My 25th post coincided with my best month (in terms of comments and overall hits) since I started this blog a short time ago. I will work hard to deliver even better content in my next 25. Thanks for the comments! Keep them coming. I especially appreciate FB shout outs such as my boy James:
“Hit the office, enjoying my morning coffee, while getting updated with my favorite blogs and news sites. Just finished reading the blog of my buddy AJ Bingham. Highly recommend it. https://ajbingham.wordpress.com/”
p.s. Congratualations to all my friends taking various state bars for finishing today. For those in Texas, only ONE more day and it is all over. First rounds on you. Good luck!
Like any ambitious person I have mentors. Some I know and some I don’t. The ones I don’t know I label as mentors in the sense of the lessons I can learn from books they written, interviews, and professional accomplishments.
During law school I read a quote from Vernon Jordan (of Clinton/Monica Lewinsky fame) who in an interview was asked what his strengths as a lawyer were. His response, “I know people, all kinds, everywhere and I can understand them.”
That quote made me an instant fan of Mr. Jordan because it articulated how I wanted to build my career. However the quote can be applied to pretty much any field you can think of. At the end of the day it always comes down to people (bosses, employees, customers) and understanding what they want. The more types of people you know, whether as friends, through social/professional groups, kickball teams, and so forth, the greater your potential to see the world through their eyes, and proceed accordingly.
Mr. Jordan’s ultimate strength in his legal practice is not his memo writing prowess (though I’m sure his writing ability is excellent), his ability to churn out legal briefs, or hours billed. Mr. Jordan’s strength lay in his ability to leverage past relationships. He was a facilitator, a connector above all else.
Here’s an excerpt from an entertaining Fast Company article of which Jordan is the focus:
“Jordan earns $1 million a year from a law practice that requires him to file no brief and visit no courtroom, because his billable hours tend to be logged in posh restaurants, on cellular phones … making a deft introduction here, nudging a legislative position there, ironing out an indelicate situation before it makes the papers.”
I don’t want to be the next Vernon Jordan. There is only one Vernon Jordan. What I do want is to be in the same strata as him, uniquely A.J., eventually.
“You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.”- Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
On my 10 hour flight to Boston last week I was able to complete The 21 Irrefutable Rules of Leadership. As I was reading, the lady next to me noticed and began asking me questions about the book. Did I like the book, what was my profession, was I a student, and so forth.
We ended up having a great conversation about professional life aboard (she worked mainly between London and Madrid), something I’m interested in pursuing at some point.
The conversation made me wonder if it would have occurred had I been reading Maxim, or a comic book. I’m not attacking either, but just to make the point that what you read can have a direct impact on the impressions you make.
In a post I wrote in June titled Personal Branding: It’s Not Just About You, I discussed how your associations, both professional and personal, can have an impact in terms of how people perceive you and what you are about, i.e. your personal brand. I’d like to take that idea further and suggest that along with you being the company you keep, you are also what you read.
It’s pretty straight forward. Just like the clothes you wear, and the people you associate with affect how you are viewed, so do the books you read. Think about the books on your bookcase (if you have one) and what would someone think about you upon glancing over the titles. What opinions and assumptions would they make about you?
Not only that, but what you read can affect how you think, your creativity, vocabulary, etc. All the things tied up into what makes you unique.
that I see myself evangelizing to all my friends about.
I just came back from a networking mixer at Imperia, put on by the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce. The event itself is only to put this post in context. What I really want to discuss is the apprehension of going to these type of events on your own. It’s nerve racking. It’s like being dropped behind enemy lines with a mission without any support (note: possibly watching to much of The Unit on CBS).
Technically I was not alone. A friend had sent me the link about the event and I then posed the usual question one gives when informed about social type events, “are you going?” It should be presumed that the person telling you about the event is going, but our psyches need actual confirmation to weigh in factoring whether to go or not.
It’s kind of crazy. On one hand you know the event could be fun and beneficial socially and/or professionally, but on the other the fact that you must find this out for yourself, alone, is enough to deter most people (I’ve been there before).
For this event I was confirming that my friend would be there while pulling out of my drive-way. God-forbid I show up and no one I know be there. Then I’m THAT guy, looking around aimlessly, checking my iPhone periodically for texts that aren’t there (you know what I mean).
Anyways I arrived and met up with my friend (social anchor, check), then preceded to the bar. Because of the crowds it took a bit, and by the time I got my drink, or shortly after, my friend told me she was leaving (it was pretty hot and crowded, so no fault to her). Then and there my brain started weighing the options. I had just started a conversation, so I felt safe for the moment, but what next? But quickly I decided to hell with that and to just go with the flow.
This is networking at it’s best to me. While I definitely prefer third party introductions, being able to operate in an environment solo is a skill-set every professional should have. In fact, going alone to events should be viewed as networking scrimmages. That is generally how I get over the apprehensive events. In this case what am I practicing for? The occasion when an event arises that can seriously impact my career.
The question one should ask when feeling iffy about going to events your friends may not be attending is, what excuse do I have for not going? Then in answering that question, barring a high cost, time conflict, or related matter, there should be no excuse. That is to say FEAR IS NOT AN EXCUSE. Fear is a hindrance to life opportunities. It is a survival mechanism often that does not know it’s place, especially in the modern professional world.
Thus as I continue to connect in Austin, if fear of going alone to an event is my only excuse then I have no reason NOT to go.
I’m headed up to Boston and Maine for some R&R! Pictures and stories (hopefully) to come.
“[H]uman beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them… [L]ife obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”- Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I view my life as a progression of smaller cycles, revolutions rather than linear sequences. When I think about the person I was in high school, and in college, and then law school; one long line could not adequately described the process and progress I have made to today.
Thinking about the above quote, two parts stood out. One is that we are not born once and for all. While we have one life-span, people like Gordon Parks or Dr. Jeong (of The Hangover and Knocked Up fame) serve as reminders that we can have multiple lives within that period, as unique as grains of sand falling in an hour glass.
The second was the part about obligation. Life obliges us renew ourselves in a myriad of ways through a lifetime, whether through self-directed action, changing careers, finding spirituality, etc., or through circumstances which force us to change, like parenthood or the death of a loved one.
At 26 years old I haven’t experienced events I would categorize in the latter paragraph. But I have attempted at least to re-mold myself into something new. Not totally new, but changed in ways, attitudes and outlook, that I wasn’t before.
I personally don’t view this is an obligation. For me it is more of necessity, a logical progression for anyone who seeks to change and challenges themselves beyond their reach. It is also exciting because with that progress you unlock hidden potential, talent, passsions, or both that change you on that day from the person you were before.
Which makes me wonder who I will be in a year, 10 years, and so on, from now.
Yesterday I spent some time down at the Texas Capitol walking my resumes to senate offices. It wasn’t random. Through a mentor I had been given a list of people, former colleagues of hers, to talk to. As with cover letters, it is ALWAYS better to have a name to address, or in my case ask for.
Also, getting face-time with a person is ALWAYS better than emailing them your cover letter. And generally even if you don’t. Additionally it is good training for getting over that apprehension of cold-calling, i.e. going into situations where you do not directly know a person you are trying to meet.
Unlike sending cover letters, physically walking my resumes always makes me a bit nervous. Not to a large degree, but like standing at the starting line of a race, or a podium right before the speech. The seconds before you open the office door and present yourself are, for me, always is intense. But then you just go.
This was my second time doing this. The previous summer I had take a few hours to walk the halls, and was probably more nervous because I had zero experience at the Capitol then. This will most likely be a periodic activity until something sticks. You have to keep pushing and pushing, especially under the pink dome.