The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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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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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/15/14

This week’s focus point: I was detained in Heathrow Airport on Friday by a security supervisor, constable, two counter-terrorism agents, two dog handlers, and two dogs. (Read about it here: http://www.contrarianconsulting.com/not-so-sweet-dreams/). The cause was the machines detecting explosive or chemical residue in my bag, later determined to be “Quietude,” the spray provided by the Haymarket Hotel to help you sleep at night! The entire affair took an hour, which is why I show up everyplace early: the theater, business meetings, medical appointments, dinner. I can always amuse myself if I have to wait, but I can’t “buy back” time. Some of us are consistently late to arrive, physically and/or mentally. Take control of your life. Get your head in the game. And learn to sleep with your own “quietude”!

Monday Morning Perspective: The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. — Dostoevsky, “The House of the Dead”

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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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Not So Sweet Dreams

A Play in One Act

Dramatis Personae:

 

Me: A seasoned traveler with about 4 million air miles, approved by US Global Entry, a man the police would call an “upstanding citizen.”

 

Katrinka (KT): Security supervisor at British Airways Terminal 5.

 

The Inspector (IN): British police inspector called upon when possible bomb materials are detected.

 

Plain Clothes Counter-Terrorist Official #1 (PC #1): Called by an inspector when there may be a serious threat.

 

Plain Clothes Counter-Terrorism Official #2 (PC #2): Assists PC #1.

 

Dog Handler #1 (DH #1): Controls dog with special detection skills, not revealed.

 

Dog Handler #2 (DH #2): Controls second dog with different special detection skills, not revealed.

 

Cocker Spaniel #1 (CS #1): Works with DH #1 above. Black.

 

Cocker Spaniel #2 (CS #2): Works with DH #2. Brown and white.

 

Our Drama:

 

I had finished my meeting at The Haymarket Hotel on Friday after a great week and went downstairs at 1 pm to meet my driver who was to arrive at 1:30. However, my driver also arrived at 1, so we left immediately for Heathrow Airport. The trip took exactly one hour.

 

I checked in with British Air first class, and was going to collect the VAT I was due for an item purchased while in London. However, the line was so long—over 100 people—that I calculated even if each person took only 30 seconds (which was highly improbable) I’d be on line for an hour. I wanted to buy some cigars and change my money, then have a drink in the first class lounge, so I decided to forego my refund. (Which, by the way, I think is their intent.) The money wasn’t worth my time.

 

I went into the fast track security line and was through the security machine in two minutes or so, but I noticed my carry-on bag had been diverted to another inspection. These inspections are painfully slow, but my plane was at 5, meaning I had to be at the gate by 4:40, when they close it. It was only 2:10.

 

A woman painstakingly went through my bag, took things apart, swabbed everything in sight, and then inserted things into machines. She told me I failed a test, but was using a second test which should clear things up. While I waited, KT showed up, consulted with the woman and came over to me.

 

KT: I’m afraid, sir, we have a bit of an issue, your bag is testing positive for chemical and/or explosive materials.

 

Me: What?!

 

KT: What kind of doctor are you? What medicines do you prescribe or consume? Might they rub off in your luggage?

 

Me: I’m not the kind of doctor who helps people! I’m a PhD.

 

KT: In what field.

 

Me: Psychology.

 

KT: Psychologists can prescribe medication.

 

Me: I’m not a psychologist and If I could prescribe anything, believe me, I’d be taking Valium at this very moment.

 

KT: I’m sure we can clear it up, but since you failed both tests I’m required to call the police.

 

Me: What?!

 

KT: They are very rapid and thorough, and will get here within 20 minutes. I’m sure they will put this right.

 

Me: What do they need to do to put things right?

 

KT: They will interview you. Please just wait over there with me by the podium. We’ll keep your bag here, you can retain your briefcase, and I’ll hold your passport.

 

In about 15 minutes, an officer shows up in full regalia, including bullet proof vest and two cell phones dangling from it.

 

IN: Hello, sir, I’m Inspector Peters (name changed) and I’ll have to ask you a few questions.

