Author Archives: Alan Weiss

The Commuting Conundrum

I’m sitting in my New York hotel catching up on email and writing with the TV on in the background at 8 am. Bear in mind that I am originally a New Yorker and I’m here very often. I know the place well and thrive here. Few things surprise me.

The TV traffic reporter is noting matter-of-factly that the delays at the George Washington bridge are 30 minutes, the Holland Tunnel 20 minutes, and the Lincoln Tunnel 40 minutes. That means, for those of you in Wyoming, that when you hit the approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel from Jersey it will take you 40 minutes of barely inching forward to get through into Manhattan. (It’s probably taken you 40 minutes or more to get there, and you’ll have another 20 or 30 minutes maneuvering around Manhattan to your ultimate destination.)

Not long ago I had to be in Boston for a meeting, and I read in the back seat while the limo driver spent 90 minutes getting me there for what is a 60-minute trip in non-rush hour traffic. (Both New  York and Boston have access by train from many directions, by the way.)

I don’t know of a more stressful life that people deliberately enter other than joining Delta Force or the Navy Seals (or standing through a rock concert). You can see the stress on the faces of the drivers (except those who are texting, reading, or putting on makeup). It’s a horrid way to begin or end a day. You arrive at work or at home worn out and angry. There is always someone trying to gain an advantage that doesn’t exist, and the insane bikers (especially in LA) motivate you to open your door as they whiz by with two inches of clearance or cut you off at the lights.

In this age or electronic wizardry, why do people commute at the same times every day, increasing their stress levels and damaging their health? Maybe they all need the Paleo Diet….

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/29/14

This week’s focus point: There is a difference between aging and maturing. To age is to live longer and conform with the sizes and shapes common for that process. People conform to a certain range of physical attributes. Pine trees grow to a certain width and height. All cheetahs are within certain predicted ranges once fully grown. But maturing is about learning and cognitive growth, not merely physical growth. It seems to me that maturity is about using knowledge to gain wisdom, not merely seeking data to create information. Maturity is knowing when not to speak instead of trying to figure out what to say, knowing how to persuade and not demand, being resilient and not resigned. I always liked being called “smart” but I think “wise” is a rarer accolade. And “mature” is just fine, as in “fit for consumption.”

Monday Morning Perspective: The price of eternal vigilance is indifference. — Marshall McLuhan

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Some nagging questions that go unanswered:

• Why are so many people globally trying to learn English while so many people in the US aren’t bothering?

• Why would a restaurant hire a woman with no personality whatsoever and make her the hostess?

• Why do only 10% of the drivers in Rhode Island know how to parallel park? (Some have to take a cab from where they leave their car to the curb.)

• Who buys a condo on the ocean with the apartment and terrace facing inland?

• Why do you own a boat if you just sit on it at the dock drinking? Isn’t a bar more comfortable, and with better food?

• Shouldn’t cruising for a week with a thousand strangers all shoving to grab as much of the buffet food as they can be considered punishment for some offense, not a vacation?

• How on earth can anyone consider the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” funny?

• Why don’t people realize that the sole thing congress people are really adept at is maneuvering the get themselves reelected? (About 400 of the 435 are considered sure bets for reelection in the House and 64 in the Senate at the moment. Source: Rothenberg political reports.)

• Why does almost every woman on TV news, weather, and traffic-reporting duty dress and groom as if about to appear on The Bachelorette?

© Alan Weiss 2014

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What Do You Need, What Do You Want?

I observe in amazement people who pile-on every digital gadget that comes out, and upgrade from 4.6.541a to 4.6.541b. They have to have it first and fast. I have no issue with that. My own inclination is to wait three weeks for the new iPhone to be delivered and not wait on a long line in Manhattan. I’l also set it up when I have time, not the moment that UPS drops it in my hands.

I have my own foibles. I don’t need exotic cars or watches, but I want them. They are legal, ethical, and I can afford them, so that’s my prerogative. Chacun à son goût. (I would never wear the Apple watch in place of one of my current ones. Their ubiquity on wrists reminds me of the old pocket protectors—pragmatic but entirely nerd-like.)

The important thing is to realize the difference. Some people think they need things they really don’t (just look at garage shelves or closet floors to find the discards) and some people merely want things they really need (the never-taken vacation, the coaching help).

With clients, determine what they really need before you cater to what they want. That’s not bad advice for yourself, as well.

© Alan Weiss 2014


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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/22/14

This week’s focus point: I was in London just before the referendum on independence for Scotland. I find it ironic that many entities are seeking more tribalization in a world where communities will dominate. Globalization is not a vague term, but an indicator that success and power rest on an interacting world. (My extreme way of looking at it is that there are six billion potential retail customers out there!) Europe is trying to achieve community in order to continue to compete economically on the world stage. The U.S. has long been referred to as a “melting pot” or “mosaic” where diverse people can maintain their identity while working within a common set of community values. Many of you reading this work alone, or with small groups. Affiliation needs are important, be they with family, colleagues, clients, or others. I always thought it was a negative to be “voted off the island” on Survivor!

Monday Morning Perspective: Some day there will be only five kings in the world–the King of England and the four in the deck of cards. — King Farouk of Egypt before his ouster in 1952

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Checked by Choice

I used to play military games on my computer that were intuitive and simple. If I built enough battleships or bombers or tanks, and brought them against inferior forces, I would win. I played against the computer at various levels. I could choose the type of terrain.

Recently, I was offered a game of fighting tanks. The instructions alone were stupefying: dials to read, varied ways to move and fire, getting the tank out of the garage, and so on. It was too much like work. I didn’t pursue it.

Investment experts explained to me at a speech that the reason so many people leave money in zero-interest savings accounts is that the options for investing the money are too numerous for a layperson to evaluate: stocks, bonds, CDs, junk bonds, derivatives, real estate, REITs, and so on. Similarly, Best Buy employees have told me that they have to rule  television choices OUT of consideration, because the prospective buyer facing two hundred televisions screens and assorted choices for each tends to leave without buying anything.

I believe in three simple options with every proposal (or to suggest a future meeting or obtain a referral or anything else). That “choice of yeses” improves your chances of a “yes” on something. But more than three options, or three convoluted options, usually won’t work. The buyer needs more time to think them through. Forward progress is effectively checked.

“Paralysis by analysis” extends to a proliferation of choices for buyers. Don’t make it any more complicated than one, two, three.

© 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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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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