Category Archives: In Case You Were Wondering What I Was Thinking

Confessions

In the Catholic Church one confesses sins (Reconciliation) prior to Easter. The Jews have a day of atonement, Yom Kippur. I thought it was time for me to make some secular confessions:

 

• I don’t get Pharrell.

 

• The NCAA playoffs may be the purest major athletic event remaining in the US.

 

• Why is it that the country/western genre has more talented, beautiful female singers than any other?

 

• I drove an electric car and I would have rather been in the back seat reading a book.

 

• Please don’t talk to me about cultural differences, you don’t kill zoo animals to cull them, and you don’t invite the public to watch.

 

• Why is it okay—and generates awards—to mock Mormons on Broadway but it’s risky to even criticize Muslims in an editorial?

 

• Say what you will, but the voting in Afghanistan the other day, with people in line for hours in adverse weather despite terrorist threats, shows more interest and hope than the lousy voter turnouts here.

 

• After all this time, I find Facebook represents vast loneliness to me, with neediness in second place.

 

• I would not trust most of the people I’ve been exposed to as a member of Mensa to walk Buddy Beagle.

 

• Why people watch The View astounds me.

 

• I look back nearly six years and see nothing at all exceptional about the accomplishments of the President and his administration.

 

• Unionizing college athletics may be legal but that doesn’t mean it’s not dumb.

 

• Some people seem to exist just through inertia and momentum. Matt Lauer comes to mind.

 

• The people I would deport are those who begin every day in an ugly mood.

 

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Phrases That Are Fingernails on Blackboards

Phrases that have become fingernails on blackboards*

 

(* Blackboard: A primitive writing surface requiring chalk and erasers with no digital component or wireless interface. It’s progeny was the Etch-a-Sketch.)

 

• Resonate. I don’t really care if something resonates with you. Do you like it or not?

 

• In this space. You’re a consultant in the non-manufacturing attrition space? How about if you make space for someone who speaks the language correctly?

 

• Reaching out. What do you mean you’re reaching out to them? Are you calling them or not? The zombies in “The Walking Dead” reach out.

 

• Like. It no longer means to find something or someone gratifying, but rather it’s an award of reciprocal banality, as in “please like my post.” You don’t have to read it to like it, you just have to click on a link.

 

• Final destination. Note to flight attendants: a destination IS final.

 

• A training. “I’m out on Tuesday doing a training.” “Really, well, I’ll be doing a washing, then a walking, then a shopping, and finally a drinking.”

 

• Reboot, as in “reboot your thinking.” Can I tell you where to put that boot?

 

• 360, as in “360-degree assessment.” A true 360-degree turn puts you right back on the track you were on before the coach showed up and you paid her all that money.

 

• “Cool.” People are still saying “cool.” That’s very uncool.

 

• We’ve noticed that your SEO ranking is low and you are not getting the traffic that your site deserves. Right, and you’re so successful you have to resort to spamming to try to pick up loose change.

 

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Obesity Down for Children, It Won’t Please Everyone

Today’s New York Times:

 

Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade

By SABRINA TAVERNISE

The data, reported in a major federal health survey, offered the first clear evidence that America’s children have turned a corner in the obesity epidemic, and came as a surprise to researchers.

 

Do you know why it surprised researchers? Because we have entire industries dedicated to reporting and trying to prove calamity, chaos, and conspiracy. We have too many people who only make news undermining society and creating fear. The researchers were surprised, probably as much as the Times staff, because they had hoped for worse news.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Alan’s Winter Olympic Moments (sponsorship for this spot available)

• Whoever thought the US skaters were losing because of their outfits? I thought they simply weren’t skating as fast as the other people.

• The winter Olympics was once about skiing downhill and skating across ice. Now it’s a white X-games. If it weren’t for all the bizarre, modern events, the US would have fewer medals than Egypt.

• Can we just leave Matt Lauer over there?

• The biggest competition near if not on the ice is between Scott Hamilton and whoever his female analyst partner is, trying to outdo each other as experts, competing for air time, adjectives, and the overwrought world cup of figure skating announcing.

