So, What's Your Story?


How many times have you heard that question? Plenty probably, but have you taken some time to think about the stories you tell about yourself? According to Jim Loehr in his book, The Power of Story, tells us that most of our stories revolve around 5 central topics: Health, Family, Work, Friendships & Happiness. Take a few minutes to think about the stories you tell about those 5 topics. Do you find a gaping difference between the stories you tell yourself and what is actually happening in your life? If so, you have a big problem!

Authentic storytelling is one of the oldest and most effective ways to communicate ideas and ideals. It's the reason the radio program (podcast program?) This American Life is so popular - people telling authentic stories about their lives is powerful!

So how do you tell authentic stories that will communicate the essence of you, your brand, your business? Here's a few suggestions from the book What's Your Story?, by Ryan Mathews & Watts Wacker:

  • Give your story a human face. People respond to stories about people.
  • Think of yourself as a color commentator rather than a play-by-play announcer.
  • Don't assume your audience is familiar with your story or even cares to hear it.
  • Know who your audience members are. They might include employees, customers, the media, investors, your stakeholders or your competition.
So, What's Your Story?

Social Objects


I ran across a website that I thought was just going to fun and fluffy, but it turns out Hugh MacLeod has a lot more going on at GapingVoid than just cartoons drawn on the back of business cards.

Showing that he was way, way ahead of us here at WieseLaw on the Social Media curve, he has a post about Social Objects and how social networks grow up around Social Objects. I don't know why, but that really opened my eyes. If I didn't have pictures, ideas, links, thoughts, etc., that I wanted to share with other people, I wouldn't have a need for a social network in the first place.

But it goes even further, as Hugh says "The interesting thing about the Social Object is the not the object itself, but the conversations that happen around them." I think a lot of people misapprehend the point of sharing things. What you have to offer others has to go beyond mere information - it has to spark a conversation, ideas and innovation.

The Learning Box


I was reading a great article today - When Mediator Education Backfires Even As It Succeeds - when I stumbled across a term (unconsciously incompetent) that reminded me of the Learning Box!

This neatly sums up how we learn stuff - it's pretty simple, and as I've learned, it is a great way to identify your weaknesses when you are trying to learn something new. You may not know what you need to know, but you'll know what stage of learning you are in and that awareness can help you reach the next step!

1. Unconsciously Incompetent: Ignorance is bliss. You don't know anything and you don't know that you don't know anything. Life is good!

2. Consciously Incompetent: You know what you don't know. This can lead to feelings of insecurity and vulnerability. No one likes to feel like they don't know what they are doing, but hey, it's all part of the learning process!

3. Consciously Competent: You finally know what you're doing, but you have to think about it. You probably have checklists and a set process you use to make sure you're getting things right. This feels great - you are energized not being the newbie anymore!

4. Unconsciously Competent: You've reached the point where you don't have to think about how you accomplish these tasks anymore and, in fact, you may even have a hard time explaining things to someone struggling in in the Consciously Incompetent stage. But, the great thing about this stage is that there are always new things to learn! Move back to step 1 and start over.

Negotiating Is Hard Work!


After a long day of working on a complex negotiation, it's good to see Tom and Kendra taking a little time to relax and recuperate. This negotiation stuff is a lot of work!

Doing Good


I have a friend that is remarkable in many ways, but none more so than her commitment to helping the cause in the fight against breast cancer. Unlike so many of us who talk a big game, she actually goes out and gets things done. She does the annual Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3-Day which, in and of itself is no small thing: Walk 60 miles in 3 days. But beyond that she raises funds for the 3-Day each year.

This year, she's decided to go in a different direction. She actually talked several friends and relatives into making a breast cancer calendar which, according to preliminary reports, is something to see. Thus far, she has had incredible luck getting the photographer, studio, hair/makeup, graphic design, printing, etc., all come together to pull this off. The calendars will be debuted at a release party on June 13. If you want to help her out or buy a calendar, all the help she can get will be appreciated. 3-Day Site. Calendar Site (goes live June 13).

Social Media and Legal Ethics


I recently ran into this article on LegalBlogWatch which highlights what I can only assume will be a growing trend in the world of Legal Ethics: namely, whether and to what extent your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc., will be subject to discovery requests and what rules will surround attempts by attorneys and other parties to gain access to such information.

In yet another LegalBlogWatch article (here), there is a great breakdown of a Canadian decision relating to discovery requests and Facebook specifically. Judge Brown states that while your Facebook profile is not presumptively relevant to a suit,

A party who maintains a private or limited access Facebook profile stands in no different position than one who sets up a publicly available profile. Both are obliged to identify and produce any postings that relate to any matter in issue in an action.

I'm not sure I 100% agree with this statement. For example, recently, a friend of mine on Facebook attended a wedding and wanted to share the pictures that were taken and posted by a third person. This third party has complete lockdown on their Facebook profile and pictures. Even though my friend was "tagged" in the photos, I couldn't see the photos. My friend tried to share the photo album with me, but was thwarted there as well. At this point, there were only 2 ways we could think of to view the pictures: Either I had to become friends with this 3rd party and request access to the photo album (you can still block your friends from seeing certain photos or albums) or my friend could individually download the photos she could see and give them to me.

Clearly, you can't get around your ethical obligations by sending in a third party to do your dirty work for you (and lets not forget telling your clients to just assume that their Facebook, Twitter, etc., will be discoverable, so don't do anything dumb there either). However, I think Judge Brown's comments are indicative of a person who probably doesn't spend a lot of time on Facebook and/or does not understand how it works and what steps a person might take to ensure their privacy or expectation of privacy online.

Like I said, I only see this area of law growing in the coming years. It will be interesting to see how it shakes down.

Latest Temporary Office Mascot


Stephanie picked up a new puppy - Kola (we all voted for Butch, or Killer, but were shot down). Even though I generally don't go in for these teeny, yappy dogs, it's almost impossible not to love this dog:

Thinking Like A Transactional Attorney


I was looking for some information on how to think like a Transactional Attorney when I ran by a blog post by Professor Orin Kerr over at The Volokh Conspiracy entitled "What Does It Mean to 'Think Like a Lawyer"? And How Does The Socratic Method Help?" While it's not directed specifically at Transactional Attorneys, I think the following quote is a good place to start:

..."thinking like a lawyer" means having a brain that focuses on what is legally relevant and that puts aside what is not. Legal thinking is a practical art that relies on a set of principles and relationships, and a person thinks like a lawyer when they master that practical art.

As a fairly recent graduate of law school, I can vouch for the fact that I learned a whole lot more about the adversarial nature of the practice of law rather than the transactional nature of the work we do here at the Studio (Doing Deals!). I discovered right away that I needed to make a seismic shift in my thinking. I had to come up with a methodology to help me approach each new deal - while this is still a work in progress, I thought I'd share a little of what I've learned so far.

  1. Learn about your client and your client's needs - Seems kind of a like a "No Duh!" idea, but it is really easy to assume you know what your client wants without taking the time to understand the deal in the larger perspective of the client's deal portfolio.
  2. Understand the transactional context - It's almost impossible to do a deal (or amendment or even a review) without having any context. Who? What? Where? Why? When? Answering these questions is a great place to start.
  3. Use precedents to guide your work - No need to reinvent the wheel each time you do a deal. Think about making a deal library with exemplars for common phrases that you will want to use over and over again.
Obviously there are loads of nuances that will be encountered along the way to getting better at thinking like a Transactional Attorney, but the longest journey begins with a single step, right?