Channel Inspiration

You know when it hits. It can be anytime, and many times it is not at a convenient time. But when you have inspiration, don’t lose it.

For me it may be on an issue in a case. Whether I am at my desk, or in the middle of the night, I write it down. I usually use the Note app on my phone, but paper and pen still work. I have learned that if I do not do that at the time, there is a good chance my moment of brilliance will be lost. I may remember it later, but I may not.

The key is to know you have to record your thoughts when the inspiration hits. Come up with what works best for you. If not, you risk not remembering whatever fantastic thing has popped into your brain.

One way to think about it is what if you were a musician and you didn’t want to record that melody that came into your head, losing a possible big hit. Or if you were an author and you lose a great plot twist for the book you’re writing. We all have something equivalent in what we do for a living, or with personal; matters. So don’t lose your Stairway to Heaven, or Smells Like Teen Spirit, or whatever song you could be writing.

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Stand For Something and Respect Opinions

Have a viewpoint. Stand for something. If you don’t, you stand for nothing at all.

We don’t have to agree with others all of the time. But when you don’t, be respectful. Agree to disagree. You learn more from dialogue with someone you don’t agree with than with someone you agree with.

Plus, none of us are right all of the time. If someone says something that makes you potentially rethink a position or opinion, take the time to think about it or research the matter. Always try to speak from a position of knowledge, i.e. if you don’t know about a particular topic, don’t speak like you do. Those who do will know you are full of hot air and it will harm your reputation.

So don’t have a slinky for a spine. And know to keep quiet on topics you don’t know about. It will allow the backbone you should have not to be snapped, along with your reputation.

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Educate Yourself to Achieve Excellence (and repeat)

Last week I spoke to the need for continuous self-improvement. Part of that is continually learning throughout your lifetime.

I have mentioned before that my firm has The JW Way, which encapsulates the firm’s unique culture (http://www.jaburgwilk.com/mission-statement). JW  Way fundamental 17 is “Be relentless about continuous improvement.” This fundamental speaks to being a “lifetime learner” and notes that “Excellence is a journey, not a destination.”

You need to think about excellence as a continuing journey. The truth is if you strive for and achieve excellence, there still is more work to do. Continually achieving excellence involves an investment in yourself and in education.

Part of this is searching out the truth of whatever you are learning. That is your duty because if you can’t speak the truth you are simply spreading the equivalent of fake news. Despite what seems to be the trend, facts do matter. “Fake it till you make it” may work early on in some settings, but for most of us it will result in failure in the long run.

Most of us become experts in our given fields or professions over time because we do put in the proverbial ten-thousand hours and stay up on new innovations, information, etc., i.e. we continually educate ourselves. If you do not do this and try to ride the same wave of what you have done before you have higher chance of failure in the future. Or at least a higher chance of not achieving excellence and being mediocre while others in your field achieve excellence and pass you by.

If you are okay with that, with being mediocre, maybe you should be doing something else that intrigues and interests you enough that you will continuously educate yourself and continuously seek to achieve excellence.

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Always strive to improve yourself

You can do better. You can be better. Always. If you don’t think so you are only fooling yourself. You must invest in yourself.

If you put your money in a can and bury it in your backyard, it will earn nothing. If you invest these funds instead, they will have the chance to grow. The corollary is if you do not take the time to improve yourself, to learn, you will become stagnant and, in this fast-paced world, probably be passed by others. If you instead work to improve you will grow.

This also should involve improving in your given business or in your personal life. It can be class related to what you do or guitar lessons or for me, keep up with current legal opinions.

I know you are busy. I know you don’t think you have time. But the truth is you don’t have time not to invest in yourself. If nothing changes, well, you get thee idea.

So think about what you can do by investing in yourself. It not only can make you a better professional or person, it will help improve the world around you, your world.

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Have fun at work!

Fun at work? Exactly. If you can’t have fun at work, then why are you there? Fun and good work do go together. A joke can even reduce tension during stressful times at work. We all know the saying “Laughter is the best medicine” and inherently know it is true.

This doesn’t mean you feel like you have time to joke around with co-workers every day, but, if you think about those type of days, it is likely a minute or two wouldn’t derail you from the task at hand. Fun doesn’t need to take up a lot of time.

I joke around with colleagues regularly. It sure makes my days more fun. On the days when I am feeling overwhelmed by what I need to accomplish the humor may include sarcasm or be darker, but it still is part of my day. And it can help relieve tension and stress, even if only momentarily.

You have to leave your office for food, drink and the restroom, and likely will encounter others. Allow yourself to take a break, even if it is only a few minutes. It will help reinvigorate you to go back and work more. And when you see others having one of those days, see what you can do to lighten the moment for them.

You probably know the line from Dr. Seuss’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish: “These things are fun, and fun is good.” Fun is good. And if it’s good enough for Dr. Seuss, its good enough for you!

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Do You Follow Up?

One way to know if you follow up is to ask yourself if things you want to get done do. This includes tasks you or others, whether inside or outside your company, are working on. I know many of you are thinking you shouldn’t have to follow up for things to be completed. That is a misplaced thought.

How many times have you realized at or just before the end of the business day a task or project slipped your mind that had to be done that day? If you are honest with yourself, you know you have been there.