• Former Olympians generally make awful commentators, even if they do clean up well. Tara Lipinski?

• Who on earth decides they’re going to train for the skeleton and compete in a downhill dive on a crate they can’t control with their chin two inches off the ice?

• I’m sure Putin will have some weather people killed because of the warm temperatures.

• The NBC staff solely assigned to barrista duty at its private Starbucks within its compound is larger than 57 of the Olympic teams (source: Wall Street Journal).

• NBC’s rating are lower than Vancouver and I doubt it’s because they can’t cover as much “live” due to time changes. The Russians are humorless compared to the Canadians (or anyone else), the events are dull, no one cares about Norway’s medals, and the announcing is lackluster. Watching people ski on what appears to be oatmeal is not my idea of time well invested.

• I realize they need the money, but athletes who look like highway billboards don’t light my fire.

• I loved the American downhiller who, asked why he finished eighth when expected to medal, smiled and said, “A big choke, man.” I’d hire that kind of confidence and candor in a minute.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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In Case You Were Wondering What I Was Thinking

• With melting, sloppy conditions in Sochi, it’s pretty apparent that the Winter Olympics should have been held in New Jersey. Couldn’t Governor Christie have caused some lane closures over there?

• If you’re wondering about the idiotic decision to keep the New York City schools open as the blizzard hit, just consider that Mayor de Blasio, like any Democrat in that city, is primarily elected by the unions, and the teachers union is among the strongest. Teachers don’t want to spend one, single extra day in school at the end of the term in the summer, which would have eventuated if snow had closed them now. If you think either teachers unions or politicians have kids foremost in mind, you’re from another era.

• Who on earth cares about the protocol surrounding the French president showing up at the White House without a wife, escort, or date? Just ask him to sit down and eat. It’s not going to be as good as he’s accustomed to, so get over it.

• The contrast between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez could not be any greater. It’s antipodal.

• Jay Leno went out with class. Jimmy Fallon will not draw his ratings after the initial honeymoon and will probably be done inside of two years. He suffers from Conan O’Brienism: He’s not funny.

• Is it true that the new season of The Walking Dead takes place in Congress?

• I’ve about had enough of “final destination” announced by flight attendants on landing. A destination is final, which is why we call it a “destination.”

• Atlanta was smart enough to shut down this time. Apparently, the Carolinas and Virginia think they’re in a different climate zone, and learned nothing.

• The entire Bruce Jenner thing shouldn’t be brought up on either side of two hours of a meal.

• In the not-too-distant future, there will only be three, hard-copy, daily newspapers: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USAToday. You will simply read the local editions of one or more unless you’re reading electronically.

• Did you see where billionaire Carl Perkins claims that the rich should have more votes than the poor, like shareholders in a corporation? That’s a funny bit. (He IS kidding, right?)

• A stunning cocktail waitress at the Blue Bar in the Fontainebleau apologizes for not being faster, but says, “I can’t understand it, there are so many more people at my stations than others.” I tip more for humility.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Are “Ethics Experts” Unethical?

The New York Times has a variety of “experts” providing ethics and etiquette help, all of which seems to be written by an infinite number of monkeys randomly hitting keyboards. For example, Randy Cohen was the Sunday magazine ethics columnist for a decade, and he had zero credentials for the job. He had been a writer for, I think, David Letterman. When I questioned him once for taking gratuitous shots at people in his column responses,  asking him if that constituted an ethical role-model, he told me belligerently that he was under contract to the times as a writer and had no responsibility to be a role-model or exemplar of any kind.

Oh.

Someone named Chuck Klosterman now writes the column, and among his credentials is the book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. This past week his reader questions (I am not making this up) concerned whether someone should tip the driver who delivers the luggage that was lost by the airline which then hired him to deliver it, and whether someone should post “flattering naked photos” of herself on the internet, or would that be too narcissistic?

