Monthly Archives: June 2008

So you think you can dance?

For no other reason than to waste as much of your time as I just wasted of mine: The Pipecleaner Dancer. Enjoy!

LexThink 08: October 6 and 7 in Chicago

If you’re an innovative lawyer and want to find ways to make the Practice (and not just your practice) better, please mark October 6 and 7 on your calendar for LexThink 08. I’m putting all of my thinking about ways conferences can be better into this one. Just a peek into what’s in store:

  • It takes place at the incomparable Catalyst Ranch.
  • The theme for the event is: THINK, LEARN, SHARE, DO.
  • Though it will not be invitation only, we are limiting paying attendees to 75, and every attendee will be expected to contribute to the experience in a meaningful way. We’ll also open up 25 slots to students (law, business, design, etc.). They will come for free, but will have to earn their keep.
  • It will be a “name your price” event. Attendees will put down a deposit when they register, but will ultimately pay a price that matches the value they received once the event is over. There will also be a money-back guarantee.

It is going to be a really intensive collaborative and amazing experience. More details (and the cool website) to follow. I can’t wait to see you there.

You Always Have to Say “I’m Sorry.”

Want to keep your unhappy clients from suing you? Apologize. Bob Sutton writes about the Virtues of Apologies and shares a NY Times article about how doctors and hospitals are reducing malpractice claims (by a sizable amount) by simply apologizing. Read the article and the post for some of the reasons why you should apologize.

What I want to share, though, is this gem from Bob’s post:

[T]he best single diagnostic question for determining if an organization is learning and innovating as it moves forward is: What Happens When People Make a Mistake?

What’s the answer for your firm?

Title Tips for Better Slides

Want to write better titles for your PowerPoint slides (and nearly anything else for that matter)? Frank Roche gives five tips to help you Write the Best Damn PowerPoint Headlines Ever:

Make it good enough to print on a t-shirt. The word Introductions isn’t good enough for a t-shirt. Say hello to my little friend is. Not every headline has to be t-shirt worthy, but that’s not a bad goal.

Make it fit on one line. Hey, what you lack in quality, you can’t make up for in volume. Read the really great headline writers. I like the New York Times and USA Today, but CNN and the New York Post write the killer headlines. They’re short. Often two words. But two killer words.

Say what’s on the slide. Obscurity is great for the CIA, but we’re talking about PowerPoint and communication. If a single word will do, then please be my guest. Otherwise, write descriptive headlines. (And if you violate the “fit on one line” rule, it had better rock.)

Forget headlines. If you can’t think of a great headline, then maybe you shouldn’t have one. Steve Jobs doesn’t need headlines.

If your slide is filled with bullet points, even a killer headline won’t help. You see that little key on your computer that says DEL? Go ahead, push that one. Watch your presentation magically get better.

How many of your titles would look good on a t-shirt? Open up that last presentation and get to work!

Use “You, We, I” to Jumpstart Difficult Conversations

Steve Roesler at All Things Workplace shares this great “You, We, I” tip for starting difficult conversations. It works like this:

When you approach someone to talk, you’re asking for their time and their attention. Your topic might be interesting, it might have some tension attached, or maybe it’s about something you want to change. Regardless, the other person wants to know that you are thinking of them.

The next time you need to engage someone–especially if it’s a difficult conversation–approach it by thinking this way:

You are important to me and this conversation.

We are in this together.

I (hope, need, want) …

Visit the post above to see some examples, and think about starting your next difficult client conversation the same way.

Only the Shadow Shows.

Now, for something completely non-legal, but completely useful (and yes, I know that’s redundant). From Rules of Thumb:

The fastest way to find a small object on [the] floor is to look for its shadow. Roll a flashlight around on the floor. The object may be tiny but its shadow will be big and easy to spot!

Photo Phorensics

Via Photojojo comes a pointer to this Scientific American article titled Digital Forensics: 5 Ways to Spot a Fake Photo. Worth a look if you regularly deal with photographic evidence in your practice.

Word Up!

This Lifehacker post rounds up some pretty neat word tools. Definr (lighning fast, search as you type dictionary), Confusing Words (pretty obvious, actually) and the Visual Dictionary (to connect words with images) will find a home in my writing toolbox.

LexThink Coming Really Really Soon!

The new LexThink site goes live late tonight (though you can probably find it if you look hard enough) and I’ll have some more cool stuff to announce by Friday.  For now, keep October 6 and 7 free on your calendars.  Here’s a peek:  let me know what you think. 

UPDATE:  Having some template problems.  Looks like Friday for the unveiling.

Think Learn Share Do

LexThink 08 website will be up Monday. There, I’ve said it. Don’t visit until then.

Women and Word of Mouth

I’ve been dying to read Michele Miller’s new book, The Soccer Mom Myth. For long-time readers of this blog, you’ll remember Michele as one of the first contributors to my Five by Five series. In the Church of the Customer blog, Michele shares 5 Things You Need to Know About Women and Word of Mouth. Here arethe key two for me:

What can you do to make increase women’s word of mouth?

