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Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 109: September 2008)

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  1. Take an hour, walk into a major bookstore, and stroll the racks. Choose several books in diverse areas which appeal to you. You simply can't do this as effectively on line. I've found hundreds of great books, from classics to science fiction, from biographies to mysteries, which I never would've known about or considered.
  2. Understand that in many cases you can simply "stop." You can leave a play or a movie that is annoyingly bad; you can depart from a party that is dull or raucous; you can announce that you've learned all you need to at a meeting, and can now adjourn; you can say, "It was wonderful running into you, but my appointment awaits." Why prolong pain?
  3. When I'm immediately confronted with surly service, for example in a restaurant or in a club, I'm apt to say, "Okay, you're not happy for some reason, so we have three options: We can start again, you can get someone else to help me, or I can leave. Which do you prefer?" I usually get an apology and a restart, but I've left my share of places. (It doesn't work on an airplane, of course.)
  4. You can choose to hang out with people who see opportunity all around them, or who see conspiracies and threat. You can choose to be with those who see themselves as successes, or those who see themselves as victims. That choice is yours.
  5. People who call you and leave a message that you can get back to them only within certain restricted time frames are trying to get you to conform to their own lack of flexibility. Respond as soon as you can at your convenience with, "Sorry you're hard to reach, but call when you can so long as you're reachable for an hour beyond that and, if I'm unavailable, I'll get back to you promptly."
  6. The most important person in any major hotel is the general manager's assistant. If you're having problems (or want to pay someone a compliment) ask for the general manager's office and talk to (or leave a voice mail for) the assistant. He or she will take care of you, guaranteed. If you deal with them, retain their name and contact information for the future, as well.
  7. If your informal communications have syntax, punctuation, and usage errors, there is an overwhelming probability that your business communications do also, and that some people at the other end are not impressed by it. Ask someone you trust to offer you constructive critique whenever they spot something that's incorrect.
  8. If Hollywood's collective genius can create a $100 million film which flops at the box office, I don't see reason to exactly beat yourself up if you choose a lousy vacation spot, cook a poor meal, or scratch the side of the car. Stuff happens. Get on with your life, and don't let a momentary poor judgment create a lifelong depression.
  9. Gas is very expensive. I've found no one who has improved the situation for themselves by complaining about it. Drive less, or be more economical, or make more money. The same applies for anything we can't control. You have more coping mechanisms than you think.
  10. What are you consciously doing to ensure that you laugh every day?

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Leave a trail….

I'm sitting in the Marriott Marquis in New York where I'm speaking for the National Speakers Convention. Next to the phone is a note pad, which the small admonishment: "Leave a trail of genius."

It's clever, a nice little touch. (And a lot more fascinating than the "Today Show" playing in the background, currently advising me on how to choose fresh corn. You can't make this stuff up. Make sure it hasn't loss its tassel.)

In any case, I'm wondering what kind of a trail we're all leaving every day. When I lived in California, in the early morning I could trace the path of the departed slug in the garden by its trail. A slime trail may not seem like much, but it revealed the methodical travels of the creature as it sought food, avoided predators, and perhaps engaged in creating prodigy. Although the elements would soon erase it, the creature had left a trail, and would so again early the next morning.

We don't need to leave a trail of genius, perhaps, which is a burdensome responsibility. But what about a trail of assistance, of improvement, of growth, of support, or alleviation of pain? At the end of each day, what evidence have we left of a better world, a better condition, a better environment?

Many of our superhighways today are based on older roads, which followed ancient trails. Some say that the width of the wheels of Roman chariots (determined by the girth of two horses pulling it) ultimately led to the width (gauge) of modern train tracks. We do tend to follow in the footprints and pathways of those who came before, often for no good reason.

We are sentient creatures, aware that we are self-aware. What are you doing to determine what your trail will be at the end of the day, whether useful for your unique contributions or also for others to follow? Whether anonymous or public, do your trails leave a legacy? Or are you in the same rut day after day? Is your trail determined by some unknown ancient occurrence, or by your own determination to make a difference tomorrow?

Unlike the slug's trail, ours needn't disappear with the next sunrise.

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Sitting on the 43rd floor of the hotel, I see architecture and relationships that can't be appreciated from the ground. Sometimes, you just have to get above it all.

I'm as guilty as anyone of getting involved in ground-level arguments from time to time that would greatly benefit from a higher perspective. A 30-second delay in a line, a product that breaks, a service that is poor-these are daily events, whether we like it or not. I remember a gate agent saying to an exasperated passenger, "The plane isn't leaving until everyone is on board, and even then not until I close the door. So please calm down."

The cable guy being late is annoying, but if he fixes the problem and your programs play well, isn't that the real issue? The person in front of you is fixated on exchanging stories with the bank teller, but will your life really be different if you have your money in two minutes instead of one?

