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:

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:

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The Writing on the Wall Episode 96: Symbolism

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Duck Beaks and Empiricism

My son was home for a visit and watched me feed the ducks as we talked. We have cement steps which go down to the pond, and I threw a bucketful of feed down the steps.

“Why are you throwing their food on the steps instead of the grass?” he asked.

“Because the ducks are like rototillers and the dig up everything when they eat, causing a mess and ruining the grass.”

“But their beaks will be hurt by the concrete!”

“How long have I been feeding the ducks here?”

“I don’t know, maybe 25 years while I was growing up.”

“How many ducks have you seen with deformed beaks?”

“Well, none….”

Empiricism is the pursuit of facts and truth based on observed evidence, not conjecture or theory. It’s the best way to approach any consulting assignment so that you’re not running all over the place because of what people claim.

If you do that, you’ll be a dead duck.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Dumb Ass Stupid Management: Social Security

I had to file some papers with the social security people, and they are in a very nice area, between one of my cigar clubs and the spa where I get my massages. So I planned to hit all three the other afternoon.

I was told that the SSA office is only open until 3, and only noon on Wednesdays. (Good hours, right? Imagine McDonald’s or Apple or Ford keeping those hours.) I arrived with a book and my iPhone, dutifully registered on a touch screen, and received my number in line.

Two of four windows were closed, unstaffed.

One woman staffer was moving people quickly, and my number was called within 20 minutes. After asking me the same questions I already answered on the computer screen, she told me that my transaction couldn’t be processed that day. I’d have to come back, and no later than 1:30 in the afternoon.

“Why is that?”

“We’re understaffed and this transaction needs a specialist.”

“I was told on the phone that I didn’t need an appointment and that I could come at any time prior to closing.”

“Whoever you spoke to didn’t understand that we’re understaffed and only take care of this transaction earlier in the day.”

“So, I’ve been told the wrong thing, wasted my time here waiting, and you’re simply telling me to come back again?”

“That’s correct.”

Small wonder she was moving people so quickly!

In the waiting room were elderly people, one severely hearing impaired, one in a wheelchair, and several who were dropped off by drivers. They were all taking time out of their day to be there. There were also younger people, no doubt missing work.

And people believe the government should take over more services and activities? The best and brightest do not go into government management. We all have to live with the consequences.

I visited my cigar club early, where they know how to treat their customers.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Don’t Cut Your Client’s Steak

I find consultants assuming they can improve their buyer’s behavior, even though that’s not part of the project. They listen to employees complain about the boss and figure they should “fix” the boss, sort of as a public service. That they have no hard evidence other than schoolyard gossip doesn’t seem to deter them.

I once heard a woman who re-entered consulting after achieving an “empty nest” during the day say she was worried, out of force of habit, that she’d begin cutting her client’s steak at dinner for him as she did for her children at home.

Unless you find someone who physically cannot cut the steak, leave the dining experience to his or her preferences. Stick to your own meal.

© 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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DASM: The Doctor’s Office (Dumb-Ass Stupid Management)

I had to change an appointment with a very good dermatologist I’ve been seeing once a year for over a decade. Here’s the discussion with the woman at the office:

Her: Dr. M’s office.

Me: I need to change an appointment, please.

Her: Can you hold on a second?

Me: Okay, if it’s not too long.

TWO Minutes later:

Her: Last name?

Me: Weiss

Her: First name?

Me: Alan

Her: Date of birth?

Me: In this an interrogation? Do you ever say “please” or “thank you”?

Her: Is this your date of birth?

Me: Yes.

Her: I see your appointment. If I change it, you will have to wait until next year, at least January.

Me: That’s how you treat your patients? Wait four months?

Her: That all we have.

Me: Give me another doctor in the practice then.

Her: In that case, we will treat you as a new patient and you won’t be seen for at least four months.

Me: Can you give me Dr. M’s email?

Her: I don’t have it.

Me: Can you give me her voice mail?

Her: No, but I can take a message.

Me: Tell her that as a patient for over a decade, this treatment is unacceptable, and she is to call me at home and either get me an appointment at one of your two offices or refer me to a physician outside of your practice.

Her: You can see her at our other office?

Me: Of course I can, they are only ten minutes apart.

Her: In that case she can see you in October on any Tuesday or Thursday.

Me: Why didn’t you give me that option in the first place?

Her: You didn’t ask.


That is a verbatim conversation with a woman who doesn’t care, isn’t monitored, and doesn’t deserve employment. It’s also an example of how even superb physicians’ offices are run extremely poorly, as if we’re all pests instead of patients.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Sorry, I’m a PROFESSIONAL Victim

A guy registers for my new Power of Personal Worth program to begin in September. He did this when I had a discount offer a couple of months ago. But his credit card was denied. We sent him a notice and told him he’d have to resubmit.

He wrote me two days ago to say the notice was just found in his spam folder, and he’d like to know how to get the original, expired, discounted price. So: He sends a credit card that isn’t honored by  his bank, doesn’t check his own mail or has the wrong filters, and wants me to make an allowance for him.

That’s not self-worth, which involves accountability, that’s victimization as an art form. None of it’s his fault, so I should make it up t0 him.

There’s a free lesson if you want to take control of your life.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 8/25/14

This week’s focus point: Just as businesses grow through the increase in business, not by cutting expenses (no one ever cut their way to market leadership), if we’re not growing we’re not living. Plateaus erode, due to entropy. We grow and help others to grow by investing. The notion that we should reduce, and cut back, and return to simpler times is as incorrect as it is impossible. We are smart enough, innovative enough, and resourceful enough to avoid the forecasts of doom and gloom. From Malthus on, people have been trying to convince us that growth will kill us. It was predicted we’d be out of oil by now (we have more reserves and fields than we did in the 1950s), that the earth couldn’t support more than three billion people, and that everything of worth had already been invented. People who coast on a plateau usually sail off the edge. Onward and upward. (Note from Alan: Friends, I write to provoke and stimulate, not to be liked or gain consensus. If you don’t agree with me, I respect that, but I can’t debate it with you since I have hundreds of thousands of readers. And if you want to threaten me with unsubscribing to a free newsletter, you just make me giggle!))

Monday Morning Perspective: Optimumque est, ut volgo dixere, aliena insania frui. (And the best plan is, as the popular saying goes, to profit by the folly of others.) — Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis

The Power of Personal Worth and Fulfillment: One week to the Power of Personal Worth, here’s what it will look like:

Million Dollar Consulting® College: Attend in December, qualify for the May Grad School:

The Innovation Formula: Innovation as a systematic way of life is NOT an oxymoron:


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Here on Nantucket, the planes can’t land if it’s excessively foggy, which it often is. Whether a commercial flight, private jet, puddle-jumper, or whatever, the weather is egalitarian in determining if the wheels will meet the runway. There’s no place to divert, you simply go back where you came from and cancel your plans or try again later.

There’s a fog surrounding many businesses. Potential customers can’t quite make them out. The lines blur. The benefits aren’t clear. It’s uncertain where solid ground is separated from deep water. The value isn’t emerging. It seems dangerous to try to land. There is no one who is helping to “talk them down.”

Does your business stand out like a beacon, or is it lost in a fog of uncertainty where it’s hard to discern its value?

© Alan Weiss 2014

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