So my firm has a unique culture, as do all businesses. But the difference at my firm is that we have captured the essence of our firm in 21 fundamentals we call The JW Way (http://www.jaburgwilk.com/mission-statement). These are the foundation of our business and inform how we operate from how we deal with clients to who we hire, whether attorneys or staff.
Today I am focusing on one fundamental: Treat clients’ money as if it were your own. Yes, I know this makes sense, but doing it is not always the obvious choice. The easiest example of this in my world involves litigation. A partner of mine is known to say: We can ride to court in a Honda or a Cadillac. In some situations a client may only be able to afford the Honda. Of course this means having difficult conversation at the front end to determine what your client or customer can afford and how that relates to what they want to do.
If that is the case, you then have to figure out whether it is possible to provide outstanding legal advice and service that will meet your client’s expectations going to court in the Honda. If not, or if a potential client is looking for a luxury ride they cannot afford, the best thing I can do is decline the representation because odds are I cannot realistically meet their expectations.
For me, when a client is on a litigation budget, that means thinking about overall costs for a representation and what can be done to try and work within a given client’s budget or financial limitations. For example, it could mean taking a close look at larger litigation expenses such as depositions and only taking some, but not all possible, depositions. Or, on smaller expenses it may mean sending a demand by snail mail and email, but not having it hand delivered or served.
I am sure there are ways in your business to shave both smaller and larger amounts from what you are doing for your clients or customers on a specific deal or project. Or maybe it is looking at administrative expense and overhead in your business. Maybe there is a bigger picture change you can make that will result in savings you can pass on.
The fact is that by treating our clients’ money as if it were our own, as well as following the other fundamentals of The JW Way for a number of years, it has lead my firm to great overall business decisions and great hiring decisions regarding people who fit into our culture, as well great and continuing success. This in turn has resulted in my firm being able to meet and exceed the goals of our clients and avoid sending invoices that provide sticker shock; Your client doesn’t want the invoice for the Cadillac if you discussed the Honda.
Some of you may be saying to yourselves, “What is BYOD and why do I need to learn about it?” The answer is because it is 2015 and each of us is carrying around a computer in the form of a phone in our pocket or purse, not to mention all of the iPads, Surfaces, laptops, etc. So what exactly is BYOD?
BYOD is the acronym for “bring your own device”, which refers to employees who bring their own computing devices into their workplace. This is an issue for a lot of reasons, and is important to both employers and employees. The issues include whether personal devices can connect to an employer’s secure network, an employer’s confidential information or trade secrets leaving the workplace on a device or whether employees’ devices are subject to search by the employer, let alone being remotely wiped (erased) to prevent sensitive information from potentially being lost or used improperly. If you are an employer, do you know what type of devices your employees bring to work and how they are using them? If you are an employee, do you know whether your employer has a BYOD policy, what it says and what your rights and obligations are under that policy?
Because of these issues, BYOD policies by employers are becoming quite common. Employers need to decide whether to implement a BYOD policy and their options in setting the terms of such a policy. Employees need to understand their rights and the rights of their employer under those policies. The options on how to deal with these issues vary, and what makes sense depends on the type and size of a business.
If you haven’t heard of BYOD before now, you will continue to hear about it in the future. And you will want to know about it no matter what side of the equation you are on to understand your rights, responsibilities and obligations.
So, for the first time in this blog, I have what I will refer to as a shameless self-promotion: My partner Laura Rogal and I will be speaking on BYOD issues at the Apple Store, Biltmore (https://www.apple.com/retail/biltmore/) at 8:00 a.m. on October 28, 2015. And please feel free to forward this invitation (BYOD Event 10-28-15) to anyone you think may be interested.
So my question to you is are you green and growing or ripe and rotting? No, you are not a vegetable or a piece of fruit, but you either are taking action to improve yourself and your business or you are not. The difference is like that between talk and action. Knowing what to do and doing it are not the same.
You also need to think about whether whatever your doing is achieving your desired results. If not, why do you keep doing it?
If all I can do is write about what to do, but not do it, that is to my detriment. Sure, I like writing on these type of topics, which is why you are reading this today. But my goal is not to be a writer, but an attorney who is constantly trying to expand his network and develop meaningful relationships with the people I deal with. By doing so I have better control over my professional path and create opportunities.
One of the things I like best about what I do is meeting and working with all different types of people including other attorneys (really), accountants and other professionals, business owners, and many others. The diversity in the people I deal with keeps me engaged, interested and energized to keep networking. It keeps me trying new things in my effort to expand my network and develop interesting work for me and my colleagues. I always say if we were all the same the world would be a boring place, which I truly believe.
So are you the ripening banana looking better day by day or the old one on the counter no one wants to touch? It may only be a metaphor, but it is true that you either are improving yourself or not. If you do not do so you are destined to the life of the worker bee, which is not necessarily a bad place to be. But if you want to be higher up the food chain, no matter if it is in your profession, your company, or your industry, start by expanding your network and see where it can take you.
You might be able to baffle people with you know what initially, but it won’t last if you are all flash and no substance. If you make a sale by saying the right things, but don’t have the employees or equipment to correctly and timely get the job done, it will be the last time you work for that customer, or anyone that customer tells of your failure. You likely will lose business you will never know you lost. That is how reputation works.
Substance comes a number of ways. It can be through experience, or learning, or building on past successes. But every step you take forward will be lost if you are all smoke and mirrors. The point is not to mislead people about what you can do or your experience. You may get away with it once in a while, but it will hurt you in the long run.
And therefore you will hurt your reputation. Once your reputation is tarnished, it will follow you for a long time.
So respect yourself. Respect the hard work it takes to become a person of substance. If you do, you are heading in the right direction, and have or are building substance.
