Tapping into your personal strengths could certainly bring new levels of success to your business, but that may be easier said than done! What are your natural talents? What is unique about you? How do you best connect with other people? Katy Goshtasbi helps lawyers identify their most relevant strengths and employ them in the business and practice of law. Join Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street as they hear the essentials of Katy’s unique take on personal branding for lawyers in this Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
Katy Goshtasbi is a change and branding expert, founder of Puris Consulting, and a former securities/compliance lawyer.
Special thanks to our sponsor Nexa.
Lunch Hour Legal Marketing
Bring Your Human to Work with You: Using Your Strengths to Grow Your Business
Gyi Tsakalakis: Kelly.
Kelly Street: Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What’s happening today?
Kelly Street: Gobble-gobble.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Are you thankful?
Kelly Street: I am super, super thankful, like really —
Gyi Tsakalakis: What are you thankful for?
Kelly Street: I mean so many things. I mean come on, how many things could I not — I mean my list is one million things.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, we are going to spend our whole episode talking about what you are thankful for. JK, everybody just left and unsubscribed from this podcast, but we are going to talk about feelings —
Kelly Street: Oh, that’s what I am grateful for, I get now, I am grateful for feelings, I am grateful for branding, I am grateful for natural talents.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Excellent. And I when I think of feelings, I think of, I don’t know where I am going with this, I was going to say I think of anthropology.
Kelly Street: Oh, you do, really?
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s something unique to humans, but I don’t know if that’s true. Do we know? Where are we with animals having feelings?
Kelly Street: I don’t know. I like to think that my dog has feelings.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Let’s talk about your dog’s feelings.
Kelly Street: My dog is the neediest dog in the world. No, let’s not talk about my dog and his feelings. I want to talk about talents.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Talents.
Kelly Street: I want to know if you have any secret talents.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Secret talents? Gosh, unfortunately no, I am the least talented person. I always had to really like do the extra work, stay after practice, zero talent.
Kelly Street: But you know what your talent is then? Hard work, wit.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Practicing.
Kelly Street: Grit.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Grit sounds like such a gritty talent.
Kelly Street: Yeah. I never had any hidden natural talents either, but you know what I think of, it makes me think that I think we do all have one amazing talent, it just might be that we never discover it, because I could be incredibly talented at, oh gosh.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I can think of two of your talents right off the top my head.
Kelly Street: Really?
Gyi Tsakalakis: British accent.
Kelly Street: Thank you so much.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Goat sounds.
Kelly Street: Oh my goodness, yes.
Gyi Tsakalakis: British goat, can we get a British goat? We haven’t had one of those in a while.
Kelly Street: My British goat would sound something like bah. It’s a little bit more refined.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Which brings us to the topic of today’s episode, bringing your British goat to work with you, JK, bringing your human with you.
Kelly Street: Yes, yes, you introduced this guest to me and we know that I love all things branding and content and I tend to be the buzzword person on this episode and so I was just tickled when you introduced her as a possible guest and I knew we would get to talk about these things.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Strap in folks. Let’s talk about personal B word.
Kelly Street: That sounds so gross.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Bring your personal B word with you.
Kelly Street: To workday.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, with your hosts Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street, teaching you how to promote, market, and make fat stacks for your legal practice, here on Legal Talk Network.
Kelly Street: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Before we get started we want to thank our sponsor, Nexa, formerly known as Answer 1. It’s a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them a call at 800-267-9371 or online at www.nexa.com.
All right, here we are with Katy Goshtasbi. I am so excited. We are talking branding today and it is one of my all time favorite topics.
Katy Goshtasbi: Mine too.
Kelly Street: So Katy, why don’t you introduce yourself to our Lunch Hour Legal Marketing listeners and tell them a little bit about yourself, if they are not familiar?
Katy Goshtasbi: Sure. So my name is Katy Goshtasbi and I am an immigrant. And Version 1.0 of my name is Katy, Katy Perry ruined it for me, but my mother likes me to pronounce it Katy, the way she meant for it to be.
So I immigrated to the US in 1979 from Iran originally. People always like to know where I am from, so there you go. We thought we were leaving the country for two weeks, so we packed two suitcases and we ended up never going back.