 

Me: Sure.

 

The inspector proceeds to ask me the same questions KT did, and also about whether my bags were ever out of my sight. As he is questioning me about my Indonesian and Chinese visas, PC #1 and PC #2 arrive. They are both talking on their phones.

 

IN: What do you do specifically if you’re not a doctor?

 

ME: I’m a consultant.

 

IN: And why are you here in London?

 

Me: Teaching other consultants.

 

IN: Hmmmm.

 

Me: Who are these other guys?

 

IN: They are counter-terrorism agents.

 

Me: What?!

 

IN: It’s all procedure. We’ll have you on your plane in plenty of time if we are happy and the dogs are happy.

 

Me: What?!

 

IN: It’s procedure, the dogs will have to sniff your bag. They are far better than the machine.

 

Me: Why dogs, plural?

 

IN: They each specialize in something the other doesn’t.

 

Me: What things?

 

IN: I can’t tell you that.

 

PC #1: May I ask you a few questions?

 

Me: Sure

 

He proceeds to ask the same questions for the third time. I note that each of them has to copy all the information from my passport longhand on pads, and they help each other spell certain items.

 

PC #1: Tell me about the kind of consulting you do. And why are you going to Miami?:

 

Me: I’m not going to Miami. I’m going to Boston.

 

PC #1 rechecks my boarding pass and confirms that I am correct about my own destination. PC #2 is now off the phone and confers with his partner.

 

Me: Everything okay?

 

PC #2: Yes, we’re happy, but we have to wait for the dogs.

 

PC #1: I used to be a consultant, you know. I worked with Oracle and lived in Redwood Shores, California.

 

Me: What!!?? I lived in Redwood Shores for two years!

 

PC #1: How about that? I was thinking of getting back into consulting some time.

 

IN: The dogs are here.

 

DH #1 and #2 arrive, #1 with a black cocker spaniel and #2 with a brown and white cocker spaniel. While they are getting set up, IN asks if there might be any kind of spray or liquid I did not put in my plastic bag.

 

Me: Yes, the hotel gives guests sprays to use at night on the pillows to help with sleeping, and I threw two into my bag.

 

IN: I’ll bet that’s it.

 

He goes over to KT, confers, and they run the machines again.

 

IN: The machines have now passed you, but the swabs found the substance in the lining of your luggage. The spray probably leaked, but it’s up to the dogs, now.

 

Me: Sleeping spray turns up on your machines as explosive materials?

 

IN: Yes, it’s happened before.

 

Me: What happens if the dogs aren’t happy?

 

IN, frowning: We need to go through additional processes.

 

With everyone now watching, they choose CS #1, who trots into the security operations where my bag is and can no longer be seen. No one is saying anything. The dog emerges in 20 seconds.

 

KT: We’re good.

 

IN: Sorry to have troubled you sir.

 

Me: What about the other dog?

 

IN: Fortunately for you, it wasn’t needed.

 

Me: Will this be a problem if I renter the UK, which I plan to do next year?

 

IN: No, but my advice is to get rid of the bag. We had a woman with the exact same problem, and she kept telling us it was a coincidence that she was always singled out. But she kept using the same bag.

 

Me to handlers and IN: Can I take the dogs’ picture? Inspector, would you like to be in the shot?

 

IN: No, you can’t take my photo, against the rules.

 

DH #1: You can’t take ours either, and you’ll have to blur the dogs’ faces.

 

Me: You’re afraid of the dogs being recognized??!!

 

DH #1: Just having a bit of humor with you, sir.

 

It was now 3 pm. The British Concorde Club was just a few feet away. I asked the bar tender to fill the nearest glass to the top with Jameson’s.

 

If the car had come at 1:30 and I had waited in the VAT line, it would probably be 4:30 at that point and a train was required to reach my distant gate, which closed at 4:40.

 

On my way to the train, I stopped in a cigar store and took a handful of the best they had. It’s not every day that you go through a human hierarchy to find that a cocker spaniel holds your fate in its nose.

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© Alan Weiss 2014

 

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