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Archive for The Human Spirit

Just Some Random

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

     I thought that I would ramble a bit. So… here goes:

    Yesterday was a bit unusual for the law firm as we began our Virginia Beach office move from our old location to our new space; we opened our Richmond office a little later because of the snow;

(A picture as I stopped for breakfast at Bob Evans near the office, because I wanted to eat down on the farm!)

bob

     And the South Carolina office faithfully kept the lights burning throughout it all. In addition, the South Carolina office is waiting for the construction build out, so they can move. That should be in a couple of months.

      And the randomness continues… Recently, the Virginia ex-Governor has been in the news quite a bit. That led me back to an old photo of five Virginia Governors that was taken in 1932.

5 gov

At this military celebration in Virginia Beach, four of the Governors were decorated with medals by then Governor John Garland Pollard (in center). This picture makes me wonder, “what were they thinking?”. You can see why I thought it belonged in the random blog.

     Debbie K sent me the following, that made me think,  “I  saw a sign recently that said, “If you see someone wearing camouflage, make sure you walk right into them so they know it is working.” Now that would be an “eye-opener”.

     And to wrap up my random thoughts. The word “lethologica” describes the state of not being able to remember the word that you want. Of course, it is virtually impossible to remember that word. What word?

     And finally, stressed is desserts spelled backwards. It’s all in how you look at things!

      And for pic o’ day,  I thought that in the middle of this cold, wouldn’t a spa day feel good?

spa

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What is it Worth?

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Hanging on our walls in our downstairs Richmond office is various artwork, sports memorabilia and  photographs. I have a special interest in sports memorabilia and have always tried to collect in specific areas, rather than trying to cover all sports.

I suppose that my legal background draws me to sports contracts. So as  a sports fan with a legal bend, I began to collect, among other things, sports memorabilia that included sports contracts.

On our wall hangs several contracts. I took this picture,  from our office wall, of the one below. It is former major league  baseball player Reggie Jackson’s baseball  rookie contract. He signed this on April 6, 1973.  It is also signed by former Oakland Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley. It shows that he was to receive a salary of $35,000 with a deferred amount after his retirement, in the amount of $40,000.

Jackson piece

 

 

 

When most people walk past the contract hanging on the hallway wall, they don’t notice it. Others stop and look at it and sometimes ask  about it.

From the AP and Richmond Times-Dispatch comes a story of a recent auction that brought over $883,000 that included a lock of  Abraham Lincoln’s hair from his death bed that sold for $25,000 as well as the following items and their totals:

-a clipping of linen from Lincoln’s death bed and stained with Lincoln’s blood, for $6,000.

— an1864 letter signed by Lincoln and authorizing prisoner-of-war swap involving Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s son from a Union POW camp, for $27,500.

— A display of photographs and autographs from Lincoln, Booth and Boston Corbett, the soldier who shot and killed Booth — a set nicknamed “The Martyr, The Assassin and The Avenger” — which sold for $30,000.

— a set of four oil paintings created for a carnival side show displaying the mummified remains of a man claimed to be Booth, for $30,000.

— Booth’s military arrest warrant, for $21,250.

— a framed White House Funeral Admittance Card, for $11,875.

— a letter signed by Mary Todd Lincoln on her personal mourning stationary, for $10,625.

Do you put any value on a baseball contract? When you read about these Lincon items, how does it hit you? Can you imagine people buying these? Does it seem a bit macabre. (I have always wanted to use that word!)

Here’s the analogy to the legal blog. In our jury trials, we call witnesses to testify to losses that clients have suffered. It’s easy to put a value on medical expenses because we already have totals.

It’s the losses that don’t have a direct dollar value that are hardest to be considered. What one person may put as a significant loss, may not impact the juror sitting next to them.

What is the value to a client who can no longer workout and then gains a significant amount of weight because of it? What is the value of pain and not being able to lift small kids; or the value of a scar, or no longer being able to wear high heels because of the ankle pain.

We all have heard “what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. The legal concept of damages. In a jury trial, putting value to loss and harm is what all juries are asked to do in arriving at a verdict. What is the injury worth?

And for pic o’ day, I suppose this would be a tough jury for a dog bite case:

dog bite

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The Success of Losing

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Does the name Red Klotz mean anything to you? Usually, 5-foot-7 basketball players don’t become famous in sports. So, here’s the story of Red. He was tremendously successful at losing. He made losing his life’s work. Still, when he passed away in 2014 at the age of 93 (NY Times obituary), people reminisced about the night that he won.

In his basketball playing days, Klotz was known as a sharpshooter for the Baltimore Bullets 1948 team. It’s when professional basketball was played in high school gymnasiums; long before TV, crowds or large salaries. Klotz is recognized as the shortest player ever to be on an NBA championship team.

