Lessons from the Sports Dude: Drive the Conversation

There’s a story breaking in Los Angeles. Our L.A. Rams might be coming home after wandering through the mid-west for the past 20-years.

And the Sports Dude is in there.

Eric Geller LA Rams

As background, the Sports Dude got really, really sick some years ago. It almost took his life, and it definitely impacted his career. He went from Sportscaster of the Year, to hospital patient barely able to make it back to Los Angeles for his life-saving surgeries.

But he’s back. He’s cured. He’s healthy. He reclaimed his life, including marrying his high school sweetheart, and he is claiming his spot in L.A. sports. And my Baby Boomer husband is using social media to pave his way.

We set up his blog, On Any Given Sports Day, several years ago so he could be a part of the conversation. Then his Twitter. And Facebook page. And YouTube channel. And LinkedIn accounts.

By doing so, he is able to be in the middle of any sports story, any where. Connect to people he needs to know, and where THEY are using social media.

Did you know he was the only reporter invited to cover Deacon Jones’ funeral outside the NFL channel?

And it is working.

It is opening the doors to the stadiums and arenas. He has his credentials to most games. He’s back in the press box. He’s freelancing for a couple outfits, and has his eyes on the big prize: The Los Angeles Rams.

He is in the middle of the Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams campaign. He’s active with the booster club, with their more than 25,000 Facebook Fans, and he’s building a sports fan base there.

When on the field covering one story, he makes sure to get video of iconic L.A. sports heroes talking about bringing the team home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCOfrIBkWZ0

While at a school fundraiser last night the news broke that Rams owner “Silent Stan” Kroenke finally raise[d] his voice has purchased more than 60 acres of prime real estate next to The Fabulous Forum. Big enough to build a stadium. And, as they say: “If you build it, they will come.”

Sport Dude rushed us home, threw on the Clippers game, and fired up his laptop.

He stayed up late writing a story. Posted it to Examiner.com (owned by AEG, by the way), his blog, sent out Twitter links, and then got to sleep around 2:30 am.

He’s back awake, and following the story. He’ll spend the day tweeting, connecting, pushing and nudging the story.

And there’s the lesson: No matter what is going on, stop what you are doing and get in the middle of the story. The story will not wait for you, and the conversations definitely won’t either.

You don’t have to spend the day in front of your laptop doing it. Use your tablet or smart phone while waiting in line for coffee at Starbucks, or waiting for the elevator. But make sure to get your voice in there.

Blog, comment, connect, retweet, follow.

Blog, comment, connect, retweet, follow.

Social media allows all any one of us to jump in the story, and help drive it. All you have to do is:

Blog, comment, connect, retweet, follow.

Why YOU need to care about Congress’ push for accrual based accounting for law firms

My daughter asked me a math question the other night. I replied, “I haven’t had to take a math class since Algebra II.”

Okay, that’s kinda a lie. I had to take stats in college to graduate, and was really happy to get through that class with a C.

But, needless to say, I don’t do math. And I certainly do not do accounting (yet).

Photo courtesy of meisdupid on Photobucket

Scrolling through my e-mails and blog feeds this morning and came across A Call to Arms: I by Adam Smith, Esq.:

I fear that most of you may be unaware that Congress is considering a proposal that would have, I believe, have tremendously negative consequences for Law Land, without any scintilla of a principled justification or countervailing benefit other than a cheap shot one-time hit of revenue heroin. Continue reading

How to avoid random acts of hashtags

Hopefully by now everyone knows what a hashtag is beyond an annoying way that kids talk today.

Or a scroll at the bottom of a TV show.

Hashtags began randomly enough in 2007 and became popularized during the San Diego wildfires of that year.

They allow users of Twitter (and now every other social media) to search and find topics. They are now hyperlinked in the status, so all you have to do is click to get your search results.

Which brings me to random acts of hashtags.

There is a marketing conference taking place right now. I have several friends attending the conference, and they are all using a different hashtag.

Rather than be able to follow one conversation, there are several conversations taking place.

Since I am fortunate to follow many people in my industry, I was able to catch on pretty quick to what was going on with the three separate hashtags.

Unfortunately, I am not that invested that I will build out a multiple hashtag search result into one stream.

You lost me. And you lost me in several places: Continue reading

Legal technology disrupters and why you need to take note

Yes, I am still reading Richard Susskind‘s Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future. Chapter 5: Disruptive Legal Technologies definitely caught my attention:

[A] distinction is commonly drawn between sustaining and disruptive technologies. In broad terms, sustaining technologies are those that support and enhance the way that a business or a market currently operates. In contrast, disruptive technologies fundamentally challenge and change the functioning of a firm or a sector. p. 55

Think in terms of how the introduction of digital cameras killed the film development industry, and how that has impacted ancillary companies like Costco (where I would get my film developed, and then spend a couple hundred dollars).

