Firm Leadership

Rants, Raves, Rebuttals, Reflections, Revelations & Ruminations

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Post #855 – July 15, 2020

The Equity Crowdfunding Micro-Niche

For some time now I have been writing a series of articles ( on what I’ve categorized as lucrative (and most often, unrecognized) “micro-niche” practices – everything from esports and synthetic biology to digital transformation and last week’s social-media influencers.

While Covid-19 may be decimating many businesses, it is already creating scores of new ones and serving as a catalyst for improved sources of “alternative financing” – and one notable micro-niche within alternative financing is equity crowdfunding (or Reg CF).  By way of a small example, take a look on LinkedIn at #crowdfunding to see that there are already 86,350 followers.  On July 10 I noticed a posting from Jose Montero, a California-based CEO, announcing the official close of “our crowdfunding campaign” after maxing out early with 3800+ investors reaching his funding goal of $1.7 million (the regulated cap) to finance Blue, a smart business card and mobile app.

Read the complete article - HERE

Post #854 – July 8, 2020

The Social Media Influencer Micro-Niche

For some time now I have been writing a series of articles on what I’ve categorized as lucrative (and most often, unrecognized) “micro-niche” practices – everything from esports and synthetic biology to digital transformation and anti-aging medicine.

Among a number of micro-niches that I have been monitoring is one that received high-profile attention on June 30th by way of the forming of their own lobbying group.  Apparently, a collection of “TikTok tastemakers and IG mavens banded together to launch a trade group, the American Influencer Council.”  Part of their stated goal is to legitimize influencing as an industry, fund market research into the influencer economy, and build a mentoring program for rising stars.

What is that all about, you ask?  Social Media Influencers!

Read the complete article – HERE

Post #853 – July 1, 2020

Embrace Thought Leadership as Your Industry Group’s Strategy for Growth

Successful thought leadership does not arrive by virtue of having a published idea linked to a hope that someone will recognize brilliance and sweep your industry team from obscurity into prominence.  Thought leadership only matters if you address a specific audience and can present new ideas that improve their life or work.  

The best thought leadership, therefore, helps people in an industry do something better or gain insight that helps them better understand their market or their problems.  For your strategic purposes it should help start a new client relationship where none exists, and it should give existing clients comfort that they have made the best choice in selecting your team. 

To that end, here are 12 recommended actions for how you and your group might develop a position of being recognized industry thought leaders.

Read the complete article - HERE

Post #852 – June 24, 2020

Get Your Industry Focus In Sync

Surveying 700 in-house and law firm attorneys across the US and EU, the 2020 Future Ready Lawyer Survey: Performance Drivers provides some compelling information. 

When exploring what factors clients use to select their preferred firms, three criteria were tops: Specialization (are you doing something that we cannot just get everywhere else?); Technology (are you using technology to improve your productivity and collaboration?); and Ability to Understand Client Needs (which sounds a lot like the commonly phrased – do you understand our business / industry?) 

This article provides some prescriptive guidance on how what label you attach to your industry group actually matters; how you need to be very specific about the sub-industry you are targeting; how there are areas of lucrative opportunity that may defy simple industry categorization; and why industry sector expertise is THE differentiator.

Read the complete article – HERE

Post #851 – June 17, 2020

Enough with The Visionary Leadership BS

Last week I came across another article by another supposed best practices researcher that claimed to have surveyed more than 1800 law firm partners on “what they really want from their leaders.”  This author informs us that they “asked partners to describe, in their own words, what they saw as the key strengths of their leaders.”

Survey Says . . . “being a Visionary” is at the top of their list.  Can you just imagine?

While many books on leadership suggests that a leader needs to have a vision (with some 627 books currently listed under Visionary Leadership on Amazon) I think it is all very nice in theory, sounds profoundly intelligent as a concept, but is absolute BS in its application for you leading a team of highly talented professionals.

Let me tell you about some of the garbage that gets spouted about what leadership is all about and what does work.

Read the complete article - HERE

Post # 850 – June 10, 2020

Big Industry Groups Suck!

In a recent webinar on industry group best practices, the panelists were asked whether there was an ideal size for their groups.  “How big do you allow an industry sector group to become?” asked the moderator.  According to the first panelist: “I would say, our membership is unlimited . . . the more the merrier.”  

Unfortunately, bigger does not always mean better, and nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to measuring practice or industry group effectiveness.  In the process of David Maister and my writing First Among Equals, we devoted an entire chapter to our observations from working with and interviewing the leaders of high performing practice and industry groups – across professions.  In it we reported emphatically that one of the clearest ways to ensure failure is to allow membership to grow beyond a small, solid working group.

Here’s a half-dozen important reasons why big groups suck, why we need to strive for smaller teams, and some prescriptive options for you to consider in making a course correction.

Read the complete article – HERE

Post # 849 – June 3, 2020

In Matters of Strategy: Beware of Best Practices

I was taken back the other day by an article wherein the author, a law firm consultant, was promoting the concept of best practices and how his firm had developed an “evaluation tool” to assess how close you are to achieving a true industry focus.  The proposition was that they have a “diagnostic tool which allows your firm to assess the current level of effectiveness of your existing industry strategy.”  It all sounded so compelling.  They then suggested that your firm could engage them to help you “progress to the next stage by way of a workshop to run through the issues identified and explore the gap and the solutions.”

