Alan Weiss Consulting Interview: Part 4

This is the final part of our 4-part interview with Alan Weiss. If you missed the previous parts you can find them here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Enjoy the interview….

Mike: Alan, you’re constantly writing new books, working with clients and doing training.  How do you manage your time and stay productive?  What’s your secret?

Alan: I work about 20 hours a week.  My secret is I keep a physical organizer where I record what I want to accomplish in a day or a week or a month or I can look at the whole year at a glance.

The problem is people who just keep electronic organizers can’t look at a juxta-position.

They can’t look at things as they relate to each other.  I mean, they’re fine for a lot of things and I use technology every minute but you need a physical organizer and you need to work backwards from your goals.

That’s why I can write five books a year because I’ve got it plotted out how I’m going to write each chapter and when.

I work about 20 hours a week.  My secret is I keep a physical organizer where I record what I want to accomplish in a day or a week or a month or I can look at the whole year at a glance.

And just like my vacations are untouchable, so are these sessions I do with books or clients or anything else.

Mike: You mentioned you work 20 hours a week.  What are you doing the rest of the time?

Alan: Well, I’m at the pool, I’m walking the dogs, I’m smoking a cigar, I’m driving exotic cars, we’re taking brief trips, I’m reading, I’m writing for entertainment or for relaxation, lots of things.  I do have a lot of hobbies.

Mike: Have you been living that lifestyle for a long time?

Alan: From about ten years ago.  When I first started consulting before technology I was travelling 85% of the time because I had to go to all these clients.  But my last project with Hewlett Packard, I remember I never showed up once for $50,000. Technology is a great way to expand what you do without actually having to get out of the house.

That’s why I can write five books a year because I’ve got it plotted out how I’m going to write each chapter and when.

Most consultants don’t streamline their own methodology enough.  They’re in love with their methodology, but it needs to be streamlined.  You need to delegate work to the clients and then you need to use some contractors if you have to.

Mike: What do you see as the biggest mistake or danger holding back most consultants and how do you think that they can deal with it to become more successful?

Alan: They need a loving support network.  There are not enough people around many consultants to tell them – when they’re wrong to help them, and when they’re right to help them understand that they did something well. You need a support network.

Number two, you need the self esteem and self belief and self confidence that you’re in this to help others.  If you really believe you’re in this to help others you won’t hold back.  Number three, you can’t be guilty.  Guilt masks talent.  So stop worrying about what other people think.  Just worry about what it is you accomplish.  And the fact is that too many consultants feel that it’s proper to be humble.  Show me a great leader.  Show me a great visionary.  Show me people who really move the world.  They hadn’t been humble folks with rare, rare exception.

Mike: Looking back over your career — the ups and downs that everyone faces over time — if you could narrow it down to one single factor in your success what that might be?

Alan: The single biggest factor in my success is intellectual fire power.  I can talk to anyone about anything.  I’ve got a very wide range in vocabulary.  I’ve got a very strongly developed sense of humor.  Words are the tools of our trade.  I can command a room, and if you can do that, you’ll win more often than not.

Mike: What was your strategy for building that skill set?

Alan: Read more.  Write more.  Engage and debate with other people.  Don’t back away.  And if you find something you don’t know – a word you don’t know, or a phrase you don’t know, a historical event you don’t know – look it up.  And I don’t mean on Wikipedia.

Mike: Alan, thanks so much for doing this interview. Much appreciated.

Alan: You’re welcome Michael. Thank you.

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  • griselda

    Learning how to communicate better on paper, on stage and one-to-one is my mission for the year. Alan is such a master at these. Allan do you have any specific tips for female consultants 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Griselda. Always appreciate your input and support.

  • Several months ago, I was asked to fill in for a last minute speaking event as the initial speaker became suddenly ill. I said no problem I can talk about the topic and fill up the r equired time. To Bad I said that. I suddenly felt I had died o n the platform. Alan, I am going to take your advice to heart in the “Read more etc ” paragraph. I have never had a problem taking command of a room until that moment. Thanks for this advice.

    • Trudy – it’s good advice indeed. Thanks for sharing that example!

  • Arun Kumar MK

    Alan,

    This series of 4 interviews is really wonderful and offers many practical insights to lead a better life. Thank You…