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You meet the people you’re supposed to when you’re supposed to

This goes for all personal and professional relationships in your life. I heard a woman on a podcast say this, and it struck me. She was speaking about meeting her husband and when things clicked versus when they first met years prior. She could’ve been telling a story about meeting someone who helped her professionally. We’ve all met someone randomly and have these types of stories.

If you say you don’t, you just haven’t spent time thinking about it. You don’t want to live with your foot in the past, but knowing and, if you’re comfortable with it, acknowledging those who have helped you along your path, especially people you met by chance, makes a difference in both of your lives.

I feel lucky enough to have a number of these stories in both my personal and professional lives. For instance, I came to my firm, Jaburg Wilk, through an attorney there I had randomly come into contact with at the beginning of my career and by then I knew a bit as a professional connection. The interesting part is that through that same person I had the opportunity to come work at Jaburg Wilk in a few years earlier, but turned it down to go to work at a large local firm. When I ultimately came to the firm it was the right time for me to do so and happened because of me randomly running into that same connection at a professional event.

The point is that you never know what a chance meeting, interview, or connection may lead to in the future. When I came back around, I was lucky enough that the firm still was willing to speak with me. Luckily my longtime connection who worked there was open to speaking with me about a position and to talking to his partners about interviewing me again.

You have no way of knowing who you meet that may be important in your life. No matter what side of the relationship I am on, the connection may ultimately be beneficial for me. It may be a situation where I give 10 minutes to someone I am informally mentoring. You will find that if you treat people kindly, with respect, and give them your most valuable resource, your time, there is a better chance that if they are related to a potential opportunity, it will be visited upon you.

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Perspective matters

I firmly believe that perspective matters significantly in the world of business. Perspective is the lens through which we view and interpret issues, in my case, legal issues. This can greatly influence the outcomes and strategies employed in business and professional practice. When dealing with complex matters, understanding and considering different perspectives is crucial.

Perspective allows us to grasp the diverse interests and concerns of all parties. This is important because in any legal dispute or transaction in which I am involved, there are usually multiple stakeholders with varying viewpoints. When I am dealing with complex legal matters, understanding and considering different perspectives is crucial. By comprehending these perspectives, I can better evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s arguments or position and negotiate more effectively. A nuanced understanding of different perspectives helps find common ground and facilitate fair and just outcomes for the parties.

Moreover, perspective shapes strategies and approaches. By considering the broader context of a situation, you can anticipate potential risks and devise appropriate risk management strategies. For instance, a business operating in a highly regulated industry will require a different strategy compared to a startup in a more lenient regulatory environment. By acknowledging these perspectives, one can consider choices and make decisions to suit their specific needs and goals.

Additionally, perspective is essential for ensuring I am advising clients in an ethical and responsible manner. I have to consider not only the immediate legal implications of my advice but also the broader impact on my clients and their businesses. By doing so, I can guide clients towards long-term sustainability for their businesses.

Perspective matters greatly in the world of business and law. It enables the understanding of diverse interests and development of effective strategies. By embracing multiple perspectives, all of us can navigate complex issues and situations more adeptly. Make it a goal to constantly strive to broaden your perspective and remain open to new ideas and viewpoints to excel in your business, as well as in life.

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Not my monkey, not my circus

I recently heard my wife say “not my monkey, not my circus” and it struck me about how important a concept it is in all aspects of life. It’s a colloquial phrase that conveys the idea that one is not responsible for the problems or issues of others. It is often used to express a lack of ownership or accountability for situations that do not directly concern or involve oneself.

In a business context, this phrase can be interpreted to mean that individuals or entities should not feel compelled to take on the burdens or liabilities of others unless they are legally obligated to do so. It reflects the principle of limited liability, which is a fundamental concept in business and legal settings.

It encapsulates the principle of limited liability in business law: you are not automatically responsible for the problems or issues of others, unless you have voluntarily assumed such responsibilities or are legally obligated to do so. However, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of limited liability and the legal obligations that apply to specific business situations to ensure compliance with the law and mitigate potential risks.

In a personal life context, “not my monkey, not my circus” can be interpreted as a reminder that you are not obligated to take on the problems or issues of others that do not directly concern you. It reflects the idea that you should not feel overly responsible or burdened by matters that are not within your realm of control or responsibility.

