Monthly Archives: October 2005

Queer Eye for the Legal Guy

If your firm is doing some cool stuff with technology, but (like me) you could always use more cool tech stuff, check out HP’s Legal Technology Awards competition.  Sadly, I’m not eligible since HP sponsored the first LexThink and Dennis Kennedy and I did a commercial for them showcasing their Tablet PC’s.  Damn!

Entry deadline is December 1, 2005.

Faculty Additions to BlawgThink

Sabrina Pacifici (LLRX.com, beSpacific) and Jeff Beard (LawTech Guru Blog) are joining the “faculty” at BlawgThink! 

Gyronix’s Results Manager comes to BlawgThink

Hot off the presses:  Gyronix, makers of the fantastic MindManager add-in ResultsManager is coming to BlawgThink, and each attendee will get a licensed copy of ResultsManager Pro as part of their registration, a $285.00 value

If you use MindManager, you have to check out ResultsManager, especially if you are a Getting Things Done (GTD) fan.  It is hard to describe just how cool the software is, but I’ll give the Gyronix folks a shot:

The Gyronix Dynamic Planning System™ uses a state-of-the-art visualisation software platform (MindManager®) to create a continuous productivity solution. Multiple projects, strategies or brainstorms are visualised and dynamically combined into focused dashboards which summarise next actions, enable planning reviews and track relationships & commitments.

Really, like you needed another reason to come to BlawgThink?  E-mail me if you want an invitation:  Matt@LexThink.com

Keep the Change for Charity

I love this idea from Bank of America.  According to the website:

Every time you buy something with a Bank of America Visa® debit card, we’ll round up your purchase to the nearest dollar amount and transfer the difference from your checking to your savings account free of charge. Because every bag of groceries, every coffee and every tank of gas adds up to more savings for you.

Now, all that’s missing is an option to donate the balance to charity. 

Thank You, Tim McCarver …

…for making yet another World Series almost unwatchable.  Makes me wish for an RSS feed just for Joe Buck’s commentary.  And I’m not alone.  Here are the Google results for “Tim McCarver Sucks.”  15,200 results can’t be wrong.  I’m rooting for the White Sox in four, just to get Tim McCarver to shut up. 

LexThink Alum Needs Help

Al Robert, an absolutely great guy and smart lawyer needs your help.

Business Book Reading the Five by Five way.

Though nobody ever accused me of not having enough ideas (I’ll write a post on Idea Surplus Disorder soon), I’ve found a way to have even more:

Every day, I grab five business books off of my bookshelf and set aside 45 minutes or so.  Then I read a chapter (chosen at random) from each.  Though I’ve never been able to re-read books once I’ve completed them, I find that the short burst of cool ideas from five different authors really gets my creative juices flowing. 

I’d love to know if works for you.

BlawgThink Brainstorm to be Powered by MindJet

Here’s an announcement I could not be more excited to make:  LexThink! is teaming with MindJet to turbocharge BlawgThink 2005

What does that mean, exactly?  For starters:

  • As part of the $595.00 registration fee, every attendee will get a full license to MindJet’s MindManager Pro 6, a $350.00 value!
  • We will encourage each attendee to use MindManager to collect and organize their thoughts.  During the conference, we’ll add everyone’s individual brainstorms to a group mindmap.  The mindmap will be displayed at BlawgThink! on a big screen and updated in near real-time (we’re working on making it available online in real-time, too).
  • Our “scribes” — some recent law school graduates who’ve volunteered to help — will take notes in MindManager at each session and add them to the group mindmap as well.
  • After the event, we’ll share the conference mindmap with everyone on the LexThink site (using MindJet’s cool new Viewer).
  •  Did I mention every attendee gets a full license to MindJet’s MindManager Pro 6?

A huge thanks to Hobie Swan and all of the great people at MindJet.  Hobie tells me this isn’t something they’ve ever done before and I’m humbled and honored they think enough of the BlawgThink conference concept to work with us. 

We also have some more great partnerships to announce in the next few days, so stay tuned.

Also, we still have some spots available for attendees.  If you are interested, send me an e-mail at Matt@lexthink.com and I’ll shoot you the details.

(A BIG shout out to Steve Nipper, who introduced me to Hobie).

Testing Flock Blog Editor

Just checking out Flock, a new blog-friendly browser.

Two Cool Time Wasting Web Thingies

I’ve been swamped with BlawgThink stuff lately, but finally spent the morning catching up on some of my feed reading.  I came across these two cool sites that are worth a brief look:

The first is an online optical illusion.  I’d love to figure out how to use this in a presentation.

