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What Is Your Passion?

What does your eye doctor think of your eye sight, if they send you this kind of appointment reminder?

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Just sayin’!

Several years back, I was attending a seminar on law and legal marketing. One of the first speakers started his speech by saying that he was going to tell us his secrets for Internet marketing, but was not worried about utilizing them and taking away business. He reasoned that  the majority of us would either be too lazy, or too consumed with our work to follow through on what had made him successful.

Honestly, his speech ticked me off a little. I guess he got my competitive nature riled up. As I thought about what he was saying, it made me realize there was a better way of doing things… but like this fellow in this picture, no matter how hard I worked,  I had lots to learn. There was a better way to do things!

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At the time, that lawyer was one of major Internet marketers in the country. He had his website everywhere. Recently, someone mentioned him to me. That made me realize that I had not seen any of his marketing for a while; that his website was not reaching me. What had happened to him? He is still out there, but it made me think.

A book that I am listening to on Audible, in my car, is written by and also read by Gary Vaynerchuk titled Crushing It!  The book  just came at the end of January At the beginning of the audio book, the author acknowledges that he was going to be adding to it, as he read the audio portion. He noted that technology and marketing had already changed so rapidly, since he had written the book.

I think that’s why the earlier mentioned lawyer was not in my stream of consciousness anymore. He probably has not managed to keep up. It really was not about a competitor catching up to him.

At the Firm, we constantly challenge ourselves to be better. Not just be processors. (I think this coffee server might have just been processing. Right?)

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As Gary Vanderchuk says, “there are entrepreneurs and there are ‘wantreprenuers‘”. Follow your thrill and passion and you will find the “fulfill”. The financial reward will follow the passion. If someone simply wants money, they will not be successful. At some point their “Want To” will run out.

Our motivation and passion can be helping people, beating insurance companies, constantly learning, and seeing something different every day. If someone comes to work to simply get on Facebook or ask everyone how their weekend was, then they probably are not following a passion. It’s just a job to them. Ultimately, their “Want To” is going to run out and make them search for something else.

Coach Vince Lombardi knew how to challenge people. Here is one of his quotes that fires me up! “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you are willing to pay the price”.

I am challenged by Martha Washington’s (1732-1802) mantra for life, “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances“.

It’s Our Monday! It’s going to be a great day! I dare an insurance company to deny today!

And finally, for our pic o’ day, I guess this is an example of someone who may enjoy making cakes… but still be processing what someone says to put on their cakes? The definition of literally:

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The Starfish Reminder

I love what Ronald Reagan wrote to Nancy!

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The power of human connection!

And this story from livelifehappy.com sums up what keeps me going!

An old man walked across the beach until he came across a young boy throwing something into the breaking waves. Upon closer inspection, the old man could see that the boy was tossing stranded starfish from the sandy beach, back into the ocean.

“What are you doing, young man?” He asked.
“If the starfish are still on the beach when the sun rises, they will die,” the boy answered.
“That is ridiculous. There are thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. It doesn’t matter how many you throw in; you can’t make a difference.”

“It matters to this one,” the boy said as he threw another starfish into the waves. “And it matters to this one.”

Recently I have been interviewing attorneys for our offices. In fact, I have hired 2 attorneys and am close to hiring a few more. Why? Well, this story summarizes it, just like the question that I am regularly asked in my attorney interviews:

When do you plan to retire?

I actually have a physical reaction to that question. The longer I practice law, the more irritated I get with the way that insurance companies treat people. It’s what drives me…puts a chip on my shoulder! It’s why I have no plans to retire and don’t even react well to that question.

What motivates me? Maybe we won’t change how insurance companies treat people. But for our client on this case…it matters to this one!

As that website says, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.

And for pic o’ day…this one always makes me laugh:

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Happy Too!

I always like to start Our Monday Blog with some positivity. This pic o’ qualifies as reaching goals. Right?

