Category Archives: Alan is in the House

Nantucket Confidential

Apparently Omar has left just enough cigars and wine in Nantucket for me to enjoy myself!

Had my martini with blue-cheese-stuffed olives at the bar last night, with
Mitch doing honors once again. (You can see Mitch in the August, 2008
postings of Nantucket Journal here on the blog.)

We had the chef’s eight-course tasting menu at Topper’s which, even with
half-portions, was huge. The sommelier, whom I’ve trusted for many years,
discussed a price, as is our habit, and then his task is to delight me. He
chose a fantastic 1999 Shafer Cab, so outstanding that the lovely,
non-drinking Maria decided to drink, that’s how good it was. (And that’s how
I wound up with half my usual imbibing!)

I wrote out on the deck from 6:30 to 7:30 or so this morning, sipping coffee
and watching a flock of cormorants fly in formation over the lawn. After
breakfast al fresco on the restaurant’s deck, we headed across the dunes.

Once again the beach was mostly deserted. Tonight we’ll fire up the car and
head into town for The Pearl.

My newest book, Thrive!, is complete and I’m editing the chapters, something
I don’t normally do, but I’m planning something special for this book.

Dinner at The Pearl consisted of outstanding soft shell crab in black pepper sauce and very rare tuna. We had Conundrum, one of my favorite “casual” white wines. Then I actually had an espresso martini for dessert. Once we returned, a Montecristo #2 with an 1875 Madeira provided by Mitch (and Reese’s peanut butter cups, I’m sorry, I’m a heathen) out on the deck under the stars.

We have a full breakfast when we go over to the ocean side, so that we can both stay there all day AND skip lunch. I did share a pretzel with my gull friend, whose picture will appear here both watching me from a dune and flying by one of the houses along the beach that’s probably worth about $5 million.

I’m reading three novels: One Second After, South of Broad, and The Last Ember. I’ve already polished off the first, good beach read, but predictable and sometimes embarrassingly written. (The educated, worldly protagonists, for example, say “Should of….” and “Would of….” instead of “Should have…” and “Would have….” That’s what happens when you have editors who were using Cliff Notes to get by in school.)

Tonight we’ll watch the sunset at The Galley.

I returned a few business calls from the beach and sent a few return emails via my iPhone. People are aghast that I’m responding from the waterside at Nantucket. What better place?

© Alan Weiss, 2009. All rights reserved.

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Alan’s 6-pound Father’s Day lobster

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Alan’s New York Weekend

Reprinted from ContrarianConsulting.com:

The limo arrived at 7:30, and I caught the Acela to New York, absolutely filled, 43 people in first class, but two great stewards who promptly served breakfast. I get the last single seat, since the Boston crowd had filled the train before Providence.

The cab dispatcher at Penn Station was fantastic, and my spot at the half-block line takes only 10 minutes to land a taxi. The Mandarin Oriental’s lobby is on the 35th floor, and my corner room is ready. (Maria came down last night to attend a shower today with Danielle in Jersey, and she’ll meet me here later.)

It’s 74° and the streets are filled with performers, tourists, Central Park denizens, hansom cabs, you name it. A horse carriage driver agrees to take a picture of his two passengers as they alight, and he whips out two carrots to hold so that the horse will look at them. One woman walks next to the horse, and he promptly eats the carrot before anyone can do anything, thank you very much. As I left, he was eyeing the second one, and no photo had yet been snapped.

Barney’s has a lousy shoe selection, but Bally’s is two blocks down Madison and has much better quality. The sales people are great (you’re offered a drink, of course) and I chose a great dress pair of loafers which I decide to walk out with. (My wife hates the fact I can simply buy shoes and wear them immediately.)

Back at the Mandarin, I get a manicure. (It’s quite a process—$75 before tip—and you’re taken to a resting room with reclining couches overlooking the city when you’re done, I guess from all that stress.) I then repair to the lobby lounge, where I have their special Bloody Mary (“Seoul and Blood”) with a Bento Box of dim sum (which roughly translated means “touch the heart”). I looked out over Central Park and awaited my wife.

