Author Archives: Alan Weiss

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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The Dog Star: Fetch Me If You Can

(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)

My designer, Julie, was wandering around the back yard, planning for an expansion of our garage, and ran into Bentley, whom she’s known since he was a pup. Bentley had neither his lacrosse balls nor frisbees in the yard, so he dashed behind the evergreens to pull out a stick from a hoard he keeps there.

He laid the stick at Julie’s feet, and she threw it. He returned it and she threw it again. After the third toss, he came back but didn’t drop it, and Julie tried to get it from him. Bentley dodged and ran, and Julie pursued.

Fetch had turned into taunt.

(My granddaughters love to chase Bentley around the yard trying to get a ball from him, but they never catch him and often wind up falling and rolling down a hill. I find this hysterical. My daughter doesn’t.)

I had to explain to Julie that Bentley had reversed the game, and he had lured her into what he preferred to do, which was to be chased. (Shepherds are considered to be among the smartest of all breeds. And also one of the fastest.)

What are you doing to lure clients into your game? What enticement are you offering that they appreciate, to the point they decide to pursue you to obtain it? Bentley uses a stick. You need a carrot.

© Alan Weiss 2014

 

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Uh, oh….

Relative to my being stopped for indications of explosives in my luggage in London reported elsewhere here on my blog, a man was just detained in Florida because the machines detected explosives on his person. It turned out to be his cologne. I am not making this up, it was reported this morning on all the networks.

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Westin Copley Plaza Boston: Dumb-Ass, Stupid Management

My  most recent award goes to this Boston hotel which plays an endless loop when you call their “express service” personnel, then a rude guy answers, and he puts you back in the queue instead of finding the person you ask for. Happened twice in a row, no third chance, I have better things to do, like find better service elsewhere.

Stay away from facilities where management doesn’t shop the system, the procedures are stupid, and employees are simply putting in time. Imagine an emergency, where you had to reach a guest?

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Not So Sweet Dreams

A Play in One Act

Dramatis Personae:

 

Me: A seasoned traveler with about 4 million air miles, approved by US Global Entry, a man the police would call an “upstanding citizen.”

 

Katrinka (KT): Security supervisor at British Airways Terminal 5.

 

The Inspector (IN): British police inspector called upon when possible bomb materials are detected.

 

Plain Clothes Counter-Terrorist Official #1 (PC #1): Called by an inspector when there may be a serious threat.

 

Plain Clothes Counter-Terrorism Official #2 (PC #2): Assists PC #1.

 

Dog Handler #1 (DH #1): Controls dog with special detection skills, not revealed.

 

Dog Handler #2 (DH #2): Controls second dog with different special detection skills, not revealed.

 

Cocker Spaniel #1 (CS #1): Works with DH #1 above. Black.

 

Cocker Spaniel #2 (CS #2): Works with DH #2. Brown and white.

 

Our Drama:

 

I had finished my meeting at The Haymarket Hotel on Friday after a great week and went downstairs at 1 pm to meet my driver who was to arrive at 1:30. However, my driver also arrived at 1, so we left immediately for Heathrow Airport. The trip took exactly one hour.

 

I checked in with British Air first class, and was going to collect the VAT I was due for an item purchased while in London. However, the line was so long—over 100 people—that I calculated even if each person took only 30 seconds (which was highly improbable) I’d be on line for an hour. I wanted to buy some cigars and change my money, then have a drink in the first class lounge, so I decided to forego my refund. (Which, by the way, I think is their intent.) The money wasn’t worth my time.

 

I went into the fast track security line and was through the security machine in two minutes or so, but I noticed my carry-on bag had been diverted to another inspection. These inspections are painfully slow, but my plane was at 5, meaning I had to be at the gate by 4:40, when they close it. It was only 2:10.

 

A woman painstakingly went through my bag, took things apart, swabbed everything in sight, and then inserted things into machines. She told me I failed a test, but was using a second test which should clear things up. While I waited, KT showed up, consulted with the woman and came over to me.

