If You’re Comfortable, Change Something

Adapted from an article by Jayson Demers

Being an attorney is one of the most challenging “jobs” there is. You’ll wear many hats, make tough decisions and work long hours.  The legal market is volatile and exciting.

Here’s the strange thing: Even in such a volatile position, it’s painfully easy to get comfortable.

Your “comfort zone” might be different from the comfort zone of others. For example, you’ll get comfortable with working close to deadlines and tense negotiations rather than getting comfortable with a nine-to-five work schedule. But that comfort zone is as dangerous as any other.

If you want to be successful, you have to break out of that comfort zone.

Why being uncomfortable leads to growth.

Putting yourself in an uncomfortable position, such as meeting a new type of client or practicing a different type of law, can lead you to growth. It forces you to try new things. History is ripe with successful innovators who moved forward only because they were willing to do things that other people either didn’t want to do or couldn’t think to do. The more novel and unconventional your ideas are, the more likely you’ll be to break out from the norm and find success. Doing so is also a risk, but without risk, there can be no reward.

Trying new things also keeps you sharper. The majority of auto accidents happen within five miles of home in part because people are less likely to pay close attention to their surroundings when they are familiar with them. Driving to new locations forces drivers to be more aware of what’s going on, and taking your practice to new locations (physical or otherwise) will similarly force you to pay closer attention to your surroundings.

Finally, putting yourself in a new environment stimulates your creative juices. You’ll be able to think more freely and more critically about circumstances surrounding your practice, which will open the door to new innovations and new initiatives.

Why it’s hard to leave your comfort zone.

Even knowing the benefits of leaving your comfort zone, it can be hard to do so. As humans, we naturally seek out “comfort zones” because they minimize risk to us, and therefore minimize stress. Predictability is an important quality when it comes to survival. If you know a predator lurks in certain types of bushes but not others, you’ll become comfortable with “safe” bushes and never venture beyond them. If a third type of bush emerges, which may or may not contain predators, it’s evolutionarily favorable to avoid it and stick with what you’re comfortable with.

This principle, because it’s so hard-wired into our brains, applies to the practice of law as well. You become overly familiar and comfortable with the routines that have kept you safe, and you become unwilling to make decisions that have the possibility to threaten your safety. The difference is that there aren’t any predators looking to kill you — there are risks in making a bad decision, but the promise of what the “unknown third bush” might contain far outweighs those risks.

How to break out and change something.

For some, this risk-taking approach comes naturally. For others, anxiety must be overcome to accomplish this. If you find yourself in the latter group, try using one or more of these strategies to help you break out of your comfort zone:

  • Don’t overthink it. Think things through, but don’t spend so much time on a topic that you psych yourself out of it.
  • Talk to other people. Find a support system that will help you through the decision-making (and execution) process — even if it’s your own team.
  • Start small. Don’t start with huge, life-changing decisions. Start with smaller applications and work your way up.
  • Create a failsafe. Build in safety nets to protect yourself in case something does go wrong.

The great thing about making yourself less comfortable is that it becomes easier over time. The first time you step out of your comfort zone, you might experience fear and anxiety, but by the 10th time, it will come naturally, and you’ll still get all the benefits of breaking out.

The next time you start feeling yourself becoming comfortable with your practice and your position in it, force yourself to change something. Keep the pressure on, and there’s no limit to the heights you’ll be able to grow.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249795

5 Rude Emails You Send Every Day

By: Travis Bradberry

Even the most likable and well-mannered among us can still look like jerks in an email. Writing an email that comes across just like you do in person is a fine art.

During a conversation, you adjust your tone, facial expression, gestures and posture in order to fit the mood of what you’re conveying. You do this because people tend to be much more responsive to how you say things than to what you actually say.

Email strips a conversation bare. It’s efficient, but it turns otherwise easy interactions into messy misinterpretations. Without facial expressions and body posture to guide your message, people look at each word you type as an indicator of tone and mood.

Most of the mistakes people make in their emails are completely avoidable. The following list digs into these subtle mistakes and hidden blunders.

1. The Compulsive CC And Reply All

CCing people all the time is one of the most annoying things you can do via email. I’d say it’s the most annoying, but this honor is bestowed upon the excessive “reply all.” If someone sends an email to you and a bunch of other people, do you really think every recipient needs to get another email from you saying “thanks”? They don’t, and when you do this, it sends people climbing up a wall.

