In January 2016 I’ll have been “writing” this blog for 12 years. I put “writing” in quotes because the truth is I’ve written it for nine, ignored it for two and abandoned it for one. It still gets a handful of visits every day, and I regularly dip into old posts for writing I do elsewhere, but it hasn’t felt fresh or current to me for quite some time.
And though I’m immensely proud of the 1500+ posts on this blog, they are practically invisible to anyone other than a few Googling searchers and old-time readers who’ve stashed the links away for their reference.
Thus, I’m taking a page from Star Wars, Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Godzilla, etc. and rebooting this blog. According to Wikipedia:
to reboot means to discard all continuity in an established series in order to recreate its characters, timeline and backstory from the beginning. The term is used with respect to various different forms of fictional media such as comic books, television series, video games, and films among others.
Though the old blog will stay pretty much preserved in amber (to borrow another rebooted film franchise’s plot device), I’ll be reposting favorites, reworking dated posts and updating my advice and insights over here on Medium.
I’ll also be writing more about facilitation, meetings, conferences and innovation at my new startup Filament.
And who knows, now that I’ve got 10,000 square feet of innovative meeting space, it might be time for another LexThink.
Here’s the thing I’ve been spending some of time on for the last year. I’ll be sharing the whole story soon, but wanted to share it here.
We launched in public beta on Tuesday, and two days later made the Today Show (not to mention nearly every other national media outlet.
It has been crazy, and cool. More to follow…
Need some resolution inspiration this year? You can find all 100+ from this blog right here.
Want a bit more of a curated list? Here are ten of my favorites:
Finally, here are ten resolutions for every lawyer I share every year:
Have a great 2015!
Some of you may know about Kendeo, the design and strategy consulting company I own where I do all my ‘non-legal’ work. I often tell people that “we draw pictures of hard-to-understand things,” and that’s pretty much true.
We had some fun with our Holiday card this year and I really wanted to share it (albeit belatedly) here on the blog. The whiteboard sketches are actual pictures from our office’s whiteboard (it should show a bit larger if you click on the image.)
If you still can’t read the text, here it is:
It all begins when our meddlesome elf throws a plane at an axe perched on a shelf, tripping the axe and cutting the sting, causing the smelly old boot to swing.The boot kicks the next and wakes up the hen; she squawks in surprise, lays some eggs, and then … a basket of fruit is tipped from the back, falling into the train on the track.The train scares a squirrel who, heart all aflutter, begins jumping and churning a tub full of butter. The squirrel, still frightened, leaps with two legs, which adds baking soda to the butter and eggs.That cat on a treadmill’s providing the power to mix fruit and batter, along with some flour. The heat from the furnace, while warming the room, also bakes our concoction and makes it go fwoom! Out comes our fruitcake, thick as a log. It hits the TV, falls onto the dog.It bounces off Fido and picks up some spice from an old can of Lysol that still smells quite nice. The jack-in-the-box flings it through the air, and onto the table into Kendeo’s lair where we gather to draw, to think, and to play and hope you and yours have a great holiday!
By some estimates, introverts make up nearly half of the population. If you’re an extrovert, that means that many of your clients think and process information quite differently than you do.
So what can you do to even the playing field and get the best from your introverted clients? Give them some silence.
Next time you’re giving a client loads of great advice, give them 5-10 minutes of quiet time — ideally in a room by themselves with a pad of paper in their hand — so they can think about your advice and process it before you ask, “Any questions?”
Welcome to the first edition of the NBH Weekender! I’ve been saving up lots of stuff to share with you this week, so here you go:
A better brainstorming method from Google that we’ve been playing with for a while. It really works better with introverts and in rooms with high status differentials: Note and Vote. Here’s how it works:
Note: Distribute paper and pens to each person. Set a timer for five minutes to 10 minutes. Everyone writes down as many ideas as they can. Individually. Quietly. This list won’t be shared with the group, so nobody has to worry about writing down dumb ideas.
Self-Edit: Set the timer for two minutes. Each person reviews his or her own list and picks one or two favorites. Individually. Quietly.
Share and Capture: One at a time, each person shares his or her top idea(s). No sales pitch. Just say what you wrote and move on. As you go, one person writes everybody’s ideas on the whiteboard.
Vote: Set the timer for five minutes. Each person chooses a favorite from the ideas on the whiteboard. Individually. Quietly. You must commit your vote to paper.
