Notes from an episode from the Noah Kagan Presents podcast
Thoughts about this conversation..
This fast-paced back and forth has some incredible insights into the timeless techniques and patterns that Weiss has seen work through the ages of entrepreneurship. He speaks confidently on the need for hard work and self-esteem, and on working to refine skills and language to support both those things. Weiss advocates using the tools around you for self-education and promotion, whether that be your community of contacts or through finding a mentor.
Focused on ensuring he contributes value to the community, Weiss prides himself on never retiring – after all men don’t stop playing games because they grow old, they grow old because they stop playing games.
Hugely successful entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author of Million Dollar Consulting, Alan Weiss, speaks with Noah Kagan about the secrets to building up the confidence to create a sustainable business. Using examples from his own journey. Weiss explains the importance of contributing to society to live a quality life while ensuring you put self-care as a top priority to recharge your value.
Running through the practical skills needed to boost self-esteem, along with some key tips on establishing your value, Weiss provides an array of hands-on takeaways for the budding entrepreneur or start-up founder.
“But the secret of a career is you do what you love and are great at, and you charge for it.”
Alan Weiss – 22:56
A Little Bit of Background…
US author, keynote speaker, and successful entrepreneur, Alan Weiss, has often been dubbed the ‘Rock Star of Consulting’ thanks to his gruff and controversial opinions on what makes success. Having been recruited by Princeton Consulting Firm after a short period with Prudential Insurance, Weiss embarked on an 11-year career with the firm, heading up various continental divisions. Following this, Weiss became the president of Walter. V. Clarke Associates, a consulting firm based on behavioral advice.
Into the mid-80s, Weiss decided to go it alone, forming the Summit Consulting Firm – a consulting company focusing on human and organizational performance. Renowned worldwide, Weiss has several high profile clients, including Bank of America, The New York Times, and Mercedez-Benz. He’s also taught strategy as a guest teacher at several universities, including Cape Western Reserve, University of Rhode Island, and the University of Illinois.
Key Lessons about Million Dollar Consulting:
#1 There is No Magic Bullet – 6:18
Alan Weiss makes it clear from the outset that he disagrees with the motivational doctrine spread by the likes of Tony Robbins – marking this down to purely clever marketing. Noting that people are scared to do the hard work, he says people spend time, money and effort to find an emotional panacea.
Weiss instead suggests that people need two things to succeed: pragmatic skills and self-esteem. Weiss believes that everyone lacks self-esteem, but by learning real skills – such as writing proposals, strategizing business plans, etc – we can learn the language, behaviors, and attitudes to build our self-esteem.
#2 Live a Quality Life by Helping Others
Weiss observes that many businesses are focusing their efforts on marketing because they’re honed in on making money. He prefers to focus on creating value, so the quality sells itself by solving a problem. This is because Weiss believes that to live a quality life, one must contribute to others.
#3 Self-Care as Priority
Like many poignant entrepreneurs before him, Weiss draws the airplane oxygen mask analogy into the conversation, explaining that self-care is integral to helping others. If you have nothing to give because you’ve spent yourself, you have no value to others. This is a healthy level of selfishness to make sure you’re in the right place to be contributing effectively.
#4 Practical Skills to Build Self-Esteem
Weiss runs through a catalog of techniques and skills which build self-esteem when you utilize them in real-world scenarios. To boost self-confidence, Weiss implores developing the following:
- Critical Thinking – It’s necessary to be able to find the cause of problems to remove the issue altogether
- A Strong Grasp of Language – Missed opportunities usually come down to slow or inaccurate communication. Grammar is especially important as the etiquette of educated people.
- Understand Money as a Priority – Like time, it’s not that you don’t have enough money, it’s what you’re prioritizing it toward.
- Know Your Are Who Your Are – You become resilient by accepting this and making the best of what you have.
- Know the Difference Between Your Self-efficacy and Self-worth – You can make mistakes in business but it doesn’t undermine your core values. Don’t listen to unsolicited feedback – instead, try this exercise:
Look in the mirror each morning and tell yourself 2-3 things you want to achieve that day. In the evening, repeat but ask 2-3 things you did well that day.
Take personal accountability – You need to be accountable for your attitudes, motivations, behaviors, thoughts, and actions. This is true for your emotions too – someone doesn’t make you angry, you let yourself get angry with them.
#5 Know Your Value Proposition
If you want to find your market, you need to know your value proposition, Weiss says it isn’t that difficult – it’s something you like that you’re good at and passionate about. Once you’re clued into that value proposition, you’ll find your customer. Following this, marketing is purely finding the right channel to reach them.
#6 Charge Your Value
In a quippy analogous jibe, Weiss jokes that you wouldn’t charge for a Picasso painting by the number of brushstrokes it has. Therefore, if you charge per hour, head, seat filled… etc, you’re selling yourself short – not recognizing yourself as more than the sum of your parts.
To charge your value, you have to create that value to the customer by solving a problem. Weiss notes that he’s a ‘Jack of all Trades’ type who will do anything except tech or finance because they’re boring. In that sense, when someone has a problem, he offers to solve it in any way he can figure out.
Ask their problem, offer to have a proposal on their desk the next day with a plan to solve it. Charge the value of having the problem solved, not the time you spent. How much would it have cost them if you hadn’t solved it?
#7 Find an Expert Mentor
If you want to learn the skills to solve a problem, it’s no good talking to someone who’s watched other people do it from afar. Find a mentor who has been in the thick of it, who knows the techniques from experience, and who has insider knowledge to share. Choose a mentor who’ll be standing on the battle-line with you, demonstrating and actively helping you to improve your style and execution.
To know if your mentor is helping, you should see a demonstrable improvement. Therefore you need to select a coach who can help develop those particular skills you want to improve.
Quick Steps for Startups by Alan Weiss
Here’s Alan Weiss’ quick guide for what you need to get started:
- Identify your value
- Identify your buyer
- Find a way to reach the buyer
- Have a way for the buyer to reach you
- Raise 6 months capital – you won’t make your first sale for 6 months
- Have the discipline to call everyone you know and ask if they are interested in your value or know someone who is.
- Consider process solutions as a service
- Provide high-quality specialty services and charge high