Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 209, February 2017)

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Balancing act is in four sections this month:

1. Techniques for Balance

2. Musings

3. The Human Condition: Obfuscation


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• Don’t assume your audience holds the same passion or competence as you do on a subject.

• If you truly ask yourself about others’ motives you won’t be nearly as angry all the time.

• People act in their own self-interest, not your self-interest.

• I unfriend and otherwise disconnect with anyone on social media using gratuitous profanity. If your intellect is that low, I don’t need you in my company, real or virtual.

• Clothes DO make the man (or woman), don’t kid yourself.

• Beware of confirmation bias, which occurs when you make decisions based on previously held positions without reexamining them.

• When you watch others exercising in the gym (instead of looking out the window) you tend to exercise harder. When you have a heavy server in a restaurant, you tend to order more food. No, I’m not kidding, hidden persuasion.

• If either of your hands is clenched in a fist, you’re holding your silverware wrong, and sophisticated people will notice it.

• Many veterinarians will treat wild animals for free if you bring them an injured creature.

• When you’re young you think you know everything. As you age, you realize you know nothing and the weight is lifted.


At the Mandarin Oriental in Miami, the staff is apparently instructed to always ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” no matter how trivial the request. The operator on the wake-up call, person who removes the room service cart, doorman, bartender—everyone is constantly asking.

Tell me something: After you wake me up at 5 am or hand me a bill or open the limo door, exactly what else can you do for me?

There are people in the service business who aren’t content reacting to (or even anticipating) guest needs, they want their employees to force themselves into a discussion. When I had my breakfast delivered and I was working on an article, the employee insisted on engaging me in conversations about my stay, the lunch, and so forth, despite the fact I was typing on my computer. There was no sense of what was correct in the situation, only that she was told to talk to the guest, apparently no matter what the guest is doing.

This comes across to me less as service and more just insincere intrusion. In restaurants, I need a server, not a friend. I don’t care what their name is, what their personal favorites are, or why they’re in the business. Just take my drink order, explain the specials, and depart. (And stop using the future tense: “The chief will be hand slicing...”)

Excellent service should be nearly invisible, not something you’re reminded of at every interaction. Employees should be urged to use common sense, not fixed statements.

When my limo came at 5 am at the Mandarin, the doorman put my luggage in the trunk and opened the door and I entered the car.

“Thank you,” I said, handing him five dollars.  

“Thank you, sir, is there anything else I can do?

“Yes, close the door.”


Why do we make things so complicated instead of trying to simplify them? Our new house phone came with an instruction book that rivals the manual in my Rolls. I saw a visual aid today created by a consultant that raised more questions than it answered (visuals are supposed to speed things along, not bring them to a screeching halt).

Brilliance is in simplifying, not complexifying. I tell my technical experts, “Speak to me in English” (they’re Canadian, but still...). I love GarageBand on my Mac because I can create podcasts with music and sound effects intuitively.. New iPhones don’t come with manuals, but simply a brief tutorial on the screen to start them up.

We seem to believe there is depth to our expertise when we make things complex, as if simplicity is for amateurs. In fact, creating straight lines and sensible sequences is truly expert. Ironically, driving a car is not really difficult to learn or do, but synchronizing the car with the remote garage door opener can take an hour, four phone calls, and exhaustion. You want to drive the car through the garage door.

Televisions turn on and off and can be tuned quickly to a numeric channel. But hotel televisions take you through seven steps that are completely irrelevant and totally confusing. Every lamp in my hotel room has a different kind of switch, and the thermostats are easily changed—by the engineering department.

I recall an experiment which showed that airline cabin members—flight attendants—could not don the life vest which they demonstrate thousands of times a year within 90 seconds, and that was deemed too long for safety in a water landing. Where would that leave us? And what good are those ubiquitous demonstrations?

“Simplistic” means “overly simple” in terms of the actual importance of the situation. But “simple” means “easily understood or done.” The latter should be our express lane on communicating and acting.

It’s as simple as that.


I seldom prepare far in advance, so about a month before a Dallas workshop, I asked my wife on a flight home from Miami if she had any ideas about the content. She did, and I wrote a quick outline for the five-hour session. When I got home I placed the outline in the workshop folder only to find another outline, which I had written when I was on a ten-hour flight to Tel Aviv a couple of weeks earlier.

Does anyone need a workshop outline? It's unused and guaranteed!


You can receive a twice-monthly video on Maverick ideas, and/or a weekly, one-minute podcast, and/or a full day with me, and/or bonus downloads! We began January 1, and you can catch up. Don't wait, go here:

The Mystery Workshop  

February 14, 2017

No, I'm not telling you what it's about, but it will be new, novel, and highly productive. We already have 24 people willing to take the chance!

2017 Million Dollar Consulting® Convention  

April 26-28, 2017, Chicago, Embassy Suites Downtown

After smash hits in Atlanta and Los Angeles, our third annual event will be in Chicago. We'll have five general sessions, six concurrent sessions, panel discussions, networking reception, and much more. Jonah Berger, author of Invisible Influence is my special guest speaker.

Alan's Nantucket  

June and September, 2017

Three days of informal discussions on life, relationships, careers, and the near future. Take the fast ferry, auto ferry, or plane to Nantucket. Opening reception on June 5, September 11. All meals are included. We officially end with lunch on June 8 or September 14, but anyone who wants to stay is invited to discussions, events, and dinner that evening. Lodging is included.

Thought Leadership 2017  

October 4-6, 2017, Four Seasons, Palm Beach

We sell-out every year and for our next one I've secured Harvard's Dan Gilbert, the expert on happiness, as my special guest for a discussion as well as dinner. His TED talk has been viewed by over 15 million people thus far. Three seats remain.

Endorsed Programming  


I offer fabulous resources through global experts in areas such as positioning, wealth building, fitness, social media excellence, coaching, and other areas, all of whom I personally work with and support. Consider this your "galaxy of expertise." I've just added one of the nation's best ghost writers, Michael Levin.


        I’ve run two free pilots to test the technology, and now we’re off and running in                 2017. Watch a one-hour workshop, rich in content, and ask questions while in                 progress, no matter where you are in the world. They are also recorded, in case             you can’t make the live event or want to retain the actual broadcast. I’m offering               six, as detailed below, at $75 each, or $400 for all six. You can register here:         


         • Feb. 23, 2017: The Strategist - How to set strategies for organizations or                        individuals

         • Apr. 18, 2017: The Innovator - A methodology for systematic innovation

         • Jun. 13, 2017: Creating 6-figure Projects - Consistently and effectively

         • Sep. 19, 2017: The Advisor - Advisory work as your primary intervention

         • Oct. 17, 2017: Abundance - The mindset of success, happiness, and growth

         • Nov. 16, 2017: The Expert - How to command a room, discussion, and direction



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© Alan Weiss 2017

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase "Balancing Act" is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.


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Alan Weiss