Abe Sapperstein owned the Globetrotters. It was clear that Red’s professional basketball  career had reached its limit,  so he asked Red to form a team to play the Globetrotters every night. In 1952, Klotz formed the Washington Generals. They were the foil to the Harlem Globetrotters. Klotz served as the founder, owner and chauffer of the team. He also was their two-handed-set-shot specialist. His team was formed of players who were just good enough to provide competition, while willing to be victimized nightly by the Globetrotters.

As a team, they had their pants pulled down; balls wedged in the back of their jerseys; and they allowed the opposing team to dribble around them and fire up long shots while unguarded.

Klotz would tell his team in the huddle that their first priority was always laughter. “We’re the straight men. Laurel had Hardy; Lewis had Martin; Costello had Abbott and the Trotters have us”.Red

The Generals became infamous for losing. At one point, they had lost over 14,000 straight games. (I had to re-read that one a couple of times) Coach Klotz had become the greatest ally of the Globetrotters by committing to just barely coming up short on a nightly basis, or not quite reaching that outstretched rebound. Or, being willing to stand idly by while one of the Globetrotters threw a bucket of sawdust into the audience.

The Generals were a team that was created to lose. That held true until January 5, 1971.

That night, the Generals again played the Globetrotters in a run-down gymnasium in Martin, Tennessee. It was a rare night when the Globetrotters were off their game. Meadowlark Lemon could not make a shot. Meanwhile, the Generals could not miss. They were known as the New Jersey Reds on that evening to give the fans the appearance that the Globetrotters were beating up on another team.

On that January night, the Generals were up 12 points with 2 minutes to play. On script, with 7 seconds to play, Meadowlark Lemon hit a long range shot to put the Globetrotters ahead 99-98. Then, Klotz answered that bucket with a 20-foot shot that put the Reds (Generals) back up by one. Surely, the Globetrotters would answer and send the fans home in the glory of another victory.

The play was set and Lemon took the last-second shot. The shot rimmed out and the Generals had won.

The crowd was stunned. Soon they began booing because they were there to see the Globetrotters win. In one book on the history of the Globetrotters, author Ben Green called the loss a blow to American confidence.

The Generals didn’t see it that way. For that one night, they were winners. The Generals hoisted Klotz on their shoulders and doused him with the only beverage that they had… orange soda.

Klotz played in front of kings, popes and millions of fans. He played in the Soviet Union “behind the iron curtain”; on an aircraft carrier; and in front of 75,000 people in Berlin, who watched the game while sitting atop beer barrels as seats.

He was known as the most successful loser to ever play the game. He played for the Generals until the age of 68 and regularly still went to the gym to play, into his nineties.

A good reminder to be good at whatever you do; enjoy doing it, and along the way you might even get some orange soda as a surprise! Maybe my new mantra at the office!!!!

shoes

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The Job Interview

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

While interviewing some attorneys for our offices, I am regularly told that my questions during the process are not “the usual”. Yes, it might mean that most don’t wander to a discussion of sports.

It might also indicate that I don’t follow the book script of memorized questions like, “Tell me what you are most proud of in your work history”. I think that kind of interview would torment me. Why? Because I enjoy getting to know the person and I fear that “book questions” give “book answers”.

Part of my interview process usually includes, “What do you want to know about us?”  That tells me about them, by telling me what they are interested in from an employment perspective. It also tells me a little about the research that they have done about the law firm.

I am sometimes surprised to find out that the job candidate has not taken the time to read our website. Can you imagine that they wouldn’t know about my blog?  Ok, I suppose you can imagine that the blog would not be on their reading list.

I do try to read books and articles that will make me a better interviewer. In that pursuit, I came upon an article on Forbes.com titled 10 Job interview questions you should ask. It lists questions that the interviewee might ask.

That’s just a quick perusal of some of my interviewing thoughts. As a mention, if you know someone who is interested in the legal field as an attorney or paralegal, please direct them to our website. Plus, you can always recommend the blog!!!!!

 

And for pic o’ day… here’s work cat:

work cat

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Powerful Optimism Response

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Headed into the weekend, I have several things on my mind. I am headed to West Virginia for a case.  Clearly on my mind. I also have the NFL in my mind because the Indianapolis Colts are playing on Sunday night.

I have to admit that as a fan,  the positive part of me wants to believe that the Colts can beat the New England Patriots. The other part of me believes that the Colts will lose by at least two touchdowns. As a fan, I guess I fear having too much hope.

That leads me to the funny story that I see occur, when I watch the Colts. It’s what the Colts Quarterback does after he gets hit by a defensive player and knocked to the ground. These players claim that they have never seen anything like it and can’t figure it out.