Share and Capture (2): One at a time, each person says their vote. A short sales pitch may be permissible, but no changing your vote! Say what you wrote. Write the votes on the whiteboard. Dots work well.
Decide: Who is the decider? She should make the final call — not the group. She can choose to respect the votes or not. This is less awkward than it sounds: instead of dancing around people’s opinions and feelings, you’ve made the mechanics plain. Everyone’s voice was heard.
Why might this work? Because in most meetings, three people are doing 70% of the talking.
Hate networking? Here’s a great way to think about it from Joanna Goddard:
Network up and down. Many people get turned off by the term “networking” (read: a bunch of suited-up people at happy hour) but I just think of it as a fancy word for making friends in your industry. When you email someone about a project, ask about their dog. Tell them about your vacation. Send a card when they have a baby. Be real with them. Help people. Stay in touch. Tell friends about job openings. Meet for breakfast, or send a short note saying you loved their recent article or project.
If it’s not networking that keeps you up at night, but rather just plain old-fashioned insomnia, don’t worry: there’s an app for that.
Overwhelmed when you don’t seem to get to anything on your to-do list? Try a To-Done List instead:
Dubbed the “Anti-To-Do List” by Buffer’s Joel Gascoigne, this approach reportedly gives you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and spurs productivity throughout the week. According to Gascoigne, by writing a separate list of tasks you have accomplished, including ones that weren’t originally on your to-do list, you prevent yourself from feeling “knocked down” by the fact that you’re doing something not on your original list.
Speaking of productivity, I really like this productivity tip from Nate Green:
Don’t create and consume at the same time.
You should either be creating something or consuming something. Not both at the same time.
When you’re creating, you’re fully engaged on what you’re doing. There should be no distractions, no “I’ll just check something real quick and then come back to this…”
Focusing on one thing without interruption is how you get meaningful work done.
When you’re consuming, you’re open to anything and everything. You get taken wherever the wind takes you, and it’s all groovy. What’s this article? Who’s that dude? This restaurant seems legit. You think they’re open for dinner? Lemme check Yelp…
“I have never, ever met someone really successful who’s late,” Kelvin says. “It is so disrespectful of other peoples’ time.”
Want to get more out of conferences and events? Here’s a great tip:
Before you leave to the conference there’s two things you need to do. One, is schedule a 30 minutes meeting with your team for the very first day when you arrive back in the office. The second is schedule a one hour slot for yourself either on the very first day or the very next day when you get back.
When you return, you already have a meeting scheduled with your team. Is 30 minutes long, so all those emails and fires can wait 30 mins for you to brief the team. That’s right, you’ll use that time to talk to them about the conference, the good, the bad, etc. And you will also show them your notes and give them an overview of what you’ve learned and what’s coming (action items) to each of them. This serves two purposes. First, with the conference still fresh in your mind you can accurately tell your staff what happened at the show and prepare them for what’s going to come their way, and second it helps you solidify what you learned during the show.
When you get to the second meeting you scheduled prior to leaving the office for that conference, you will then stop whatever you are doing and get all your notes out. Since all of them have an “action items” section at the bottom you can quickly go through your list and start identifying what needs to get done, prioritizing the tasks, and assigning them to appropriate team members (or to yourself).
Ever wonder what it would be like to be a judge for the Guinness Book of World Records?
“Like a visiting emperor, I have the power to confirm or destroy dreams with a thumbs up or down,” she says. “I don’t deserve this elevation. It’s my clipboard, suit and the Guinness logo.”
Love Sriracha (or “Rooster”) sauce? An unknown street artist in Vietnam drew the iconic logo.
Mike Monteiro has eight great tips for working with a designer. Chief among them (and true for every profession):
A designer should never make you feel stupid for not understanding their craft.
Looking to hire someone for a bold initiative, find someone who’s failed before, because they’re the only ones likely to succeed.
Finally, something to add to your Christmas list:
See you again soon!
Online retailer Zappos is well known for its commitment to company culture and customer service, going so far as to offer new hires $2000 after their first few weeks on the job to quit if they don’t like their new jobs. They also share quite a bit about how they hire so well, and have posted their Core Values Interview Assessment Guide (.pdf), which includes the interview questions they ask prospective hires.
Here are a few of their interview questions related to customer service:
Check out the entire list of questions. Adding a few of these to your next round of interviews might help you to hire better lawyers and staff.
