What? Who’s Where?

Beware, the Who’s Who scam is back with us lately, telling you you’ve “qualified” to be listed, meaning that you have enough money to buy the book they produce. Who’s Who books and listings with rare exception are ego-oriented nonsense. I placed my dog, Trotsky, in one, once. That’s how strict the vetting is!

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Departing Bali

It’s a gorgeous morning here (we’re 12 hours ahead of the eastern US) and we’re off to breakfast and the pool. We leave tonight on the 8 pm flight to Singapore, then to Dubai, and home to Boston.

Bali’s people are fantastic, very cordial, and extremely helpful. The streets are clogged with mind-numbing, demolition-derby motorbikes of all sorts, some with infants wedged between parents, some driven by what appear to be 12-year-old girls in school uniforms heading to class. They weave in an out between busses and cars, often on the wrong side of the road, usually with inches to spare. I’m stunned I’ve seen no one hit.

We dined last evening in Mulia, one of the super resorts here, that occupy vast amounts of land on the water. The restaurant was Table 8, and the resort and restaurant have won a slew of awards, including best new offerings in Asia. The restaurant was odd—beautiful decor, but with a buffet as well as set menu, amidst the elegance, and very casual diners, including tables of young kids scrambling over their parents. The wine list was very limited, though I found a nice estate Rioja from 2001.

The food was marvelous, but the place gave the impression of confused intent, with dozens of employees standing idly behind a little used buffet.

DSC_1762IMG_2333© Alan Weiss 2014


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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 7/14/14

This week’s focus point: When you’re perceived as an expert, people usually don’t quarrel with you or debate you, because they’re eager to learn from you. The accept your predictions, and elicit your advice. They will entertain contrarian and even radical ideas. They will cite you and be proud to have learned from you. They will not argue about your fees. The greatest challenge to being perceived as an expert is between your ears. You have to have the courage of your talent, the conviction of your value. In my coaching I find I’m right about 90 percent of the time. I can achieve that level of effectiveness because I’m not at all concerned about being wrong 10 percent of the time. Success, not perfection.

Monday Morning Perspective: Cet animal est très méchant: Quand on l’attaque, il se défend. (The animal is very wicked: When it is attacked, it defends itself.) — Daniel Patrick Moynihan at the United Nations

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Directing Traffic

Restaurants here in Bali hire people to direct traffic in and out of their parking lots, because the street traffic is so heavy that drivers otherwise wouldn’t be able to make the turns. They have lighted rods and whistles. The church we attended, in order to accommodate the maximum amount of worshippers in its lot, has attendants who parked the cars in a great, solid mass. But after services, they adroitly directed people out with a minimum of waiting.

What are you doing to direct people out of the “traffic” and the noise and into your business? Do you have features that light the way and allow people to turn to you?

© Alan Weiss 2014

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IMG_2299 IMG_2300 IMG_2297 IMG_2301 IMG_2302


One of the infinity pools at the Four Seasons, Bali; roadside market; large and modern Catholic church where we attended vigil mass celebrated in Indonesian; and a superb restaurant, Merah Putih (suckling pig, prawns, boneless duck) where those lighted columns conduct rain water from the roof through the restaurant, fascinating design.

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Just the Facts, Ma’am

Jack Webb played detective Joe Friday in the old Dragnet TV series, and he was constantly requesting that he be told “just the facts,” and not opinion, hearsay, suggestions, or personal bias.

The same applies to us in consulting. I coach people every week who want to know what to do with the equivalent of schoolyard gossip and casual rumor. Of course employees may say they can to the job better than the boss who got the position through “connections.” Of course senior management is going to claim that people should be motivated because the pay is good, so there must be something wrong with them. Of course sales and R&D will usually blame each other for results below expectations.

These are normal organizational dynamics. You can’t act on them as if you believe you’re hearing the truth! Here is how to deal with what you hear:

1. Ask: What is your evidence for that statement? Can you give me an example of where and when it occurred and who else witnessed it or heard it?

2. Ask: What is the actual observed behavior? How does this manifest itself in front of others?

You don’t want amateur (or even professional) psychoanalysis. You want to know what is actually visible in the environment so that you can verify it yourself. Validate what you hear before acting on it, or you’ll be most likely acting on what people prefer to believe and not what’s actually happening.

It’s bad enough to carry a flame thrower onto the ice. But if you light it, and then point it at your feet, you’ll find yourself quite quickly in cold, deep water. And that’s a fact.

© 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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But Why?

My twin granddaughters keep asking “Why?” ever since they learned to speak. “Why is the car top down?” “Why don’t all cars have tops that go down?” “Why don’t trucks have tops that go down?”

You get the drift.

It’s a great habit, one often ignored by consultants. A buyer says, “We need a two-day strategy retreat” (or a week of coaching or interviews with our clients or a focus group) and the consultant tries to figure out how to convince the buyer that he or she can meet the demand and get the money. That is a commodity approach.

However, if the more confident consultant simply asked, “Why do you want that?” one might discover a completely higher level of need with more impact, larger value, and higher fees. That is a value-based approach.

“We need a leadership development workshop.”


“Because our leaders aren’t acting in concert with each other and are too often competing with each other.”


“Because I’m the third CEO in three years and they have become very territorial and mistrusting.”

“Then let me suggest that a ‘program’ isn’t the answer, but that we need a range of interventions, some individual, some group, and some starting with you.”

The questions “Why?” raises the level of the decision and also raises the ante.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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When you’re regarded as the expert:

• People defer to your judgment.

• You create the reality (“This isn’t a compensation issue but rather a recognition issue”).

• Fees aren’t a factor in selecting you.

• You work solely with high level people.

• You determine the types of interventions, not the client.

• Bold, innovative, contrarian recommendations are taken seriously.

• You set the speed and style of the intervention.

• Resistance and critique are not factors.

• The client feels grateful to have worked with you.

How do you regard, present, and conduct yourself? Do you see yourself as an expert who is an immediate peer of the buyer, or as a hired hand who will be quickly delegated to HR and resisted by entrenched habits and resentment?

The choice is yours. This is your career and your life. Unless you surrender your status.

© Alan Weiss 2014

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I Spy

Now there’s a kerfluffle about our spying on our good friend and ally, Germany. I would imagine we “spy” on a lot of people, just as a lot of people spy on us, including our allies. All countries operate in their own self-interest, and gathering intelligence seems like a necessity. (For example, are the Germans providing the means for their companies to make money by breaking the embargo against Iran? I have no idea, but our government probably feels it needs to know.)

My consultant’s question is this: If we spy so much, how come we know so little?

We seem to be pretty constantly surprised by what happens in Libya, Iraq, Russia, France, Italy, Israel, and China, just to name a few friends and foes. We’re either not spying at all or we’re really pretty lousy at it.

When I was working with Mercedes years ago, they were fond of pointing out the Lexus would reverse-engineer their cars to copy aspects of the engineering, but they would settle for the cosmetic and miss the true purpose of the design (cushioning the gas tank against impact or taking water away from sight lines).

If we’re spying on Germany, we’re still not able to build a car in the US as good as a Mercedes, nor beat their soccer team. So what’s the point?

© Alan Weiss 2014

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