So I got to grow up in the Midwest and Indiana and it was one of the best upbringings I have ever had, and I tell you this because growing up I always wanted to save the world and I thought I was going to save the world by becoming a securities lawyer, and this is where everyone laughs, because we all know securities lawyers don’t save the world.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Which is our topic for today, securities law.
Katy Goshtasbi: Securities lawyer saving the world, we fooled you all by pulling you in on branding, we are going to talk about saving the world with securities law, yeah, there you go.
And I got to do that. I had a fantastic career as a securities lawyer. I put it up there and I manifested exactly what I said I was going to do. So I was a federal lobbyist in Washington D.C. I got to see how that ugly sausage is made.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The swamp.
Katy Goshtasbi: That’s right. I get lots of requests to run the branding campaigns for political — aspiring political wannabes and I always say no, I have found one person that I would do that for to date, but I did that, and then I went into the Securities and Exchange Commission. I was there when Enron blew up. So I got to draft a lot of the good rules that put a lot of people in jail and slowly though, you guys, I was becoming jaded with —
Gyi Tsakalakis: What?
Katy Goshtasbi: Yeah, right, I was becoming completely jaded with the legal profession, financial services. I knew Bernie Madoff, for instance, and my husband always says please don’t tell people you knew Bernie Madoff, but that’s why I say it, because we were a very small group of regulators and regulated and we had a lot of respect for him. So it left me jaded and so I kept doing what I was doing and put band aids over everything. And then I went from the SEC to a major law firm, in their D.C. office and I switched hats and my clients all were Franklin Templeton, Fidelity, all the big boys.
It was always me and a bunch of men twice my age and it was along this path that I noticed that I was giving a lot of advice, branding advice now I noticed, but it was just advice to people on how I should my career go, what should I be doing, how did you get that client, how did you get promoted, how did you go from this job to that job, and I would take people to lunch and say look, I have got an hour, I have got to get back to work, here is what I am doing; try it on, if it works for you, great; if not, we will talk about it and we will go to lunch again.
And so that’s how my second career was really born. There are a lot of lawyers in D.C. and it was a thriving practice, but I didn’t realize there was this missing piece and what I was saying the people really didn’t fundamentally own and understand naturally for themselves, which I did.
So from the law firm I moved to California, I went to Newport Beach, because my father was getting ill and I decided I would move closer to my family, who had moved out here a long time ago from Indiana. And I was in-house. I was Investment Counsel at Pacific Life and I reported to two Boards of Directors and mutual funds and I had a great career.
So I had literally gone around the entire legal industry at this time, federal government, state government, law firm, in-house, the whole bit, and it was in-house, it was on a Wednesday as I my story goes, and I had spent about 15 hours drafting a little itty-bitty bit of a mutual fund prospectus, and that’s all you need to know about that. And I went home 9 o’clock at night, picture it, and I opened my own mailbox and there just so happens to be my own prospectus and what do I do. I reflexively throw it away because no one reads that stuff.
And that was my big aha moment you guys, standing there in the dark that oh my gosh, what if my entire quest to go to law school and make a difference wasn’t happening, I wasn’t serving my purpose in the world. And so I quit my job cold turkey. And it was a very personal decision and I am not advocating other lawyers do this; in fact, I advocate that they don’t, that they figure out their purpose within their practice and live a better life for it.
And so two years before the recession when I quit my career, no one was reinventing themselves, no one had to because corporate America was humming along. But I did, and I thought I was crazy, everyone else thought I was crazy, but I couldn’t see a way out.
And took a random Community College course taught by an ex-Harvard litigator of all people on natural talents and he really made me see that I have a natural talent, we all do, and if we do it we are going to live longer and be happier, but for my purposes he said, if you practice your natural talent along with whatever you are doing, it’s a no fail. People can tell you are good at it and they gravitate towards that, they want a piece of it and it’s exciting for them, your business can only grow.
And so I said I don’t have one of those natural talents, I am just a lawyer, and they spent 20 minutes on me because I was so pathetic you guys, I was so pathetic. I am so left brain, trapped in my left linear brain and here we are all these years later.