We’re killing trees on this stuff these days, inane questions with pseudo-serious responses from people who have nor credentials in the area other than their paycheck. I raise this because it permeates a great deal of what we read and hear, and it continues the deadly admixture of news and editorial, of fact and opinion.

“Don’t believe everything you read” is morphing into “Don’t trust anything you read.” We elevate the banal to the respectable, and arbitrarily anoint the experts. I don’t know about you, but the Magic 8-Ball is looking better and better.

© Alan Weiss 2014

 

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Rheostats

We are surrounded by polarization. Life has become a huge “on/off” switch. You like it or you don’t. You’re with us or against us. It’s my way or the highway.

While I think Obama has been a huge failure—to be polite: has squandered his political capital and original good will—I think Democrats have a great many positive initiatives and plans. I like many Republican positions, but I also find it stunningly dreadful that they can’t find viable candidates for the presidency. I thought “Gravity” was horribly overrated, but still like George Clooney as an actor. I’m not crazy about lima beans, but I generally support vegetables.

These same rigid “on/off” alternatives are found among our clients. “The customer is always right.” No, a lot of customers are often wrong. “We promote from within.” That’s a sure way to create incestuous mediocrity.

What we all need are rheostats that can both brighten and dim the lights (or the music) by degrees and by nuance. We have created single lenses, one-dimensional litmus tests, to decide our positions and who are our “friends.” That’s patently absurd, like having the sound set at a given level despite the music, or the lights at one setting despite the time of day.

If you see issues as simply bi-polar, then you’re not a very good consultant, and you’re not going to be a very interesting person. Imagine the one-sided frenzy of football fans not confined to the stadium or TV set, but exhibited every day in every aspect of life.

That would be intolerable, yet we seem to be willing to tolerate more and more of this polarization in our lives. We’ve become “one-issue” people, which makes us one-dimensional people.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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In Case You Were Wondering What I Was Thinking

• It seems that Facebook is a pretty closed series of tribes, with people who think and act alike being friends. The average age of the place is also getting up there among all users. Yet the stock isn’t doing so badly. Maybe it will be Codgerbook.

• I remember Fred “the hammer” Williams making Sherman-like claims as a defensive back before the Green Bay championship game. They carried him off the field on a stretcher before the half, I think.

• Wes Welker says he “doesn’t think about” the ball he dropped which would have meant a Super Bowl for the Patriots over the Giants. Don’t worry, Wes, enough people do think about it.

• We’re in a relationship business, which means personal meetings trump the phone, and email is almost useless.

• I’d like an electric shock app for people who hit “reply all” to respond to an email that went to 50 people to say “thanks” or “I’ll be there” or “Did I mention how much I enjoyed watching The View yesterday?”

• New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl evening have always struck me as the nights the amateurs go drinking.

• I have to agree that cell phone use on planes would be obnoxious. It’s bad enough on the taxi at landing when it is allowed. Hell, some passengers should have gags in any case. The rest of the cabin isn’t interested in your opinion, your golf game, your boat, or your ability to upgrade (which, unfortunately, has been successful).

• The best luxury and value for your money in Palm Beach is the exquisite Four Seasons. The Breakers, badly in need of an overhaul, is vastly overrated, and the beach is all but a memory, mostly eroded away.

• I love the Don Imus show, and the guy can make a best-seller for an author in an instant. But I have to change the channel when his wife comes on with her latest crackpot ideas about health (she’s convinced that vaccinations cause autism, for example), and her habit of screaming over others to make her dubious points.

• As you know, I’m a dog person. But when they are dressed in little outfits with booties or strolled around in conveyances, or brought into places not meant for them, I want to call the SPCA.

• Why are we still fooling around with pennies and nickels?

• Anyone who believes that gas prices are related to supply and demand should get in line for the Bernie Madoff memorial investment seminar.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Observations

• Superb flight on American 1509 yesterday, Boston to Miami. First class like it used to be but also with wifi, power outlets, meals ordered in advance, and TSA pre-check.

• The major sensory experience in South Beach Miami is LOUD.