I didn’t see my wife again, however, until I was having a cocktail in Per Se (to which Omar had introduced me originally) waiting for our guests. She was stuck with my daughter in a two-hour stall at the Holland Tunnel. Eventally, we all rendezvoused by 6:10 and Per Se did its special thing: We had a window seat overlooking Central Park, and a 15-course, prix fixe dinner (you make choices about only three of the selections), and the sommelier was all too happy to match wines with every two courses. (One was a beer, unbelievably, a first for me.) Although Per Se has a world-class wine list (featuring an $18,000, 1900 Margaux), I prefer trying different wines that compliment each course.

At the end of dinner, the maitre d’ offered us a private tour of the kitchen, which features a huge, closed circuit television of their sister restaurant’s kitchen in California, The French Laundry. Kitchen staffs could watch each other (and the four of us) at whim. The kitchen was spotless and food preparation fascinating, as 14 chefs moved non-stop.

When we said goodnight to our guests and walked back to the Mandarin, we were shocked to see it was 11 pm! The restaurant had wined, dined, and entertained us during almost five hours of great conversation, never trying to hurry us, and treating us to a very special evening. If you ever get the chance, you owe this to yourself. There are only 16 tables.

This morning we attended mass at St. Paul the Apostle, the home church of the Paulist Fathers, established in 1858 in the U.S., and right across the street from Fordham University, one block from our hotel. The architecture is spectacular, part Gothic part Byzantine.

Then we visited the grandchildren, who are now eating (and frequently regurgitating) solid food, and we caught the Acela home, from which I am writing and posting this. Quite a weekend. We are blessed.

© Alan Weiss, 2009. All rights reserved.

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Through New York….

I entertained the Million Dollar Club and Mentor Hall of Fame Members in New York last week, and here is a snapshot summary of our dining:

Day One: The private dining room of Gilt, at The Palace (our headquarters). A beautifully designed, ornate room with a single central table for 14 overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the courtyard of the hotel. A carefully selected menu with a Montrechet and Turley Zinfandel to accompany.

Day Two: Petrossian, pre-theater (the infectious “In the Heights”), staring with caviar for the table in a private room beneath the restaurant. 

Day Three: Buddakan, downtown, at a long, secluded table, with 16 courses shared, requiring a Hess and a Gerwerstiminer (forgive my spelling, I just drink the stuff). A beautiful interior featuring a long stairway into the restaurant below and the largest common table I’ve ever seen.

Day Four: The incredible Valbella, in the meatpacking district, in the wine room, with soft shell crabs, angel hair pasta, and a trip into an immaculate kitchen where several of my guests cooked the desserts under the supervision of a chef playing encouraging music! A very high-end Amarone did the trick here.

Every restaurant was crowded, huge energy, but we were in our own space. I felt like a Japanese horror movie of the 50s, eating my way through town.

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What Happens When You Don’t Have Customers

I’ve just spoken in LA on the sound stage that usually houses Bill Maher’s show, which formerly hosted The Price is Right, and is just up the hall from The Young and the Restless. We manhandled some quarter-million-dollar cameras out of the way, and I addressed the “studio audience,” comprising professional speakers. 

My wife and I then headed for LAX to fly to Vegas, where I’m delivering Six Figures to Seven for the first time in the US, followed by the Mentor Summit, and finally the Million Dollar Consulting® College Reunion.

Heading through the first class LAX security line, we came across on-the-job training, where three security people were staring at a screen, making comments, taking notes, and moving no one along. It took over 15 minutes for this laborious screen searching and button pushing. When I told the supervisor that the system was absurd, he patronizingly said, “Oh, thank you, sir,” and then, not knowing my wife was behind me, made a face in front of his subordinates. (Apparently they don’t measure maturity when filling supervisory jobs in Homeland Security.)

When you don’t have customers, you have zero motivation to move anything along efficaciously or urgently. Lines don’t matter, complaints don’t matter, missed connections are not  your concern. Imagine Singapore Airlines, or a Four Seasons Hotel, or Bentley unconcerned about their customers’ perceptions and experiences? There are always the Emirates Airlines, the Ritz-Carlton, and Rolls as alternatives.