He called me up to the front of the room; Curtis was his name, the ex-Harvard litigator, and he said, please do this for your fellow lawyers. And I said do what? I was flummoxed, I was exasperated, I was angry and he said you will figure it out. And here we are 12 years later and the business has grown and iterated and I love what I do.
So there is my very long answer to your very short question.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. What a journey?
Katy Goshtasbi: It has been and it is and that’s the best part of life, right, the journey.
Kelly Street: Yes.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Absolutely.
Kelly Street: Yes. So Gyi and Katy, you two met at Clio, and here is my first introduction of the two of you. So Gyi, why don’t you — I would love it if you would talk about the Clio session and how kind of the things that stood out to you and then have Katy talk about — expand on it a little bit more, because I am just really excited and sad that I missed it.
Katy Goshtasbi: Well, actually Gyi and I know each other from the ABA Law Practice Division, so before Clio, but yes, you are right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Face-to-face, first interviewing session.
Katy Goshtasbi: That’s right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: But I was so impressed with the presentation. I was assigned for On the Road to interview you, so I was pointed in the right direction to come and attend and make sure that I was fully engaged, not that I am not fully engaged in other sessions, but I was so impressed, and I, as I often do in my personal life as well as on this podcast, I always come in with a bit of sometimes unhealthy skepticism, but I think in this case it was healthy, and it’s not — it’s more of an indictment on the people that try to make branding do too much I guess is the best way I can say it, but you all — I mean honestly, you could have given that presentation without even using the word branding.
Katy Goshtasbi: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It was about human interaction and emotion and I don’t want to get — I want to let you deliver your own thunder and lightning, but it really struck me how much of this is absent in so many professional contexts and what I would like to be able to do, at least in the short time that we have is for those that are coming to this with some skepticism about the word branding, I would love to challenge us to try not to use the word branding, I know is Kelly is going to be like no way, but I think focusing on that — helping folks understand that it’s not the hundreds of years that you have practiced your subject matter expertise always and where you went to law school and how hard you fight, because that’s what we see lawyers trying to project in the world and I am going to stop right there and let Katy take over.
Katy Goshtasbi: So thank you. Thanks for those kind words. Thanks for coming to my session. Yeah, there was about 500, 600 people there, it was packed and everybody was fully engaged and asking good questions so I consider that a success.
And thank you for your insight. I love skeptics. I love skepticism, because it’s just contrast as I say, it’s just people bringing their views and let’s talk about it and I can talk about it with 500 of my closest friends from the stage as a professional public speaker and I love the opportunity, because it isn’t — the word branding is overused.
12 years ago when — I felt like Al Gore when we first started using personal branding, finding the Internet, right, it was a term that was really a term of art and it was about the fact that I looked out — I have a very natural talent of being able to project out five years from now and being able to see what’s missing and what people need and what businesses need and what law firms need, and I saw that people were going to have to start relying on themselves, lawyers are going to have to start counting on their own professional credibility rather than the law firm name or the brand of the business. And that people had to start owning their stuff, and that’s really what the business is about.
When I speak, you can take the word branding straight out of there Gyi, very insightful of you to say, and I am sorry Kelly, you can keep using that word, but it really is about how are people able to unearth who they are naturally, the essence of who they are, find their truth in life, and be able to communicate that effectively to an audience in order to build power and influence, in order to gain favor, in order to get their agenda met, in order to drive results, in order to drive business to their door, to have a happier relationship and a better marriage, to communicate better, all of that, just because we are human and we can’t leave our human at home and we must bring the human to work and we can’t bifurcate who we are.
And oh, by the way, all this has to do with doing it authentically otherwise you are just somebody else trying to peddle their wares out there. And I want better for us lawyers because we are good human beings.
I had clients all morning before this interview and one of them was an employment lawyer and he represents the employees, because really we developed a story, he truly understands. He stands for the common person and the little man not being, pardon my language, can I say screwed on the air. Anyway.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I think so. I think so. We will tag this as explicit.
Katy Goshtasbi: And I told him, I said you are an educator, you must sit in front of these clients and educate them, every employee must know that we don’t just randomly sue our employer, and this is not okay and you must have merit and meaning behind what you are standing behind.