Here’s the wrong way to do it: “Sign up three friends and we’ll give you a 15% discount.” This feels like you are asking her to sell out her friends. Instead, change the offer to “You and every one of your friends who signs up will get a 15% discount.” Now she has special access to a discount that she can pass along to friends. You’ve made her the hero. She can offer value to her trusted network. She has just increased her trust and standing.

What about asking women for referrals; good idea, or bad idea?

This is tricky. Because women are such great referrers, it seems logical. If you are doing business with her, and she values your relationship, it may seem perfectly acceptable to ask her for a list of friends who might benefit from your services. But that may not be a good idea, even if she thinks you’re the best thing since Starbuck’s drive-thru. She is the gatekeeper of her relationships. She’s not being stingy, she’s being protective. A better idea might be to give her a few of your business cards and say, “if you know of anyone who might benefit from my service, feel free to give them my card.”

Unless you don’t have (or want) women as clients, read her book. I’ve just ordered mine.

Mistake-Proof Your Practice

Haven’t read this one yet, but it saw a review of Mistake-Proofing: Designing Errors Out on Kevin Kelly’s “Cool Tools” Blog. One of the excerpts really made me say, “Wow!” because it is so head-slappingly obvious:

Employees experience a continuous stream of encounters – one defect is a low failure rate. Customers experience a single defect as a 100% failure rate.

Think about that for a minute in the context of your law practice: if you fail to keep just one of 100 client commitments, you’re batting .990. However, to that client you let down, you’re batting .000.

Using Instant Messaging in your firm? You should.

Here’s an article from Science Daily that suggests that Instant Messaging (IM) reduces workplace interruptions. If you’ve been avoiding IM in your workplace because you believe it saps productivity, think again:

The study challenges the widespread belief that instant messaging leads to an increase in disruption. Some researchers have speculated that workers would use instant messaging in addition to the phone and e-mail, leading to increased interruption and reduced productivity.

Instead, research showed that instant messaging was often used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as the telephone, e-mail, and face-to-face conversations. Using instant messaging led to more conversations on the computer, but the conversations were briefer, said R. Kelly Garrett, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State.

Worth a read.

Join Me at the LMA Senior Marketers Summit

In two weeks, I’ll be speaking at the LMA Senior Marketers’ Program at the St. Regis Hotel in Washingon, D.C. The event takes place June 19-20, and is titled “Thought Leadership Amidst Relentless Change.” Here’s the brochure.

I’ll also be facilitating several fun, collaborative exercises, including a virtual scavenger hunt, a new rapid-idea generation experience, and a “build a board game” cocktail hour.

I just spoke with Pat at the LMA, and there are a few slots left (and attendance is not limited to LMA members). I’d love to see you there.

What if you …

My friend Ernie asks the big questions:

What if every day you showed up to work, eager to do something really good? Something meaningful.

What if you came up with ideas on how to do things better? Not at first, but only after you felt confident that you understood the point of the work and all of the subtle forces surrounding it.

What if every day you felt a sense of satisfaction about your work? What if you could try a new approach at the very moment you realized it was better? What if your boss completely supported this? What if you were the boss? What if you worked for yourself?

What if? Indeed. These are some of the things we’ll be talking about at LexThink ’08. Look for more info soon.

Who Killed the Cat?

Here’s what happens when you take a comic strip about a fat, self-absorbed cat and remove the main character. From the intro:

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.

Sorry, Mom. ;-)

Congratulations to Matt Buchanan

Friend, drinking buddy, LexThink alum and all-around good guy Matt Buchanan just opened his solo IP shop:  BIPO.  Some really cool stuff there, including his "core principles."  Check it out.  Congratulations, Matt!

London Legal Blogger Meetup?

I’m in London next week, and free Tuesday – Thursday. Anyone want to get together? Email me: if you’re interested.


In my last post, I promised renewed posting and big news. Well, the news I have is big all right, but it isn’t what I was expecting to share. Last week, I was laid off from XPLANE, along with six others. Though I’ll continue my relationship with XPLANE as a contractor — doing about the same amount of work as before — I’m now free to, ahem…as they say, “Explore new opportunities.”

Apart from my continued work for XPLANE, which I love, here’s what else is on my plate for the next 30 days:

1. Relaunching LexThink! with a “future of law practice” event in Chicago this fall. Look for more here next week.

2. Rebuilding my legal speaking and retreat facilitation business. I’ve always been a pseudo-regular on the legal speaking circuit, but I’ve recently been focusing on big-picture legal innovation topics. I just returned from a retreat I designed, facilitated and keynoted for a practice group of a major international firm and will expand and formalize my offerings (under the LexThink brand) before the end of the month. If you want an “Innovational Speaker” for your event, give me a ring.

3. Reviving the blog. I’m going to re-focus my energies on the [non]billable hour, and finally put together all those long-promised posts that have been living in my Moleskine or my head for the last year. Look for several dozen posts in June, as well as my oft-promised e-book on August 1.

4. Reconnecting with you. I’ve met so many amazing people through this blog, and I’m sorry for losing touch. Forgive me. It is good to be back.