The second is an real-time list of things people are tagging with De.licio.us.  Very cool and strangely addicting. 

BlawgThink Day Two

Here’s the info on Day 2 of BlawgThink:

There is no ‘agenda’ for the second day of BlawgThink 2005.  No panel presentations. No PowerPoints.  No keynote speakers either.  Instead, we rely upon our attendees –cool, smart, “big thinking” folks — to talk about stuff.  Really.

We are going to start the day off with a peak into the future.  Tom Mighell, Carolyn Elefant and Ernie “the attorney”  Svenson will join hosts Matt Homann and Dennis Kennedy in a  “Five by Five” brainstorming “jam session” on the future of blawgs, technology and law practice.  After that, anything goes.

Missed something the first day?  Want to learn more from one of the speakers?  Want to teach something yourself?  The second day of BlawgThink gives you the opportunity to make sure you get the most from your conference experience by bringing together all of our attendees for in-depth conversations on the topics they find most compelling.  

Because most of the collaboration and learning in Day 2 will happen in small groups, each attendee has a uniquely different experience.  However, past LexThink! attendees have agreed that the collaborative brainstorming is the most productive (and rewarding) part of the event.  We’ll work hard to make sure the notes from every small group discussion are made available to every attendee days after the conference ends.  In essence, as a BlawgThink attendee, you’ll be able to pick your own discussions while being a ‘fly on the wall’ in the others. 

At the end of the day, we’ll share the ideas that our attendees found most compelling   and give everyone an opportunity to continue their collaboration with wiki’s, conference calls, and future BlawgThink events.

Updated BlawgThink Agenda and Speaker List

If you are still on the fence about BlawgThink, check out the list of amazing speakers we have lined up for Day One:

  • 7:30-8:30
    • Registration.  Pre-Caffeinated Brainstorming.  Continental Breakfast.
  • 8:30-9:00
  • Track One:  Blogging Basics.

    Track Two:  Marketing and Client Development.

    Track Three:  Blogging 2.0.

    • 9:15-10:00 
      • Is it all about the feed?  Advanced RSS.  Rick Klau
    • 10:15-11:00
    • 11:15-12:00
    • 12:00-1:15
      • Lunch.  Keynote Speaker TBA.
    • 1:15-2:00
    • 2:15-3:00
      • Tag, you’re it.  Using Flickr, OPML, De.licio.us, Rojo, and other cutting-edge tools to supercharge your blog.
    • 3:15-4:00
      • How’d you do that?  Technical tips, tricks, and problem-solving techniques.  Fred Faulkner
    • 4:15-5:30

    BaseCamp for Lawyers?

    One of the things I want to talk about at BlawgThink is using new technologies, particularly the cool Web 2.0 applications (including blogs), in law firms.  I’ve been a big user of BaseCamp for quite some time, using it to manage LexThink personal projects.  Here’s a neat tutorial about how to use it for time tracking.  I don’t expect law firms to trust their time keeping to the folks at 37 signals just yet, but the idea is certainly interesting.

    I only score a 5.

    Jakob Nielsen posts the Top Ten Weblog Design Mistakes.  I violate at least 5, including this one:

    Sadly, even though weblogs are native to the Web, authors rarely follow the guidelines for writing for the Web in terms of making content scannable. This applies to a posting’s body text, but it’s even more important with headlines. Users must be able to grasp the gist of an article by reading its headline. Avoid cute or humorous headlines that make no sense out of context.

    I’m sure when Peter Flaschner gets done with my redesign, I’ll at least get a 7.

    Bored with Times New Roman?

    If you are a font groupie like I am, check out Vitaly Friedman’s collection of the Top 20 Best License Free Official Fonts

    Printable CEO Revisited

    Dave Seah posts an update on his Printable CEO project, something I blogged about before.  The more I think about it, the more intrigued I am by his productivity hack.  The main thing I’d change is to make the “maintaining old relationship” category worth more than one point.  Imagine if employees (especially law firm associates) were graded on his scale instead of the sheer number of hours they bill.  Would it work?

    Join us in the Hallway.

    Buzz understands what we are trying to accomplish at BlawgThink:

    In all tech events, it seems like the best part are the hallway conversations. Hallways include lunch, breakfast, dinner, drinks. I keep meeting extraordinary people, who have ideas, companies, products that are often in the stage of evolution.