The trick for knowing when to CC someone is to treat your email as if it’s an in-person meeting. The question then becomes this: “Would it be necessary or helpful to have this person come to the meeting?” If the answer is no, then don’t waste his or her time with an email. As for reply all, just don’t do it. Even if someone else in the thread replies all, you’re still annoying everyone to death when you join the fray. If you have something to say, it’s better to send this directly (and privately) to the original sender and let him or her decide if the group should know about it too.

2. The Way-Too-Brief

All too often, the cause of email conflict is an imbalance between the effort in the initial email and the effort in the response to that email. When someone types up a detailed paragraph outlining important issues, they expect you to respond carefully. Sending back “Got it” or “Noted” just doesn’t do the trick. Without knowledge of your intent and tone, brief responses come across as apathetic and even sarcastic to the receiver. This is unfortunate because this is rarely the sender’s intent.

The best way to avoid being misinterpreted in a brief response is to share your intent. Even responding with “I’m a little busy but should be able to read it later this week” comes across much better than “Got it,” which a lot of people will interpret as indifference.

3. The “URGENT” Subject Line

Subject lines that say “URGENT” or “ASAP” show complete disregard for the recipient. If your email is that urgent, pick up the phone and give the person a call. Even in the rare instance when an email actually is urgent, labeling it as such in the subject line is unnecessary and sets a strong, negative tone.

The key to avoiding “URGENT” subject lines is twofold. First, if the issue is best dealt with in any form other than email, then that’s how you should be dealing with it. Second, if this is not the case, then the issue lies in your ability to create a strong subject line. After all, people check their email frequently, so as long as your subject line catches their eye, it will get the job done. Instead of labeling the email as urgent, ask yourself why the email is urgent. The answer to this question is your new subject line. If a client needs an answer today, then simply make your subject line “Client Needs Response Today.” This maintains the sense of urgency without setting a rude, desperate tone.

4. The Debbie Downer

Sending emails that consistently tell people what they do wrong and what they shouldn’t be doing really takes a toll. Even if you are trying to offer constructive criticism, you need to avoid negativity in your emails at all costs. Since people are unable to hear your tone directly, they read into the connotations of words and create a tone in their head as they go along. Negatives become especially negative in email form.

Whenever you find yourself using negative words like “don’t,” “can’t,” “won’t” or “couldn’t,” turn them into positives. Making this change transforms the entire tone of the message. For example, instead of saying, “You can’t complete reports like this in the future,” say, “Next time you complete a report, please…” When you must deliver negative feedback, don’t do it in an email. Just hop on the telephone or walk down the hall.

5. The Robot

It’s easy to think of email as a way to get something done quickly, but when you do this to the extreme, you come across as inhuman. You wouldn’t walk into someone’s office and hand them a report to do without acknowledging them somehow. Jumping straight into the nitty-gritty might seem like the most effective thing to do, but it leaves a lasting negative impression.

Fixing this one is simple. Just take an extra second to greet the person you’re writing to. You don’t have to ask your recipient about his or her weekend. Just a simple acknowledgment of the individual as a human being is all it takes. This keeps the tone much more respectful than it would be if you were to simply send assignments.

Bringing It All Together

The trickiest thing about emailing is making certain that people perceive your message the way you intend them to. You must be socially aware to pull this off. That is, be willing to take the time to consider how things look from your recipient’s perspective before you hit “send.”

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248893

5 Ways Weekends Can Boost Your Productivity Monday Through Friday

5 Ways Weekends Can Boost Your Productivity Monday Through Friday

A long, stress-filled workweek can drain all your energy and leave you exhausted by Friday afternoon. Then on Monday morning, you know you have to start the whole cycle all over again.

You need rest, relaxation and rejuvenation to be refreshed and ready to work. Weekends are an ideal time to recharge your depleted energy reserves by reconnecting with the power sources that fuel your mind, body and spirit.

Here are five ways to bring your mental and physical batteries back up to full capacity so you can hit the ground running come Monday morning:

1. Get centered.

With the 24-7 mentality of business owners, most entrepreneurs are especially driven by both nature and necessity. During the workweek, you’re probably forced to juggle many responsibilities to keep up and stay ahead.

On the weekend, give yourself the gift of time. Sit in a quiet space and find some inner peace. A few minutes of meditation, journal writing, stretching and other forms of calming contemplation can provide a replenishing respite that brings you back in touch with your true self.

2. Get moving.

When you engage in enjoyable exercise, like morning yoga, tennis, walking or swimming, it reinvigorates your body and mind. If you’ve been straining your eyes and tensing your shoulders by sitting in front of a computer all week, it’s time to move your body and relieve some of the pent-up stress that builds up during a largely-sedentary workweek.