Don’t be a sloth! Delay rarely helps in any situation. We know disorganization leads to disaster. It not only can make you late on your commitments, it can adversely affect your business and personal life.
We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world that demands that expectations not just to be met, but exceeded. You can do this by setting expectations you know you can meet and hopefully exceed, because you are the one in charge of setting the expectations. Don’t meet them and your clients, co-workers, your boss, will see it as a negative. Why isn’t it done yet? What did you not get to because of your delay on one project?
So how do you do this? It depends on you. Will lists and calendaring items keep you on track to meet or exceed expectations? Do you need another person, an accountability partner, to help keep you on track? There are many tools to better organize and keep on task. You have to know yourself well enough to know what will and won’t work for you. Of course, you then have to put what will work in motion and commit to it.
So what can you do today, this week, this month, to better organize yourself and set yourself up for success on meeting and, hopefully, exceeding expectations? Answer this question, work it and see how it benefits you in business and generally.
If you are not sure where to start, I suggest you find someone you know who is successful and organized and see if they will formally or informally serve as a mentor for you. For insight on mentoring, I suggest you review my recent blog post “Why Mentoring Matters?” http://businesslawguy.com/2015/08/26/why-mentoring-matters/
Most of us had a formal or informal mentor, or maybe even more than one, over the years, who helped us along the way. What you learned may have related to your professional life, or to more general life issues, or both. But either way, the importance of a good mentor mentee relationship cannot be ignored.
The basis of the mentor mentee relationship is support and trust. It is an exercise in listening for the mentor because a mentor is more of a facilitator or guide, not simply an instructor. And it is not only the mentee who benefits from the relationship. This relationship helps both parties with their own self-awareness and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. By participating in such a relationship, you evolve in many ways that benefit both parties in the long run.
So, depending on where you are professionally or in life, seek out a mentoring relationship now. It will help you grow as a person and, whether you are the mentor or mentee, allow you to play an important role in another’s story.
If you are not sure where to start, feel free to reach out to me.
You have to do what you say you are going to do. Period. If you don’t, people you deal with will not trust what you say and probably not bring you their business or deal with you in the future.
Part of commitment is trust. Are you overselling just to get the job? What are the odds that if you do, you have any chance to succeed? The answer is simple, slim to none. And once you lose someone’s trust, all is lost.
This doesn’t mean you always will be able to meet your commitments. Once you know you may have a problem meeting a commitment, Let the other party know right away. Things happen. Reset expectations. It really is a situation where honesty is the best policy. It will earn you respect even if the other party doesn’t like the change in schedule or expectations. They will know you are a straight shooter.
But try not to let it happen often, or you run the risk of having the people you deal with doubt the commitments you make.
An example is that I committed, when I started this blog, not to overwhelm your inbox with emails posts. I believe I have stuck to that.
This is my first blog post in a few months. In Arizona, everything seems to slow down during the summer until early to mid-August, when school starts. By then, a lot of people are back from vacation, focused and ready for a good run to the end of the year.
I hope you have had a great summer! Here is to a productive Fall 2015!
A friend recently was telling me about a long-time co-worker who not only resigned, but did it in a way that burned all bridges and goodwill with the former employer and most co-workers at a good sized company. I understand people get mad, disagree and are frustrated at times, and certainly when leaving a company, but even when your are dealing with the short-term, you have to think about the long-term. If you don’t, your actions today can seriously affect your future opportunities. In business acting on your emotions can have a long lasting effect.
You may never even know you lost a fantastic opportunity. It just won’t be there among your options. This person I mention above has done that because the actions on the way out affected a lot of people who won’t forget when this person’s name comes up in the future. I am sure it felt good to get things off of their chest, but what did it really accomplish? Phoenix, like elsewhere, is a big city that in business is like a small town. And people remember being told off longer than someone providing constructive criticism on their way out the door.
So what do you do when you dislike the actions of your employer, co-workers or even clients or vendors? You have to chart the smoothest course you can. Sometimes it means not saying what’s on your mind in way you would like to. I am not advocating that you brush serious issues off of the table. I am simply saying that it is better to act on thought than emotion in these situations.
Remember, reputation takes a lifetime to build and seconds to destroy. Don’t let it be you.
Some of you may be asking, what does he mean? Some of you may be saying, life/work balance, good luck! What I mean is being on the edge of having fun, vacation, just not working for a day, etc. What I’m really talking about his life/work balance.
We all work hard. At least I like to think that we do. One of the things that helps me stay focused at work is the knowledge that I have planned breaks, whether taking a mental health day, a short or long weekend or a weeklong vacation with my family. It helps me focus and be productive in my chosen profession.
We all have different things that motivate us, but it is important to have balance in your life. You cannot work all the time, the same as you cannot play all the time.
How do you achieve this balance? I wish I had the answer for everyone, but that is for you to answer for yourself. What creates balance in your life will be different than what creates balance in my life, let alone for anyone else. But it is important to figure out what provides that balance for you. If you already have, or even start now, you are on your way.
Now, get back to work!
Yes, I know the title is a bit cheesy, but it is April 15, and, of course, I mean something else: Why is it so hard to be successful?
Life is hard. Work is hard. Business is hard. Being successful is hard, let alone getting “ahead.” And working hard doesn’t mean you will be successful or get ahead, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
You need to put in time and do so smartly, whether in your business or personal life. Doing so is investing in yourself and your business. How do you do this? It depends what you do for a living.
For me, it can mean a lot of networking, including face time. For the person running a small business, it may be the same thing, but with suppliers or people who can connect them to suppliers to try and get better product or pricing. And for any of us it could be the person at the golf course, who can get us a better tee time if they like us. It works in all parts of your life.
So put in the work, even though it is taxing!
And I hope this tax day was not too painful for you!