Monday, April 29, 2013

Rainmaker scouting

On a recent cross country flight, I had the opportunity to sit next to a chief scout of a major league baseball team.  To a baseball junkie, this was like Charlie getting the golden ticket.  After 4 hours, I doubt he felt the same way..

We talked recruiting and scouting and what makes the best of the best.  What good scouts look for besides the numbers.  The underlying traits that a major league scout looks for to determine if a prospect will grow, peak shortly, or their best days are behind them. 

He identified 5 traits that major league ballplayers and top rainmakers share:

Preparedness and Work Ethic:  In baseball you have to be ready every day, not like football where a weeks practice goes toward one game a week. This requires discipline.  He gets to the park early to watch players and detect attributes in their pregame rituals.  Higher achievers are more focused on the details and don’t put up with distractions.

Concentration and Focus: Although related to preparedness, this is more related to how a player conducts themselves during a game.  Pitch by pitch, play by play, they are in every moment.

Competitiveness:  This may seem obvious, but everyone takes their lumps at some point.  Perhaps a slump that lets self-doubt creep in.  When this scout sees someone with talent underachieving he said he wonders ,”Is there a desire to succeed to the degree that there’s a failure mechanism kicking in? Is there a fear of failure. Is the desire to succeed significant enough to overcome the fear of failure?”

Stress Management and Humility: It’s a cliché about how you can fail in baseball 7 out of 10 times and end up in the hall of fame. The ability to cope with failure requires a short term memory and a sense of humor. He likes watching how a player reacts after making a mistake.  Does he hang his head or smile it off as fans are screaming at him and come back with a big hit. I’ve spoken with some of the biggest name attorneys in the country who are the most approachable and self –effacing people you will know, and I’ve spoken with junior partners at small firms that think the Sun rises and sets on their streams of consciousness.  Like the old adage goes, if you are that good, your actions speak more than your words.

Adaptiveness and Learning Ability: How successfully is the player able to process new information during a game? Listen to advice.  How does he adapt when his life situation changes.  The idea of coming out of law school and 10 years later being a rainmaking partner is rarely a straight line even for the most talented.  Attorneys and ballplayers cant be too rigid in their mental approach.  What works for the top rainmaker in their firm may not work for them.  They find what works for them but always look for ways to tweak their approach.

Everyone is being scouted.  How would you scout yourself?

Andrew Wilcox,, 850-893-8984

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spider Sense

Have you ever thought about what you are really selling?

Experience, firm name and presence, practice area knowledge, customer service, risk mitigation, your record…

These are the usual items that end up on a whiteboard when I consult with firms and ask some variation of this question.

Problem is, EVERYONE sells these things. If all of this cancels out with what other attorneys and firms offer, how much of a commodity is your practice? Can clients get what you are selling at a cheaper price, or would you doubling your rate not even cause your clients to blink.  Cost vs. Investment.

I grew up loving Spider Man.  Aside from thinking it was cool to swing between buildings, the most important trait that he had was his Spider-sense.

Spider- Man had “Spider-sense”, attorneys have knowledge and experience.

Wikipedia defines Spider-Man's "Spider-sense" as a "tingling feeling at the base of his skull, alerting him to personal danger in proportion to the severity of that danger." It is the sensation that something bad is about to happen. It is his unique ability to sense peril ahead, sort of his early warning system that he needs to take action to avoid trouble...or meet it at a position of advantage.

Addressing issues before they become problems.  Spend 100k in fees to avoid millions in lawsuits for instance..

Do clients pay you to do legal work or for your spider-sense? The fresh set of eyes on what they see as day-to-day events.  Knowledge and experience that enables you to see around a corner when they can not.  Hearing the ominous music as pending doom is about to occur while they are walking into…(stay tuned for the rest of that story on next weeks episode..)

How do you sell what nobody knows will happen?

Put them in the grave and take them out.  What has your knowledge and experience seen? How has it helped other clients bottom line?  What bad things have happened to other companies in their sector? How has it damaged them and what could have been done to avoid it?

Know the enterprise. Whether they are one person or a Fortune 100 company, learn everything about them.  Every division, every company goal, every stakeholder. Everyone does a Google search, few read a 10-Q. Fewer ask to spend a day meeting with people throughout an organization.  You may not have practice area experience, but someone in your referral network should.  Take a team approach to address every pitfall from HR, operations, marketing, IP, tax, etc  The trusted advisor that they can’t live without and that has touch points deeper than one area. If they don’t find the value in the time that you want to invest in getting to know them as a whole, maybe they are just wanting to hire someone that is a commodity and wont cost them that much. Your value is worth the investment!

Measurement. Establish a baseline.  If they don’t have anything to measure and no reason to change what they are doing, why should they hire you?  What are they paying in labor lawsuits in a year? Fines, compliance, delayed product launches?

Please contact me to discuss your client development goals: Andrew Wilcox,, 850-893-8984

Friday, February 1, 2013

Premature Elaboration

Over the holidays you have a chance to catch up at parties with people you don’t see every day.  It’s also a great time for storytelling.  Reflecting on the year. Old stories that get better with time.

There are stories that you can sit and listen to for an hour.  So filled with detail and cadence that it seems to bring everyone in the room around to it.

Some stories that I call Facebook stories.  25 minutes of inside family humor about how lil Becky said something cute in the middle of the Chik-Fil-A to the “big cow”.  They seem to love the story so much that it bears repeating.  If there is a party repellant spray to be handed out next year that keeps them away, you hope that you are doused in it.  They corner you as you can see the rest of the party is caught up with Mark Twain reincarnate across the room.

Then you have the story killers.  You know them.  The story is about to get good and the spouse or the person that has heard the story jumps in, interrupts, or gives away the ending.  Yeah, I would have been fulfilled with It’s a Wonderful Life after 10 minutes enough to flip over to Duck Dynasty. ..

As a teen boy, I recall asking my older brother how to get girls to like me. What do I say? What story should I tell them?  He said “Be yourself…just not too soon..”

The way that people engage your services has changed.  Everyone has the name of a good attorney, and everyone gets a few names.  Who are you at the party though? Do you ask questions that bring people out?  Similar interests?  Common purpose?

The process of asking questions to form your story around their goals and needs.  Some people need a quick story, some need details.  Their fulfillment is found in them taking ownership through the process of being asked about what is important to them. It’s also artificial patience to you who have probably heard their story a thousand times with a thousand clients.

Does your web bio tell a story or just a couple of bullet points on practice areas?  When you engage a client or prospective client in a conversation do you bring them into the story and make it personal to them, or do you give the same story to everyone only to be interrupted by the noise in their head. In seminars, do you talk or interact? Is social media one-sided or does it solicit feedback?
Please contact me your client development goals at: 850-893-8984,