear.
  60. Your name is your brand.
  61. Who certifies the certifiers?
  62. There are more speech coaches than good speakers.
  63. You will have your Cell Phones, PDA’s and Huckelberrys with you for the rest of your life. You only have me for the next 60 minutes, so put them away and pay attention to me.
  64. This is not a democratic forum.
  65. Too much information.
  66. This is not rocket science.
  67. You’re not talking to the economic buyer.
  68. This person is a waste of time.
  69. Let go of it and move on.
  70. The first sale is to yourself.
  71. Language controls the discussion, the discussion controls the relationship, and the relationship controls the business.
  72. Only read this if you know me, otherwise you will be needlessly ticked off.
  73. The next time you’re REALLY ANGRY, remember that virtually all such rage is actually self-anger being transferred elsewhere. Take the time to find out why you’re so unhappy with yourself.
  74. You never know where the next hit is going to come from.
  75. There is no objection we haven’t heard. You may not be able to effectively rebut every objection, but it’s negligent not to at least be prepared for them.
  76. If you’re always going to be number two in your market, it’s time to take a sharp right.
  77. Look at life through a telescope, not the microscope.
  78. Ain’t I a great facilitator?
  79. If you’re in consulting and don’t at least know of me, you’re just kidding around.
  80. Consulting is just common sense.
  81. It’s hard to learn while you are speaking.
  82. Build on strengths, stop correcting weaknesses.
  83. Life is what you make of it, not what life makes of you.
  84. The difference between the buyer’s “Wants” and the buyer’s “Needs” is your value distance.
  85. Buyers know what they want, but they rarely know what they need.
  86. Negotiate your wants, never your “musts.”
  87. You are not selling, you are enabling the buyer to buy.
  88. Relationships are everything.
  89. Live Large!
  90. Do the best you can, then move on.
  91. Buyers are supposed to buy.
  92. You don’t have a business life and a personal life; you have a life.
  93. Good consultants give help, not solutions.
  94. A professionally published book is the gold standard. A referral is platinum.
  95. Don’t let the client tell you how to consult.
  96. Is there a question in there somewhere?
  97. Why in the world would you waste your time on that?
  98. Hold on, I have to whack- a- mole!
  99. Lighten up.
  100. You are not selling anything, you are providing high value.
  101. You are world class consultants, but had better believe that first.
  102. Whatever you do, it is not going to affect the course of Western civilization.
  103. That was a “yes or no” question, why are you still talking.
  104. Maria never cooks. Ever. I hide her Christmas gifts in the oven.
  105. Life is like working out: You go for as long and hard as you can within the time you have available.
  106. You don’t have to write “War And Peace.”
  107. I’d like a very cold, very dry, Effen Martini.
  108. It’s about controlling the room with intellectual firepower.
  109. Don’t ever ask me that question: Is there anything else I should have asked you that I haven’t?
  110. Use your head.
  111. What are you waiting for?
  112. Value deserves payment.
  113. Referrals are the coinage of my realm.
  114. AW: “Have you been paid already?” Me: “Yes, handsomely” AW: “Then stop whining!!”
  115. You show up, do the best you can, and then you go home.
  116. Stop enabling your client’s terrible behavior!
  117. Don’t fall in love with your methodology.
  118. Don’t pity the martyrs, they love the work. (Citing George Ade)
  119. What’s your Ferrari?
  120. And there you sit! (Response to unsolicited criticism, or negative feedback.)
  121. Don’t assume the other person is damaged.
  122. Don’t swat a fly with a howitzer.
  123. Keep your days light and your weekends free.
  124. AT the end of the day: clean desk, clean floor.
  125. Check your ego at the door.
  126. Who certifies the certifiers?
  127. I don’t want a ski instructor to teach me how to ski from his stool in the bar; I want to see his rear end ahead of me on the slopes.
  128. Welcome to success. You have to be prepared for success.
  129. You are either in the game or you are not!
  130. You must think bigger!
  131. You don’t negotiate fee but you can negotiate terms.
  132. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  133. Minimize detail and maximize results.
  134. Lead the way to the next yes.
  135. Leadership is driven by values and measured by results.
  136. They are dealing with someone of tremendous power and success.
  137. You can’t be of help if you feel you are intruding.
  138. No one grows by correcting weaknesses.
  139. If it hurts, stop doing it.

Credit: Collected, compiled, and recommended by the members of Alan’s Professional Communities, edited by Alan to protect the innocent.

Click here for the PDF version of this collection. To contribute to this collection please comment below and add your favorites. We will review for quality and accuracy and update this thread.

(This thread last updated on  11/20/09)


42 thoughts on “Alanism – The evolving collection of Alan’s Apothegms.

  1. Keep your inbox clean – cut unwanted email off at the source.

    Schedule time to write, and keep it sacrosanct.

    Words are the tools of the trade.

    Don’t dumb down. Not your language or dress.

    You control your attire.

    It can’t be done, or is it just you that can’t do it?

    That’s exactly why you need me.