Susskind goes on to discuss several disruptive technologies and the need to be an early adopter:

in the early days of disruptive technologies, market leaders as well as their customers often dismiss the new systems as superficial and unlikely to take off. Later, however, as they gain acceptance, customers often switch quickly to services based on the new technology, whereas provider, unless they are early adopters, are often too late to recognize their real potential and never manage to regain ground. p. 57.

Wow. How true is that? It would get very tired and repetitive to go over all the new technologies that lawyers and law firms blew off to their regret.

In the chapter, Susskind claims 13 disruptive technologies impacting legal. However, I only want to talk about two:

1. Relentless Connectivity

Due to the inability to physically remove my iPhone from my hand without causing a panic attack, I am always connected. I am connected by e-mail, text, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. You get it.

While that might seem sad to many people, I have come to realize it puts me at an advantage, and my networks as well.

Someone in my network today was looking for an item. I happen to know someone who sells that item. I just connected them and helped them to make a deal.

I see my friends on Facebook constantly looking for sources and referrals. I get direct referrals as a legal marketer. It’s about opportunity and availability.

I am also constantly reminded of what my contacts and connections do for a living when they post or comment on something relevant to their line of work.

If you are not connected to any social networks, and using them all for personal and business connections, you are allowing another person, a competitor, to occupy that space and gain the advantage for the opportunity.

When these technologies combine, and the machines (or whatever kind) are switched on, which seems now to be all the time, the ‘presence’ of lawyers in increasingly visible to their network of contacts,. In turn, client and colleagues will have and expect to have immediate access to lawyers. p. 61

When your client wakes up at 3:00 a.m., I assure you, they will not be calling anyone. They will be firing up their iPad, shooting out messages via text and email, seeing who is online on Facebook. If you wait to get into the office to connect, even if it is at 7:00 a.m., you might be too late.

Don’t fool and kid yourself. Social networks, especially Facebook, are not going anywhere.

2. Big Data

Yes, it’s a buzz term, but there is something behind it. Just like when Kevin O’Keefe and I sat around a table at the Bonaventure Hotel many years ago trying to figure out what this Twitter thing was all about. There is something “there” here.

Very little work has yet been undertaken on the relevance of big data for law. However, I predict that it will prove, in due course, to be of profound significance. For example, by aggregating research data, we might be able to find out what legal issues and concerns are troubling particular communities; by analysing databases of decision by judges and regulators, we may be able to predict outcomes in entirely novel ways; and by collecting huge bodies of commercial contracts and exchanges of emails, we might gain insight into the greatest legal risks that specific sectors face. The disruption here is that crucial insights, correlations, and even algorithms might come to play a central role in legal practice and legal risk management and yet they will not be generated through the work of mainstream lawyers (unless they choose to collaborate with big data scientists). p. 67

Wowsa. Again.

I remember the passion and excitement that hit me with the advent of blogs, and then social networking.

I’m starting to get that same feeling around Big Data. It’s not about aggregation, but the analysis, and actionable predictions.

Which brings me back to connectivity. By being connected, and willing to have a conversation with someone I did not know, who asked the right question (perhaps in the wrong way … inside joke) that caught my attention, my passion to explore this further has been further ignited. Guess we’ll see years down the road if we can get “there” from here.

The most depressing day of the year is today

The most depressing day of the year is today. How’s that for a happy Monday, back to work, after the holidays thought?

I have to admit, there was a part of me feeling a bit of the Monday blues coming on over the weekend.

So I did a quick self-examination.

Who was I getting dressed for work today? Was it the worker amongst workers I have trained to be? Or the self-absorbed, self-important asshole I can revert to with lack of sleep?

I asked myself a few questions to get a reality check:

  • Am I bringing my own agenda to the job? Or am I bringing an attitude of service?
  • Do I believe and convey that my answer is the only right answer? Or am I open and willing to listen to other ideas? Or fears?
  • Do I have an attitude of Holier Than Thou? Or am I embracing and open to all ideas?
  • Do I have a sincere desire to be helpful? Or do I bring an attitude of self-importance?
  • Am I here only for a pay check? Or do I have a sincere desire to be here?
  • Am I motivated by self or service? Or am I motivated by what “you” think about me?
  • Where is my ego in all of this? Did I check it at the door? Or am I using it as a shield?
  • Am I talking at or with you? Am I present in our conversations? Are we collaborating? Or am I, once again, leading with my ego?

When I start to look at who got on the train today, and asked myself these questions, I was quickly able to see why I was the problem on this most depressing day of the year.