Lose yourself in activities that take your mind away from your day-to-day work. Savor the energy that surges through your muscles as you use them. Reconnect with the natural world through outdoor activities like hiking, biking, surfing or running. Get out of the house and into the fresh air. You will feel refreshed and rejuvenated. You’ll most likely sleep better, too.

3. Get nourished.

If you’re used to eating quick meals at your desk or on the fly during your overbooked workweek, take time to enjoy healthy whole foods on the weekend. Eat foods that will boost your immune system and provide long-lasting energy. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and rich sources of protein replenish essential vitamins and minerals that may be missing in your everyday diet. If you enjoy cooking, try out some new recipes at home or take a cooking class.

4. Get away from digital devices.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably connected at the hip by a constantly-buzzing smartphone. Most of us spend more time interfacing with computer screens than communicating face-to-face with other human beings. We feel the pressure to be “connected” all the time, but spending too much time online can make you feel sluggish.

The weekend allows time to unplug from the virtual world and do something analog instead. Lose yourself in a good book, go to a concert, or pursue your own creative aspirations. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. Millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life.

5. Get together with friends and family.

If you’re so busy running your business rather than spending time with the people who are most important to you, you’re not alone. Most people are super-busy these days; entrepreneurs especially so. Reconnect with those in your life who are most important. Set aside some time to nurture the strong personal relationships that make life meaningful and keep you going through challenging times. Spend quality time with loved ones on your days off and you will maintain those life-affirming ties that will sustain your energy throughout the workweek.

Succeeding as an entrepreneur takes lots of hard work, determination and focus, all of which are fueled by energy. Plug in to activities that re-energize you on your days off and you’ll be fully charged to start each new week feeling refreshed and ready to be your best self.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249260

The best NYC life hacks

New York City: It’s a big, messy, confusing place. Life can get pretty stressful here, we know. But before you give up and move to Kansas, try these tips for making your life just that little bit easier. From the best free things to do in NYC and helpful apps that shrink the city down to the size of a smartphone to top-secret tourist-trap alternatives, we’ve got you covered. Crack the codes to the city with this guide, then head on out to one of Gotham’s best hush-hush underground events and discover Secret New York. What are you waiting for? NYC is your oyster!

1. Get cheaper coffee
Even with a Starbucks card, drinking corporate-behemoth coffee every day can be awfully pricey. Fortunately, the app Cups (cupsapp.com) has partnered with more than 100 independent coffeeshops all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to offer major discounts on java. With Cups’ flagship offer, you pay $120 per month for unlimited coffee drinks—indie shops gain all kinds of new business, and you discover just how tweaked-out you can get in a single month. Everyone wins!

2. Save money on your MetroCard
It seems like the MTA employs secret alchemic formulas to ensure that, after a few uses, you always have a leftover MetroCard balance somewhere south of the necessary $2.50, forcing you to pony up for a refill before you hit zero. Fortunately, there’s a way to outsmart the public-transportation overlords with some mathematical tricks of your own. Touch the “Other amounts” button to manually enter $9.55, $19.05 or $38.10 when buying a new card and you’ll always be left with a perfect zero balance, rather than the odd leftover dollar that gets lost when you buy a new card.

3. Navigate Central Park using the numbers on the lampposts
Directions to any location in Central Park inevitably become rather vague. “Um…it’s in the middle, I guess?” That’s because many people are unaware that the park has a built-in navigation system hidden on its lampposts—each one emblazoned with four numbers. The first two indicate which street you’re closest to—for example, a post starting with 8 and 3 is at, roughly, 83rd Street—while the second set determines how far you are from Fifth Avenue; the higher the final two numbers, the closer you are to the West Side.

4. Find free working spaces
Freelancers and work-from-homers who need a change of scenery from (a) their minuscule New York apartment or (b) Starbucks have a plethora of cost-free options at their fingertips, like the collaboration-friendly Wix Lounge in Chelsea (235 W 23rd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, eighth floor; 646-862-0833, wix.com/lounge/new-york), or the stylish lobby of the Ace Hotel (20 W 29th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway; 212-679-2222, acehotel.com/newyork), which doubles as a popular communal workspace for all types of professionals.

