Do you have what it takes?

Photo credit: Gina Rubel. #LMA15

In my spiritual community we talk about doing things “for fun and for free.” Apparently, doing for others brings back more reward than doing for yourself.

The same is true in my professional association, The Legal Marketing Association.

My first boss in legal marketing, Frank Moon, saw something in my non-profit, political, and event management experience that he thought would lateral in well to legal. And it has.

He also threw me head first into LMA’s local chapter here in Los Angeles. I could plan a better event. I could bring better ideas to the table. And so my LMA “career” began, somewhere in 1997.

Fast forward almost two decades, and I have done a couple tours of duty on my local board, served as my local chapter president, joined a national committee to get to know Merry Neitlich better, and became good friends with John Byrne as we worked on a Membership Dues Restructuring task-force together (where our recommendations were adopted … 10 years later, lol).

At some point, Diane Hamlin encouraged me to run for the national board, but I didn’t make it (this was back when we had contested elections).  Nathalie Daum told me not to be discouraged and invited me to participate on a national committee and try again the next year. I did and I made it. I also made great friends with Jayne Navarre, and met all these LMA luminaries, who turned out to be legal marketers just like me.

I rotated off what had now become the international board after two years, got to chair the SIGs task force, and went back on my local board. With Jayne’s encouragement I began this blog. We even joined that Twitter thing together. We’re one another’s first Follow (isn’t that cute).

Some years ago I was invited to join the annual conference committee, and my love-in with Catherine Alman MacDonagh began, and I got to know Roberta Montafia when we were all roommates in Orlando. Catherine and I decided that we had so much fun on the committee we would run for the board together … and we both made it! What was Nathan Darling thinking? And don’t you wish you could have been under the cone of silence for those meetings (nominations committee AND the board)?

Since rotating off the international board I was invited to attend the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute where I have met another group of life-long friends and mentors, head the national task force that reviewed and revised our nominations and election process, and co-chair the technology committee with Laura Toledo and Lindsay Griffiths.

Through this all I have built the closest relationships, both professional and personal. The photo above is from the most recent LMA conference; I cannot imagine what my life would be like today without any of them, and it’s all because of LMA.

LMA has provided for me, and my family financially. LMA has made my work life better, and has made each firm I have worked at better because I bring you and your ideas with me wherever I go.

LMA isn’t an association. LMA is us.

And now it’s your turn. I’m going to take a couple years off from LMA leadership. Focus on my new firm. On-ramp Kim Reisman into our profession (I saw the same thing in her that Frank saw in me). Perhaps I will finally make the time to get my masters in Law Firm Management from GW.

LMA NominationsFor those of you have served on the international board, please share your experiences in the comments.

Photo credit: Gina Rubel. #LMA15 | L to R | Back RowLydia Bednerik, Roy Sexton, Laura Toledo, Josh (Mr. Laura) Toledo, Megan McKeon, Nancy Myrland | Middle Row: Heather Morse, Gretchn Rubel, Chris Fritsch, Robin Howorka, Jasmine Trillos-Decarie, Gail Lamarche | Front Row: Kimberly Reisman, Gina Rubel, Catherine Alman MacDonagh, Marcie Borgal Shunk

I’m changing my tune on surveys

It’s no secret that I (along with most legal marketing professionals) have never been a fan of surveys, and have always done the minimal I need to do, push off the rest, and ignore even more of the survey requests, and subsequent requests to purchase an ad or a plaque.

Somewhere at LMA’s annual conference last week I heard someone say something that changed my mind, attitude, and thought on strategy surrounding these surveys:

It’s the only time I am recognized.

– anonymous lawyer

Sure, attorneys get paid well. Extremely well. But, when you think about it, lawyers really aren’t thanked too often. And that is what they personally get from these accolades. Recognition.

It turns out that getting a “head’s up” from Chambers, a “that-a-boy/girl” from Best or Super Lawyers, or a “you deserve it” from ALM is appreciated.

The attorneys in my firm are my clients. As their strategic partner in all things business development, marketing, and visibility, I have to take into account what motivates them when I am making strategic decisions; visceral reactions won’t cut it.