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While driving down the road recently, I saw a billboard advertisement for a grocery store chain that simply said, “Groceries Delivered“. That seems to meet a need, but it also is becoming more popular. Perhaps the aggressiveness of Amazon is causing everyone to step up their game in the grocery business.

I remember being one of the first law firms to advertise “We will come to you“. I had noticed a trend of several new potential clients failing to show up for their appointments at the office. I learned that once someone had crashed their car, it made it very difficult to come to our office. Missing the appointment made total sense. I had to come up with a solution… going to their home on their time.

Which brings me to the thought of how to step up our service now? What message or new service could I advertise.

I love the positivity of my father-in-law. When someone asks him for help, he regularly responds with, “Happy Too“. Be willing and ready to help! If I could convey that in all of our ads… then I have maintained our true hopeful message. If someone needs our help… I hope that they feel our response of “Happy Too”!

 

And finally, for our pic o’ day, I think many of us relate to this as we sit in that chair!

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Spaghetti and Positivity

Let’s just keep it going. Valentine’s Day again. Can you feel the love? Not so much? Come on! All right… on with the show. But I hope you can still feel the love!

I am going to tell you one of my weaknesses… it’s spaghetti.

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There are some things that I can avoid eating, but I find myself yielding to the temptation of spaghetti and casting aside all concerns of weight gain. And that’s where I found myself last weekend… on a spaghetti mission!

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And not just any mission. My wife and I were headed to Joe’s Inn for their spaghetti. As we walked in the door, we found several people standing and seated. All waiting for a table. The hostess/waiter walked up to us and asked “how many in your party?”. Then she said “A few tables are about to leave and it should only be a few minutes”.

I noticed that she said the same thing to a few more people that came in, right after us. No one left the restaurant. We waited a bit and no one left. All because we were greeted positively and given “hope”.

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I know I am getting carried away with the spaghetti pictures, but it was a reminder to me about the importance of attitude, even in this restaurant stop.

Years ago, attorney John Morgan in Florida told me that his most important employee at his law firm was his receptionist. What do people think when they call the firm. Just like walking in to a restaurant. The difference between waiting and walking out the door.

Yesterday, I spoke to a lawyer at our firm who told me about a case that he is working on right now. The lady had previously been represented by another local law firm on a prior injury case. Now, she has another injury, but this one is tremendously significant with high medical bills and a multi-million dollar insurance policy. That’s code for… it is a big big case.

Why did she call us? Well, she thought about going back to the firm that represented her on her first case. At the same time, she just happened to see our commercial. Couple that with the fact that she was not exactly thrilled with her last case.

Thankfully, our intake was friendly. Then, she spoke to a lawyer here that was helpful. She decided to hire us. As John Morgan said, you can always find lawyers, but it’s hard to find people who care. And that’s the importance of Team at the firm. It makes me want to say thank you every day, to those who work here at the firm. No different than… a table will be ready shortly. Instead of not caring and just saying, “there will be a 30 minute wait”.

And yes, for pic o’ day, one more pasta mention. Is it wrong to have spaghetti for breakfast? How about if it’s just a side?

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Rod Tidwell’s Brain Injury

First, a bit of work strategy to get us started!

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The movie Jerry Maguire is filled with classic moments. Like the kid (character: Ray Boyd) who randomly asks Jerry Maguire, “Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds?”. Or when Jerry Maguire asks Rod Tidwell, “Do you want this jacket? I don’t need it. I’m cloaked in failure.” because he had lost representation of the number one pick, the night before the NFL draft.

And anyone that has seen the movie or ever heard anything about it probably remembers the two quotes that became classics. “Show me the money” and “You had me at ‘hello’“.

But the real lesson from this movie is the mindset about brain injury, and thankfully how much awareness has changed since that movie. So let me summarize to make the point.

Near the end of the movie, Cuba Gooding Jr’s character (Rob Tidwell) suffers a horrible injury at the end of the “big game”. Gooding is unconscious for several minutes, while his  distraught wife watches in horror.

