Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What is Micro-Management?

A question came in from a reader, "How do I know when I am being micro-managed?" He went on to ask, "is this a good thing for me or bad?"

Here is my take on Leadership: "Here is our goal. Are there any parts of it you need to work through? What can I help you accomplish?"

Here is my take on Micro-Management: "Here is our goal. Send me a outline on all of the steps you are taking to meet it... and let's schedule a meeting to go over everything you are doing. By the way, you will need to get started in this way."

Is micro-management a good thing? You decide, but my money is in the corner of having the freedom to learn and grow.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Aura of Success is Important to Being a Successful Lawyer

People hoping for success hope for help from those that appear to be successful. While this sort of judgment is superficial it remains a universal truth that lawyers and law firms need to heed -- and act upon.

Consider for instance you are a business executive at a hotel one evening attending a private dinner, and for whatever reason your company is also interviewing lawyers to help with new legal challenges. It so happens that, at the hotel of your private dinner, is a conference for corporate litigators. You wander over by their reception activity with your legal challenges in your head and start looking at the many attorneys in the gathering thinking that you might be able to get some guidance on selecting the right lawyer for your action.

As you scan the gathered lawyers where would your hopeful eye fall?

Go ahead, admit it -- you passed right over the rumpled suit, wrinkled shirt bunch. You dismissed everyone hanging sheepishly along the walls, and were repulsed by any that look like slick wannabes. Your eyes came to rest on the one(s) that looked comfortable and confident, well-groomed individuals wearing expensive (looking), tasteful suits.... Here is our universal truth in action.

Here are some things you need to do as an individual or as a firm to support your image:
  • Dress as someone whom is already successful. Whether casual, business or formal your taste in clothing (brand, fit, color, drape, etc.) speaks volumes in first impressions. If you do not trust your taste find someone to do it for you even if you have to pay for the service.
  • Learn something about the tastes of "refined" people -- learn about wine, good cigars, traveling abroad, fly fishing, Italian cuisine, etc. All of these things are second nature to "successful" people.
  • Join a "membership only" club and entertain clients and prospects there. The allure of exclusivity communicates volumes.
  • Learn to appear calm. Need I say more on that?
  • Pay more for the sake of appearances. Pay more for finer furniture, interior design -- more qualified staff, better car(s), technology, neighborhoods, personal note cards, seats at sporting events, etc. Don't argue with me on this one -- just do it. Spending $1,500 on baseball seats to gain a $600,000 payday might just be worth it!).
  • Know about whom you are hanging out with. Being seen or associated with less than "A" players reflects on who you are perceived to be.
This is just the beginning of a long list of how to create the right impression of success. While some, or much of it may feel uncomfortable I draw your attention back to the universal truth -- People hoping for success hope for help from those that appear to be successful.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sponsoring Inclusive or Exclusive Events

My firm is the title sponsor of an upcoming industry event hosted by a non-profit professional association. The vast majority of their events are educational and offered to "members-only". The event I am sponsoring is a first for them, an annual awards gala to raise funds for their charitable foundation and awareness of a specific profession. For a bit they actually considered keeping to their trend of exclusiveness by only allowing association members to be honored or attend. In a marketplace with so-so membership and huge potential we (the sponsors) were able to convince them to be inclusive and open the door on creating real buzz.

There are great reasons to be either "inclusive" or "exclusive" when creating events. Here are a couple of things to think about.

Inclusive (open to everyone within a target demographic):
  • Used for creating broad market awareness about a specific cause or organization.
  • Allows access to a broad base of VIPs.
  • Great for annual gala's, awards, and philanthropic causes -- and for small seminars or gatherings to promote a practice.
  • Typically is broadly promoted with paid media, public relations, and electronic campaigns.
Exclusive (by invitation only):
  • Used to gather a specific set of VIPs or "members".
  • Absolutely excludes many people.
  • Increases the aura of stature to all attendees.
  • Focuses attention on immediate relationships.
  • Creates allure to others that would like to be "part of the club".
  • Great for peer group building, and being included in the peer group.
  • Typical events include education sessions, golf outings and other boon-dongles, private dinners, peer group meetings, and spouse inclusive activities.
Another thing to consider. Typically inclusive events are great for promoting your firm as a whole -- exclusive events do more for promoting an individual or some smaller subset of your firm.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

For the Record -- Not Every Law Firm Networking Event is a Home Run

The other night we co-sponsored one night in a series of wildly successful, invitation only networking dinners with another professional services firm. The track record of quality and connections is undisputed.

Maybe it was the August vacation blues, or the coincidence of a bad night for many at once -- for whatever reason the attendance was low and that one night didn't have the zest of so many before.

The point is that not everything turns out perfect, even when I believe it will. Our (my) first reaction might be to tinker with the formula fearful of a repeat at the next dinner. Instead, I am encouraging myself to leave it alone. It's not broken, it merely burped.... The next one is just around the corner in September (a much better event month), and "one" is not a trend. It is just one.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Build Your Relationship Network by Paying It Forward

"Pay It Forward", popularized in 2000 by Catherine Ryan Hyde with the release of her book of the same title, is a simple concept -- do something good for someone else and, if they ask to pay back the favor encourage them to extend the favor to someone new (pay it forward). This one action, repeated over and over, could have a monumental effect on your personal brand.

I always have a list in my head of people in transition and people looking for connections. Whenever I am talking with someone, either by phone or in person, I float the question, "Do you know of any companies that are looking for a ______ (fill in the blank)?" Most of the time the answer is "no", but one in ten or a hundred is still worth the effort.

This simple act of keeping others in mind -- extending the favor -- has been a boon to my personal brand. Even though I never ask for anything in return, and ask the favored person to pay it forward, I am still building a personal brand that returns to me tenfold.

The key to making this work is that you should never expect a favor to be returned. If you do it, AND, are keeping score you will never be content. But, if you do this service simply because it is the right thing to do, over time, you will feel incredibly blessed at your fortune -- and your personal brand will skyrocket.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Try This When Meeting New People -- Just Say "Hello"

I was at a grand old networking event last Friday night with a couple of the lawyers from my firm. For them it was the first time circulating with this crowd. We met a few people, talked a bit, yet eventually I needed to slip away to do some private networking of my own. One of the lawyers with me said, "What do I do now?" My answer was just as brief as his question. I motioned to the gathering crowd and said, "Pick someone and say hello."

It seems a pretty basic instruction but sometimes it is the most basic message that permits a step forward.

If you find yourself wondering what to do next (at some networking event or another), just give yourself permission to do what you need to do -- tell yourself, "pick someone and say hello."

Graphic Artists are Crazy

I might know. I am one. But, not like, "Wooo Hooooo, la la la la la, put me in a rubber room!!" Go online and look at any portfo...