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Posts Tagged ‘community’

A good friend recently asked me what the value proposition of The Online Bar is. Anytime a new way of organizing and working is introduced this question comes up. What to me is remarkable is how few of us ask that same question of our broken down institutions and modes of organization. Better the devil you know! 🙂

The Online Bar is primarily a community of trust. Dee Hock (Founder of Visa) gives a practical explanation of community below, which helps me express why The Online Bar is focused on building trust through community.

The essence of community, it’s very heart and soul, is the nonmonetary exchange of value…. The nonmonetary exchange of value does not arise solely from altruistic motives. It arises from deep, intuitive, understanding that self-interest is inseparably connected with community interest…that all things are simultaneously independent, interdependent, and intradependent. It requires only ordinary, caring people.” Edited from Dee Hock’s book, One From Many: Visa and the Rise of Chaordic Organization.

Money, markets and measurement have their place. They are important tools indeed. We should honor them and use them.  But they don’t deserve deification…..only fools worship their tools.”  Dee Hock

I see many lawyers broken and on their knees deifying money and technology. Sadly, they remain on their knees with work, lack of friends and a poor quality of life.  No fun, no joy and all hard work describes most lawyers today.

We are certain that a global community of lawyers built on a platform of trust can build anything it desires.

The fastest way to get what you want is to build trust with generosity – without demanding a reward – and collaborate.  Anything else is simply a deferred monetary bargain – a transaction. Trust relies on not keeping score.  Even if one quietly expects a direct monetary reward, trust will eventually be eroded. Sooner or later that person will demand their just rewards (with spam or a pitch) or feel terribly disappointed. Meanwhile for that  person any possibility of doing business at the speed of trust, of designing new and more enjoyable ways of practicing law and organizing is lost.

Don’ be that person. The world will leave you behind in a red ocean of all against all. A world where a bloody triumph will last but seconds before it is snatched by another that is faster and stronger.

Community is a marketplace of trust and generosity. Global collaboration between lawyers requires nothing less than trust and shared values of community.  A desire to have fun, meet, listen and learn from others also helps. 🙂 The Online Bar is evolving as do all communities of trust. Everyone in a community is responsible to lead, hence why where we are going is up to all of US.

Can we have some fun now? 🙂

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Monday, I received a call from a young man that has asked me to mentor him.  We’ll call him Carlos.  I met Carlos when I was helping my friend and mentor, Keith Ferrazzi, with the launch for his latest book, Who’s Got your Back? Keith’s first best seller was Never Eat Alone.  Carlos, about 28 years old, drove about 90 minutes with 10 people to Keith’s book launch.  We were all impressed with Carlos’ leadership and passion.

Carlos was in a hurry when he called me. He wanted to know if he could see me that same evening.  He did not really say why, but as I had accepted the responsibility to mentor him, I agreed to meet him.  I had a subtle sensation I was about to pitched, but I still wanted to give Carlos an opportunity to pitch. Last time we spoke he was working on an IT start-up in the Latin and Hispanic market.

When  Carlos arrived, with his friend Gus, I saw him all pumped up and excited, which is not unusual for Carlos as he has more energy than 99% of us.  His optimism and enthusiasm is truly engaging. It’s also why he has so many followers.  The conversation went nowhere and I sensed, as my wife says, I was being marinated like a juicy roast! J  I stayed relaxed knowing that how I responded to Carlos in front of his friend would define our friendship. I was now certain I was about to be pitched and it was looking like an MLM pitch.

Unable to wait for the pitch I firmly requested the purpose of the meeting – with a smile! J  It was an MLM!!  I knew that to reject Carlos would be more destructive and even more so in front of his friend, Gus.  I let him pitch me.

He was very excited because he had been brought in before the actual launch of the MLM and the directors were all major players in the MLM world.  He wanted to introduce me to one of the Directors.  Still very sensitive to the social situation, I knew I would have to sit through an MLM call.

I did try to stop the call from taking place, but Carlos was determined I meet this Director.  About 20 minutes later, thankfully, the call was over. Gus had observed my discomfort.  I told him I did not want to disappoint them, but that I was not interested in MLM and that they could have saved themselves time if they asked before driving to see me. But they argued, we just introduced you to the Director – a man who made millions…. You’re talking to a boss!

I sighed and said: “Carlos, I am excited about your new opportunity.  I think if you focus it can work beautifully for you and Gus. But I’m not interested in MLM.”

More persistence and this unique pitch from Carlos: “But Jorge you have a vast network of people who are very successful. That’s why we introduced you to the Director of this MLM.”

Jorge: “Thank you!  I am truly honored you think so highly of me.”

I paused and with conviction told them: “I don’t pitch my friends.”

Carlos and Gus were perplexed and totally confused, which they expressed almost in unison: “Then why do you have this network?  Why do you spend so much time building these relationships?”

I told him of an old friend from adolescence who is a successful lawyer and even appears on TV.  One day while I was at NBC, he stopped by and in the conversation he said this: “When you’re in private practice you don’t have friends, you have clients”.

Whilst I could not judge him, I felt the sadness in his voice – a subtle and almost imperceptible tone of regret and loneliness.  He billed everyone he invested anytime in and he was successful. This is not the path I took.

More perplexed looks followed by Carlos asking: “But how does this work for you?”

Because, I began, I am not desperate, nor am I in a short sales cycle.  I am building trust, credibility and friendship. Once you have trust, credibility and friendship, all business evolves naturally and abundantly – even with friends.

Trust is a rare, therefore valuable. It is not the same as reputation, which you can’t always control.  I carefully invest in relationships and now I have a priceless deposit of trust and credibility.

I know that many of us as lawyers and professionals have to close sales and some in a shorter cycle than others. I can only recommend that you seriously consider making friends and not burning through your contacts. That you invest in a relationship with generosity before you ask for anything.

We’re all inundated with fast pitches and spam from people we don’t know.  That’s what Keith Ferrazzi calls highly transactional: when a person makes no attempt to care, listen or engage you, but simply broadcasts or instantly pitches a service or product. I buy mostly from people I like and trust, even when it might be more expensive. Because I like them and I trust them!

They care.

Sometimes, there are those of us that prefer to take without giving in return. Most large networks are defined by a majority of people taking without giving or passively lurking, while teams and communities are defined by mutual generosity and active collaboration. Nonetheless, I reconsider before judging or rejecting the more passive or self-centered, and feeling that I was taken advantage of.  It has happened to me on many occasions, but it is the nature of finding treasure.

I’ll close with an excerpt from Emerson’s Essay on Compensation:

“Men suffer all their life long, under the foolish superstition that they can be cheated. But it is as impossible for a man to be cheated by any one but himself, as for a thing to be and not to be at the same time. There is a third silent party to all our bargains. The nature and soul of things takes on itself the guaranty of the fulfillment of every contract, so that honest service cannot come to loss. If you serve an ungrateful master, serve him the more. Put God in your debt. Every stroke shall be repaid. The longer the payment is withholden, the better for you; for compound interest on compound interest is the rate and usage of this exchequer.”

My version: If you serve an ungrateful master, serve him the more….while you find a graceful exit!

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