As legal marketers we are all so focused on the bottom line as a measurement, that sometimes we can lose sight of some of those softer measurements.

Attorneys know (or should know) that these surveys and awards will not bring in a new client. Legal marketers absolutely know that being ranked will not add anything to the bottom line, and will most likely cause chaos and disruption in a department around the deadlines.

But I am changing my tune here. Rather than do the bare minimal, I will set up a strategic plan with each practice group on which surveys we will participate in the following year. We will calendar, plan, and partner together to complete these. We might even buy some ads around the more industry-specific and prestigious awards.

This isn’t an all-out surrender to the lists and surveys, but an openness to see where they do provide value, and sometimes that value is soft.

UPDATE: The mystery storyteller was Cheryl Bame.

My father became a solo practitioner 50 years ago. I asked him what had changed in the years since he became a lawyer and why now so many lawyers want to get on the rankings/awards lists. He said lawyers are in a thankless job and do not get many accolades for their work, so the awards give them that recognition.

The spirit and energy that connects us all

Photo credit Debbie Marcinkowski

Vic in Serta. Photo credit Debbie Marcinkowski

My morning meditation was overtaken today by thoughts of my friend Vic Anderson. Vic has been very ill for a while, but the end is near and I do believe that his energy is increasing as he prepares to say goodbye. And while I am not “that” kind of crunchy, granola kind of gal, I do believe that we are all connected by an energy, and that energy is overwhelming me today.

What I am also very sensitive to are the other pockets of energy where I am connected to others.

Over on the #LMA15 threads I am a member of I am seeing that same spirit and energy connecting us in conversations and experiences. The chatter, which is just an indication of our attachment to one another, continues.

A part of me wanted to exit those threads this morning. I initially saw them as an interruption, as noise, when it was really energy. In the true spirit of Vic, who would never kill a fly, and was known to release crickets into neighborhoods, who am I to remove myself from a circle of energy?

My dear friend Nanea Reeves, wife to Vic, wrote a poignant post this morning, Work/Life Balance and What That Means When Things Fall Apart. I’ve known Nanea and Vic since Nanea was a struggling actress and artist, and Vic was the big cheese on the movie sets in charge of transportation.

I was there when they bought their home that they are now remodeling. And Nanea lead the revolt of my bridesmaids when I chose a blue velvet dress for them to wear, and Nanea was having none of it.

Nanea is now a tech exec, and Vic formed a charity to change the world one kitchen, orphanage, and school at a time.

For the past month or two there have been chants around the world for Vic. When you are in the middle of an energy like that, and truly present, it is impossible to not see how the universe brings us together.

A partner just stopped me in the hall and mentioned I looked sad. I explained that my friend is going to die very soon. He offered to tell me a joke, so we walked into his office. The joke did not lift my spirits, but the furniture and art did. They were all Chinese, which ties back to Vic’s love and passion for Tibet.

Today, there are no coincidences.

Please join me, and just take a moment to offer Vic up in light and love; and enter this circle of energy with us.

LMA – Let the Conference Begin in 1-3-5

Yes, I’ve been in San Diego since Saturday for the “pre-prom” get togethers. In LMA I have met some of my dearest friends, mentors, colleagues, bosses, inspirations. LMA has allowed me to grow and develop my craft, while maintaining my sanity.

I know the Twitter hashtag (@LMA15) has been blowing up for days, the pictures in the LME Facebook groups are flowing, but the conference actually just kicked off with a great timeline video (Happy 30th Conference Anniversary, LMA).

Dan Pink is our keynote. Were going to learn a 1-3-5 … so let us begin:

1 Insight

Why do lawyers hate sales, marketing, and business development?

Dan went out and researched: “When you think of ‘sales’ or ‘selling,’ what’s the first word you think of?”

Answers from the audience: cars, sleazy, pushy …

When the seller has more information than the buyer, when the buyers are not aware, this is what you get:

wordcloud

Here’s the big insight: We no longer live in a world of “buyer beware,” but “seller beware.” We live in a fundamentally different world where the buyer is now in the stronger position. Thank you, Google (and how many years have I been saying this??).

The low road has now been blocked. We have to take the high road.