There’s a web-based serviced called UpdateMyVC, which purports to automate a startup’s communication with its investors. What I really liked is the list of questions that get answered in the monthly update. Here are a few:
Several of the questions could comprise a fantastic template to use with your business clients every time you sit down and speak with them about their businesses. Any you’d add to the list?
Remember the television show Quincy? Jack Klugman played a Los Angeles medical examiner, and in every episode, his autopsy would reveal that the decedent (who’d seemingly died of “natural” causes) was a victim of foul play. Using the clues he’d gained from his examinations, Quincy would convince the police a homicide had occurred, and then manage to singlehandedly finger the killer. In a pre-CSI world, it was pretty compelling stuff.
So why all this talk about an obscure 70’s crime-drama? Because if you’re really interested in identifying the work you love to do and learning how to serve your clients better, you may want to spend some time each week playing Quincy. Instead of investigating foul play, however, you should closely examine those things you’ve given up for dead in your office: your closed files.
Perform a File Autopsy. Here’s how:
1. Grab at least five old files that have been closed for at least a year. Though you can choose files randomly, it works better if you’ve take some you liked and others you’d rather never touch again.
2. For each file, complete the LexThink File Autopsy (pdf) form. Be brutally honest with yourself as you answer questions, which include:
About the file:
- In hindsight, should I have taken this file?
- Were there any “red flags” I should have noticed?
- What lessons did I learn from handling this file?About the work:
- Did I like the work?
- Was I good at it? How could I have been better?
- If I didn’t like the work, how could I do less of it?About the client:
- Does this client have any other legal work I could be doing?
- How would this client describe me to their peers?
- How could I have served this client better?
About the money:
- Was this a profitable matter for me to handle?
- Did the client feel my fees were fair?
- How could I have priced this matter differently?
3. Every week, grab a few more files and repeat the exercise. If you have staff, ask for their input as well.
4. If you’re seeing common themes (either positive or negative) throughout the files, make sure to note them as well.
5. Once you’ve performed 20-50 “autopsies,” you’ll have a better sense of the kinds of work you like to do, clients you enjoy serving and alternative ways to price your services. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll understand the kinds of work you don’t want to do and learn to avoid taking matters and clients better passed on to your competition.
This “Best Of” post comes from 2011 and is about creating a “Menu” for your practice offerings:
Do you know all the kinds of things your firm does? Perhaps you should take a page (literally) from the restaurant industry and create a “menu” of your services. Though you may not decide to use it with clients, merely deciding what goes on the menu — and what gets left off — makes you think a bit differently about your practice and the kinds of matters you regularly should say “yes” to.
And if you’re looking for some menu inspiration, I highly recommend the blog Art of the Menu. It has dozens of creative menus from around the country, and is sure to give you some ideas if you decide to make your “menu” a regular part of your practice.
Robin Scott shares a great tip he learned from a successful mentor:
Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.
It seems simple, but profoundly powerful. I’ve taken to writing my meeting notes on the 5×8″ notecards I regularly carry, and have also started to review them at the end of the week.
I’ll let you know how the experiment goes, but I think this would be a great exercise to add to your workflow after every client meeting. It might make you a better listener — and a better rememberer.
Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Company, shares an idea that might make customer conversations more productive:
When you ask “what” instead of “any”, you invite a greater response to a question. For example, when you ask, “Do you have any frustrations?” it’s very easy for the person to default and say “no.” But when you ask, “What could be better in the company?” that question assumes that there are things that could be better. It opens the opportunity for someone to provide a more honest answer.
Everytime you close a conversation with a client, asking if they “have any more questions,” you’re giving them an easy way to answer “no.” Instead, try asking them “What might I have explained better?” and keep the conversation going.
60 teenagers reveal what they think is cool — and what isn't — in 2016 https://t.co/EZZx0roPry
- Wednesday Feb 3 - 6:57pm
Worth a listen for everyone struggling with pricing: How to price your work. A Simple Technique. https://t.co/kZc3cMMkdV
- Wednesday Feb 3 - 3:56pm
Dear @Grammarly, I think I love you!
- Wednesday Feb 3 - 12:29am
For conferences, hotels are like strip clubs: designed to take all your money but don't care how you feel the next day. @MeetAtFilament
- Wednesday Feb 3 - 12:28am