 

KT: I’m afraid, sir, we have a bit of an issue, your bag is testing positive for chemical and/or explosive materials.

 

Me: What?!

 

KT: What kind of doctor are you? What medicines do you prescribe or consume? Might they rub off in your luggage?

 

Me: I’m not the kind of doctor who helps people! I’m a PhD.

 

KT: In what field.

 

Me: Psychology.

 

KT: Psychologists can prescribe medication.

 

Me: I’m not a psychologist and If I could prescribe anything, believe me, I’d be taking Valium at this very moment.

 

KT: I’m sure we can clear it up, but since you failed both tests I’m required to call the police.

 

Me: What?!

 

KT: They are very rapid and thorough, and will get here within 20 minutes. I’m sure they will put this right.

 

Me: What do they need to do to put things right?

 

KT: They will interview you. Please just wait over there with me by the podium. We’ll keep your bag here, you can retain your briefcase, and I’ll hold your passport.

 

In about 15 minutes, an officer shows up in full regalia, including bullet proof vest and two cell phones dangling from it.

 

IN: Hello, sir, I’m Inspector Peters (name changed) and I’ll have to ask you a few questions.

 

Me: Sure.

 

The inspector proceeds to ask me the same questions KT did, and also about whether my bags were ever out of my sight. As he is questioning me about my Indonesian and Chinese visas, PC #1 and PC #2 arrive. They are both talking on their phones.

 

IN: What do you do specifically if you’re not a doctor?

 

ME: I’m a consultant.

 

IN: And why are you here in London?

 

Me: Teaching other consultants.

 

IN: Hmmmm.

 

Me: Who are these other guys?

 

IN: They are counter-terrorism agents.

 

Me: What?!

 

IN: It’s all procedure. We’ll have you on your plane in plenty of time if we are happy and the dogs are happy.

 

Me: What?!

 

IN: It’s procedure, the dogs will have to sniff your bag. They are far better than the machine.

 

Me: Why dogs, plural?

 

IN: They each specialize in something the other doesn’t.

 

Me: What things?

 

IN: I can’t tell you that.

 

PC #1: May I ask you a few questions?

 

Me: Sure

 

He proceeds to ask the same questions for the third time. I note that each of them has to copy all the information from my passport longhand on pads, and they help each other spell certain items.

 

PC #1: Tell me about the kind of consulting you do. And why are you going to Miami?:

 

Me: I’m not going to Miami. I’m going to Boston.

 

PC #1 rechecks my boarding pass and confirms that I am correct about my own destination. PC #2 is now off the phone and confers with his partner.

 

Me: Everything okay?

 

PC #2: Yes, we’re happy, but we have to wait for the dogs.

 

PC #1: I used to be a consultant, you know. I worked with Oracle and lived in Redwood Shores, California.

 

Me: What!!?? I lived in Redwood Shores for two years!

 

PC #1: How about that? I was thinking of getting back into consulting some time.

 

IN: The dogs are here.

 

DH #1 and #2 arrive, #1 with a black cocker spaniel and #2 with a brown and white cocker spaniel. While they are getting set up, IN asks if there might be any kind of spray or liquid I did not put in my plastic bag.

 

Me: Yes, the hotel gives guests sprays to use at night on the pillows to help with sleeping, and I threw two into my bag.

 

IN: I’ll bet that’s it.

 

He goes over to KT, confers, and they run the machines again.

 

IN: The machines have now passed you, but the swabs found the substance in the lining of your luggage. The spray probably leaked, but it’s up to the dogs, now.

 

Me: Sleeping spray turns up on your machines as explosive materials?

 

IN: Yes, it’s happened before.

 

Me: What happens if the dogs aren’t happy?

 

IN, frowning: We need to go through additional processes.

 

With everyone now watching, they choose CS #1, who trots into the security operations where my bag is and can no longer be seen. No one is saying anything. The dog emerges in 20 seconds.