3 Principles

Attunement

This is perspective. Can you get out of your own head and get someone else’s perspective? Can I get the business perspective of the clients? Can I gt the perspective of perspective clients?

Attunement is a cornerstone. In any realm we have very little power. We need to find the common ground.

Buoyancy

How do you explain away the failures and rejection are one of the keys to success. The ability to bounce back from rejection is so important.

How many lawyers are rejected once and NEVER go back to the well, or try again? Yeah, I’ve encountered that.

Clarity

Access to information is power. Moving from “accessing information” to “curating information” is powerful. Being a problem solver is not as important today is as important as being a problem finder.

5 Takeaways

  1. INCREASE YOUR EFFECTIVENESS BY BRIEFLY REDUCING YOUR FEELINGS OF POWER. Is your natural instinct to look at things from your perspective or the other person’s perspective? People in key power can be too self-involved and will not see the other person’s perspective. Huh?? Think about it. A junior person is very aware of all the people above them, and what they want, what they need, what they are concerned about. More senior people will not be as concerned about those lower on the power scale. By reducing your FEELINGS of power, you will get more attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. Very interesting.
  2. USE YOUR HEAD AS MUCH AS YOUR HEART. When studying attunement in a professional setting you want people who can imagine what the other side is THINKING, and what the other side is FEELING. Turns out that THINKING is the more important than the two (in a professional setting). You need to focus on thoughts and interests, not what they are feeling.
  3. PAY ATTENTION TO OTHERS’ POSTURE, GESTURE, AND LANGUAGE. THEN REFLECT THOSE BACK WITHOUT BEING AN IDIOT ABOUT IT. When two groups were sent into to negotiate, one group was given the extra instruction to “mimic” the person they are selling. If they touch their face, you touch your face. They cross arms, you cross arms. They stand funny, you stand funny. So, which group did better???? Yeah, the group that mimic the other person’s behavior. Why? There is a language aspect to mimicking. By mimicking you are paying attention, you are getting their perspective. You need to use their language.
  4. DON’T BE A GLAD-GANDER. BE YOURSELF. Who are better sales people, introverts or extroverts? Since I have been wrong all day … I’m going with introverts sell more. DAMN, Wrong again. Extrovers do slightly better. But AMBIVERTS do greatly better. What the hell are AMBIVERTS??
    • Ambiverts have introvert and extrovert traits, but in balance. See if you recognize any of these ambivert traits: Ambiverts are more flexible. They don’t really prefer one way of functioning over the other
  5. GIVE PEOPLE AN OFF-RAMP. We spend too much time trying to change people’s mind. Give them an easy way to act.

What happened to pride in service? Can it be found in a law firm?

Many years ago I was vacationing on Dominica and stayed at a hotel that was built out of the original fort. Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Black Sails.

The dining room was not always clean. The white table clothes were slightly stained with wine spills from the prior diners. However, the service was impeccable. The pride and care the staff took in the most mundane activity of pouring a glass of water is so memorable that almost two decades later I could easily write 500 words to describe it. I hadn’t realized it at time, but noticed it that day, but service in restaurants in the States had really gone downhill since the days of Chasen’s and Scandia.

The art of service — the pride in service — is so rare that when you experience it, you realize how lacking it is around you; whether in a restaurant, behind the meat counter at the supermarket, at Starbucks, or at work.

Which brings me to this week.

I bade farewell to one of my assistants this week, Kaye Heller. I knew and worked with Kaye for a whole month and a week, yet I know one thing for certain: Her attention to detail and pride in her work will be missed at the firm, within my department, and by me.

Whether ordering a lunch service, processing a sponsorship request, or circulating an e-mail touting the firm in the news for the week, nothing was done by Kaye without purpose and care, along with pride and attention to detail.

How rare is this today?

I am the first to admit that my care to detail, while great, is not perfect. I have been known to “phone it in” when I could have dropped everything and given it my all. And, yes, sometimes good enough is good enough for me. In fact, I have been known to have typos in my blog posts; and I’m okay with that.

Not so with Kaye, and the Kayes of the world out there. To these rare souls, I salute you. And to all of us who are service providers, we need to take stock and inventory of our personal service standards and shake off that cloak of complacency. Don’t our clients deserve that?