    We recognize, like Buzz, that the best part of most conferences is never the conference.  We’re working hard to change that.  Like our first LexThink event this past April, we are trying to make those “hallway conversations” a significant part of BlawgThink.  For example, we’ve built in 15 minutes between every session so attendees can have some time to talk with the presenters or with one another.  We’ll also be collecting ideas from each session and use them as great starting points for the second day of collaborative brainstorming.  Finally, we are going to make plenty of room available for people to engage in conversations with one another if they’d rather talk instead of attending sessions at all.

    For some of our thinking about conferences, head on over to our brainstorming site and add your thoughts.  Just remember to “save” when you are done.

     

    How to Live in RSSia

    Steve Rubel has ten great ways to use RSS.  All are amazing.

    Speaking at BlawgThink

    We’ve added a few more speakers to the roster at BlawgThink:

    Tim Stanley of Justia (former CEO and founder of Findlaw) is talking about search engine optimization in his session “Why Google Loves Blogs.”

    Carolyn Elefant of My Shingle fame (and in my opinion, the single greatest source for practical information on small firm practice) is giving her take on Small Firm Blogging.

    We have a pair of tremendous law librarians, Bonnie Sucha and Diane Murley of WisBlawg and Law Dawg Blawg, respectively.

    Patrick Lamb will be talking about blogging in a medium size firm.

    Henry Copeland, Founder and CEO of BlogAds will talk about the Zen of Blogging.

    Steve Dembo, teacher, technologist, and podcasting pioneer.

    Tom Mighell, legal technologist and blogger extraordinairre (who doesn’t yet know we’ve found time for him to speak on Saturday) will be involved in our Five by Five.

    And Ernie the Attorney.  Enough said.

     If you still want to come, there is a bit of time to let me know at Matt@LexThink.com.

     

    BlogHers at BlawgThink

    Lisa Stone blogs about Diversity Among Legal Bloggers over on the BlogHer Blog.  I’m happy to say that we have several of the best women legal bloggers (and would love to have more) on panels at BlawgThink including Carolyn Elefant, Cathy Kirkman, Bonnie Shucha, Diane Murley, and Brandy Karl.  We also have a bunch of great women attending the event.  There is also a real chance (more by tomorrow) that we’ll be joined by Sabrina Pacifici

     

    Save My Ass for Clients

    Ran across a new service titled, seriously, “Save My Ass” that sends flowers to your significant other on predetermined dates.  Why not try this for your best clients on their birthdays?

    Get in the Jungle

    I took another look at my dog-eared copy of  Tom Kelly’s The Art of Innovation after I posted Kathy Sierra’s take on his newest book earlier today.  One passage I came across that I highlighted when I first read it was this one, which resonates with me even more now than it did before:

    Whether it’s art, science, technology, or business, inspiration often comes from being close to the action.  That’s part of why geography, even in the Internet age, counts.  And why so many high-tech companies have emerged from Silicon Valley — and not Connecticut or even New York.  New ideas come from seeing, smelling, hearing — being there.

    This sensory immersion is why people still fly to other parts of the country for face-to-face meetings with clients, customers, and colleagues, even in the information age; why phone or videoconferencing often doesn’t do it.  It’s also why people still go to museums, to be inspired in the presence of original artwork, though a digital image may be easily available on their home computer screen.

    Asking questions of people who were there, who should know, often isn’t enough.  It doesn’t matter how smart they are, how well they know the product or the opportunities.  It doesn’t matter how many astute questions you ask.  If you are not in the jungle, you’re not going to know the tiger.

    Come to BlawgThink.  Join us in the jungle.

    Personal Brilliance Buzz

    My friend, Don the Idea Guy, introduced me to Jim Canterucci, author of the new book Personal Brilliance.  Don is masterminding the blog promotion of the book, and pointed me to some “blogger resources” he and Jim put together to make it easier for bloggers to blog about the book.  I just spoke with the book’s author and he’s sending me a copy to review.  I’ll let you know what I think, when I finish it. 

    What Don is doing is pretty interesting.  He’s working with the author to promote (and presumably profit from) sales of the book while he heartily recommends it on his blog.  Does his credibility suffer?  Or has Don built up enough good will among his blog readers for us to assume he wouldn’t recommend a product or an idea without believing in it?  For me, the answer is yes.

    I am quite certain this is a question more and more blog writers will be asked as the line between “advertising” and “content” is blurred.  What do you think?

    P.S.  I’m not picking on Don here.  I know him and trust him, and frankly, I’d buy the book on his recommendation alone. I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about the intersection of blogs, advertising, paid endorsements, and the advertorial.