5. Make your taxi ride go faster
Did you know you can swipe your card in a taxi any time during the ride? This little-known time-saving trick should come in handy for rushed New Yorkers (that’s all of us, then). Driver trying to sell you a time-share and you need to make a quick getaway? Swipe your card in the reader while you’re on the move and save yourself vital seconds when you reach your destination (or feel the need to hurl yourself out of the car).

6. Always know the direction you’re walking in Manhattan
If you ever find yourself in an unfamiliar Manhattan neighborhood without your trusty compass (never leave your house without it!) and need to get back on track, heed this simple tip: Traffic flows west on odd-numbered streets and east on even-numbered streets. Voilà! You’re an NYC orienteering expert.

7. Skip the lines at popular eateries

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13 Companies Making Healthy Meals Easier Through Delivery

Stumble in the front door at 8 p.m. after a long day at work, and the last thing anyone wants to do is spend an hour making a mess in the kitchen. In a perfect world, dinner would always be pre-planned and pre-prepped, and cooking and eating it would cure the day’s stress, not cause it. Luckily, these 13 companies have our backs. From pre-packed dinner boxes delivered to your front door, to meticulously organized meal plans for the entire week, there’s something here to make healthy cooking easier for everyone.

Dinner in a Box

Blue Apron

Everyone should be able to enjoy delicious, interesting, home-cooked meals, right? Blue Apron is all about providing a great cooking experience for its users. Once per week, you’ll get a delivery including all the ingredients you need to make three meals (serving two people each). Each week, they feature entrees like chicken chilaquiles, steak salad with chicory and curried chickpeas, and salmon cakes with beet salad. The only things they assume subscribers have are olive oil, salt, and pepper. Every recipe features a new special ingredient (tatsoi, anyone?) to broaden your culinary palette, too. Plus, they offer a meat and fish box or a vegetarian box. Delivery available from Maine to Florida, and west to the Mississippi river as well as Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada and most of Utah and Arizona. Cost: $59.94 per week for three meals that each serve two people.

Plated

Who wouldn’t want a chef-designed meal on the dinner table a few times a week? With Plated, you get just that, but in your own home (and, well, you get to prepare it yourself). It’s pretty simple: You choose the meals you want in a given week, order, and the ingredients for those meals show up at your doorstep the next week. Your recipes may have been created by a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, one who’s appeared on The Chew, or someone who’s won multiple “Best Restaurant” awards. Each week they have up to seven dishes ranging from entrees like meatloaf burgers with garlic mashed potatoes to berbere spiced salmon with steamed potatoes and winter greens. Delivery available to 80 percent of the continental U.S. Cost: $12 per plate for weekly deliveries.

Sweet Roots NYC

In NYC and looking for an easier way to plan, shop for, and cook organic meals at home? Marisa from Sweet Roots NYC may have the answer. She works with her clients one-on-one to create tailored weekly meal plans that take into account your taste preferences, health goals, and how comfortable you are wielding a knife. Once you OK the week’s plan, her team does all the work to deliver the ingredients (pre-measured, sometimes pre-chopped, with recipes) right to your door. They want to take the stress out of cooking without taking away the joy and satisfaction of preparing a meal on your own. Delivery available in New York City (Manhattan and Brooklyn). Cost: $25 per meal ($75 minimum per week).

Hello Fresh

This one’s all about the healthier options. Every week you’ll have a box with ingredients for three meals delivered to your door and packed with fresh produce and protein. Boxes hold enough to serve two or four people, but the recipes (like cheesy pork enchiladas with avocado) take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, regardless of how big the crowd is. Not in the U.S.? Hello Fresh has quite the international vibe. The company started in Germany in 2011, and quickly expanded to the UK, the Netherlands, and Australia! Delivery available nationwide. Cost: Boxes available from $59 per week.

Luke’s Local

San Franciscans, we are officially jealous. Luke’s Local is reinventing ready-to-eat meals. Every week, they deliver boxes that are some sort of hybrid between a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, personal catering, and an artisan food shop. All the meals are prepared by local chefs, all the produce comes from local farms, and the artisan items are all locally sourced (like bread or granola for snacking!). The best part? You get to pick which items go in that box for every order. Delivery available in San Francisco, East Bay, and South Bay for $3.99; pickup also available at other locations in San Francisco area. Cost: Prepared foods range from $5 (breakfast burrito) to $75 (family meal bundle).