We talk about client service standards, but how often are they designed around us rather than the client?

A client this week sent one of our partners a birthday cake. I had to take a peek at what the cake looked like. Was it phoned in from Costco? Expensive and fancy from one of the top L.A. bakeries? What caught my attention were the personal details that only the client (not the personal assistant) would know. No Happy Birthday was necessary. The cake reflected the passions of the partner.

In a presentation we did together last year, Dave Bruns talked about the client relationship cycle (which I have completely stolen, by the way). When properly moved along, a client not only becomes loyal, but becomes an advocate of the service provider (works both for lawyers and legal marketers), referring them business.

I’m beginning to see that there is a higher level as well.

At a certain point, the client becomes a true fan of the service provider. The client will go just as far for the service provider as the service provider goes for them. The relationship becomes balanced in this way. A true partnership. I’m sure I’ll find a nice and memorable term for this level of client/service provider symbiotic relationship, so if you have any ideas, post them in the comments and I’ll give you credit in the footnotes of my slides if I use it.

In the meantime, Kaye, we will miss you. We’ll stumble. We’ll be fine. And thank you.

A few thoughts on turning 50

As I prepare to turn 50 (yeah, 50) this weekend, I can’t help but reflect. Who wouldn’t.

I’m thinking back to the panic I felt when I was turning 24 (yeah, 24). It was going to be non-stop from that day forward to 25, and 25 was a quarter of a century, and halfway to 50.

And here I am. 50.

I am in a great place. I thought I’d be panicked, and I have had my moments throughout the year, but I’m good. I might go so far as to say, “50 is looking pretty sweet.”

Reflecting, my 20s were all about trying to figure out my path; what did I want to be when I grew up? I was a kid trying to be an adult. I wore the right shoes and the right clothes. I wore my hair up and made sure the outsides looked the part of the role I was playing (administrative assistant, grassroots organizer, lobbyist). What I didn’t understand was why the adults (those over 40) still thought of me as a kid.

My 30s were all about trying to fill the adult shoes around me — wife, mother, event planner, legal marketer. I was “in my 30s,” respect me. And the people around me were starting to. However, my insides were still so insecure. The clothes fit, but they were not comfortable. Impostor syndrome was in full force.

My 40s were where I found my true and authentic self. I shed the layers that no longer had meaning, no longer fit, no longer felt comfortable. The death of my college boyfriend really propelled me forward. Life was too short, and it was starting to speed up. If this is all there was, it wasn’t enough, and the only way it was going to change was by me changing it.

And here I am, less than a week away from 50.

My life is not perfect, but my insides are at peace. The impostor syndrome that was still lurking around until a few years ago has completely left me. I feel 100% at peace in my skin, and in my life. I no longer “think” something is true, I “know” it to be true. I also know how to know something without being arrogant or smug about it.

I was looking for a graphic for this post and everything I found about turning 50 is about trying to feel and look like you did in your 20s or 30s, or a joke about getting old.

I don’t want to feel like I did in my 20s or 30s, and I am fine with how I look. And turning 50 to me is not about the jokes of getting old (although my dad, I’m sure, did get me a subscription to AARP), but about the reflection of where I am, how I got here, what I can share and pass along, and where I get to go today.

If nothing else, my experience has taught me that I am just one part of a greater whole. How I experience that today is different, not better, than it was in my 20s, 30s, and 40s.

So here I am.

You want to interview with me? Here’s my best advice.

Time is certainly flying over at the new firm. Busy meeting people. Busy getting things done. Busy looking for a new legal marketing manager (e-mail/pm me for the job description).

If you are interested in the position, or are reading this because you are trying to learn more about me for our interview, let me share with you some advice.

One of my philosophies that I have borrowed along my legal marketing career is that what we do is all about getting to know, like and trust one another. Without these three things, true relationships cannot be formed, built, nor sustained.

KNOW

If you are interviewing with me, know that I have already Googled you. If you do not know what your Google results look like, you better figure it out fast and ask yourself: “Is this how I want to be known?”

What does your open Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram accounts say about you? Will I learn what I need to know about you, or, worse yet, will what I learn about you lead me to pass on even calling you in for an interview?

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