Archives for August 2014

Nothing is fair in love or contracts: know the playing field and rules of engagement

People deal in and like absolutes. By this I mean that for many people, if they see it in writing it must be true, and if in a contract, it must be easily enforceable.  This assumption is wrong.

In my world, everything is contracts: I am either negotiating and drafting contracts, or involved in lawsuits to enforce or defend entire contracts or specific contractual provisions.  If a party breaches a contract, the non-breaching party many times believes it is a simple and fast process to win a lawsuit and collect damages (i.e. money) or enforce the terms of the contract.  But a contract does not guarantee behavior, and is, at most, a guideline. If you think suing to get what you want is a sure solution, that the contract entitles you to win, you’re naïve on how litigation works.  Most people are naïve because of luckily not having experience with litigation. Hopefully, if that describes you, you remain in that bubble.

Even if you do, it is good to have a general understanding of the playing field and the rules of engagement: (1) the agreements and promises in a contract only are worth the paper they are written on and depend wholly on the substance of the other party to the contract, so try to deal with people you really trust; (2) lawsuits are not fast and it can take from a few months to a few years to obtain a judgment; and (3) the financial wherewithal of the other party may be different at the end of a lawsuit than it was at the beginning, i.e. winning a judgment is one thing, collecting on the judgment is another.

The best things you can do at the front end are to know who you are dealing with, whether an individual or a company, and conduct due diligence (information gathering and or analysis), if appropriate and possible, prior to signing a contract.  The due diligence may involve attorneys, accountants, engineers, appraisers, etc.  It may be you really taking the time to read every line of the proposed contract.  Protect yourself as best you can from the beginning because if an issue comes up, the only way to a fast resolution is through the parties agreeing to one.


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Think like an artist: Don’t think about money before you earn it

I recently read the following  line, which struck me: A businessman puts money first, an artist sees money as a byproduct.  It made me think about how so many people put money first, which means service is second, at best.  If you focus on service and quality instead of what you will be paid, there is a better chance money will follow.  And a better chance your customer or client will satisfied with the service or work you provided and refer work to you.

So does this mean think like an artist?  No.  Most of us are not creative in that way, which is not to say we are not creative within our business or professional space. Instead it means to think about the widget you are manufacturing or the code you are writing or the contract you are drafting.  Doing your best does not guaranty more work and wealth, but it does help you do a better job for whoever is paying you.

If you try this instead of thinking what you will be paid or what your client or customer’s money will buy you, you will do what you do so much better.  And think about how you would feel if your lawyer, doctor, contractor, etc. was focusing on the money first and what you are paying them for second…

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Back to School? Invest in yourself!

In Arizona, the majority of K through 12th grade students went back to school this week.  Here, in some circles and professions, it is as if this week marks the start of working hard through the end of the year, i.e. we coasted through the summer and now it is time to get back to work.

But “back to school” can mean many things.  Are you a lifetime learner always trying to improve?  Do you need to review something you already know to make sure you have it down?  Are you trying to learn something new to put into practice professionally or personally?  Or you can arbitrarily make it a time to put a new goal or two into place.

You don’t have to wait until the new year to make a resolution to start exercising, to work harder to meet the type of connections you want in business, etc. Commit to investing in yourself as we head straight towards the end of 2014!

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