 

KT: We’re good.

 

IN: Sorry to have troubled you sir.

 

Me: What about the other dog?

 

IN: Fortunately for you, it wasn’t needed.

 

Me: Will this be a problem if I renter the UK, which I plan to do next year?

 

IN: No, but my advice is to get rid of the bag. We had a woman with the exact same problem, and she kept telling us it was a coincidence that she was always singled out. But she kept using the same bag.

 

Me to handlers and IN: Can I take the dogs’ picture? Inspector, would you like to be in the shot?

 

IN: No, you can’t take my photo, against the rules.

 

DH #1: You can’t take ours either, and you’ll have to blur the dogs’ faces.

 

Me: You’re afraid of the dogs being recognized??!!

 

DH #1: Just having a bit of humor with you, sir.

 

It was now 3 pm. The British Concorde Club was just a few feet away. I asked the bar tender to fill the nearest glass to the top with Jameson’s.

 

If the car had come at 1:30 and I had waited in the VAT line, it would probably be 4:30 at that point and a train was required to reach my distant gate, which closed at 4:40.

 

On my way to the train, I stopped in a cigar store and took a handful of the best they had. It’s not every day that you go through a human hierarchy to find that a cocker spaniel holds your fate in its nose.

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© Alan Weiss 2014

 

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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Why I Love London

• The cabs are clean, can hold 5-6 people comfortably, and the drivers know where everything is. You’re lucky if you get a cab driver in New York who knows where the Empire State Building is, and the cab will stink while he yaks in a foreign language on a cell phone.

• No one honks car horns. The city is bustling, streets are crowded, but the noise level is very low.

• Harrods.

• Tipping is not an issue. It’s a pleasant surprise when given and not a disappointment when not given.

• There is a plethora of great museums, both for history and art.

• Vehicles do not block intersections, ever.

• All good restaurants have doormen and parking valets.

• I can get by until about 3 pm before anyone in the US is looking for me.

• Everyone ends sentences with polite, rhetorical questions: “Scottish independence is quite a concern, isn’t it?” (It’s actually not, from what I can see.)

• There is truly a highly diverse, global population here and no one goes around feeling they have to point this out.

• They have quite original ideas about food. Who else pickles sardines, or serves mushy peas? Fish and chips, which I thought was always cod, can be anything from mackerel to eel.

• If you’re considering a new exotic car, you’ll find every one in every color on the streets in Mayfair.

• Not once has anyone told me to “have a nice day.”

• There is a wry, caustic humor here and precious little political correctness.

• I can fly here during the day from Boston and not have to use a night and suffer a bedraggled next day. (Take British Air and not Virgin.)

• The pound is weak against the dollar at the moment.

• It reminds me how really good American television is.

 

© Alan Weiss 2014

 

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The Express Life

Up at 4:30, I found the limo idling outside at 5, both dogs oblivious to its presence, too intent on their deep sleep. I slipped into the clothes I had readied the night before like a firefighter donning turnout gear about to jump on an engine.

 

I read the papers in the penlight of the car’s rear illumination, traveling through the dark as if on a fast train. As we approached the expressway on the final leg to Boston, traffic clogged—at 5:45 am—and I wondered who in their right mind would commute like this daily when frequent train service was available.

 

Suddenly, a huge, aggressively ugly, yellow machine appeared on the left, moving past us at close quarters. This was the strange creation that moves huge cement blocks creating a high occupancy lane into the city in the morning and out again in the afternoon. My driver, sharp as a tack when most people are groggy, stopped and waited for the machine to clear our position, revealing the extra lane. We were the first vehicle on it, and sped past the hordes in the four lanes to our right, arriving at the Ted Williams Tunnel to Logan Airport only ten minutes later.

 

In another ten minutes I had checked in, cleared security, and entered the British Air First Class lounge. An hour after that I was on the 777, taxiing to the runway. I learned that the prior day’s flight was cancelled, because the plane never made it in the night prior from London, so I felt as if I had hit my number at roulette.