By the time my train reached its destination, a different Heather disembarked. This is the only Blue Monday I want to hear about today:

No crazy New Year’s resolutions for me.

Here we are. A new year. Resolutions will be made by many, but not by me (Here’s why I prefer A Daily Resolution).

I have also decided to not look back.

2013 is so, well, 2013.

I am well into 2014 and I’m wondering what’s ahead? What I can do? What I can shape? Where will I have influence and impact? What do I have to accept? What do I have to let go?

futureI’m reading Richard Susskind‘s Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future (a year after it was published), and I couldn’t get through the first chapter without writing a blog post.

The recession is over. We are not only not going back to the way things were. And we are not going back to Wordperfect, or Microsoft Office 2003, or Windows 7.

And yet, lawyers and law firms will continue to resist technology on several fronts: They are skeptical to new technologies. They don’t want to learn something new. The cost to train and roll out a new system. My favorite, is that new technologies will make lawyers more productive, and therefore bill less to the client (ugh).

Lawyers need to step up their adaption to new technologies if the profession is to stay relevant. Legal Zoom has taken over in many areas of the law, and that is going to continue.

Technology is speeding up, not slowing down, our ability to collect and process information. According to Susskind,

You can call me radical, but is seems to be that if we can see the day in which the average desktop machine has more processing power than all of humanity combined, then it might be time for lawyers to rethink some of their working practices.

Susskind goes on to make the case why lawyers need to stop resisting technology:

It is bizarre to think that in, say, two or three years’ time, our online lives will be dominated by systems that very few of us have heard of today, or indeed that may not have been devised. Three years ago hardly any lawyers had heard of Twitter. Today, more than 300 million people are users. And yet, even with that number of subscribers, I always get the sense that lawyers are waiting for Twitter to take off. In resisting Twitter and other emerging systems, what we are often witnessing is a phenomenon that I call ‘irrational rejectionism’ — the dogmatic and visceral dismissal of a technology with which the skeptic has no direct or personal experience. One key challenge for the legal progression, however, is to adopt new systems earlier; to identify and grasp the opportunities afforded by emerging technologies.

We need, as lawyers, to be open-minded because we are living in an era of unprecedented technological change.” (emphasis is mine)

So why do lawyers need to be open-minded? Well, clients for one. They are insisting upon it (anyone take the Kia technology challenge yet??).

Secondly, younger lawyers will insist upon it. If your technological house is not in order, how will you recruit the best and the brightest when you are the old and the Luddite?

Finally, this is the world we live in.

I am looking forward to 2014. My kids are culminating their schools and will be headed off to high school and middle school in the fall. I will be participating in a Leadership Institute beginning in March. I plan to spend a good chunk of the early part of my year getting my technological house in order at work. It’s time. And helping the partners look forward to a new year and a new focus.

All in all, I think we’ll leave 2013 behind us for now. I’m sure there are lessons we can learn back there … but I’d rather click the page onto something new.

Gen Y, Meet Milbank.

An era-appropriate reference.

Nothing like an Above the Law post to get the LME going.

Today’s late-breaking post, Biglaw Firm Holds Associates To Strict Social Media Policy, is brought to you by the good folks at Milbank.

Where to begin? Where to begin?

A four page memo that can be boiled down to: “Don’t be an idiot.” Or, the more professional, “Conduct yourself professionally on social media and networking sites as you would in any professional setting.”

ATL goes into detail of everything wrong with this policy, and I agree with it all.

But what they miss is the generational implications of such a policy.

What a bunch of killjoys. Who under, oh, 60, would want to work there?

Seriously where do they plan to recruit new associates?

Harvard? You know, that school that brought us Facebook?

Stanford? Where Google’s co-founders (and your client), owner of YouTube, Blogger, and countless other social sites, met?

Nothing says “welcome” to the Gen Y crowd as Big Brother:

The Firm reserves the right to monitor the activities of lawyers and administrative employees on Social Media Sites and may at any time request or require the removal of any posting or content on a Social Media Site. If conduct is in violation of Firm policies and/or is seen as compromising the interests of the Firm, the Firm may take appropriate disciplinary action.

Yikes. And don’t update your Facebook status from work. That is prohibited at well.

Hello. Bueller?? Bueller? The world has changed. Social media is as much of our culture as cell phones and e-mail.

The genie is out of the social media bottle and is not going back. If you have honest concerns, deal with them, but by trying to lock down social media you have now identified yourself as the least cool law firm to work for on the planet.

Which might be fine with your over 60 partners … but wait until their grandchildren get them a new iPad or tablet for Christmas so they can connect and start communicating with the other folks in the fastest growth demographic for Facebook and Twitter.

On the bright side, per the above link, social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the web. At least one HR problem has been solved.

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