    Choose a large playing field.

    People believe that they see their leaders doing, not what the Values statement hanging on the wall says.

    Your name is your brand.

    Future quotes that may be heard:
    1 . Grand children are the greatest gift of all.
    2. Wrapped around whose little fingers?

  2. – You can’t square a circle
    — We just don’t agree
    — There’s nothing new under the sun
    — TIAABB
    — It’s as obvious as a ham sandwich

    Next commenter, take it away…

  3. Out of managed dysfunction arises innovation.

    MBLIFMR: Management By Last In-Flight Magazine Read

    If you desire small dollars, solve small problems. You can guess the rest.

  4. “Self-confidence in the honest-to-God belief that you can help someone learn. Arrogance is the honest-to-God belief that you have nothing else to learn. Smugness is arrogance without the talent.”

  5. There is no music if you don’t blow your own horn.
    There are more speech coaches than good speakers.
    You will have your Cell Phones, PDA’s and Huckelberrys with you for the rest of your life. You only have me for the next 60 minutes, so pay attention.
    TIAABB = There is always a bigger boat.

  6. Be diagnostic, not presecrptive,

    You don’t need an introduction when you are somebody. (For example, Frank Sinatra)

    **
    Now I getting off the stage and letting others contribute.

  7. “Give three options: change the question from “Should we do business?” to “How should we do business?”

    Best advice I’ve read in the past 12 months. Totally changed my business. Thanks, Alan!

  8. Only read this if you know me, otherwise you will be needlessly ticked off.

    I laughed and laughed when I first read that one…… :)

  9. From Life Balance (page 232):

    “The next time you’re REALLY ANGRY, remember that virtually all such rage is actually self-anger being transferred elsewhere. Take the time to find out why you’re so unhappy with yourself”

  10. Alan,
    I found your web page by accident and generally found it quite interesting. The quotes presented were motivational. I only wish you wouldn’t engage in self-aggrandisement. Talk about a major pet-peeve of MINE!!

    Keep up the good work and stay humble my man.

  11. And I wish you wouldn’t be so judgmental. I publicize value for people who want to avail themselves of what I have to offer. It’s worked pretty well before you found me. So enjoy what you can, but don’t lecture me. Maybe you create your own peeves which undermine your ability to communicate well. Think about it. But knock off the pretentiousness.

    Only someone with a huge ego tells someone else they ought to “stay humble,” as if they have the royal advice book. Look around at what I’ve created for people. Enjoy it or not, but do not presume to lecture me.

  12. I don’t think he was lecturing you or diminishing the value of what you have created. He was just saying that as a member of your audience, he found it annoying. That is valid customer feedback, isn’t it?

  13. Well, I saw “Mope. Free Blog” (thought it was “mope free blog”) and that piqued my curiosity which made me read more and I saw that someone had the temerity to post unsolicited criticism on someone else’s web page which REALLY made me curious and got me to click in here to read more of the conversation.

    NOW I need to get back to work, but while I’m here I’ll say Alan, I really enjoy your newsletters and advice and get a lot out of them. I have a book of yours that has helped me immensely. Thanks for sharing your wealth of experience and great attitude so generously.

  14. Laura, thank you, and you, Matt. The law of unintended consequences: After two drinks, prior to a stifling hot ballet performance (which was quite good), and after hugging my favorite ballerina, I tried to post the above response from my iPhone. Wound up with “mope” instead of “nope”!

    Anyway, I meant what I meant: You can always ignore me, or disagree, but I’m not open to judgmental criticism unless I request it since it’s always for the sender. Thanks to all of you for being here. “Mope’s on me!”

  15. Hi Alan – can’t find or recall the exact wording, but what’s the one about hurtling down a highway in thousands of pounds of steel, missing oncoming traffic by inches on a daily basis? I think you invoke risk tolerance there – or perhaps it’s trust? Regardless, I don’t see it here. Best regards.

  16. There are two:

    You drive at 80 MPH in two tons of automobile with people you don’t know and can’t investigate doing the same 15 feet from your bumper. Don’t tell me you don’t have faith.

    You put yourself in a narrow, uncomfortable steel tube with 200 others traveling at 600 MPH 35,000 feet above the earth, trusting a couple of people up front you’ve never met and can’t see. Don’t tell me you don’t have faith.

  17. Let’s see how quickly the communities can get quotes for the daily calender project. Additions, respectfully submitted for consideration:

    That’s why so many people in professional services do so poorly (or underperform). They think they’re selling commodities, not value.

    Networking is a process, not an event.

    You are in a position to undermine your authority and expertise.

    Kill people with value. It develops trust on the spot.

    Keep many irons in the fire.

    Use your calendar to protect your projects.

    Jettison unneeded obligations.

    Don’t vacillate. Move when you are 80% done.

    Stay in the moment. Don’t rely on oanned responses and presentations like your competition.

    Train people to interact with you, so that they don’t waste your time.

    The longer you take to forge the relationship, the faster you get business.

    Ask your clients and prospects for referrals every three months.

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