In personal relationships, this phrase can serve as a reminder to maintain healthy boundaries and avoid getting overly involved in other people’s problems or conflicts. It can be a gentle way of declining involvement in situations that may not directly affect you or may be beyond your capacity to address. It’s important to recognize that everyone has their own challenges and responsibilities, and it’s not always necessary or feasible to take on the burdens of others. “Not my monkey, not my circus” can serve as a reminder to prioritize self-care and personal well-being while respecting the autonomy and responsibilities of others in their own lives.

In the moment it can be hard to remember that you are not automatically responsible for matters that are outside of your scope of control or responsibility. At those times is when you need to remember the phrase “not my monkey, not my circus” and set boundaries while respecting and acknowledging the autonomy and responsibilities of others. Understanding the concept of “not my monkey, not my circus” can help you navigate complex situations, set appropriate boundaries, and manage your obligations effectively. Remembering that we all have enough situations to manage and negotiate when we stay in our own lanes will help you focus on your own monkeys and circuses.

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Be slow to judge people, and quick to help them

I recently read this good piece of advice. It’s easy to jump to conclusions or make judgments about people without knowing all the facts. Making assumptions isn’t a good idea, as pointed out to all in the old movies and television shows:

It’s generally a good idea to be slow to judge others because jumping to conclusions about someone’s character or motivations based on limited information or how they look can lead to misunderstandings, may cause harm, and may cause you to lose opportunities. It’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt, get to know them, or give them a chance to explain themselves before making judgments about them. Additionally, being slow to judge allows you to get to know someone better and to see them in different contexts, which can give you a more nuanced and accurate understanding of who they are. It can also help to foster more positive relationships with others, as people are often more open and willing to share with those who are not quick to judge and instead take time to get to know them better, as well as their motivations, intentions, and interests.

On the other hand, it’s good to be is quick to help others. There are several reasons why. Helping others can be personally rewarding and can strengthen relationships. When you help others, you often feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.

Being quick to help often helps build stronger and more positive relationships with them. This is because people often feel a sense of gratitude and appreciation towards those who have helped them, which can foster feelings of connection and mutual support. It also can be good for you and your mental health because helping others can reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve overall well-being. Think about how you feel after volunteering. The same good feeling comes from helping others in any context.

By taking the time to understand someone’s situation, let alone if you help them, you can create the opportunity for positive and meaningful connections with others. It’s also important to be mindful of your own biases and try to approach situations with an open mind and a willingness to listen and help. By doing so you can create a broader network involving better and deeper connections you may otherwise have missed. And, you will feel good doing so.

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Networking and deepening your connections matters

Networking is the base onto which your business development efforts sit. Who you know matters. The broader your network and reach the better chance it will lift you up towards success.

It seems obvious that you should want to be known by as many people as possible. We all have different ideas of what networking is or should be. You and I may meet at an professional event, but that doesn’t mean our respective networking activities will be a mirror of each other. You may be there with the goal of collecting business cards and meeting as many people as possible. I may have reviewed the list of attendees, researched them, and am focused on meeting a smaller number of specific people.

Both methods are right and can work. The goal is meeting people, whether a large number or consciously deciding who you want to meet. No matter how you do it you will then need to nurture the connections you make and see whether they evolve into trusted relationships. That needs to happen for a connection to trust making a referral to you or connecting you with one of their trusted connections.

There are many ways to advance professional relationships to the point where there is mutual trust. All involve you committing time and energy into growing relationships. You should think about and come up with ideas and strategies to ‘touch’ your connections. There are various ways to do this, such as by sending an email to check in, forwarding an article on a topic your of interest, or sending a book. Of course, you always can pick up the phone and call. The choice is yours, but you should have a goal of getting to know your connections well enough to know what type of contact is best.

The idea of thoughtful acts or gifts isn’t new, but it is something else you should think about. I have a partner who is great at this. He will get to know people and send them thoughtful gifts. An example is when he learns a connection roots for a specific professional or college sports team, he sends a gift related to that. This is easy to do online. You can bet the people who receive those unexpected thoughtful gifts remember him. Plus, these types of gifts are great because most people will keep them in their office and are likely to think of the sender more often because they are reminded of them every day.