In an article from the Associated Press titled Andrew Luck: The NFL’s Most Perplexing Trash Talker, the reporter has interviewed players who say that quarterback Andrew Luck drives defenders crazy by complimenting them after they hit him or tackle him. They question whether its kindness or is he playing head games with them.

Luck will say things like, “great job” or “what a hit”. Patriots defender Bob Ninkovich said that one time after he pulverized Luck with a hit, Luck congratulated on the hit. Ninkovich said that he found himself not sure how to respond so he said something like “Thanks for accepting the hit?”

The Wall Street Journal contacted 12 NFL players who had hit or sacked Andrew Luck. All of them  said that he congratulated them after the hit.  Despite questioning his motive, those who know him best say that he is truly just a nice guy.

Luck is only in his third NFL season. I suppose that there will be more stories about him as he continues playing. So, if you happen to watch him on Sunday night and you see him get hit by an opposing player, you might just notice him congratulating that player. The power of a positive attitude. As a fan, I hope it’s contagious enough to carry them to a win over the Patriots!

Have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day:

following

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Remembering Curley Byler

Monday, January 12th, 2015

One of the paralegals has a sign hanging at her desk that says, “But first, coffee”. Seems appropriate for a Monday morning blog!

coffee

This weekend I went to the funeral of  Clarence H. “Curly” Byler. He was the landlord for my first law office. I have known the Byler family for many years and feel fortunate to call them my friends.

At the funeral, several got up with very special rememberances of Mr. Byler. He had been a very successful businessman in Virginia Beach and developed commercial and residential real estate throughout Hampton Roads.  Let me just mention a couple of remembrances for the blog.

The first related to him as a pilot. He served as a pilot in World War II. So, for the rest of his life, he continued to fly. Even in his last days, he was still talking about his special airplane.  One of the flying stories is also good application for life.

He would always say that he wanted altitude, to get as high as he could when flying. Why? Because by flying so high, he said that he was “able to get above the mess”.  A good reminder to rise above it.  His son Gary also applied his desire “for altitude”, to the end of his life. Now that he was in heaven… he was now above all the mess.

The second thing of mention related to a flight that he recently took with a friend. They were up in an airplane looking down. Mr Byler looked over at him as they were reminiscing about all the good times. Then he said, “who would have thought that I’d still have money to burn… but the fire has gone out”. As his obituary noted, “Curly passed peacefully in his own bed after 93 years of doing it his way”.

And for pic o’ day, this comes from Debbie K. It makes me laugh:

snow days

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The Final 2014 Blog

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

I sat down to write this last blog with the idea that I needed to give you something to think about, going into the new year. Then, I stopped after my first sentence because I had too many thoughts with too few ideas. It felt like I was at the doorstep of inspiration, and inspiration refused to let me in! (or something like that)

mustache

So I decided to piece some stories together in an attempt to end up with my thoughts:

Not far from our Richmond  office stands a building with a sign that identifies it as a restaurant named Famous Dave’s Barbecue. This is an area that really enjoys BBQ for lunch as evidenced by the fact that there are three restaurants, within a 2 mile radius.IMG_0001

Regularly, we would drive by that restaurant at lunch, and invariably, someone in the car would remark that no cars are ever in the parking, “How do they stay open?”.

Prophetic! They just closed. In fact, the other two Dave’s restaurants in the Richmond area have also closed. (CBS 6) According to their CEO, the closings are part of a “strategic reevaluation”  as  ”the current leadership team continues to evaluate the performance of our legacy company-owned portfolio as we drive toward a return to positive same store sales and improved unit and company-level profitability, while we actively pursue our re-franchising strategy”. (I don’t even know what that means)

It was 2005. Sheep herding was the primary livelihood in Gevas, Turkey. The average yearly income there was $2700. According to USA Today, every family had an average of 20 sheep.

On that fateful day, 26 families were eating breakfast together on the hillside, while they watched their sheep graze nearby. No one knows what caused it, but all of sudden the sheep began running toward the edge of a cliff.

In horror, the shepherds watched as their sheep began jumping off the cliff to a certain death. One sheep apparently started toward the cliff and 1500 followed that one sheep. Soon, more than 450 sheep had died.

The only thing that saved the other sheep was the fact that those who jumped later, were saved as the pile got higher and higher. Their fall was cushioned. According to one villager, “now only a few families have sheep left. It’s going to be real hard for us”.

Xiaomi,  a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, was founded in 2010 by several Chinese entrepreneurs. The company just announced that it has shipped 17.3 million phones in their third quarter of 2014, and that they have now become the third largest cell phone maker in the world, while trailing only Samsung and Apple.