PeachDish

Southern cooking isn’t all fried chicken and collard greens, as PeachDish is proving. Their chefs create seasonal, Southern-inspired recipes that would appear on restaurant menus, then the company makes them super easy to create at home by sending pre-measured ingredients and cooking instructions to your doorstep. Pick two recipes a week (vegetarian options sound delicious: Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed with Currants, Red Onion, Sage, Walnuts, and Quinoa, anyone?), and you’ll get everything you need for dinner for two. Except that bottle of wine. Cost: $50 per week for two meals that serve two.

Meal Planners

Cook Smarts

This free meal plan newsletter is perfect for those who love cooking at home but don’t love all the time it takes to actually plan out those weekly menus. Founder Jess Dang started Cook Smarts as a way to help people get back in the kitchen. But it’s about more than just the free meal plans: Jess also runs the Cook Smarts blog, which offers some pretty killer cooking tips and instructional videos. Cost: Free.

Plan to Eat

This simple desktop app was born out of a desire to eat real, healthy, delicious food, prepared at home, without all the stress of walking in from work at six o’clock and trying to throw something together before the family (or just you) gets cranky. Basically, the program allows you to store all your favorite recipes, drag-and-drop them onto the day you want to eat them, and get an easy shopping list to print out for easier shopping. Still not impressed? The mobile app allows you to view your shopping list while out and about. Plus, it also keeps track of all of your “pantry items” when you check them off your shopping list. Cost: $4.95 per month; $39 per year.

Relish

If you tend to bookmark or pin recipes but always end up making the same stir-fry, it’s Relish to the rescue. An email reminds you to log in every Thursday to check out the new weekly menu, complete with recipes for entrees, sides, and desserts that take no more than 30 minutes to make. Drag the 15 items you want to make into your weekly menu and scale them to serve two, four, six, or eight. Relish generates a grocery list that can be customized to add staples you’re low on or subtract things you already have. All you have to do is shop once, and you’re ready to cook for the entire week. Cost: From $4.90 per month.

The Fresh 20

All it takes is 20 ingredients and 20 minutes each night to eat healthy, unprocessed meals, according to the Fresh 20. Each week they create a meal plan for five recipes with a shopping list of 20 seasonal ingredients (plus pantry staples) to make those meals. The promise: Reduce waste (no more excess chard going bad in the fridge) and save time, whether you’re vegetarian, gluten free, kosher, or… not at all picky. While most plans are made for families, there’s also a “for one” option of recipes that serve two, so instead of going out for lunch, take the rest of dinner to work and save moolah. Plus, everything is reviewed by a registered dietitian to be sure the meals are indeed healthy. Cost: From $18 for three months

Pepperplate

For all the convenience of services that deliver ingredients or do all the work to create meal plans, sometimes you just don’t want someone else to decide that you’re having roasted spaghetti squash with marinara and olives on Thursday night. The solution for those who want more control? Make your own plan with Pepperplate. This app allows you to customize and organize recipes you’ve created as well as ones from popular sites. Add the ones that appeal most at this moment to your schedule and shopping list, then rearrange the list so it makes sense for how and when you shop. Once it’s time to cook, take your device into the kitchen and avoid covering it in chocolate-covered fingerprints thanks to “Cook Mode,” which keeps the screen from dimming. We’ll still lick our digits clean, though—need to make sure that brownie batter has enough cocoa. Cost: Free

Paprika

Find a recipe you love on Greatist or any other site? Tap a button, download it, and save it to Paprika—the app makes it that easy. From there you can create reusable meal plans for the week (or month, Chef Ambition!), scale the recipes to serve the number of people at your table, and hit the grocery store with the automated shopping list that brilliantly groups items by aisle and combines similar ingredients so “avocado” isn’t listed five times. While cooking, cross off ingredients, highlight which step you’re on, and make notes to the recipe—the screen won’t go black as you work. Plus you can have multiple recipes open at once (great for holiday and party cooking) and set a timer for each. The one downside users report is that you have to buy the app for each device you want to use it on. Cost: $4.99 for phone and tablet; $19.99 for desktop

Bits and Pieces

Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box

OK, so you’ve found the time to get in the kitchen and cook… but now it’s time to make it more fun. Kasey and Matthew of the popular food and music blog Turntable Kitchen have the solution for you: a monthly gift box filled with three killer recipes, a mix tape (in both vinyl and digital form), and a few special key ingredients. Turn on the record player and fire up the stove for a perfectly paired music and cooking experience. Cost: $25 per month (plus tax). Originally posted December 2012, updated November 2014.