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Then miraculously, he wakes up and celebrates. No longer a worry that he died in the endzone. Instead, he is breakdancing in the end zone. I am not a doctor, but that just seems like the worst possible move, after an apparent serious head-and-neck injury, just mere seconds earlier.

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The point of that is how far we have come. In the early 2000’s, I was in the middle of a brain injury jury trial in Greenville County. The defense expert testified that my client’s concussion was merely like having “your bell rung on the football field”. I believe that doctor knew better than to minimize the concussion suffered by my client.

Now thankfully, we all have been more educated on how serious a concussion and brain injury really is. Not even Hollywood would have Rod Tidwell breakdancing off a stretcher.

 

And finally, this pic o’ day cracks me up!

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Hammer Meets Nail!

How about a Christmas picture to get Our Blog week started?

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When I received that… I laughed!

Here’s what we know on a Monday. No one wants to hear how someone’s fantasy football team did over the weekend, and no one wants to hear about how much money someone made in bitcoin. Right?  (Yes, I know. That was just random)

We want useful!!! Something that effects us. Thus, I will be a bit random now to get to our ending point.

So let me mention my weight loss idea. On Friday I decided to punish myself for gaining a couple of pounds. I know it sounds crazy, but stick with me.

Recently, I ordered some custom shirts from a men’s shirt company that is located in India. I sent them my sizes. When the shirts arrived, they all felt tight. I was stuck. Send them back and spend almost as much in shipping as I spent on the shirts? Give them away? Or, torture myself. I went with the torture weight loss program of shirt tightness.

With a sport coat on, you probably wouldn’t notice. Me? I felt the tightness all day. One piece of lettuce felt like too much food. I knew I needed to lose at least 3 pounds! It’s the little things. Like not just digging into the Christmas cookies that show up at our office. Which brings me to some poetry for the blog to make us wicked smart!

One of my favorite poems is For The Want of a Nail.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

 I connect that thought to the court system. The 2017 statistics are not out yet but; in 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court issued opinions on 15 injury case appeals. This included death cases and malpractice verdicts.

In those 15 cases, the injured party only won twice. In the sports world, that is a 2-13 record. That is part of a continuing trend in Virginia. Over the last several years, the defense is winning at the appellate level of the Virginia Supreme Court by historic margins.

What do these statistics mean? Stay with me on my stream of consciousness.

Following Tuesday’s election, democrats were celebrating the victory of a an elected Democrat in Alabama. In Congress, it means that Republicans hold a slim 51-49 Senatorial advantage. It makes it difficult to push legislation through unless everyone votes along party lines. Similar to getting judges approved.

There is a similarity in Virginia. Selection of Virginia state court judges occurs through legislative election. Virginia is one of only two states that use this method in choosing judges. The other state is South Carolina.

It’s why  there are court challenges regarding this past November’s elections to determine whether Republicans or Democrats will control the Virginia House of Delegates. Right now, the difference stands at a Republican majority of 51-49, with a possibility of that still flipping.

That impacts laws. That impacts appointments. Which means… that could impact how a Supreme Court justice might apply laws during appeals. That’s not to say that any of the above opinions would have changed. But, in the federal system, it’s not unusual to see a ruling by a 5-4 decision.

Elections can impact judicial appointments. Appointments could potentially impact appellate decisions. It’s why every vote does count. It’s the little things.

And I decided to close with a pic o’ day that is not holiday related. But is is a blog tip…or something!

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Moe Levine On Loss

Do you read the blog for good advice. How about this advice??

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Now let me write a bit about a lawyer who is legendary in law circles. Moe Levine passed away in 1974, but he still lives on in his recording and writings. Many of his openings and closings have been transcribed and have lived on as examples of advocacy.

To give you an example of one of his closings, these few sentences come from a personal injury case in the 1960’s, where he was seeking damages in a double amputation trial. In expressing the everyday losses of his client, he said the following to the jury,

I need not call any army of experts and parade before you countless medical professionals to illustrate this boy’s loss. I need only tell you that I had lunch with him today, and he ate his food like a dog.”