So I tell all my clients, all my lawyer clients to go out there and educate and be part of this system that’s better, rather than adding to the problems we have in society in corporate America.
And so that’s what this session is about, really getting people to own their strengths and understand who they are, and then I bring my research into it around stress and self-confidence and we can talk about that whenever you are ready to talk about that.
Kelly Street: I normally am the light and fluffy one and usually I am like oh, branding and whatever —
Gyi Tsakalakis: That makes me the heavy one.
Kelly Street: And content. I mean light and fluffy; you are dark and crusty.
Gyi Tsakalakis: How do you all know me so well?
Kelly Street: No. Anyway, so I normally tend to be that on this show, but I have to say I can see how lawyers would have a challenge with the idea of branding and how light this does seem, so how do you — how would you communicate the importance of having a brand and also identifying, saying, hey, well I can pick this out from your law firm or the way you practice and so this is how you can think about “brand” without calling it branding.
Katy Goshtasbi: Yeah, so good question. None of this — nothing in life has to be so freaking heavy, right? Like one of my other clients this morning, I am just drawing on all my clients this morning was like, I can’t figure out this purpose of mine in life, and it’s been years we have been working on this. I am like it doesn’t have to be so heavy. I am serving my purpose, maybe your purpose is just to show up happy everyday and that’s good enough for the world. Nothing has to be so darn heavy. but we are left linear brain people and we are analytical and we just kill everything with the thought.
So branding — personal branding, the definition is very easy, it’s unearthing your unique and relevant attributes, what’s most unique and relevant to you, okay, really relevant though. We don’t just grasp at straws, because I am very intentional about the plan we develop for our lawyers. So what’s unique and relevant about you? That requires you having clarity and understanding who you are.
So Kelly, I think you said by having a brand; everyone has a brand, you just have to discover it, unearth it, that’s your truth really, right? So lawyers are like oh, this is getting too mushy for me. It’s really not, it’s just the way human nature works and we think and we process data, but it’s so much easier to rest in our left linear brain and just keep thinking about substantive work, securities law, A plus B equals C. That doesn’t really drive the agenda of making us be able to drive business to the door and make more money. It doesn’t. You have to be able to do the substantive law, but you have to get all this stuff down because it serves as the foundation for you being able to make money off of your substantive knowledge. End of story.
So first part of the definition is who are you and do you have clarity around who you are, your natural attributes, your strengths, the relevant ones.
And then the second part is let’s get rid of those subconscious blocks, they keep you from being able to take those attributes and get people’s attention with them, okay? And everyone has subconscious blocks, and I always say this from the stage, mine is that I am an immigrant and I must not be good enough, okay?
Now, is that real, is that true? Of course not. Look at me. I am running a thriving business, everything is good, of course I am good enough, but the subconscious block comes from our stories, from our daddy issues as people say. I mean I am not a therapist, but 100% of everyone tells me the work we do is therapeutic, because it has to be, because we are utilizing, we are tapping into who people are in order to get the results they want and have them make more money and be more successful.
So what are those subconscious blocks? And so that’s where it gets a little painful for people. I always tell all my clients, you are brave, my clients are brave and courageous, they are practicing law and yet they are still showing up, and being willing to look at themselves. So nothing is broken in my world, none of my clients are broken, they are all going from good to great, or great to greater. That’s really what fundamentally a fantastic brand is, something that we are always evolving and as Gyi said, I always call it version 1.0 because it’s an iterative process, you can never get it wrong, but you can never get it perfect, it’s just growth, right, and growth comes through change, which is my expertise, and so we have to look at the subconscious blocks.
And then the third part of the definition is now that you know who you are and you have unearthed it and you have gotten rid of those blocks that keep you from successfully doing it over and over again, because we don’t recreate the wheel in my world, very pragmatic, I figure out the formula and then we put it out there to make money. And then the third part is how does your audience view them? Your audience could be your spouse, if you are trying to get a date, it could be that. It’s anything in your life, but you have to get that audience feedback in order to use data points in order for us to be able to iterate again and keep growing.