Read now: http://greatist.com/health/companies-healthy-home-cooking

7 Tips For the Perfect Phone Interview

One of the greatest tools we can have as business people is the skill of interviewing.  This important skill, which is often overlooked, can very easily take you from the bottom of an employers’ stack of phone interviewresumes to the top.  However, if you fail to make a good impression, it can be a detriment to your candidacy, even if you are the most qualified individual. Experts believe it only takes someone four seconds to form an opinion about you after you begin speaking.  Since the interviewer in a phone interview cannot see your body language or connect with you in person, it is even more crucial to ensure what you say AND how you say it reflects professionalism and clarity.  The tips below were prepared by industry professionals and will ensure you make the proper first impression.

  1. Be prepared. As you should do with any interview, make sure you know with whom you will be speaking and prepare yourself by reviewing the company’s website, prepare questions to ask the interviewer about the position’s responsibilities and the company’s work environment, and have a copy of your resume in hand so you can easily make references to it during your interview.  Review the organization’s mission statement and be prepared to articulate why you are a perfect fit within the organization.  Also, make sure you know who will initiate the call and, have the interviewer’s phone number so you can call them back if necessary and recognize their number on your caller ID when they call.
  2. Be positive – but don’t be arrogant. Make sure you understand the difference between sounding arrogant and highlighting your experience. Businesses search for people they believe would be team players, not for those who are only interested in themselves.  Stress the benefits you have achieved for your current organization and/or your clients.
  3. Do not be distracted. A telephone interview is not just another phone call. It is important that you eliminate anything that could be a distraction to you.  Try not to schedule an interview during a time you would normally eat a meal, unless you are comfortable with waiting to eat.  Eating, chewing gum, typing, texting, or walking are kinds of distractions which can not only make you lose your focus and thought, but also can be heard by the interviewer and give them the impression you do not take the position seriously.
  4. Man phone intervewListen Closely. Make sure you listen intently on what the interviewer has to say. Often, they may say something which triggers a few questions in your mind.  Taking notes can ensure you are actively listening and don’t miss anything important.  Also, since you can’t actually see the interviewer, make sure you wait until they are completely finished speaking before you begin to speak.
  5. Be Concise. When an interviewer cannot actually see you, it is easy to lose their attention. In order to keep them from checking emails or doodling on their notepad, keep your answers brief but relevant.
  6. Be Gracious. Make sure the interviewer knows how much you appreciate their time. There are so many other things they could have been doing rather than speaking with you, so it is courteous to express your appreciation and humility.
  7. Follow up. One thing in my mind truly sets candidates apart and that is whether or not they follow up and express interest in the position.  A follow up call or thank you letter further portrays professionalism and graciousness.  The follow up you make could be the deal-maker if the position is at an impasse between you and another candidate.

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intellectual curiousity

3 Admirable Lawyerly Traits

By: Gaston Kroub

No one would think to joke with their surgeon about doctors being greedy and always looking to order yet another MRI (“for a better look,” of course) or interested in seeing their patients suffer as a result of yet another unnecessary medical “treatment.” Especially after the surgeon just fixed your hernia, or removed those bone spurs in your ankle that had you announcing your entry into a room without even needing to knock. In contrast, lawyers often find themselves maligned in both private and public company — usually in the form of “lawyer jokes” that poke fun at our cost, cruelty, or general lack of compassion. I am all for humor, and have heard some great lawyer jokes. I also believe that the law firm workplace could be a great setting for a comedy. In my experience, satellite offices of Biglaw firms in particular tend to contain more “characters” and interesting “workplace dynamics” than the more typically more staid home offices. Small law firm environments are similarly rich mines of comedy.7kvnb3be

At the same time, it can be disconcerting, even to a lawyer with an agreeable disposition, to constantly hear disparaging humor — especially when delivered by friends and family. Or from clients. Especially from clients — because there is always the nagging fear that the client’s “lawyer jokes” are indicative of a desire to replace their own lawyer(s), perhaps with a cheaper version. While such fears may be irrational, and the need to deal with lawyer jokes a favorable trade-off for all the benefits that come with practicing in this profession, there is also a need to extol some of the favorable qualities of lawyers on occasion. Not too often, of course, since many lawyers do not need any more “ego boosts” of any kind. We can discuss the three worst qualities of lawyers at a later time.

For now, however, I would like to present my own idiosyncratic list of the three most admirable traits that lawyers display. This is not a list of my three most favorite characteristics about myself, though I do hope that I demonstrate these traits in at least some measure. Rather, these are traits that I have seen exhibited by lawyers that I consider worth learning from, and admire. I would also submit that lawyers who do not exhibit these traits, at a level commensurate with their professional position at a given stage in their careers, will not be long for the profession — which is usually a good sign that these are important traits for lawyers to have and are often found in successful lawyers, irrespective of practice area or type of firm they practice in.