Another idea is to hold gatherings where you can bring your connections together, i.e. be a connector. You need to realize your connections are great connections for your other connections. You can hold a formal meeting, go to lunch, or have a happy hour. The choice is yours, but people appreciate and remember when you are willing to help them by introducing them to your valued connections.

Sitting around hoping for work to find you is not a good method of business development. Instead you need to take action by coming up with a plan and then jumping feet first to networking. Once you start making new connections, the next step is deepening those connections. Do this by making a plan and working on your network every day.

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Overnight success is a myth

We all know the cliché “overnight success.” In the real world overnight successes have put in time and most people don’t even realize it. For instance, the Beatles are viewed as an overnight success. Actually their rise to the top took approximately five years, thousands of hours of practice, and hundreds of live performances. To think they didn’t put in the time and sacrifice to get to the top is incorrect.

Their first UK number 1 was in May 1963 and their first US number 1 was in January 1964, but John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met in 1957. Thereafter, Lennon asked McCartney to join the Quarrymen, who, other than Lennon, were not very good musicians. In 1958, after lots of practice and many shows, George Harrison joined the group. By 1959, only the three future Beatles remained in the band.

In 1960 they renamed themselves the Beatles. After that they spent a lot of time in Hamburg, Germany between August 1960 through December 1962. During that time they lived in one cramped room with a bathroom down the hall, practiced for hours each day, and playd clubs at night. They put in hard work and sacrificed to improve their skills. Obviously it worked for them.

You are asking yourself, “okay, but what does this mean to me?” It is this type of investment in yourself and commitment to whatever you are doing, whether alone or in a group, that gives you the best chance to succeed in any field. I could have told you the same story about entrepreneurs, professionals, etc. from every industry. The Beatles are a good example because everyone knows who they are, thinks their success was immediate when it wasn’t, and don’t realize the time and energy they invested in themselves leading to their huge success.

Stories of peoples’ different roads to success have in common a significant time investment and hard work. Of course, this alone doesn’t guaranty success, but it gives you a much better shot. You need to plan strategies for your business, career, networking, marketing, and whatever else you’re doing. This should be done regularly for both the short term and the long term. If you ask most successful people you know, you will get a good story about what it took for them to reach where they are. If you probe further you will learn those same people continually are trying to improve, because staying on top of the mountain is as hard as reaching the summit.

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Mentoring is more challenging than ever

Most professionals still are working remotely and will be for the foreseeable future. This makes mentoring relationships more challenging. You can have phone calls or Zoom calls with a mentor or accountability partner, but mentoring relationships grow from forging a relationship based on knowing each other. Getting to know each other is harder to do by phone or Zoom unless that close relationship already existed. Even then, it’s not as good as being able to spend time together in person.

All of this makes beginning new mentoring relationships more challenging because it’s easier to build the relationship and trust through meeting in person, which then can be supplemented by phone calls or other manners of communication. This doesn’t mean solid new mentoring relationships can’t happen without meeting in person, it just means it is harder.

Imagine you switch jobs now. You are coming into a new company. Maybe it even has a formal mentoring program to help integrate new employees into the company and its culture. It’s much more difficult when you are sitting in your home office than if you are at the company’s actual office.

This is because the basis of the mentor mentee relationship is trust. Trust may be assumed at first, but it really is earned over time. The better the level of trust, the more both parties to a mentoring relationship gain. If you are in a mentoring relationship and it isn’t helping your professional growth, it may not be a good fit or maybe it has run its course. Your hope should be that by participating in such a relationship, you both evolve in many ways that benefit you in the long run.

So, depending on where you are professionally or in life, it always is a good time seek out a mentoring relationship. It will help if you are doing so now to acknowledge it may be more difficult or take longer to forge the bond that really allows such relationships to grow and flourish. But I challenge you to do so and look to play an important role in another’s story.

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Be relentless about continuous improvement

This is part of my firm’s culture. We have a fundamental that says: Be a lifetime learner and continually invest in your own education, both formally and informally. Be curious and never stop improving your legal, technical, and personal skills. Embrace change. Look for a better way.

No matter your role, you are constantly learning and change is constant. You should strive to learn and adapt to and embrace change. Part of this is realizing and accepting that you don’t know everything, there always is more to learn, and that change is happening whether you want it to or not.

William Butler Yeats said “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” He is right because there is no way to fill up your brain with too much learning or new information. There always is room for more. On Wikipedia, lifelong learning is defined as “is the ‘ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated’pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.”