 

British Air service is grand, and unlike Virgin Atlantic—which has no true first class and flies only overnight on a route too short for a good sleep depositing you in London like a fish out of water—the morning departure enables you to have dinner in London and go to sleep at a normal time, so that the next day is a surge rather than a slog.

 

Breakfast in flight, then snacks, and three teleconferences prepared, one column, and parts of two books read. Traveling with just a carry-on keeps me out of baggage claim and customs, and the express pass from the airline gets me through immigration faster than many UK citizens. The limo driver meets me outside immigration, and we’re at the Haymarket Hotel less than an hour later.

It turns out a colleague who met me by accident later in the dining room for dinner had been on the same plane, but in coach. She reached the hotel an hour later than I did.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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The Irrelevancy of Fresh Pupperoni

Bentley and Buddy Beagle adore Pupperoni and dog bacon strips. Not too long ago, I noticed the bags were different. They enabled me to tear off the top, but then reseal them with a locking mechanism such as you’d find on the cold cuts you buy in the supermarket.

It never occurred to me to keep the dog treats “fresh.” The dogs loved them equally when they became somewhat harder in composition, I’m assuming (neither dog would sit for an interview) that the flavor was still excellent and the crunchiness an added benefit. After all, dogs love hard biscuits because they enjoy crunching things.

So I ran a test (I have a lot of time on my hands) and compared their reactions to “fresh” and sealed Pupperoni, and unsealed and “stale” Pupperoni. There was no difference whatsoever in aggressiveness to grab one, or haste in devouring it. To the dogs, the quality and experience were equal.

Why would a company make a more expensive bag when preserving the contents are unimportant to the end user? Because the intent is to better influence the buyer. Dogs don’t buy these treats, people do. And some people, mistakenly in my belief, think that sealed Pupperoni will last longer or taste better.

The same applies to most sales. Complex fishing lures aren’t made for fish, they are made for fishermen. Fish are dumb, and they’ll bite almost anything, and repeatedly. A fish’s memory lasts perhaps four seconds. Fishermen have slightly longer ones.

As you market and sell your services, keep in mind that it’s the buyer’s perception which is usually the determinant, not some greater reality, ultimate customer use, or your own analysis. That’s why people “rinse and repeat,” thereby using twice the shampoo volume (and product) they really need to. No one’s hair is that dirty. But their perception is that the company has an instruction on the label in their best interest.

So the next time you’re taking the time to decide among liver, poultry, or chicken-flavored dog food, save the time. The dogs don’t care, and you shouldn’t, either.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/1/14

This week’s focus point: Labor Day is dedicated to the contributions of workers in economic and social development. It was formalized in the U.S. in 1887 and about 80 countries celebrate a similar theme sometime during the year. “To labor” means “to work hard.” Traditionally associated with manual work, we know that today the work required is often mental, creative, and innovative. We need both kinds, carpenters as much as programmers, masons as much as actuaries. But the point is, we need to invest our cognitive and physical skills to produce value to society. We have no right to consume wealth–or happiness–unless we also contribute to creating it.

Monday Morning Perspective: Twenty Americans died at Yorktown. In the Napoleanic Wars, the British Navy lost scarcely 6,000 men. How are we to think of civilization disappearing in an hour’s time? Hard and carefully, that is how. — the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Consulting Convention in Atlanta: MILLION DOLLAR CONSULTING® CONVENTION March 11-13, 2015, Atlanta Special guest: Dr. Martin Seligman, author, Learned Optimism. Three general sessions, nine concurrent sessions, roundtable learning. Register early on my site beginning Sept. 3 for major discounts (or register now by email: Alan@summitconsulting.com).

The Power of Personal Worth: Begins tomorrow, you can still receive the very first episode of video/audio/print boosters for self-esteem and success:http://www.alanspersonalpower.com

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