I was sitting in a play the other day, and a really tall man walked in and sat in front of a small woman. The woman and her friend laughed about it. When the man's partner arrived, he changed seats to sit in front of the other woman, and they both laughed again at this reversal of fortune. I had a good time just appreciating their attitudes. (The woman leaned in one direction and watched the play.)

Churchill said that success is never final and failure seldom fatal, it's courage that counts. I'd like to soften that to quotidian existence by suggesting that the challenges we face every day are seldom going to ruin our day, unless we allow them to do so. Your television is fixed, your money is in your hand, you figure out a way to see the play.

Life is about success, not perfection.

Life is about enjoying yourself on a personal basis, not compared to how others are enjoying themselves. You'll never be happy in that comparison, because there's always a bigger boat.

Book a room on the top floor of the hotel or go up to the lounge on the roof and have a drink. Look out over the city or the countryside. You'll see a different perspective.

What's going on down in the street seems trivial by comparison.

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Some years ago I shaved off my mustache of 20 or more years, changed my hair style and my wardrobe, and showed up at an annual convention I attend with a "new look." My name tag was on my belt, and I had my hand over it as I stepped onto an elevator.

Three women were engaged in a conversation about…..Alan Weiss! One, who knew me but didn't recognize me, was extolling my virtues (such as they are).

"Isn't he somewhat arrogant?" I interrupted.

"He can be," said my advocate, "but you have to get to know him, he has a lot to offer."

"But can you get past the ego?" I persisted. "He can be insufferable."

"Who are you to be so negative?!" she demanded. She swiped my hand from my belt to see my name tag.

"You're right," she said, "he IS insufferable."

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The Coach

London, England, September 11-12
The Haymarket Hotel

Watch, practice, and apply coaching methodology for a variety of situations followed by marketing guidance and fee criteria so that you're not lost among the "coaching crowd."

The Strategist

Sydney, Australia, October 8-9
The Park Hyatt Hotel

This program sold out in Providence and London. Learn how to separate strategy and tactics instantly; learn and apply Alan's favorite model to your clients and/or your own practice; understand how to validate strategy before implementation; master all key execution steps. Limited seating. Learn in 1.5 days what others take months to try to comprehend.

Million Dollar Consulting® College

Newport, RI,
November 10-14
The Castle Hill Inn

The finest developmental experience for professional service providers, featuring business acquisition, fee setting, branding, market gravity, the language of the sale, proposals, and much more. Read the testimonials and look at the photos.

Million Dollar Club

November 3-5, 2008 at The Four Seasons
Nevis, West Indies

We are inviting a dozen people who are solo practitioners or small firm owners in the professional services space, who make a minimum of seven figures annually, for a three-day meeting at one of the world's finest resorts. We will exchange marketing ideas, collaborate on leads, mutually solve business problems, examine maximization of profit, and also have access to great golf, tennis, scuba diving, etc. No outside presenters, only a very successful group facilitated by Alan Weiss. Significant others and spouses are welcome. All lodging, meals, and local transportation are included. The fee is $15,000. A rare opportunity to be with the best of the best, where you belong, to prepare for 2009 in style.

NEW: Self-Esteem Workshop

December 2-3, Providence, RI
The Crowne Plaza Hotel

The intent is simple. Building on my work with individuals around the globe, I want to help you: Identify the uncertainties, perceived vulnerabilities, and situations which cause you to perform at less than your optimal capacity; understand the causes of those dynamics, and receive timely yet non-threatening feedback about how to resolve them; master and apply techniques that will help you maintain and manifest a high self-esteem level "in the moment" when it is most needed; avoid the debris and detritus in your life which tend to damage self-esteem, and focus on the routes of least resistance to self-worth and its manifestation. In brief, personally and professionally, you will be able to deal with daily routine and exceptional circumstances; with varied and often tough personalities in your life; and to overcome the problems caused by pressure, unfamiliarity, and perceived threat.

ALAN IN PITTSBURGH

Pittsburgh, PA,
January 7, 2009
Airport Marriott

A half-day on value based fees, and a half-day on how to make top money in a bottom economy. For newcomers and veterans alike, boost your business immediately. Attend both sessions and receive these bonuses: Lunch, a session on maximizing your web presence and marketing, and free membership for one year in the Society for Advancement of Consulting®.

From Six Figures to Seven

February 19-21, 2009
Sydney, Australia

Only unique people will share this 2.5-day program to learn the major tactics required to move to and through the million dollar mark. THE US SESSION IS ALREADY SOLD OUT IN MARCH. We will help you become a visible thought leader in your field, create "communities" of support, engage in advanced promotional tactics, and a lot more. We'll also be sharing the best practices of the Million Dollar Club. This will be quickly sold-out.

Once you're an adult, you choose the major influences on your life. That is, if you choose to act like an adult. - AW