Note that lifetime learning is voluntary and requires self-motivation. When we were younger and in school, the motivators were teachers and parents. As adults, we may have similar figures in our lives pushing us to continuously improve, but many people don’t. This is why being a lifetime learner requires self-motivation. You should challenge yourself to always be learning. In our world it could be learning about a change in the law or maybe you want to learn to paint. Whatever it is you should follow the muse because it will improve the quality of your professional or personal life.

Another part of this fundamental includes embracing change. As Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.” This is true and your attitude towards change makes a difference. When change happens you either are influencing the change or not. If not, you likely will feel out of control and like you are being dragged along by the change. To avoid this, you need to be pro-active. This may require you to acknowledge your fears and take action anyway. It is okay to be scared of change, but don’t let that stop you. If it does, change will happen anyway, but without you being in the driver’s seat.

Someone named David Mann explains it well in a few minute video: He explains that change happens and you can see it as a disruption or an opportunity. I urge you to view change as an opportunity. It could be an opportunity to learn or to improve yourself or your surroundings. Many times you don’t know where the change is going to lead you, but wherever it is will be better if you are pro-active and face it head on.

As we head into a new year, it’s a great time to be pro-active about the change you want to drive in your life. Instead of making a resolution and hoping you follow through, you should make smart goals related to whatever you want to learn or change. The point is to take control of your evolution, because with change being constant, so is your evolution as a person. Be the driver of your life, not the passenger.

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Show gratitude always

We are a few days out from Thanksgiving. In thinking about writing about being thankful or gratitude, I thought back to a post from last November. I can’t say it better, so here is my annual blog for the week of Thanksgiving.

This is a good time of year to think of gratitude generally and what you are thankful for specifically. At the same time, it’s a great time of year to spread good feelings, which you can do by letting others know when you appreciate something they have done for you.

Those of you who have younger children (or older ones…) know that you end up reminding them to say “thank you” all of the time. That is because thanking someone or showing gratitude is a learned behavior. If it came naturally or from observing others we wouldn’t have to teach children to do so.

Hopefully you remember to thank people as appropriate in your daily life. In my day, this can be thanking someone holding the door for me when I get to my office, for holding the elevator for me, or for making a pot of hot water so I can have tea and get that needed caffeine injection upon arriving for work. Many of these situations are universal to all of us, but I notice when I hold a door for someone and they walk through without saying anything.

Of course, if you go through your day looking for when people should be thanking you, you likely will be disappointed. Instead, I think about how I want to come across to others, as well as ways I don’t want to come across to others.

We all have bad days, but most days we should recognize when thanking someone is proper and appropriate. Plus, it has the added bonus of making you or the other person feel good, making it a great way to go through life.

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Dream Focused

I have an old t-shirt from a concert I attended years ago. On the back it says “dream focused.” I hadn’t worn it in a while, but happened to pull it out this week. At the same time, I received an email from a friend who said I need to write about the power of dreaming. Coincidence? I say inspiration!

Dreaming is powerful. Whether as a child or now, dreaming can take you to another place, or place you on a path towards a goal. It involves curiosity. It also can be hard to do in the daily grind of life where we spend little time without someone or something (think cell phone, tablet, computer) in front of our face. When this happens the time to dream is lost.

I think that some of the best ideas or plans I come up with alone or with my wife happen when we are out of town. We generally are disconnected and have time to think of things not involving work, kids, or other daily concerns; our minds are free.

Once you free your mind, you may well find your body following. It could be to a new job or to start a business. It could be to change how you parent or deal with a troubled family member.

It’s a matter of being able to step back and have perspective. Of course this can happen while you are slogging through your everyday life, but it’s less likely. It also doesn’t mean you need to go out of the country or do a cave in the woods. You can create the space needed to dream and let your mind be free from routine in your home or hometown, but then you have to be intentional to do so.

Maybe you need to go on a hike but not listen to a podcast or listen to background music you won’t pay specific attention to (I used to do this with long jams by the Grateful Dead or Phish, but that’s another story). The idea is to create the space for your mind to drift and thoughts to come and go until you latch onto something that intrigues you.

Dreaming is important and powerful, and opens you up to opportunity. So dream big and then focus on how you move towards your dream coming true.

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