It’s true that what he said was probably objectionable, because he was basically testifying in closing. However, it’s an example of the way that he thought, in conveying loss.

His primary discussion in discussing what a person has lost was summarized in this statement, “It’s not what the defendants have taken from the injured plaintiff, but rather what they left him or her with.” Here is how he conveyed that in a closing:

If a man with 20/20 vision has an accident and is left with 20/40 vision, you have taken his 20/20 vision from him. But you’ve left him 20/40 and he has good function with 20/40. On the other hand, if you take a man with 20/200 vision, who barely sees light and you blind him, you’ve left him with nothing.” This reframe is subtle, but powerful. In another example, Levine poses to the jury, “suppose you had a million dollars, and I took five hundred thousand dollars away. I would have taken a great deal of money from you but I would have left you with a half million dollars. As you still have a half million dollars, you are not left broke. On the other hand, suppose you had one dollar, and that dollar is taken from you. You now have nothing.

In yet another example, he compares loss to a candle, where the smallest candle makes the darkness tolerable. “You blow out the candle, and you are left with the abysmal fear of blackness: no light left. You have taken it all“.

He believed that the Old Testament was a good source of example in considering damages. He conveyed the loss of  enjoyment of life as described in the book of Ecclesiasteswhere it says that it is right and good that when a man has finished this day’s labor, he shall enjoy living.”

I enjoy looking back at the arguments of past lawyers. Most have not withstood the sands of time. But, Moe Levine’s thoughts on damages are still applicable today. In law school, my mock court professor played some old recordings from speeches that Levine made, in the 50’s and 60’s. At the time, it didn’t mean much to me. Now, as I look back, I have a great appreciation of that education. Life experiences had not yet prepared me to appreciate the discussion of loss.

 

And for pic o’ day……

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Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Today we have our law firm Christmas party. What that really means is breakfast. Years ago, I used to have a dinner. Then it became lunch. For the last several years it has become breakfast. And, it seems that everyone is much happier because they have the rest of the day free. I think you get it!

One of our lawyers told me that after the breakfast he is heading to a funeral. He said it with a smile. Then, he went on to explain that it was his neighbor who had passed away… at 97.

He had attended the man’s 95th birthday. And, it was a reminder of the importance of enjoying life.

A few years ago, I attended a family member’s birthday party celebration of her 90th birthday. We all went to one of my favorite restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Angus Barn) I leaned over to her and whispered that I was looking forward to coming back right here to celebrate her 95th and she told me she wasn’t sure she “wanted to last that long”.

I have thought back to my conversation that night. A reminder that nothing else matters… unless you have your health.

When presenting damages to a jury, part of it includes a life expectancy table. If a person has a permanent injury, how long does permanent really mean. For instance, a person with a permanent back injury with a life expectancy of 40 years. What is that worth? In context, what would if mean if they could live the next 40 years without that same pain and restriction?

Loss of enjoyment of life is a damage that is listed by the law, to be considered by a jury. It sounds like a general undefined term, unless we show what real loss means.

For Our Blog, I am not going to keep writing about it. But if you and I were sitting down to talk about it, I would ask what you think. This loss can mean different things to different people. I have seen this loss in many of my clients, and then years later, I talk to those same clients, who are still experiencing those losses after the case is over. That is the real meaning of loss!

For pic o’ day, I always try to post something that makes me smile. After a blog that kind of feels heavy to me, it seems even more important for a good pic o’. So, because it is December 1…. this seems like a perfect time to post:

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All About The Stats

They call it analytics. defined as The systematic computational analysis of data and statistics. (I promise, I won’t mention analytics again. I will do better! I promise) I feel like I am putting you through suffering by starting out like this.

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So here’s the turn. I always enjoy writing about the Indianapolis Colts in a legal blog. It’s true fandom. It’s why I can write about them, even though they lost 36-22. Not good!