So if you are not one for iteration and growth and change, you are not going to like my process, but you are probably not also thriving right now as it is if you are not willing to at least engage more in growth and an iterative process and change, because dynamic brands change and dynamic brands are willing to grow.
So that’s how I define a brand and I make it fun and light, because it’s supposed to be fun, otherwise it’s just too heavy and business is not meant to be so stressful. If you are not having fun in businesses, I always say you are stagnating and the stress is too high and people can’t function under that stress and I can’t handle having one more lawyer commit suicide through the press or through personal knowledge, it’s just wrong.
Frankly, no one should have to be going through that in life because of stress of business, it’s just wrong and so that’s my personal mission as well.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Way to keep it light, no. But I would — one sub-point you made that I would like to kind of pull out here, I don’t want to spend a ton of time on it, but I think it’s important because I do think a lot of lawyers think like this, is you use the word bifurcation, especially as it relates to branding, personal brand, firm brand, and so a little plug for the 2019 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, that’s a lot of words.
But the Marketing and Communication Technology Chapter, one of the things that they ask is do you use Facebook professionally and the answer is 31% use it professionally. Then they ask do you use Facebook personally, 85% use it personally. And so I was just having this conversation and it’s like I think you are missing the point here, right? When you are out there in the world as you, with your personal B word, you are using it professionally if you are using it to build relationships, right?
Katy Goshtasbi: Absolutely. You can’t leave part of yourself at home. And so when we go into organizations and I work with more than law firms, it’s a whole employee process.
I think a major company, Uber has just launched actually the whole person, bring your whole employee to work, and that’s what happens. When I go into firms and organizations, the number one thing employees tell me is I feel isolated, I feel alone. I am like you have got a million people around you and you have got the Internet, you can tap into anybody at any time, and they are like nope, it just feels very lonely.
So people aren’t able to actually figure out who they are because they feel isolated, and so when you tell them that they are bifurcated and bringing only parts of themselves to work, then they feel even more lonely because it’s unauthentic and it’s fake. So part of my process is to let them just be who they are and really bring their best selves to the practice of law and let them off the hook.
So my formal research around stress and self-confidence, which I did 10 years ago at UCLA with a neuroscientist, shows that as our stress goes up, our self-confidence goes down. So there is a direct inverse correlation between stress and self-confidence, and everyone’s stressors go up because it just happens, even for the most self-confident people. And so when your stress is going up because of traffic, of kids, of deadlines, of how do we expand the practice, your self-confidence is dropping, it must proportionally drop, and that means your brand value diminishes, which really means you are not emotionally resonating with your audience.
There is only one emotion that sells anything, as I teach it, and that’s happiness. So at some level do you as a lawyer make me happy, okay, which is why I keep things light. And so when this does not happen, then people’s stress is extremely high and they feel bifurcated even more as humans versus lawyers and they fail in all sorts of ways because their self-confidence is low.
So those numbers Gyi are astounding and they shouldn’t be that way frankly, because you just show up as you wherever you go and bring your best self.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Bring your human with you.
Katy Goshtasbi: Bring your human with you. Bring your best self with you, yes.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Love it. I think that should be the title of this episode, bring your human with you to work.
Katy Goshtasbi: I like it. Yeah, I mean it’s true.
Gyi Tsakalakis: As an SEC lawyer. How to make people happy as an SEC lawyer?
Katy Goshtasbi: Well, I don’t know if you remember in my audience and it’s a typical question, I said at some level do you bring happiness, and I said now, look, I get all you divorce lawyers are going I really don’t deal in happiness. And remember some woman stood up and said, I am a divorce lawyer and that was exactly my question and everybody erupted out laughing.
Yes, I get it, but so if Coke and Pepsi can sell thousands and thousands of coke bottles an hour with the tagline deliver happiness, open happiness, drink happiness. Starbucks does the same thing, drink some cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with joy, their holiday cup is sitting right here in front of me and I am sure it’s got some, we wish you a merry coffee, right? So they get that the world revolves around the infusion of happiness. So even if you are a divorce lawyer or a securities lawyer, how do you bring joy into people’s lives at some level, are you elevating their moods, because I have got a lot of places I could spend my money and I need a lawyer, right?