So what are the three traits I consistently see successful and admirable lawyers demonstrate? Integrity, intellectual curiosity, and the capacity for effective communication.

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The first trait, integrity, is thankfully one that the vast majority of lawyers demonstrate throughout their career. Defined expansively, a lawyer’s integrity incorporates within it a respect for the legal process, as well as for the institutions and laws that undergird that process. Most importantly, the sacred trust involved in representing the interests of a client absolutely commands that lawyers demonstrate integrity in all of their dealings — with the client, other lawyers, and with the public at large. Practicing law can present temptations, of course, but thankfully there are many lawyers who enter the profession because they trust in their natural inclination to value and demonstrate unshakeable personal integrity — no matter how glittery the poisoned chalice of dishonesty appears. Integrity is an important trait for any person in a position in authority, and critical for lawyers specifically because of the trust placed in us by our clients and colleagues. When lawyers live up to that trust, there is perhaps nothing as admirable.

Another admirable trait shared by effective lawyers is intellectual curiosity. All of the successful lawyers I have interacted with have had other intellectual interests or hobbies, outside of‎ their general legal practice. Underlying those interests is a willingness to always learn, and a proactive desire to seek out intellectual challenges. Law practice is demanding, of course, and both junior and more experienced lawyers can have their hands full just becoming expert in their area of practice. At the same time, both lawyers and their clients benefit when a lawyer demonstrates intellectual curiosity, and refuse to behave as if they already know whatever they need to know – in their personal or professional lives.

Third, ‎effective lawyers are effective communicators.

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5 Tips For Getting Back To Work After A Vacation

back to work

The vision of returning to the office after vacation and the reality usually have very little in common. While many of us expect to sit down at our desks after time away filled with boundless energy and restored creativity that will fuel new projects, what usually ends up happening is that we spend several scattered hours (or days) trying to process a deluge of emails and falling further behind on tasks that have built up in the interim.

“You’ve got to set yourself up so there’s the minimum pileup while you’re gone,” says Julie Morgenstern, productivity consultant and author of Never Check Email In The Morning. “Once you invest in that process once, it becomes an automated process. ‘Every time I go away, this is my coverage bible.’”

How can you avoid the post-vacation crush and hang on to that refreshed glow?

Actively plan for your return.

When planning time away from work, most people focus on getting organized for departure. Avoid undoing all that restoration by treating your return as something that needs to be managed in advance as well.

While many of us try to maximize vacation time by coming home Sunday night, Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, suggests considering an earlier-than-last-minute return.

“Consider coming back on Saturday instead of Sunday,” says Vanderkam, emphasizing that time to unpack, pick up a few essential groceries, and get a quiet, uninterrupted jump on email can lessen the impact that first day back in the office.

Factor in some triage.

Don’t just walk back into the office after a vacation without a plan of attack–unless you want to be steamrolled.

“The tendency is to try to make up for all the meetings you miss,” says Vanderkam. “As much as possible, try to push those to the second day or the afternoon gives you a little bit of space.”

Morgenstern suggests you protect the time you’ve set aside to get caught up the way you would a meeting or a presentation. It’s just as necessary–so treat it that way.

“Build in some transition time. Don’t book anything for your first day in the office, allot the time,” says Morgenstern. “And block off the time in your calendar. If it looks like you’re available, people are going to put things on your calendar. These are meetings with your to-dos.”

out of officeYour out-of-office response is your first line of defense–wield it to your advantage

Your out-of -office autoreply needs to be straightforward (ditch the phrase “much-needed vacation,” please), helpful, and honest–but not that honest. Vanderkam recommends leaving it up through that catch-up period; your coworkers will know you’re available but it will help stem the tidal wave of outside inquiries, or at least lower the expectation of an immediate response.

She and Morgenstern agree that an out-of-office message directed at external parties should include directions for who to contact according to contingencies. Assess who’s going to be emailing you along two or three broad categories and let them know who to reach out to instead or when they might expect a response.

Morgenstern adds that it’s ok to suggest people follow up because you just might not get to their email.

“Everybody who emails understands the volume problem and that things can get lost when someone is away. It’s not really a shock to anybody—you’re just warning people: ‘It may get lost or buried, please feel free to follow up with me.’”

