Monthly Archives: September 2006

links for 2006-09-30

Could Your Law School Curriculum Do This?

Yale’s business school is experimenting with a new MBA curriculum:

The heart of the new first-year curriculum is a series of eight multidisciplinary courses, called Organizational Perspectives, that are structured around the organizational roles a manager must engage, motivate, and lead in order to solve problems — or make progress. These roles are both internal to the organization — the Innovator, the Operations Engine, the Employee, and Sourcing and Managing Funds (or CFO) — and external to the organization — the Investor, the Customer, the Competitor, and State and Society.

I can’t wait for the first law school to follow suit.  What would the courses be?  The Managing Partner, the Overworked Associate, the Out-of-Touch Professor, the Client Who Can’t Get a Call Returned, etc? 

Add your suggestions in the comments.  And for a slightly more serious take on law school curricula, check out this prior post:  If Blawggers Ran Law Schools.

links for 2006-09-29

Details for the St. Louis Idea Market

It is time for the second St. Louis Idea Market, set for October 17, 2006.  The Market will again take place at the fabulous Lucas School House at the corner of Allen and Gravois in the Soulard area of St. Louis (Map).

The St. Louis Idea Market is an opportunity for you to meet, interact, and brainstorm with some of the most interesting and creative folks in the St. Louis area.  This month’s focus is on CREATIVITY and PLAY:  the big post-it note questions, the “idea speed dating,” and the conversations will all focus on bringing more creativity into your work and personal life, and leveraging that creativity to do amazing things. 

Now, for the who, what, where, when and why:

Who Should Come:  If you are an entrepreneur, business person, blogger, speaker, consultant, designer, webmaster, writer, artist, salesperson, technologist, or _____________, you’ll enjoy the Idea Market.  I only ask that you be passionate about sharing ideas and helping others.  Everything else will take care of itself.

What We Will Do:  Well, there really is no “Agenda,” because the Idea Market is the kind of place where people can bring their business problems, issues, questions, and (of course) ideas and share them with other innovative, creative, and generous folks.  Think of the Idea Market as a sort of a “beta test” for a new type of networking/brainstorming social club that just happens to take place at a private happy hour in a cool, hip place. 

When We Will Do It:

5:30 – 6:00  Bar Opens, Attendees Arrive, Initial Brainstorming.  In the last several LexThink!(R) events and private retreats I’ve done, we’ve posted provocative questions on large Post-It Notes all around the facility.  When attendees arrive, they’ll be given a marker and a pad of smaller, half-page Post-It’s and asked to walk around and contribute their thoughts and answer the questions posted.   This works wonders to get the creative juices flowing and opens up attendees to sharing other ideas the rest of the event.

6:00 – 6:45  Introductions.  Idea Speed-Dating.  We’ll have our own version of speed dating: Attendees will have forty-five minutes (broken up in much smaller chunks) to meet as many other attendees as possible and answer questions ranging from their favorite idea, to their ideal super power.  This is a really fun way to “network” without having the same “Hi, my name is Matt, here’s what I do” conversation over and over.  This was clearly the favorite part for many of the August event.

6:45 – 7:15  Open Space Problem Solving.  If any attendees are facing a particularly vexing business problem, and would like to tap the creative power of the group, now’s the time.  Attendees can announce the problem (or post it on the wall) and any others who’d like to help can break up into small discussion groups to brainstorm solutions.  Alternatively, anyone with a topic they’d like to discuss can also announce it here and interested people can join the discussion. 

7:15 – 8:15  Open Space Idea Sharing.  This is just like the Open Space Problem Solving session, except we’ll focus on new ideas.

8:15 – 8:45.  The Idea Market’s Greatest Hits:  We’ll share with the entire group the best ideas, greatest tips, and most interesting conversations from the evening.  We may even play musical chairs or a game of Twister.  ;-)

8:45  Unreasonable Request Time.  One of the most compelling ideas I’ve stumbled across while blogging is Lisa Haneberg’s Unreasonable Requests.  In short, we often have things we’d like to ask others for, but are afraid to ask.  I’m going to ask everyone to write down an unreasonable request, post it on the wall with their name and phone number, and anyone who wants to grant the request can do so.  Because the requests are, by definition, “unreasonable,” I don’t expect many to be granted — so everyone who gets one granted will be totally surprised.

8:45 – ??.??  Cocktails on the Patio (or elsewhere).  We’ll stick around the School House as long as they’ll let us, but anyone who wants to continue their discussions after we’re politely asked to leave can do so at one of about 30 Soulard bars/restaurants that are within walking distance.