The only point of reference I have, because I am going to assume every lawyer ceteris paribus is substantively able is, do you make me happier at some level. I have got to spend time and money on you, you better at least make me feel better than before or the next guy who is not going to elevate my mood. So that’s all I am asking for.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. No, it makes so much sense too, because again, maybe there we can talk about the spectrum of legal services consumers’ sophistication levels, but most of them, you are right, there is a built-in presumption that you are competent to practice law, you are going to choose the person that makes you happy.
Katy Goshtasbi: Absolutely. And that’s the only way we buy anything. I mean you guys have all heard this by now, it’s Marketing 101, but I don’t think the law firm community has heard this, enough at least. People don’t buy on logic, so we buy to express our values, we buy based on emotional gut or response, which is what all the products industry relies on. And then we justify our purchase, you have heard this before, through logic, it’s the way the world works.
So why do lawyers and law firms fight this and keep selling from logic, right? I am a really good lawyer, I am really good at what I do, I am not going to sell because I was trained to be a proficient lawyer. Well, great. I have a finance degree and an econ degree and a law degree, but I sell off of happiness, because I am not trying to make this complicated for myself. I am good at what I do and I know people need me and so I am going to tell you that I am going to make it easy for you, you are going to feel better, you are going to make lots of money after working with me and I am good at what I do and I am going to sell it from a place of elevating your mood when I do. Because it should not be that complicated, but we make it so complicated for ourselves as lawyers.
Kelly Street: All right, that is a great place for us to take a little break and hear from our sponsors, and when we come back I have a question about adaptability.
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Kelly Street: And we are back from break. Okay, we were talking about happiness, but I have a different question that is about staying on course as I take us off course of happiness and I am wondering, Katy, you mentioned earlier adaptability and branding I think can be a little bit of a challenge when you think about being adaptable and you are like okay, well, I have got my brand and I want to be true to my brand, but yet technology is changing my practice or I have a new associate coming in or a new partner coming in who we need to kind of re-brand to think about adding that other person in.
So how do you be adaptable with your brand, but yet stay on kind of a path and moving forward?
Katy Goshtasbi: So excellent question Kelly. So the phrase I coined is adapt and adopt and that’s really why I was at Clio, because when Jack Newton and I talked, there is a technology issue that I hit upon. When new technology is brought into law firm or any organization for that matter, it’s a change, right? And so whether it’s mergers and acquisition, people getting fired, hired or new technology, people always say this technology doesn’t work, and I say why, and they say because my employees and lawyers aren’t using it, so it must stink. And I am like what if it was the lawyers because they weren’t adaptable. They weren’t willing to use the technology well.
And so the technology companies are like please, this isn’t us, our technology platforms work, but we just don’t know how to say it to the law firms who is paying us a lot of money that hey, Clio is beautiful, it works. Maybe your lawyers aren’t really equipped well to deal with change and to adapt and adopt in a way that’s efficient, effective, and everyone is happy.
So the real goal is to have a brand where you are willing to change, and really by brand, let’s just forget that word, sorry Kelly, it’s really a mindset shift, right, around being someone who is nimble and who will pivot quickly and who doesn’t have to cross those t’s and dot those i’s so hard. And look, I get it, I am a lawyer too, perfectionism is part of our nature because that’s what makes us good as lawyers, but when we don’t adapt we can’t adopt and we look like we are not malleable and flexible and clients don’t like that, right, who likes that, right. And the worst part of that is we get left in the dust, right.
If your people aren’t going to adapt to Clio, for instance, or any software or anything technology oriented, then what are you going to do, go back to using a typewriter? I mean is that how it’s going to work. I guess you can, it’s just — it’s not really — it’s not a super sexy brand to sell and it’s not efficient and effective anymore in this era. So let’s be pragmatic about it.
So there is a balance though about knowing who you are and your level of ability to change and that’s all I am asking for. All of my clients know this about me. I never push people outside of their comfort zone, because I want them to do things at their own pace and just bump up against that comfort zone to see where they could iterate a little bit in order to find something fresh for themselves. And also that makes the practice of law more exciting, right, when we are willing to change and adapt and look at things differently, then the same-old, same-old becomes a little exciting and a little creative.
