“Authenticity” has become a dirty word in the last few years.

It’s right up there with some of the other most hated buzzwords and phrases – “at the end of the day,” “thinking outside of the box,” “synergy,” “value add,” “circle back,” “bandwidth.”

Are you cringing yet?

But even though the word “authenticity” might make your skin crawl, it’s actually a pretty important concept – it’s a buzzword for a reason. 
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It’s the post I know you’ve all been waiting for – as ads have gotten milder the last few years, each season, I wonder whether there will be any commercials worthy of the “ugly” moniker. This year, we had three!

Before we dive into the ugly commercials, there is one interesting choice I want to discuss – Skittles’ decision this year to forego a Super Bowl commercial in favor of a one-time only, thirty minute live show in Times Square to 1,500 people, with proceeds going to the nonprofit organization, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Mars Wrigley also planned to donate up to $50,000.

In an industry where companies are spending obscene amounts of money on (for the most part) lackluster commercials, this is really a standout. I generally don’t like Skittles commercials, I’ll admit. They’re a bit on the weird side (and I’m a bit on the weird side, so that’s saying something). So to instead create buzz around an event starring a celebrity (C. Michael Hall), make it exclusive, donate the proceeds to charity, and in the end, spend less than you would on a Super Bowl commercial, while probably getting more views and interest for it, is really brilliant. Hats off to them. What can lawyers and law firms learn from that?

  • You don’t have to follow the crowd. I know the running joke in the legal industry is that lawyers love to be first to be second, but what if you DIDN’T do what everyone else was doing? A crowded playing field is just that – crowded. What if you found the way to stand out and did it?
  • Be true to your brand. This is definitely unusual for a brand, to have a Broadway-type show instead of a Super Bowl commercial. But Skittles is an unusual brand, so it fits with who they are. Unlike what Verizon did, trying to shore up their image with first responders, Skittles stuck with their brand message. Who are you as a firm? Don’t just say that with your marketing – DO it with your actions. The projects that you engage in, the charities that you supports, the innovations you embrace – let them all reflect who you are as a firm.


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Most of the commercials that I saw during the Super Bowl fell into what I’d call the “meh” category. They weren’t terrible, but they didn’t blow my socks off either. But there are a few that I’ve got squarely in the “bad” and “ugly” categories for you, and based on some of the YouTube comments, they may surprise you.

Let’s take a look at what these spots are, and what we can learn from them.


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Most of us can agree that the Super Bowl this year was a bit of a dud. In a similar theme, most of the ads were a bit uninspiring too, though there were some notable exceptions to that. Considering how much money is being invested in these ads, I’m wishing for much more creative, exciting, and inspiring results than we’re getting – even the controversial ones aren’t that controversial.

But despite that, there are some things to discuss (and I don’t mean Tom Brady’s sixth Super Bowl win – but HOW ABOUT THOSE PATRIOTS?).

That’s right, it’s time for my annual review of Super Bowl Commercials.

In my book, there are a couple of clear winners, with lessons for lawyers and law firms, to share with you. You may think I’ve omitted some important spots, but you’ll understand why when we get to those next week. Stay tuned…


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We’re almost through a full month in 2019 – are you still feeling fresh and inspired about the new year? Or are you feeling bogged down by your routine and flagging resolve already?

If you’ve thrown your resolutions out the window, never fear – I’m not a big believer in them anyway. What I DO believe in is finding ways to find new inspiration that will allow you to freshen up your goals, your thinking, your business development, and ultimately, your practice.
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Regular Zen readers will know that I’m a runner. When you first start running, you tell yourself that it’s the cheapest sport – all you need is a pair of sneakers, and you can head outside and do it. While this is (essentially) true, we runners love our gadgets and our products, and sharing our favorites of the same.

It won’t surprise you to learn that I’m in a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to running, including a pretty large one, and we often share products we love. A popular one among the group is the sunglasses brand, Goodr, who have been known as a fun, edgy brand with glasses that stay put on your face during long, sweaty runs, have a basset hound mascot, and catchy names for their sunnies. I own three pairs myself. 
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Rainmaking trainer and coach, Jaimie Field, is back with rainmaking recommendations to kick off your new year in the right way. Check out her latest in today’s post.

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A brand new year had started and you are being given a blank slate upon which to write another chapter of your life story. I get excited whenever a New Year comes around because it reminds me of the expectations I have for a great new year.  Particularly since 2018 was not an easy year for me – my father (my mentor and teacher), who was one of the reasons I went to law school, passed away and it truly knocked me down for a little while. 
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Has everyone got their “fa la la” on yet?

While the holidays are often a mad rush for all of us, it seems that this year especially, everyone is behind with wrapping up their end of the year duties (and wrapping up their gifts), while we try to figure out shortcuts for how to manage to get everything done before family and friends descend on us (or you head out the door yourself). In among all of the holiday madness are your professional pressures, which, of course, take priority.

So instead of adding to the pressure of asking you to throw some crazy business development, relationship building activities into your holiday mix, let’s look at a few easy and mostly quick ways you can sprinkle some engagement into your final weeks of 2018, and set yourself up for early success in the new year. 
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Successful communication comes in many forms, and we may be already convinced either by virtue of our training or personality that we’re naturally good communicators. Whether you’re confident in your communications skills, or looking for a refresher, there are four tasks you can undertake today to improve your business communication skills.

Audit Your Communication

How do you currently communicate with others on a professional level? For this purpose, we’re going to consider all of your means of communications to be “professional.” The list may surprise you:

  • Verbally
  • Written (articles/blogs)
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Text
  • Social Media

All of these are means of communication and translating the message of who you are as a lawyer to colleagues, clients, potential clients, and referral sources. Knowing what channels you use is helpful to ensure that your communication skills are up to par across all of them.
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A question I get ALL the time is whether using social media actually has any impact at all on referrals and business development.

Actually, the way it typically goes is this:

Come on, really. Tell me. Does anyone get matters or referrals because they post to LinkedIn?”

The short answer is yes, sometimes, it does happen. But it’s really atypical. Anyone who tells you that lawyers need to be using social media because clients see them there and hire them there is selling you something. But it IS part of a bigger picture, and as part of that picture, it’s essential. 
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