The Food/The Drink:  I’m looking for a sponsor for the food.  The School House will have a full cash bar open for the duration of the event.

The Cost:  FREE. 

The Space:  The Lucas School House is one of the coolest spaces I’ve found in St. Louis.  It is a hybrid space, with plenty of space for discussion, along with a stage and state-of-the-art audio/video capabilities.  There’s also wifi, of course. Here are some pictures of the downstairs and upstairs spaces.

0004      0055

Did I mention there’s a full bar? 

How To Attend:  If you’ve e-mailed me before, I hope I’ve sent you a link to sign up at a site I’ve set up for the event.  If you’d like to come, and haven’t gotten an e-mail from me, you can sign up here.

Any Questions?  E-mail me at or call my cell phone at 618–407–3241.

We look forward to meeting all of you.

links for 2006-09-27

  • Ever wonder what would happen if you put a bar of ivory soap in the microwave? Me neither, but cool nonetheless.
    (tags: video humor)

Don’t Forget the E-mail Clause in Estate Planning Doucments

Saw this on Lifehacker:  What happens to your email when you die?  Suggests (linking to a CNET article) attorneys press clients to include password data in estate planning documents so heirs can get to your email, photo sharing, music, and other online accounts when you die.

Is anyone doing this?

Women Want a Story

Here’s a fascinating article from iMedia Connection on what motivates men and women to purchase things.  The whole thing’s worth a read, but what jumped out to me were these paragraphs that discuss how others’ purchasing decisions impact men and women differently: 

Men are willing to make a purchase once it has been demonstrated that someone else was successful with the same purchase; kind of a, “that worked for Joe, so it’ll probably work for me” mentality.

Women posit things differently. It’s good to know if something worked for Sally; it’s better to know what Sally’s motivations were for her purchase. Success in itself isn’t meaningful unless the conditions leading to success are the same. (So much for women not being cut out for the sciences!) This can be thought of as, “it may have worked for Sally, but Sally bought it for reason A and I’m interested in reason B, so the same purchase might not work for me.”

If you have testimonials on your site, and want both men and women to be impressed, this is important stuff.

St. Louis Idea Market: Take Two

I’ll have much more information by tomorrow, but wanted to get the word out that the next St. Louis Idea Market (I know, the first one was “The Soulard Idea Market”) will take place the afternoon of October 17th. 

Pheeder for Client Communication?

Have ten client appointments you have to cancel tomorrow because you got stuck in trial?  Don’t have the staff to do it for you?  Try Pheeder.    Here’s how it works:

Enter your phone number, plus the numbers of the friends/clients you want to contact.

Pheeder will call you so that you can record your name and a message.

After you hang up Pheeder will call all of your friends. Pheeder will tell them they got a message from you and then it will play your message.

If any of your friends records a reply to your message, Pheeder will call you back so that you can hear their replies.

There is no step 4. This is pretty simple really. So give it a shot!

I haven’t read their privacy policy, and don’t speak to the ethical issues of offloading client numbers and a message to a third-party service, but this is yet another cool Web 2.0–ish application that gives a peek into what’s possible.  Did I mention Pheeder is free?

Provocative Post Pondering Provocativity

Kathy Sierra posts a tremendous article (even by her lofty standards) about how to be provocative and why it matters.  Please read it.

How does your service rate on the ZSEG scale?

If you were asking your clients to rate your service (and you are doing that, right?), you could ask them to use the traditional ABCDF scale, or, you could use the Zinn-Segaran Experiential Grateness Scale:

0. Forgettable.  Events that could be forgotten and have no impact on your life. A typical example is a regular morning commute, which people often cannot recall at all due to having spent the time daydreaming about other things.

1. Inconsequential.  Many day-to-day events occur at this level. Running into and greeting a neighbor on the street, an uninteresting work project or a mediocre meal at a diner are all inconsequential. These events are distinguished from “forgettable” by the fact that they are usually remembered briefly, but usually not considered.

2. Eventful.  Experiences at this level are moderately memorable, and will possibly be discussed by those present for no more than a day or two after they occur. They are unlikely to come up in conversation with others except in responses to specific questions like “what did you do last night?”. Usually active concentration will be required to remember much of the event a week later.

3. Noteworthy.  Noteworthy experiences tend to elicit a fairly strong emotional response at the time whether confusion, amusement or anger. Usually the subject is eager to share them with others in the following few days, even without being prompted.

4. Significant.  When reminiscing about important things that happened in the past year, most events that are recalled will be significant. Typical examples include winning a minor award or totaling one’s car without serious injury.