And all of that at the end of the day is about healing, finding a way to self-heal ourselves, which is what my next book is going to be about. All of this can be wrapped up very nicely with a bow called self-healing. How do you develop a brand as a lawyer, as a person, capturing all the stuff we talked about to provide yourself with tools to heal. You are in control of this bus, no one else controls you.
He knows I talked about the five Cs in my talks and in my trainings, the biggest C is control, and in order to stay in control of yourself, you have to be able to heal yourself and take care of yourself, and part of that is adaptability.
Kelly Street: Yeah, well said. I like that. I am wondering about, you are talking about adaptability and what is your quote again?
Katy Goshtasbi: Adapt and adopt.
Kelly Street: Yes. So when I am thinking about this B word, because I am — or strengths, we can just call them strengths.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Nice Kelly. We have converted you.
Katy Goshtasbi: I call it natural talents, but you can call it whatever you want. That’s the human beings.
Kelly Street: When you are talking with a lawyer about their natural talents, how do you translate that from — you mentioned it a bit in talking about hey, you feel really passionately about helping the employees so here is how you do this, but how do you take that identification of strength and natural talents to this is how you put this out in the world, in your daily practice, or this is how you showcase in your logo or on your website that practical application of talents?
Katy Goshtasbi: Excellent, excellent question. So first of all, I don’t do anything. I am the conduit really. And I am not trying to be humble, although that’s a great brand, but I truly mean it. I empower my clients to do that, because I always say, I am not here to fish for you, I will not be here forever, I can’t be here forever. I am here to put the right tools in your toolbox so you are motivated with self-confidence to do it for yourself and go put it out there.
So natural talents are not what people think they are. In my world natural talents are not, I am a good litigator or I am good at fact-finding; natural talents are way broader and bigger. It’s about the whole person, like we are talking about.
So for instance, let’s take a client who has a real keen sense of empathy and compassion, and how do I know this, because they write me the whole story, it’s a very private story, but we parse through the story, and my natural talent is to pull out all their underutilized skills and assets and put a bow on them, like you are asking me about.
So say they are compassionate and have empathy and say they are a, oh, I don’t know, let’s pick a practice area, let’s stick with employment law, how are we going to constantly bring that and package that into the message of who they are as a person, and then people can naturally draw the lines that hey, I am empathetic. When I was in fourth grade I saw somebody get hit by a bus and I ran out and I helped them, something like that, I am just making stuff up, I am exaggerating, obviously no one in fourth grade would go through that hopefully, but it really made me — have a — flex my muscle of empathy and I really have compassion for people’s plights and the little man, because I kind of grew up in that atmosphere and so that’s what makes me a good lawyer, right, and people are like, it does?
Two plus two does not equal four in my world, right? We extrapolate everything we work on, the subconscious processing of information in my world. So that’s why I ask people to suspend their left linear brain judgment and observations and jump in the right creative brains with me, which is painful.
By the way, if you are not uncomfortable with any of my work, then you are not growing. I say that to my audiences. Gyi heard that when I spoke. Discomfort is where it’s at. So having you go in your right creative brain and saying, you want me to talk about empathy and compassion is my natural talent? I am like yeah. Like what does that have to do with the practice of law? I am like everything. You could pick any other natural talent too that would fit, because it’s not about the practice of law, it’s about who you are and how you sell yourself to me.
And the consistent message then that we take from there Kelly, like you asked, and we put it everywhere. We put it in the verbal message, on the website the message, we imbue it in all of their communication, and by the way, the website and the logo, all that stuff comes last. I don’t actually even design the websites and do the logos, I package it all up and the website companies and the hardcore branding people really love me for that, because it’s very easy for them at that point to take that. But it’s about then how people show up literally, physically show up and start selling themselves, Kelly, because they start to own their natural talents.
We run a program called Branding Bootcamp, which for seven months, once a month for just two hours people go through group training for this and we just ended one on Friday and that’s why it’s so fresh in my mind, and at the end I go around and I ask people what’s one profound thing you learned, and one person said, you know, I learned that I have unique abilities and that my story matters and that I matter.
