Career and Leadership Counsel for Upping Your Game in the Legal Profession

Chess Pieces

Trusted Counsel's Managing Partner, Evelyn Ashley, participated in Q&A with Bernadette Boas, a consultant, leadership coach, author and speaker. Evelyn shares her opinions and candid advice on effective leadership qualities, top challenges lawyers experience in building their practices, and her three pieces of advice for female lawyers looking to advance their careers.

Evelyn Ashley

When to Talk; When to Text

When to Talk or Text

It’s not just you; many of us are talking less these days and texting or emailing much more to communicate with one another. This week, we revisit one of the most universally relevant topics we’ve ever covered: the art of conversation in the digital age.

“I absolutely believe that technology is often negatively affecting the way that human beings interact with each other,” says Evelyn Ashley, Managing Partner of Trusted Counsel. “The reality is that technology is brilliant, but the challenge, especially in business, is the reliance on email or technology to take the place of a conversation or a face-to-face meeting where you can actually build the relationship in order to achieve your goals.”

In this episode of In Process Podcast, Trusted Counsel talks with Elaine Rosenblum, founder of ProForm U, and Jodi Fleisig, Senior Vice President of Media Strategy & Relations for Porter Novelli. They discuss the communication hurdles we face as technology is more and more ubiquitous in modern society.

Our perception of ourselves compared to our peers is skewed.
“What people do is they present a false self, and that has raised the standard for the way people think they have to present themselves,” says Elaine. “I think what that has caused, in terms of the quality of communication, is that people have felt like they need to present a false self. That lack of trust that comes from the false self is a problem.” With today’s culture of over-sharing, people actually think they need to present themselves as something more or bigger than what they actually are. “When people present false selves, of course people believe some of it. But I think people know in their hearts—they may not be able to articulate it, but they know on some level—that it is a false self. That makes them less likely to risk themselves,” says Elaine. “That goes to trust, and trust is where you build relationships and that’s actually where creativity and innovation come from. “

When it comes to conversation, you are in control.
“Conversation is a muscle, and you have to work it,” says Jodi.  The popularity of text messaging and chat puts us in the habit of using snippets to communicate rather than fleshed-out thought, rendering newcomers to the work force helpless when it comes to introduction emails and cover letters. Jodi tells her clients who get anxiety about conversations (whether those conversations are interviews, public speaking engagements or everyday encounters), to come up with three key messages you want to your listeners to remember. “Everyone needs to learn: you are in control,” says Jodi. “You have to practice. Just because you’re brilliant in science doesn’t mean you’re great in English. Just because you’re a great CEO in subject X doesn’t mean you’re a good communicator. You have to learn how to communicate, whether it’s asking for a raise or appearing on a radio show or speaking to the board or just speaking to the people on your team. You don’t have to turn into an extrovert, but you need to have the confidence to say what you mean.”

Don’t rule out technology in conflict resolution—but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk, either.
“Technology can be very efficient and very effective.  I think where you have to be careful is word choice,” says Elaine. “Our default word choice, especially since we move so fast, tends to be extreme and judgmental. We are inundated with judgmental comments from movies, media. Our default tone becomes judgmental. Based on whether you neutralize that language, you can get into an uncomfortable conversation or an easy conversation.” If a conversation is escalating into unpleasant territory via email, though, it’s a good idea to pick up the phone and talk things out.

Nothing can replace an in-person meeting.
According to Jodi, technology is a tool. “The most important thing that you have to sell is yourself, and the best way to do that is to connect with people through chemistry. You can tell so much about a person when you meet them. I think you can use technology as a tool to further that relationship. One doesn’t substitute for another.”

In the technology you do use to communicate, it’s important not to be too guarded. Remember, the most effective message is going to be one that reflects the “you” that the person on the receiving end is familiar with. “You do need to put your own personality into your technology – into the emails that you write, and what you post to Facebook and Twitter. You need to break out from the clutter,” says Jodi. 

Stream the conversation in the player below to learn more. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to In Process Podcast on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show to your smartphone.

 

Finding Your Bearings in the Brand Wilderness

Compass in the Wild

Psychologically, there’s little difference between a group of survivors who crash-land on a mountain, and a group of leaders in a boardroom dealing with unexpected changes. Both groups will experience disruption and both can overcome it in the same way. Disruption, whether we like it or not, is our new normal. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

In this episode of In Process Podcast,Trusted Counsel talks with Jonathan David Lewis, a branding and strategist expert about building resilient brands for harsh business environments. He explains ways to help brands navigate through the wild in what he explains is survival psychology. 

The New Economy
Lewis states, “Something that we need to get out of our minds is that things are not going to go back to the way they were. The great recession of 2008 in many ways ushered in trends that were already underway for many years….We’re in a new environment, a new economy that requires new ways of thinking about doing business.” And so, running a business today is fundamentally different than the past 100 years. Why then are so many of us pushing to operate on those old principles of success? Lewis simply states that “it’s just not effective.” Today, the economy is performing better, but across the board all organizations are being disrupted by externalities with the advent of bio-engineering, automation, and artificial intelligence that are changing our business models, whether we like it or not.

Disruption in Organizations
Inside of our organizations we are often faced with fear because you didn’t see it coming or there are unpredicted challenges inside of the organization. Faced with fear, according to Lewis, you begin to drift as an organization and then you lose your focus. Once the focus is lost, you become inconsistent in decision-making and ultimately you become savage and turn on each other. The alignment is lost. “This is the very same thing we see in survival scenarios and real-life research.” In other words, there’s a very predictable response to disruption.  

Find Your Focus
In this new economy that we all inhabit, it’s probable that you’ll go through the wilderness sooner or later. However, do it with resilience. Have a healthy team in place, and adapt. “Have healthy conflict, don’t be passive aggressive…have kind truth when entering the danger. Then you will have a culture of healthy conflict which will allow you to be resilient when you’re facing these hardships.” 

Lewis recommends asking yourself these questions about your organization. “What am I really, really good at? What does my customer actually need? And lastly, where do those two overlap? Because where they overlap is where you find your relevancy and that becomes your focus.

Jonathan David Lewis is a branding and business strategist. As partner and strategy director of McKee Wallwork + Company, Jonathan led his firm to be recognized by Advertising Age as a national leader in branding and marketing, winning the Southwest Agency of the Year. He is a regular contributor of Forbes.com, speaker and author of a new book titled “Brand vs Wild.”

Stream the conversation with Jonathan in the player below to learn more about leading your business through the wild. Listen to real businesses that trenched though the wild and how they emerged out of the wilderness. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to InProcess Podcast on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show to your smartphone.