5. Remarkable.  Remarkable experiences are those that have a strong impact on behavior or change strongly held views. They may not always be remembered, but they stick with a person in a meaningful way through their outlook and opinion.

6. Exceptional.  This is the lowest rating at which things will likely be somewhat memorable for one’s entire life, and recalled on occasion with a moderate emotional response.

7. Monumental.  These experiences are always remembered and likely to be discussed with those present for life. Oblique references to stories are understood without too much explanation. Many monumental experiences will elicit a strong emotional response upon recollection.

8. Epic.  Epic experiences become folklore not only among those present, but those familiar with them. Neologisms, handsigns or movements which reference but do not describe the experience may be invented and be recognizable to a large group of people for many years afterward.

9. Legendary.  The highest category of Experiential Greatness. Experiences that fall into this category, when related to others, become stories in their own right which are retold by others who are several steps removed from the original parties. The platonic ideal of a legendary experience is one that, years after having it happen to you, is relayed to you by stranger beginning with the words “I heard about this guy one time…”

This list was clearly done in fun, but it is significant to note that “Remarkable” is only in the middle of the scale.  Who knew being remarkable wasn’t enough?

links for 2006-09-25

Put The Higest Price Items First On Your Menu

Found this link via The Church Relevance BlogA-Z Retail Tricks to Make You Shop. If you can get past the annoying graphics on the page, there are some interesting tips that may make you rethink your office’s design.  Here’s something I didn’t know that has multiple practical applications:

Order Of Price– Shops will often be laid out in order of price with the most expensive items being encountered at the beginning of your visit and the cheapest at the end. This is done to play on our sense of comparion, we are much more likely to spend money on accessories etc if we have just agreed to buy an expensive item, as in comparison they will seem cheaper than had we encountered them first.

If you are offering a “menu” of prices for multiple levels of service (estate planning, for example) try placing the more expensive services at the beginning of the menu, instead of the end.

And continuing down my trail of links, from the Retail Tricks site, I found that has some great articles on consumer behavior.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

Robert Middleton writes about the benefits of sending three short thank you notes each day:

About two months ago I started sending 2-3 short notes daily to vendors, clients, contractors, colleagues, anyone I came into contact with, however minor the occasion. It’s important to “smile as you write”, as your article suggests, otherwise it will seem like some contrived, dashed off attempt at connecting while trying to do 20 other things at the same time. 

But the exercise has had two effects for me and my company so far:

1) In a very unexpected way, it has made me feel better about myself and my business as a service provider, which bleeds through into the energy I exude all day long.

To anyone who doesn’t think it makes a difference in how you walk, talk, and carry yourself and your expressions, I would say try this for yourself and see. I also find myself following through with clients more thoroughly and attentively, and having better focus and productivity.

I think it has something to do with taking a few minutes to *slow down* and give someone your undivided attention. We all crave feeling listened to and acknowledged.

2) On a more tangible level, I have had two important corporate referrals and increased amounts of business from regular clients to whom I’ve dropped notes in the mail (one of them nearly double).

I have also received expressions of true, bona fide human appreciation from both clients and vendors we work with, whom really will go the extra mile now. Little human touches in the impersonal “we care, but not that much” ocean has an exponential effect on people’s desire to know, like, trust, and do business with you.

Check out The More Clients Blog for more great advice.

Don’t Worry, Hire Crappy

Bob Sutton has written a thought-provoking article called Crappy People versus Crappy Systems that discusses the importance of good systems and the misguided emphasis on hiring great people as the panacea for all of a company’s woes.  In other words too many businesses:

focus excessive energy on hiring stars and weeding-out mediocre and poor performers, and insufficient energy on building a great system that enables most competent people to succeed.

The system, not the people, matter most.  As he explains:

some systems are so badly designed that when smart people with a great track record join them, it seems as if a “brain vacuum” is applied, and they turn incompetent. Jeff often jokes that this is what happens to many business school deans, and indeed, these jobs have so many competing and conflicting demands that they are often impossible to do well.

The entire post is worth a read.

links for 2006-09-22

Pzizz for Free!

I love Pzizz, a computerized napping application, and have blogged about it before.  If you want a FREE license, go vote at My Dream App and you’ll get an e-mail with the download information.  Trust me on this one.

links for 2006-09-20

links for 2006-09-19

The Thirty Day Rule for Technology Purchases (and Irrational Client Demands)

I liked this idea from Get Rich Slowly:

The 30-day rule is a simple method to control impulse spending. Here’s how it works:

  1. Whenever you feel the urge to splurge — whether it’s for new shoes, a new videogame, or a new car — force yourself to stop. If you’re already holding the item, put it back. Leave the store.
  2. When you get home, take a piece of paper and write down the name of the item, the store where you found it, and the price. Also write down the date.
  3. Now post this note someplace obvious: a calendar, the fridge, a bulletin board. (I use a text file on my computer.)
  4. For the next thirty days, think whether you really want the item, but do not buy it.
  5. If, at the end of a month, the urge is still there, then consider purchasing it. (But do not use credit to do so.)