    P.P.S.  Don is coming to BlawgThink, so feel free to ask him yourself.

    BlawgThink 2005 One Day Option

    If you’ve hesitated on asking for an invitation to BlawgThink, or in responding to the one you already received, Dennis and I have decided to offer a one-day option for either day of the event.  Let me know if you are interested (matt@lexthink.com).

    Why is BlawgThink important?

    Dennis Kennedy and I are rounding out our BlawgThink attendee list, and decided (after talking to Eva at Catalyst Ranch) that we have room for about 50 more invitees.  If you’ve not received an invitation, but still want to come, let me know (matt@lexthink.com).  If you can’t come, but think there’s someone who would be interested, pass their name on to me. 

    For now, I wanted to share parts of an e-mail that Dennis sent as a follow up to our original invitations that explains a bit more about why we feel BlawgThink is important:

    While Matt and I were planning the original LexThink conference, we went to something called BlogWalk 6, an all-day conference on knowledge management and blogging that used the Open Space Technology we’ll use on Day 2 of BlawgThink. Our experience played a huge part in shaping the first LexThink and what we’ve wanted to do with LexThink since then.

    By the end of the day of BlogWalk, we had had an amazing set of conversations with an amazing group of people. More importantly, we changed our opinion of what it was possible to accomplish in a day-long conference if you flipped the norms of traditional conferences on their heads.

    At the end of the day, I posed a couple of questions: If blogging is a world-changing technology, when and how do we start to change the world? Is it the technology or is it the bloggers? And, what happens if we bring bloggers together, turn them loose, and see what projects and collaborations grow out of that combination?

    From that day on, we have talked about the potential value of getting a group of legal bloggers together, in person and face-to-face. I can tell you that I’ve been part of email lists, wikis, collaboration software groups, IM sessions and conference calls, but there’s nothing like being together in person if you want to have collaboration happen.

    Now, as you probably know, I really do believe that blogging has created a world-changing space and that there is no better collection of talent, ideas and energy than there is among bloggers. Especially legal bloggers.  In fact, I believe that, in the future, some of the most important innovations that happen in the practice of law will be traced back to conversations that began at BlawgThink.

    My premise has been that there was so much happening among legal bloggers and so much potential, that it was well worth my investment of some time, travel and dollars to spend a few days face-to-face with the legal bloggers I read on a regular basis. After talking with Matt, I decided that I believed enough in the potential outcome of such an event that I was willing to invest most of my time and energy over the next month or so in putting together BlawgThink. 

    How about you? Look, I’ve spoken with many legal bloggers. I understand the disconnect between the recognition and satisfaction you are finding in connection with your blog as compared to what you are finding in your work, employment setting and practice. Even if I haven’t talked with you, I can read it in between the lines of your blog.

    Are blawgs are a world-changing technology? Are blawgers world-changers? I don’t know the answer, but I have an intuition about it. I may like the answers I find or I may be disappointed, but I’ve decided that I have to try to find the answer to these questions by trying to pull together the legal bloggers in one place at one time.

    I understand that you have many competing priorities and other demands on your time, but I ask you to give this some serious thought. I’ve found that I’m always able to make time for stuff that I don’t really want to do, while pushing away from things that I know I’ll enjoy or might be beneficial to me. That’s part of “thinking like a lawyer” – facilitating what helps others and downplaying what’s important to you. Does that describe you?

    Just try this exercise for me. Think about what you get from your blog and what blogging now means to you. Then consider what else you might be doing on November 11 and 12.  Then consider that I would like to see you there and have you participate in the conversation. And, only then, make your decision and give us your final answer.

    So, that’s my message for the day. All I ask is that you give it some thought. I truly do hope to see you in Chicago. If you’d like to help us get the word out about BlawgThink by mentioning it on your blog, that’d be cool, too.

    Look who’s talking at BlawgThink

    We’ve just added Will Hornsby to our BlawgThink faculty.  Will is staff counsel at the American Bar Association, and an authority on marketing and legal ethics.

    Be a better entrepreneur.

    Entrepreneur.com offers these 100 Ways to be a Better Entrepreneur.  Great read.

    Serve the Young

    The guys at Cutting Through talk about this article from the Guardian in their blog post Habits of the Young:

    The implication of all this that isn’t mentioned in the article is that within the space of the next 10 years, this generation of the ultrawired are going to be joining the workforce. Their expectations of what technology can deliver will be radically different to us old farts – so while we’re going whoopies over the lastest Outlook plugin, they are going to be conducting business over blogs and IM. Where does that leave the corporate IT function?

