The Not-So-Super Bowl

What you saw in the Super Bowl yesterday was absolute mediocrity. Two poor quarterback performances, unimaginative play calls, turnovers, just a mess. Yesterday, at least, a half-dozen other teams could have beaten either of the finalists. But the Broncos and Panthers did what they had to during the season, were sometimes great, sometimes lucky, and no one is arguing that they cheated to get there. Eventually, one of them had to win last night. You and I don’t have to …


Outside In

I heard someone say recently he’d be “brief” and then make a paralyzingly long speech. I notice that the “delete” and “send” buttons are often adjacent on email software programs, meaning it’s easy to inadvertently delete something you had intended to send. I receive instructions with hardware and software purchases that might as well be written in Swahili. Why? Because too many people think in terms of themselves and not their customer, client, members, or audience. They think from the …


Just the Facts, Ma’am

That’s what Jack Webb used to say on the famous police drama “Dragnet” as sergeant Joe Friday, who was just interested in the evidence, not opinion. The internet today provides access with great facility to billions of sources of information, opinion, rumor, and weirdness. When you’re trying to make a case for a position—whether for a client, a book, new IP—don’t merely seek sources favorable to your point of view. Seek knowledgable sources on the subject that also may change …


Are You Believing Your Own Lies?

Be careful about lying to yourself, because at some point you begin to believe it. If you keep saying you caught the winning pass in the championship game, while you were only on the bench, you will eventually think it’s true. This is what happened to Brian Williams and Hillary Clinton, both of whom claimed they came under enemy fire when they clearly did not. This is why people have to leave very respectable positions because their resume is egregiously …


Instant Expertise (Just Add Confidence)

Don’t read others’ ideas to try to generate your own expertise and thought leadership. Create your own, faster than instant coffee: One minute expertise creation: 1. Identify the area of expertise (10 seconds) 2. Create three key, provocative points (20 seconds) 3. Make two stunning projections (20 seconds) 4. Choose first conveyance vehicle (5 seconds) 5. Integrate your success (5 seconds) Examples: 1. Customer retention 2. A) Retention should be at 65%; B) You never hear from your best customers now; …


Spiderweb

Do you sometimes feel as if you’re not moving much, despite your best efforts? You’re following advice, have plenty of energy, seemingly advancing—but you’re never far from the same place? You’re caught in the spiderweb of life. You have relationships—personal, professional, even intimate—which aren’t working, yet you’re afraid to end them or even adjust them. Break the web. Fall to the ground. You’ll recover. If you allow yourself to remain in the web, you’ll be trapped forever. © Alan Weiss …


Not To Do Lists

We become consumed with tasks rather than results, inputs rather than outputs, in our personal lives and our client work. People talk about (shudder) “a training” rather than an improvement. One of the invidious contributors to this dysfunctional phenomenon is the “to do list.” In most meetings, that means the “agenda” on the easel sheet migrates to a new easel sheet with the same list by the end of the meeting. On a personal basis, these lists exist from day …


Get Rich Quick (Or Maybe Not)

I recall the old multi-level marketing (Ponzi Scheme) pitch that went: “I’m making more money part time today than I did in my full time job. Come to our meeting tomorrow night.”  At the meeting, some guy with a diamond pinky ring and an ostentatious Caddy showed us how we could make money selling detergent or phone cards—oh, and also by recruiting new members. Today, we’re asked to subscribe to series of videos and seminars to learn what? To learn …


Just Tell Me What I Need To Know

When I ask the guy who takes care of our trees a question about pruning, he proceeds to tell me the history of trees. I remember when I’d ask my college professor why we use English Common Law, and he’s start his response with the Hammurabi Code. In both cases, I quickly tuned out. We tend to tell people more than they really need to know in an attempt to validate ourselves, prove our expertise, grandstand our talent. We often …


Veer

We know how to solve problems, and we even know how to innovate. But have we mastered the ability to make the most out of unexpected events? Many people call this “opportunism.” I call it “veer,” because it’s a deviation from the standard and expected track. We veer off the road of the tried and true. To me, veer is an unforeseen, often irrational development (e.g., a chance meeting with a benefactor in an unlikely setting, or a random discovery …