Friday, May 31, 2013

Honored by St. George's House, Windsor Castle

Monday I was named an associate at St. George's House, Windsor Castle Windsor.  Particularly as an American in London, I'm a bit overwhelmed.  It's a post you usually pay to fill, but I was made associate for service rendered to the house.

Windsor Castle Consultations are conversations around insight regarding business, culture, healthcare,  commercial practice, organisational values, brand, and any other large internationally relevant topic you can name.

It's what the corporations call thought leadership, although I don't believe you can call anything leadership unless anyone is actually following you.  Let's instead call it very smart people from across disciplines making short work of big problems.

Started by Prince Philip, the consultations last about a day and a half and take place entirely at Windsor Castle, complete with the most interesting private tour of the chapel at 10pm I've ever experienced.

In any case, I'm honored to be said to belong among the great minds who participate, fund, and play there.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Coming to America: Mini-Accelerator for Companies Expanding from the UK

I am fortunate to have participated in FriedFrank's Mini-Accelerator Coming to America for which I have been asked to be a co-founder by Dan Glazer.  You'd never guess that a White Shoe American law firm would be so smart about the start-up scene -- and so entirely non-predatory -- but they are genuinely interested in improving the ecosystem both here and in NYC.

Companies competed for a slot in one of two day-long events that provided information and contacts for everything from IP to pitch training to how to get a visa.   The companies ranged from strictly consumer online commerce to business-to-business enabling technologies.

It was an intense couple of days, and well worth it -- Everyone who participated said they got a lot out of it, and we learned lessons for the next one as well.  If you're interested in applying, please sign up for the Fall. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Digital Shoreditch: Panel on The Institute of Failure

This past week in London was busy and memorable, not least because of Digital Shoreditch.

Digital Shoreditch is worth attending, even if only to see everyone you have been trying to see all year and calendars have prevented it.  I was asked to sit on a panel by Dr. Mitra Mesmeria (scroll down to find her) to kick off her Institute of Failed Ideas.  More on that as it emerges.

The panel itself collected a few of us who have had seen failure only to find success later with persistent learning and dogged determination.  Mitra started the panel by talking about the way in which Digital Shoreditch came from a failed idea to begin with --this she told to a packed room, so clearly failure isn't forever.

My top tips:
1. Know yourself -- intellectual convictions are just abstract rationales for emotional reactions.  Know why you think what you do so you can be responsible for your convictions and decisions.

Associated with this is recognise and rieve losses, recognise when you need perspective and get it (even if it's faking it until you make it).  This will prevent bringing unresolved negative feelings into the next project or strategy and make it more likely you'll be successful.

2. Everything comes from 1 above.  Leading from that, impose work-life balance.  If you can't do it with love, do it with discipline.  Picking yourself up from your work and doing something you love will change your brain chemistry and make it easier to do it next time, or the time after.

The longer we live, the narrower our lives tend to get.  As company-owners, we shoot for results and try to make the road to get there as automated as possible.  This includes creative thinking.

You get much more than a break by ensuring you've got activities you love in your life separate from work.  All the feelings and associations -- and most important, connections -- that come with them will make you more creative and innovative when you get back to the grind.

3. Know when to let go.  And do it.  No matter how much time you've put into a company or initiative, know when you need to walk away.  Again, if you can't do it with love, do it with discipline.  Grieve the loss, and move on.

4. Don't globalise failure -- nothing is the end of the world.  Did I mention that if you don't do it with love, do it with discipline?   Do an audit of the things that succeed and fail, and remind yourself that this isn't forever.  In a couple of weeks, you'll know it without reminding.

The Mini-Accelerator Coming to America next.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Pitching for Lawyers: Remembering How to Have a (Real) Conversation

I worked this week and last with Associates at an International White Shoe Firm (as we call it in the US) to help frame conversations they can have with potential clients.  The week before, I worked with a Partner at another.

The goal: to be as much themselves as possible.

The principle is actually simple -- remember what works for you outside of work and then transfer to a work situation the reasons for which you communicate and the style/comfort level with it.

The doing of it is much harder.  The facility to transfer behavior across contexts requires practice after having acquired the habit of thinking (and behaving) as though living in the world and surviving at work are two entirely different processes.

My solution, as I've explained before: Sustainable Curiosity.

Interestingly, this practice for smart adults yields very effective adults.  Unlike a lot of people I know, I really like lawyers as a group exactly because the ones I know catch on quickly.  I had a great time, and from the Facebook comments, it seems they did, too.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Tremendous Video on Why Body Language Matters

Amy Cuddy of has a great explanation from a social scientist's perspective how we are judged by our body language

One thing that Harvard Business School has just learned what we have known in theatre for a long time.  You can't separate the way you move from the way you think.  It's the reason that "presentation skills" separated from the business proposition you're developing has much less impact when the two are done together.

Each influences the other, and both when developed together reinforces strengths and weaknesses of your case.  Be careful of people who say there are tricks to presenting effectively.  These are minor.  The most important thing to know is that how you think, develop ideas, and present them must be a unified process.