Feeling especially brave? Skip the days of wading through email and nuke your inbox.

unread messages

The very thought of losing the contents of your inbox likely sends a chill down most spines, but some argue that a post-vacation email purge can be just the thing you need to get back on track without losing an entire day to email maintenance.

“Some people take a quick look at what’s flagged, see what’s interesting, and then delete everything,” says Vanderkam.

You should try to be indispensable–but realizing that you’re not might make you a better employee.

Vanderkam says planning for and returning from a vacation can be a good time for an adjustment of your professional outlook. We’re all striving to be the go-to team member, but believing the company actually can’t function without us can be damaging in the long run.

She describes a five-day vacation she once took where she believed WiFi would be readily available and discovered it was not. Having done all she could to prepare for time away, she realized her only option was to change her outlook on needing to be connected.

“No armies were waiting for my word to invade countries,” says Vanderkam. “I missed a few things, but I could apologize to a few people when I got back. I missed a few opportunities. There will be others.”

Learn to plan ahead, rely on your coworkers, and understand that sometimes, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss out on that last-minute request, and you’ll be that much more productive when you return.

Read more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2015/07/28/5-tips-for-getting-back-to-work-after-a-vacation-2/2/

7 Tips To Reduce Financial Stress In Your Life

Few of us like to talk about money. It’s a subject that’s often considered impolite to discuss, even among close friends and family. It turns out that this buttoned-up approach to our finances isn’t doing us any favors.

Americans are stressing about money, and that financial pressure is affecting our health and relationships in ways we never imagined. In its annual Stress in America: Paying with Our Health study, the American Psychological Association found that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of adults report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and nearly one-quarter (22 percent) rate their stress level as extreme.

Ease-the-Financial-Stress

This stress could be jeopardizing your long-term well-being. That’s because the body reacts to stress with a “fight-or-flight” response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. When stress is ongoing, elevated levels of these chemicals can lead to a number of problems, such as headaches and backaches, sleep issues, weight gain, increased blood pressure and heart rate, depression and anxiety, to name just a few.

Of course, each of us deals with stress in our own way. However, if you’re like many people, a common coping mechanism for money worries is simply to avoid dealing with it. Unfortunately, procrastination can lead to even more significant financial concerns down the road.

What can you do to lessen the impact of money stress in your life? Here are seven tips that may help you develop a back-in-control feeling with your finances.

1. Start communicating. Talking about your financial concerns may feel uncomfortable, but sharing your hopes and fears about your situation can be an important step toward reducing stress levels at home because communicating with your spouse or partner opens the door to working together to find a solution. If you are single or you manage your finances on your own, the stress may be just as heavy. If this is the case for you, it’s time to recruit an accountability partner, such as a family member or close friend.

2. Create some breathing room. Take time for a quick expense checkup. Write down where all of your money is going. Then compare your monthly recurring bills with your income and consider what expenses can be trimmed. The goal is to reset your spending so that you give yourself financial breathing room. The more you’re able to live below your means, the greater the financial freedom you likely will feel.

3. Take care of the “what ifs.” One of the most important ways to feel more financially secure is to build an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. Ideally, you want enough savings in your account to cover six months or more of essential living costs.

4. Set goals. Whatever the source of your financial stress, planning can help you gain control of what happens next. It can also help you prioritize spending and balance competing demands on your money, like saving for retirement and paying down student loans. Make a list of all of the things you want your money to do for you. Then set goals for each that are measurable and definitive. For example, “I would like to have $2,000 saved for next year’s vacation by the end of this year.”

5. Make it easy on yourself. Automate as much of your financial life as you can, including having a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into your retirement account. Also set up automatic reminders to alert you when a bill is due, and put your recurring bills on auto-pay. That way you’ll know that your financial priorities are taken care of each month.

6. Unload debt. Make a plan to pay off your credit cards as quickly as possible. If you’re carrying balances on more than one card, consider consolidating your debt onto the lowest-interest card possible. Reducing your debt can free up extra cash each month for saving and investing.

7. Protect what matters most. Protecting your family and your assets against unforeseen events is critical to attaining financial security. The proper use of insurance can reduce stress by helping to ensure you and your loved ones are financially protected no matter what.

Most people have periods of financial stress in their lives. This is where an experienced financial advisor can help. He or she can work with you to identify your financial challenges and opportunities and create a plan that will allow you to feel more in control of your financial future.

Read more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/northwesternmutual/2015/05/19/7-tips-to-reduce-financial-stress-in-your-life/?sr_source=lift_polar