The problems with most government operations is that it isn’t clear who the customer is or how satisfaction should be measured. And the customers have no alternatives.  Instead, there are mindless rules and the triumph of means over ends, AKA: bureaucracy.

Of course, none of those bureaucrats is about to fly Air Singapore, stay at the Four Seasons, or drive a Bentley. And, trust me, that’s as it should be.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

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Queenstown, New Zealand

I’m here so speak at a meeting for my pal and member of my Million Dollar Club, Rob Nixon, who is hosting his coaching club members in this idyllic “Adventure Capital of the World.” My rooms, in the fabulous Eichardt’s Private Hotel, overlook the lake in an area that greatly resembles a combination of Switzerland and Norway, with fjords, huge mountains, and great water sports. Ancient, wooden steamboats ply the lake. A fireplace warms my room, even though it’s summer here.

Yesterday, I arrived via Christchurch (where I was marooned with Dolly Parton on my only prior trip there, but that’s another column sometime). We hurried to catch the gondola to the mountaintop to be welcomed by Maori tribes people with a traditional greeting and blessing. The weather today is overcast, so our chopper ride to the glacier had to be cancelled.

It seems to me that the people in this part of the globe view the US as they would an old drive-in movie: The screen is far away, and the story is disrupted by noise, food, and occasional passion. But one thing is certain, everyone will drive home again once the showing is completed.

I’ll work with Rob’s group tomorrow and then head for home on Wednesday. It’s interesting being a global consultant: Once you’ve seen something like Queenstown, you can’t imagine NOT having seen it.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

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Reporting From Sydney

I’m in Sydney running the first Six Figures to Seven workshop, which will also run in March in Las Vegas. This is the first time I’ve “debuted” an offering outside of the U.S. (One of the participants immediately told me that he is just finishing The Global Consultant, and loves it!)

I’m staring at the Opera House, which is about 200 yards across the water, outside of my balconies. To the right, the huge Queen Victoria is docked. Sydney Harbor is deep water, so the mammoth ship is merely yards from the city streets.

It’s summer here, of course, and it’s stopped raining after quite some time. The weather today is about 75°F. Some of the team work during the day was done al fresco.

We talked about the Accelerant Curve today, and how you should structure your offerings to proceed from low cost and high ease of entry, down a sharp slope to high cost and low ease of entry. Once you have a brand, people will be drawn directly to the more intimate, high fee offerings, but until then, you need to attract people with low cost value (newsletters, blogs, books, CDs. teleconferences, etc.).

The Australian economy is taking a hit, the local dollar is down to 65 cents U.S., and the lowered expectations with China trade alone might drop the GDP by 4% annually. Yet I had a roomful of six-figure consultants looking to move quickly to seven figures.

It’s all about how you view things: half-full glass, half-empty glass, smashed glass, or overflowing glass?

© Alan Weiss2009. All rights reserved.

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Alan From Dublin

I’m happy to be contributing to Omar’s blog, especially and appropriately since I’m writing from Dublin. On Sunday morning the limo driver told me it never snows in Dublin, and on Monday morning it snowed. He was right for 24 hours, barely.

A great many clients are right for 24 hours or less, as well. They cite experience and analysis and strategic plans, but basically they are making assumptions and extrapolating the present into the future with no sound basis. 

Dublin quickly recovered from an inch of snow, but London has been paralyzed by a foot. (Why does the underground stop operating when the snow is up above ground?) Heathrow Airport alone cancelled 650 flights yesterday, generally throwing European travel into chaos. Bus routes were cancelled “to prevent injury to the public.” (The horses had no trouble moving the household cavalry to its assigned stations around the palace.)

Four people from the UK cancelled their attendance with me in London, but one person, from Manchester, showed up right on time. “Andy,” I said, astounded, “how did you make it?!”

“Don’t believe them,” he said, “there are always ways.”

There ARE always ways, and they are seldom the result of a dusty strategic plan or an executive’s baseless assumptions (or a limo driver’s assurances). They are the result of opportunism, being in the moment, and being determined to take control of your destiny.

That applies in Dublin, in London, in Manchester, and in your neighborhood, as well.

© Alan Weiss 2009.

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