They admit to mirroring the business model of Apple; including the Chairman and CEO, Jun Lei, appearing on stage at a shareholder meeting while wearing jeans and a black turtleneck … just like the late Apple founder Steve Jobs.  They attribute their success positioning themselves as a high end alternative to the status quo.

I have been thinking about what to write for my year-end blog. It has caused me to read articles and tweets of several entrepreneurs as they identified their 2015 goals and resolutions. That included reading this USA Today article with 15 inspirational quotes from the book Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. Still I kept searching.

I came to realize that goals have to be my goals. That someone else’s goals can be aspirational, but they aren’t mine.

I looked at these three stories in their randomness and this is what I took from them. First, you need customers. In our case as a firm, you need clients. If “no one is in the parking lot”, all other goals really don’t matter.

Second, I need to be a leader who matters and knows where we are going. Just being a leader can also mean taking everyone over the cliff of failure.

Third, relates to Firm growth and the status quo. It’s fine to look at other business models of success; but, ultimately it’s about me or about the firm. I cannot be satisfied with ”how we have always done it”. I need to keep pushing!

Maybe something in this randomness will help you in your goal thinking. Thanks for reading the blog this year. I promise to do better next year!!!!! Have a wonderful New Year!

It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”

-W. Somerset Maugham

And for a final pic o’ day, I had a hard time picking what I wanted. So… I went with some “bad planning”.

bad Planning

 

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Focusing on What’s Next

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

This is the tweener time of year between the holidays and the New Year. So, it makes me think about personal goals and law firm goals.

Dr John Whyte has written a new book titled New American Diet which includes the keywords lose weight and live longer. It suggests which foods to eat and which to avoid.

The book’s focus on food is a good thing, but I also think that there are other good tips to keep me focused. I won’t steal the book’s thunder like making sure that you get at least 6 hours of sleep each night (less is proven to cause obesity); or that you make sure to eat more dark chocolate. There are some who don’t like chocolate and others who might decide to incorporate 2 Hershey bars into their day.

Instead, let me focus specifically on one of the twelve tips in the book, to lose weight fast. It’s something we are incorporating in the practice. That item is wallking!

walking sign

The book reminds that walking doesn’t just help in losing weigh, it also helps clear your mind. Studies show that walking can help in combating an early onset of dementia. In fact, people who cannot walk a quarter-mile in 5 minutes have a higher mortality rate. So, fitness experts recommend walking at least 10,000 steps a day. But here’s the law firm idea.

This is probably going to sound like an advertisement. But we have decided to help each other in walking.

dog helping

     A couple of years ago, we started a wellness program at the firm that divided everyone into teams. Then, you could get points for gym attendance or various fitness goals. Still it was missing something.

     Since that time, I have been using a Fitbit on my belt. They come in various kinds that include a bracelet and there are other brands to measure walking and other activities. For me, I just wanted to keep it simple. This is what mine looks like.fitbit

     That led the social media team to come up with the idea of giving everyone a Fitbit. Then, we can tie them all together by an email report and set various goals with an automatic counter. Nothing magical about it. Just something to encourage us to walk.

It’s also what my parents wanted for Christmas. And, they have already updated me on their progress. It has encouraged them to walk a bit more each day. Here’s where you can buy one from Amazon. (Yes, it does sound like an advertisement; but no, operators are not standing by)

Ok, that’s enough sales. I promise a joke tomorrow instead!

And for our pic o’ day…

focus

 

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Tis The Season

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

It seems as though every TV ad is about Christmas or the holidays. In fact, I think that someone decided that each commercial should tell me that I need this or put this on, because everyone is wearing it:

IMG_0085

The Holidays are here for real! Dave Barry described them as “we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in our own way, by going to the mall of our choice”.

Thomas Munson describes Christmas as “the spirit of giving without the thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values”.

May this holiday season bring you and your family much joy and happiness. I truly wish you a Merry Christmas!

And for our pic o’ day, I decided to include a few “Christmas Lights” pic o’s!

onetwo

 

Three

 

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Constant Holiday Wishes

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

I keep getting emails in my in-box that wish me happy holidays or Merry Christmas. It makes me wonder if they really mean it because it is usually followed by how I can save 20% on a shirt, or how I can buy one sweater… and get three free. Do I really need four sweaters right now?

Those emails just don’t feel real. Plus, it feels like the email is replacing the good old-fashioned Christmas card. Just sayin’.

Anyway, I thought I would do a holiday blog with something that makes me smile:

alike

And then a good old-fashioned “Angry Cat” pic o’ day finish. This sure beats a sale on ties!

IMG_0076

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