• Why is anyone surprised a mountain lion is hunting small animals, including pets? Is it supposed to use coupons at the Stop and Shop?

• SUVs are large cars. They are neither bulldozers nor tractors. They can’t simply blast through snow drifts, they have a high center of gravity, and they aren’t all that much better in the snow than a four-wheel drive car. Yet people drive them as if they’re in an Abrams Tank.

• My wife has an artificial knee, which she tells the TSA folks, and they pat her down, but then yesterday checked her for explosives! How many billions are we wasting?

• The only person, amidst a mountain of feedback for my Monday Morning Memo last week about the weakness in our higher education system, who protested my position was…..wait for it….a college professor.

• Some guy writes me that, while he enjoyed Million Dollar Consulting,
the table of contents could be improved! Is there a lower life form than the typo-terrorists?

• The urge to write to people just to tell them you don’t agree with them about their opinion, not facts, is not the healthiest of behavioral traits, and isn’t going to help you get a date on Saturday night.

• Another “hot” star I’ve never heard of is checking into rehab with great fanfare. Since when has this become a publicity stunt instead of treatment?

• Note that athletic contests are won at the end, not the beginning. You must have the mental attitude, stamina, and attention to surmount early disappointment, press home your strengths, and perform under pressure. In other words, it’s like being successful in professional services.

© Alan Weiss 2013.

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Alan’s Best and Worst of 2013

BEST

• The response of the community and the nation to the Boston Marathon bombing.

• Pope Francis’s very sincere behavior eschewing panoply in favor of humility, and his ability to generate hope.

• The economic rebound, despite the doom and gloomers’ attempts to dispel it, which looks as if it will continue for quite some time.

• Life-enriching technology, from the newest iteration of the iPhone to safer cars, from medical advances to cleaner skies.

• The revival of many species, especially the wolf and eagle.

• The pragmatic reality that the U.S. will achieve energy independence within the next few years.

• Those who give of their time. It’s easy to write a check, it’s far harder to volunteer your time for organizations and individuals who need help.

• The 2014 Corvette Stingray. Finally an American sports car that can compete with virtually anything on the road from Germany or Italy, beautifully deigned, and with a sumptuous interior. (And with a manual transmission.)

 

• A government in the U.S. designed by geniuses which can be run even by mediocrities.

WORST

• The disregard for their constituents of the executive and legislature combined, acting like spoiled kids on a playground but with our money.

• The constant attempts at scam and spam, whether Nigerians promising inherited riches, Indians promising SEO dominance, or Americans claiming “free” alternatives to lose 10 pounds a day while eating all you want, or making $5,000 a day sitting at home doing nothing.

• Celebrity “experts” who are loud and totally clueless about such vital human needs as vaccinations, nutrition, exercise, education, and political candidates. “Shut up and sing.”

• The support and funding of terrorism by governments and institutions which claim to have clean hands.

• The booing off the stage of New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly by the dandified, “no free speech on our campus” wolf pack at Brown University.

• The American Studies Association, one of a number of academicians’ organizations, which vote for various boycotts of Israeli academic institutions and professors, apparently not impressed with the single operating democracy in the Middle East.

• Deteriorating manners, with people shouting at the screen or to each other in movies, yelling into phones in restaurants, using silverware as if it’s never been seen before, and being immediately familiar with you on the phone even though they are the employee and you’re the customer.

• The word “often” pronounced with a hard “t” or, even worse, the redundancy of “often times.”

• Paternalistic politicians who feel they have the higher morale ground, and can tell you what to drink, eat, and how to act because they know what’s better for you.

• Every late night talk show host who now looks exactly like every other one—a rarely funny monologue, a couch, a house band, an announcer, B-list celebrities, lame jokes in the street, a musical guest or a comic. All of this stuff is from 50 years ago, and no one today does it a third as good as Johnny Carson did back then.

• Lance Armstrong. What on earth does it take for him to go away?

• Anchorman anything. The stuff is unfunny, the concept is now lame, and Will Ferrell is absolutely tedious.

© Alan Weiss 2013

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