Looking at their nationally televised Monday night football game, they received notification that the officiating crew was Walt Anderson’s crew. His crew averages 5 penalties per quarter, which is the second highest rate in the league.

The Colts coach could choose to ignore the crew assigned by simply saying “We are going to play Colts football and keep chopping wood“, or he could incorporate that into preparation.  (Here’s an article where the Steelers Coach did ) These Walt Anderson officials call it tight, so it means that your defense cannot be as physical and your linemen have to be careful in blocking and not holding.

How does that apply to our law practice? Usually, when we first discuss a case with a new client, they ask “How long will this take?” and “How much is my case worth?”. My guess? Probably the two most asked questions.

In handling a case, the worth is really related to the injury and treatment of the client, as well as the facts and liability of the person at fault. If a lawsuit has to be filed, then worth takes on additional components. The systematic computational analysis. (See, I didn’t use the A word) Where the case filed, and who is assigned as the judge are additional factors.

If I have an upcoming jury trial that has a judge assigned that I do not know, I usually ask around to find other lawyers that have been in that courtroom. A recent case with an unknown judge gave me the scouting report that she let’s you try your case. For another case this past month, I was told that the judge gets very involved , and he likes to be in charge of his courtroom, which is code for being an active interrupting judge.

In both instances, you tailor your trial strategy. I don’t just say let’s do what we do and go in there and just keep chopping wood. Can you tell that I am hopeful for a new Indianapolis Colts coach? More fandom!

And now our pic o’ day…. (thankfully I don’t feel this way, but it makes me laugh)

 

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An A or B

Completely unrelated, but it makes me laugh! I guess some dogs are just wicked smart!

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I think you can make statistics prove anything that you want to prove. For instance, the year that the Golden State Warriors broke the NBA’s single season win total; their guard, Klay Thompson, autographed a toaster for a fan. Thereafter, they went on to a 31-2 record. Does that speak to the power of toasters?

It just means that sometimes statistics don’t explain reality. Meyer Friedman was a cardiologist who for decades ran a busy medical office in San Francisco. In the late 1950s, he and his partner, Dr. Ray Rosenman, began noticing similarities in their patients with heart disease. It wasn’t simply what their patients ate, or their genes inherited, or family history that affected their susceptibility to heart attacks; it was also how they lived their lives.

These patients“, Friedman noted, “demonstrated: a particular complex of personality traits, including excessive competition drive, aggressiveness, impatience, and a harrying sense of time urgency. Individuals displaying this pattern seem to be engaged in a chronic, ceaseless, and often fruitless struggle—with themselves, with others, with circumstances, with time, sometimes with life itself.

These people were significantly more likely to develop heart disease than other patients—even those who shared similar physical attributes, exercise regimens, diets, and family histories. Looking for a convenient and memorable way to explain this insight to their medical colleagues and the wider world, Friedman and Rosenman found inspiration in the alphabet.”

They classified this behavior as “Type A.” Now we all know that term.

Contrary to Type A behavior was Type B behavior. Unlike the hurry-up, horn-honking behavior; people displaying Type B behavior were rarely in a hurry and didn’t feel stressed by life’s demands.

In their research, the doctors found that Type B people were just as intelligent and  ambitious, as Type A’s. But, displayed their ambition differently. In writing about Type B , the cardiologists explained, “He may also have a considerable amount of ‘drive,’ but its character is such that it seems to steady him, give confidence and security to him, rather than to goad, irritate, and infuriate, as with the Type A man.” One key to reducing heart disease and death was to help Type A’s learn to become a little more like Type B’s.

These classifications and findings of these heart doctors are interesting to me, because they also are linking stress to health. With our clients, I always believe that their most significant damage is related to stress and emotional trauma. And these doctors would probably agree.

As a side note, Dr Friedman died at the age of 90. Maybe he taught himself to slow it down! Although, sometimes I think that some of the stress that Type A feels… is stress from the actions (and lateness) of Type B.

And for pic o’ day, I always say that I want people to pay me the compliment that I am having a bad hair day! Just sayin’!

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