Vehicle Settings

As everything becomes more entwined with technology, it seems to me that there is less and less “intuitive” aspect to it. Yet my cars’ instruction manuals in hard copy are hundreds of pages thick, and not very helpful (filled with thousands of warnings, such as, “Do not attempt to drive off a bridge when in gear.”). I’m waiting for my wife outside a store trying to restore the camera setting to the one I like, among a dozen choices, front …


Can You Move the Ball?

I played varsity basketball and ran varsity track in high school. Track practice was simple—I was a sprinter, so I would run a quarter mile for stamina and 30 yards for speed. Then the race itself was over in ten seconds. I was a terrific shooter in basketball, but I hated the practice. I never did learn to dribble with my opposite hand, so I could never be a starting guard. I was fast and could shoot, but I couldn’t …


The Martial Arts of Language

Folks, I have an ebook in progress called The Martial Arts of Language. It’s $50, and here’s an excerpt: I’ve never heard of you. That because virtually all of my work comes through referrals. What other organizations have you worked with? I’m sorry, as you would be, all of my clients are confidential.  I’d like to talk to your references. I’m very sensitive about intruding on people’s time, so when we’re at the point of your considering a proposal, if …


Let’s Talk

The best way to address a business audience is as if you’re having a conversation with someone. Don’t “present.” Don’t be theatrical. Use humor, stories, and solid examples to support your points. Don’t stand in one place, move around. Smile. Take questions. (Can you imagine talking to a friend and saying, “Please hold your questions until later, if we have time.”) Don’t use PowerPoint, which is hackneyed and removes the focus from you. Don’t use handouts that divert attention. If …


Hunger

Let me overturn a myth about performing at your best when you’re “hungry.” When I’m hungry (need food) I’m distracted and don’t perform at my best. When you have financial “hunger” you may perform desperately but certainly not at your best. So please don’t tell me today you “lack the hunger.” I perform best when correctly nourished, and so do you. Don’t use the myth of “hunger” as an excuse for slovenliness, procrastination, and lack of discipline.


Refusing Bad Treatment

I’ve never seen a business, ethical, or religious directive stating that we should allow ourselves to accept abuse. “Turn the other cheek” doesn’t suggest that you allow yourself to continue to be hit. Many people who suffered abuse themselves—psychological, emotional, physical—try to inflict similar harm on others. The only logical response is to turn away, refuse to enable them, and understand that you can’t help them. Quit the firm, fire your client, change associates, resign from the club, diminish time …


Imperfect (But Successful) Alan

One of the major reasons that I was able to begin my solo practice with no brand whatsoever and build it into one where corporate giants were calling me was that I was very fast in resolving problems and exploiting opportunities for my clients. I like to tell people that this was caused by my superior intellect but, in reality, I simply found alternatives that would work quickly despite their flaws. Other consulting firms (and most people) waste their lives away (or …


A Tale of Two Airlines

I fly American out of Boston to LA and United out of Boston to San Francisco. American has a far better lounge, with a free breakfast and even more elaborate food that can be purchased. United’s club has a desultory food selection. United flies a far better airplane, a 757 with flat beds. American uses a 737 coast-to-coast, and these have never been large enough for real comfort (unless you’re on the old Virgin America, which had fewer first class …


In Pursuit of the Dream

A guy from Verizon came to fix our phones. It took him 90 minutes and he refused an easy fix which wasn’t cosmetic, and took his time to do it “as if this were my own house.” He heard me on a Zoom call to a client. “Excuse me,” he said, “I mean this in the most complimentary way, but are you one of those cool guys, like a Tony Robbins?” “Close enough,” I said, “I’m a cool guy.” I …


The Motivational Power of Dunkin’ Donuts

The dogs and I usually roll into Dunkin’ Donuts at about 6:15, order at the mike, then drive over to the window to pay and get my coffee and their treats. This is ritual. About 99% of the time, the staff on duty, who have to have been there since at least 5 am if not earlier, are cheerful and pleasant. On the occasions when I don’t have the dogs (driving back from working out), they always remark about my …