    Or the legal industry?  What resources has your firm devoted to learning how to better serve the “ultrawired” and technologically savvy?  These young people are going to be running their own companies (or their parents’) within the next decade.  This is something I want to talk about at BlawgThink.

    Lawyers are the Devil(‘s Advocate)

    One of the reasons I think people hate/distrust lawyers is that we are constantly telling our clients why they shouldn’t do what they want to do.  As lawyers, we are expected to protect our clients and warn them about the potential consequences of their business or personal decisions

    Kathy Sierra has another outstanding post titled Death by Devil’s Advocate deconstructing the role of “Devil’s Advocate” and agreeing with IDEO’s Tom Kelly, who says the “devil’s advocate may be the biggest innovation killer in America today.”  And who plays the devil’s advocate role better than lawyers?  We can’t help it.  It’s built into our professional DNA.

    Before we kill off  another client innovation, think about Kathy’s advice:

    … whether playing devil’s advocate, angel of optimism, or any other persona, I believe the emphasis should be on offering solutions, not just criticism. Yes it’s true that one can know something is wrong without knowing how to fix it, but if people tried to adopt the perspective that “I’m going to try to always include possible alternatives and solutions when I critcize”, it might make meetings a little more bearable.

    BubbleMapping your To-Do List

    I really like this idea for using a “Bubble Map” for a To-Do list.  Now, if I could combine the bubble list with some bubble wrap so I’d get a satisfying “pop” everytime I finished a task.

    Ask for “Sales” to make more.

    Lori Richardson shares a great tip for reaching a decision maker in a large organization:

    … and one of the best strategies I’ve used is to call in and ask for SALES – you will get someone on the other end of the phone who understands what you are going through – unless they are an admin person, they make calls like you do as well. Determine if you are in the right sales area. Ask them if they have a moment, and then ask about their boss, or boss’s boss. Get enough information to make a direct call or email – then fire it off. You’ll be surprised at the reply rate when you know a little something about your target or about their organization. Don’t forget to send a hand-written thank you note to the person in sales who gave you the inside scoop if you end up with an appointment or had a vaulable conversation – because that will motivate your original contact. It’s about goodwill, and what goes around does come around.

    Clean Up in Aisle Three

    I ran across a post in The Experience Manifesto blog that talked about a recent NY Times article on the identity crisis facing many supermarkets.  It seems that being a one-stop shop for groceries isn’t working so well anymore for the big chains like Kroger and Safeway, as they face competition from both the bottom (Wal-Mart) and the top (Whole Foods):

    Now, the traditional supermarkets are trying everything they can think of to turn things around and win back customers. In a nod to Whole Foods, they are adding more organic and natural food items and selling more prepared foods for quick lunches and dinners. And they are cutting prices.  In a nod to Whole Foods, they are adding more organic and natural food items and selling more prepared foods for quick lunches and dinners. And they are cutting prices.  (Emphasis mine).

    Let’s get this straight.  Traditional grocery stores, whose business model was built upon being all things to all people, have decided they can beat both Wal Mart and Whole Foods?  Since when can you win by competing on both service and price?

    My advice, if you are looking for a new business, is to find one that can use an empty grocery store building, because there are going to be quite a few around. 

    And if you are a lawyer?  Recognize that unless you dump hourly billing and leverage your productivity, the low-price battle is lost.  That leaves service as the only competitive advantage we have. 

    Be Whole Foods, not Kroger. 

    Speaking of BlawgThink

    Q:  What do Matt Buchanan, Ben Cowgill, Dennis Crouch, Fred Faulkner, Peter Flashner, Brandy Karl, Cathy Kirkman, Rick Klau, Jim McGee, Steve Nipper, Kevin O’Keefe, Evan Schaeffer, Doug Sorocco, Ernie Svenson, Jack Vinson, and J. Craig Williams have in common?

    A:  They are all speaking at BlawgThink 2005.  We’ll have a few more additions to this list by the end of the week.

    UPDATE:  Some more BlawgThink speakers are here and here.

    Hard Drive Crash

    We’ve gotten a bit behind on BlawgThink 2005 due to the hard drive in my Toshiba crashing Thursday morning (as I was getting ready to take it on a business trip).  I had it backed up, but it’s taken me most of the weekend to get back to basic functionality on my other Tablet PC (I know, I’m lucky to have two).  I’ll be back at full productivity tonight.  If you are waiting on more BlawgThink details, they’re coming tomorrow.