Friday, March 7, 2014

Success: Follow Your Bliss then Make a Killer Ad

Readers of my sporadic posts on this page will remember that very little gets me off the snowshoe trails and back into the house more quickly than killer attorney advertising.

I collect the stuff like a lot of people collect dolls or clown paintings.

So it made a sunny day brighter when Above The Law posted this lawyer ad on its blog.

The attorney is a Pittsburgh practitioner, and I'm all about giving some love to the denizens of my late great adopted hometown.

Attorney Dan may just have to get a cube in my dream law firm along with Saul Goldman and .....

Then the dog came in, jostled the hot chocolate in search of his ball, Newton took over, and now I have to go clean hot chocolate off Richard Shell's great book, Springboard: Launching your Personal Search for Success.

When it dries off I might right a review on it. View blog

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Success is what YOU make of it.

That's right, no one defines it but you.
Eddie the Eagle Flying into my Heart.
To support my case, I call Michael "Eddie" Edwards to the stand. For you young'uns, Eddie the Eagle Edwards was the lone member of the Great Britain Ski Jumping team in the 1988 Olympics. Google him or something.

He was the great hero of my last semester. Because he was, in the eyes of everyone on the International Olympic Committee, and the rest of the nabobs running the show in Calgary, the antithesis of a successful athlete. Nearly blind, out of shape, working class, only 20 months of training, and super, super popular with the spectators. I mean rock star popular. The athletes loved him. Everybody loved him, and he even appeared on the Tonight Show.

But IOC had decided he wasn't "serious." That he was making a mockery of The Games. Eddie on the other hand , was having a terrific time. Being a competitor in the Olympics was his gold medal.

When I started doing research for a recent seminar on success, he sprang readily to mind.

Why, because Eddie knew what his "success point." was. Make the Olympics. He was on the British Ski Racing team, and went all over Europe (camping in his car) to ski. He'd been denied the opportunity to ski on the British team by about .2 seconds on his qualifying run. So, he looked around for what nobody else was doing, and did it. No one was on the British Ski Jumping Team. There wasn't a British Ski Jumping Team.

Eddie said, "why shouldn't there be a British Ski Jumping Team?" and became the British Ski Jumping Team. So, he trained in Lake Placid, got back in his car, and went all over Europe to qualify. No sponsors, no nothing. He even slept and worked at a mental hospital in Finland. @) months after his decision to be the British Ski Jumping Team, he was marching in the opening ceremonies.

And then he jumped. On borrowed skis (from the Austrian Team), protected by a borrowed helmet (from the Italians). And those jumps transformed his life.

If you want to learn how to properly define success (in your own inimitable way) watch this video.

Don't forget to take notes.

Eddie still works as a plasterer, like his father,
his grandfather, and great-grandfather

Monday, January 27, 2014

The BlueBook of Happiness - Year End Reviews Are for the Birds!

Staring at a blank (computer-simulated) version of a white sheet of paper is no fun.

Apparently we have a place deep inside our amygdala that processes a blank writing space as too many choices. Then it freezes up. The way your frontal cortex checks out when you are looking at 25 different kinds of red spaghetti sauce.

I am not making this up. It's a real phenomenon. Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choosing (affiliate link), helps us understand the problem of limitless options. In a study at Columbia University Business School, Dr. Iyengar presented subjects with six varieties of jams to purchase. Another group was presented with twenty-four varieties. The twenty-four jam group was really into the idea of so many jams, and sampled a lot. They took nothing home, however.

On the other hand, the six-jam group was ten times more likely to buy something from the limited options, heading home with a nice grape jelly for their toast the next morning.

You can watch her explain the problem at TED a few years ago.

I'm having this choosing problem right now because I've been fielding questions from young associates about their year-end reviews, their "failure" to make partner after 7 years chained to a desk, and unhelpful advice from their "reviewers."

There are just too many words (most of them unprintable) I could use to describe my disdain for these reviews, or at least how they're conducted, so my brain is frozen. My amygdala has taken over, because my frontal cortex is on overload. I have no answers.

It's also winter and there's not enough light in the world. So, I'm leaving the advice to an actual partner in an actual law firm in a post from Above the Law last fall. Anonymous Partner suggested the following for associates:

[keep] track of your hours, and if you have access to that information, the collections on your time. Think ahead to the next quarter, and set a target for your billable hours (keeping in mind any vacation you hope to plan and then cancel, or holidays). But do not stop there. Keep track of your matters, such as whether or not you worked for any new partners that quarter, or worked with lawyers in another of your firm’s offices. Also keep track of any business development opportunities that may have crossed your path, even if your current firm discourages business development by associates. Set a quarterly target for working on an article, or keeping track of old classmates. If you are unhappy at your firm, set a quarterly target for recruiter calls or interviews, so that months and months do not go by with misery as your faithful companion. Why quarterly and not monthly? Months are simply too short. And many an associate has gotten stuck in the Biglaw quicksand for years on end by adopting a “wait till next year” approach to their career happiness.
Done, and done. Get proactive. Plan your year the way a business plans theirs: quarter by quarter. Keep a record of what you've done, and make sure your partners, mentors, and anyone else who will listen knows about it. Try to corral your mentor at the end of each quarter for a review.

After all, it's your business. Own it. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The BlueBook of Happiness - Happy. New. Year.

Matt Hill haunted the house where my mother spent her summers in central Idaho.

This is what Matt Hill had to look during the winter.
It was about 10 degrees (F) when I took this picture,
so don't get all sweet about how pretty it is.
He was a fixture of the Finnish population in the Long Valley, where he owned land, operated a dance hall, an illegal still, and a sauna. I'm told there are people buried on the property.

During the long Idaho winters, legend had it that Matt would close the dance hall, surround himself with the still's output, and sit in the southeastern corner of the house watching the snow come down. He wouldn't move from that corner until the roads became passable again.

Now, I will have to fact check this with my cousins. There are a great many more stories involving axes and a wife or two fleeing for her life. I did see the marks where he tried to break down a door with an axe and kill his wife.

Things get very Stephen King during the winter in Idaho. Especially when you have jugs of White Lightning to spare.

On the other hand, Matt seems to have had the bones of a good idea.

Survive until spring.

If you can do it in some kind of a haze, even better.

But, thanks to the wonders of modern science, infographics help us pinpoint and solve our unhappiness during the dark time.

As you gear up for yet another time of cold, failure, and everything else that makes it hard to process the first quarter of 2014, here is a quick set up of ways to be happy.

A big shout out to Jonathan Malkin, who posted this on his Google+ page (+Jonathan Malkin) via +Doctor Ivan Ferrero - Digital Psychologist, via the Huffington Post.

Print this out. Do one of these things EVERY DAY. Please note none of the options include spending the winter staring out a window with a a jug full of hooch.

Let me know how you do: here, on Twitter @TamarCerafici (#happinesshooch), or on the Tumblr @ BlueBook of Happiness.