I can think of so many places this would work.  First, for those firm technology and gadget purchases or upgrades, sit on the impulse for a month.  If you still think you need it, make the purchase.

Second, if you have an irrational client demand you do something that you don’t think is particularly prudent (like filing that motion to compel to get the lawnmower back from their neighbor in the middle of winter), suggest that you wait 30 days, and if they feel it is still important then, you’ll do it.

Will Your Firm Be Better Tomorrow?

Black Belt Productivity suggests we Be Better Tomorrow Than We Are Today and I agree.  For some reason, the simple question, “How did I get better today?” has given me a productivity boost since I read the post last week. 

I also think it is an appropriate question to ask of your business.  When you have your daily/weekly/monthly “all hands” meeting, I suggest you ask everyone there if your business is better today than it was yesterday.  Despite their answers, I’d also ask them will they make it even better tomorrow.


links for 2006-09-15

links for 2006-09-14

links for 2006-09-13

Great Gift Tip for Children of Clients

Here’s another Parent Hack that could work just as easily in your professional office:

As the party came to an end, each pint-sized guest (and sibling, if there was one) received a wrapped party favor with his or her name written on it. Turns out the birthday boy’s mom, Mary Wells, had gone to our local library’s used bookstore and hand-picked a book for each kid. It doesn’t get better than that!

Stock your waiting room with a bookcase full of used books, which cost (at my local library, at least) between twenty-five cents and a dollar.  If a client, or a client’s child, likes a particular book, let them take it home with them.

links for 2006-09-12

Harold W. Homann, Rest In Peace

My Grandfather, Harold W. Homann died yesterday.  He was an amazing man.

Wanna Blow Stuff (Photos) Up?

If you need to blow up some digital photos for use at trial (or just because you want some really big photos), check out Pictopia.  (Via Cool Tools)

links for 2006-09-09

links for 2006-09-08

Web Two Point What?

Here’s a great introduction to the much-hyped, often overused term “Web2.0” that’s worth a read.

links for 2006-09-07

A Lawyer’s Blog Should …

It has been a while since I’ve pointed you towards my friend Yvonne DiVita’s blog.  If it isn’t in your rotation of regular reads, it should be.  If you want to know why, check out her recent post, A Business Blog Should … 


Open an Art Gallery — In Your Office

I just stumbled across Parent Hacks today, and found this post about an “Art Gallery” Sara Brumfield found in a neighbor’s garage:

Out running in my neighborhood, I nosily noticed a neighbor’s garage open with the lights on.  When I glanced in, I saw that the entire back wall was covered with a child’s artwork, and big letters spelled out what I assume is the artist’s name — “Caleb.”  I thought this was a great idea — after all, how many pieces of art can a refrigerator hold?  I can imagine kids getting a big kick out of having their own art gallery, and taking vistitors out to see it.

I think this is a phenomenal idea.  I’m going to set up something similar for my daughter’s work.

If you have an office, take it to another level.  Ask your employees to bring in the artwork of their children/grandchildren/nephews/neices/etc. and hang it in your firm’s “Gallery.”  Every year, have an art show, where all the kids are invited (with parents, of course) to see their work.

And if you are a divorce lawyer/mediator, I’d even think about hosting your client meetings or mediations in the room with all of the kids’ art work.  It would make it a heck of a lot easier to remind your clients to focus on their children during their divorce, without having to tell them over and over.  Heck, I’d even invite your clients to add some of their children’s work to the Gallery.

links for 2006-09-06

Set Expectations Via E-Mail

Here’s a great tip via Email Overloaded:  In your e-mail signature, include something like Bob Walsh does:

(I usually check email every few hours during the day.)

links for 2006-09-02

Total Information Awareness, for Lawyers AND Clients

Pronet Advertising has a great list of 10 Things You Should Be Monitoring online.  Other bloggers have jumped in with numbers 11–17 and 18–23.  The first ten:

  1. Company name
  2. Company URL
  3. Public facing figures
  4. Product names
  5. Product URLs
  6. The industry “hang outs”
  7. Employee activity/blogs
  8. Conversations
  9. Brand image
  10. Competitors

Good advice, but I’d take it a bit further.  You should absolutely be monitoring these things for all your clients, too.

links for 2006-09-01