Despite the best laid plans, I have been there. And what works for me to try and avoid such a situation may or may not work for you. I use To Do lists, as well as calendaring to try and make sure no task or project, no matter how small, slips through the cracks. You may make lists too. Or maybe you have some type of different system to do this.

In dealing with others, these types of systems can be used to remind you to call that vendor about the product or service to be delivered to your company. Or to call, message, or actually walk down the hall, to check in with your employee or team member on that project you gave them or are working on together.

If you don’t do this and something is not on time, you should take part of the blame This is true even though you shouldn’t have to follow up on others completing their tasks. But they are busy like you and lack of follow up can result in late deliveries or completion of work you are waiting on. And it ultimately reflects on you, poorly, and reputation takes years to build and minutes to destroy.

So follow up and don’t let this happen to you!!

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Arizona employers, are you ready to comply with proposition 206 by July 1, 2017?

As most readers are aware, I generally write about business related issues as opposed to legal issues. Today I am writing about a legal issue that, in a few months, will be a business issue for all Arizona employers. On July 1, 2017, Arizona employers will be subject to a new law on Paid Sick Time Off Policies. This is thanks to Proposition 206, which was passed last year.

I know you are thinking “I have a PTO policy, I must be good to go”, but you are not. Existing PTO policies do not comply with the requirements of. Prop 206, no matter how generous the policy is.

Instead of explaining more myself, I am providing you with a link to the answers to the top questions you will and should have regarding what is required of your business to comply with Prop 206. The information is provided by Kraig Marton and Jeffrey Silence of my firm and is a must read. This is the link you need:

http://www.jaburgwilk.com/news-publications/eight-questions-about-arizona-s-new-paid-sick-time-law

If you have any further questions or want to discuss having a PST policy drafted, please let me know.

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Credibility and Trustworthiness

Be honest; don’t lie. And say what you mean. This seems simple, but too many people have trouble with what are to me qualities that we shouldn’t have to strive for. I mean talk about a low bar: be honest and forthright. And be this way all the time to everyone you deal with. You want people to believe in you.

The alternative is being two faced and dishonest. Can anyone honestly say that is the reputation they want? I hope not, because reputation is everything. People remember.

If you do right by saying what you mean and being honest, people will know they can trust you. Trust and respect are the foundation for all meaningful relationships, whether professional or personal.

This is not something you want to take for granted. When the time comes for you to jump off a proverbial cliff, there will be more people there to catch you, i.e. help you get to where you want to go, if you are credible and trustworthy.

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Teamwork is necessary

No one really makes it on their own. Everyone is part of a team, whether internally at their business or with partners at other businesses. Anyone who thinks their success is only attributable to their own actions is mistaken and myopic.

You need to know your colleagues. Does this mean you have to be best friends with everyone and know everything about them? Of course not. But it does mean you need to know more than their name and which office they are in.

For what I do, I need to know the practice areas of other attorneys at my firm. If not, how do I serve my clients and referrals generally and when they have needs outside of my practice area? I can’t, and then I lose and my firm loses, because I can miss valuable cross-marketing opportunities.

It sounds so simple: you need to know the services your business provides. It is easier in some businesses than others. In mine, it means I need to remember a lot of information or be organized enough to access it or know who to asks in a given situation. And when I need to ask, it is another time being on a team helps.

Internal teamwork also fosters trust and collaboration. Sometimes you are the quarterback running the offense and sometimes you are the receiver catching the ball from a leader or supervisor and running with it. If you do not have an effective team, there is a better chance the ball is dropped, which reflects badly on your business.

Of course teamwork can lead to situations where some people get more credit than others, even where other members of the team were necessary and did the actual legwork that resulted in the credit or accolades. Good leaders recognize those who lift them up and enable the recognition. Most of the time you see someone getting recognition or an award, there is a group of people behind him or her who are responsible. And without their teamwork, the project being recognized likely would have gone nowhere.

So remember that every member of your team is impactful and has a role to play because team work is the rule, not the exception.

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Networking v. Connecting

Networking is about knowing more people. Connecting is about knowing people more. The distinction is obvious. You know a lot of people professionally and personally, but you are connected to only a fraction of those you know.

When you are at a business, social or charitable event, you likely will run into many people you know. But with many, you will know them “socially” or “professionally”, which is a way of saying you know them, who they are, but are not deeply connected with them and have no investment in their successes or failures.

I think a good example is a small town of say 1,000 people. In a small town, you are likely to know everyone else who lives there. At the same time, you will not be connected with 999 other people. Maybe you are connected with 40-70. This is because connection requires a deeper connection than simply meeting someone. It involves time, mutual respect and participation in the relationship by both people to become more than mere acquaintances.

Another good example is LinkedIn. I have 2,184 connections on LinkedIn. But it would be more truthful to say I am networked with 2,184 people because it is not possible for me to be connected to that many people. If I went through that list, maybe I am actually connected to 50 or 75 or 100 of those people, maybe more, but nowhere near 2,184. It’s just not possible.

True connections make up your community. People in communities care about their connections’ success and have a relationship built on mutual respect and trust, which have to be earned before someone in your network becomes an actual connection.

Once you have a connection, you are interested in transfer of knowledge and information and each other’s successes (and failures). When you reach this level you add another layer to the community you are building. So network with many to find the few solid people you want strengthen the foundation of your community and help you build the type of community you want to be a part of.

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