What is it about this term, ‘best practices’ that makes it sound so persuasive, and yet why don’t they always seem to work as well as some might be suggesting?  I would caution that it is nothing more than the myth of a single standard of excellence; the one right way to compete. 

In fact, I have a few concerns that come to mind that I believe are worth you considering

Read the complete article - HERE

Post # 848 – May 29, 2020

The Post-Pandemic Importance of Industry Groups

In this post-pandemic arena, I believe your ability to have an effective industry group operation will no longer be discretionary.  In fact, having your groups functioning as high-performing teams is likely to be what separates those law firms that emerge from this crisis much stronger from those firms that seriously falter.  This process starts with your leadership team postioning industries as a strategic priority and partners being invited, encouraged and incentivized to position themselves as knowledge leaders in those industries niches recognized to be most lucrative.

So, if you are looking for specific insight into Industry Group Practices may I invite you to have a read through our in-depth 13-page article, “Clients Want Firms That Know Their Industry” in the latest edition of Legal Business World magazine.  It covers this subject in the kind of prescriptive detail that you will NOT obtain from any other source.  And if it stimulates any observations or questions, please give me a shout: 780.921.8286


Post #847 – May 24, 2020

Four Client Industries Needing Attention

I was pleased to have been a member of Futurist Peter Diamandis’s book launch team last November when he was in the process of introducing his latest work, “The Future is Faster Than You Think.”  And talk about fast, Peter’s new book was quickly followed by a global pandemic.  Now no one is more in tune with economic disruption than Peter.  Here are some notes from a recent briefing identifying 4 industries worth your monitoring – especially if you have large clients in any of these:

• The Restaurant Industry

Do you remember the housing bubble in 2008?  Yeah, the restaurant bubble is similar.  For 20 years, this volatile industry has seen unprecedented growth.  Until now.  And even when we fully open the economy, 30–50% of the restaurant industry will disappear.  Think about it — if you remove 65% of a restaurant’s seating and bar to be socially distant, there is no money to be made.

Opportunity: With so many restaurants disappearing, it might be a good time to actually open one.  Seriously.  You can negotiate cheap commercial rent, the labor is available, and you can be flexible with seating capacity (you aren’t going to be married to the old model).

• Brick and Mortar Retail

This industry was already heading towards a catastrophic disruption before the coronavirus.  Many brick and mortar retail stores won’t recover from the losses incurred this spring (and the slow opening of the economy this summer).  American consumers are being trained to buy online-only right now.  All of this is going to be a huge hit for their industry.

Opportunity: This will vastly accelerate the Virtual Reality e-commerce industry — where, for example, a consumer can put on a headset in their home, peruse a “virtual” retail clothing store, and make purchases. Investing in VR companies seems like a great fit right now.

• Commercial Real Estate

If a huge percentage of restaurants and retail stores are disappearing, expect a major disruption to the commercial real estate market.  In addition to the acceleration of shopping online, we are all being trained to work virtually.  When life returns to semi-normality, expect an increase in stay-at-home work.  This will further disrupt the commercial real estate industry.  It’s not going to be pretty.

Opportunity: It’s obvious, but SaaS (software as a service) companies that eliminate the need for an office will continue to explode going forward.  Companies like Slack, Taskworld, Zoom, etc. will speed up this disruption.

• Social Media

Let me be clear, social media isn’t going away, I’m not saying that.  But, I’m reminded of an old saying that applies to the social media economy right now.  Twelve years ago social media “started as a movement, then it became a business, and eventually it turned into a racket.”  A racket where most people have no desire to “connect”.  They only want to show you how great their life is, and control how you perceive their life (which is better than yours) via pictures and video.  Frankly, no one gives a crap about that now.  If you post on social media about how amazing your life is right now, you are tone deaf.  I’m not sure where this downturn will go, but I do know that for the majority of non-substantive “influencers”, they will no longer make money by bragging about their lives.

Opportunity: This is a very positive disruption (in my opinion).  The opportunity is that we can now be more appreciative of our friends, families, and values.  We can focus on using social media to connect and help others, build trust, and provide safety.  Positioning your brand via social media, on those 3 factors, will sell more products or services in this new economy.

Convergence, disruption, and opportunity.  These are the 3 factors I’m seeing in the economy right now.  Don’t be scared of it — lean in, build something great, and serve others with purpose.

Post #846 – May 15, 2020

When Your Chosen Industry Falters

After writing about the need for law firms to establish an industry focus for some time, I received the following question from an industry group leader: 

I have been following your stream of articles on the merits of having Industry specialization — which I agree with. But what happens if the industry that you happen to have selected, like retail, is now being decimated by the coronavirus pandemic?

Retail is among a number of industries that are experiencing severe stress, previously from the trade wars and now largely due to the shuttering of many brick-and-mortar stores due to the ongoing pandemic.  Indeed, we are currently witnessing something akin to collapse in the clothing apparel retail segment, with J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman all filing for bankruptcy.  While these business failures appeared to result from a dramatic and immediate reduction in demand, other factors were largely observable and predictable to anyone monitoring developments in the retail industry.

So, in response to the industry group leader’s question, my follow-up would be: Have the members of your industry group monitored and discussed (especially during monthly industry group meetings) the evolving trends that are impacting their chosen industry?

Along that same theme, here are a few strategic recommendations that I would offer to any industry group:

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