And that in and of itself brings everyone’s natural talent to light, because whatever it is it’s laying dormant and it’s not only going to make you a better lawyer, it’s just going to make you a better human. And so by extrapolation it comes out and people start owning it in all the medium that you talked about. Does that make sense?
Kelly Street: Yeah, I think that’s great. I think that’s a really more — a much more tangible way of putting it, because I think people, whether it’s under the surface or right on the surface, people sometimes know what they are good at and sometimes need a little help digging it up, but it can be difficult to understand how your empathy can translate into your business. And sometimes I think lawyers can worry that empathy is a good one, that it can be a hindrance on your practice, but you can find a way to bring that out while still protecting yourself and not getting too stressed out and all of the things you are talking about.
Katy Goshtasbi: Yeah, absolutely. If you don’t have empathy and compassion for your audience, I call it tactical empathy, it’s not my term, it’s Chris Voss’ term, Chris Voss wrote this great book called, ‘Never Split the Difference’. He was an FBI interrogator and I love the phrase tactical empathy that he uses, because it’s really about, you don’t have to agree with me, you don’t have to necessarily share my views, but you have to understand my side in order for you to tactically understand where I am going next, and to be able to gauge my responses to the dialogue that we are having, and to be able to know what to do next in order for you to get the results you want.
So that’s tactical empathy and everyone needs that. So that’s just being able to sit in your prospective clients’ shoes. And when people don’t sign up for that, don’t want to do that, they are shooting themselves in the foot because it’s an easy way of converting leads into clients and into getting people to love you and to promote you and to remember you frankly.
So yeah, that’s a good example.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I know, and just to kind of bring that with some data, that was one of the things that they talked about from the Clio Legal Trends Report is that a lot of legal services consumers, potential clients, human beings, they will stop looking for a lawyer once they find the one that they like and if that’s the first one they find and they happen to like them, that’s the end of their search, because that’s the most important thing for them.
Katy Goshtasbi: Absolutely. It’s all about likability, like I talked about that day as well, and I always talk about, are you likeable, do you stand out enough for me to remember you and are you likeable.
When I was on the Hill with the lobbyists, the number one rating we looked at for political candidates were the likability ratings. We didn’t look at the platforms, we didn’t look at anything like that, we are like their likeability rating was high, they were doing well in the polls; if it was low they weren’t. It’s pretty basic human nature. We just fight it as lawyers, because it’s uncomfortable, right? When I ask you how likeable are you, that should make you really uncomfortable, not because you have done something wrong, but because it’s just like a tough question to want to look at.
So people like bury their head in the sand and go, I am just going to stick to this tough substantive stuff, I am really good at tax law or I am a really good litigator. But I always bring up the example of one of the biggest and most successful litigators I know who brought billions of dollars into his firm and now he is chair of the firm, it’s a global firm. Before he was chair of the firm he was chair of litigation and he would go around every morning and he would ask his staff, are you happy, are you happy today? And the lawyers would say, it’s really weird, he comes every day to our door and knocks on it and asks us if we are happy, and I am like, you know, there is something he is on to that you are not getting.
I am telling you the happiness quotient is extremely important to the practice of law, to reducing your stress, but it’s also important to converting and it also goes to the likability factor. If you are happy, then you are likeable, right?
So it’s on a spectrum though. I don’t want anybody listening to this to think, oh my gosh, now I have to put on my clown nose and grab my pom-poms; no, it’s got to be authentic and it’s on a spectrum and it’s, are you happier, are you elevating my mood just a bit. Everything you can do around this is good enough. I don’t want you to add more stress to your life trying to figure it out.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Awesome. Well, we are winding down here. We are almost out of time. Kelly, any final thoughts or questions?
Kelly Street: Oh, I just — okay, I have one really quick question, I want to be respectful of your time, but I am wondering when it comes to natural talents and using those in your law practice, how do you advise lawyers use those when kind of vetting clients?
Katy Goshtasbi: Yeah, I think what you are saying, if I am understanding you is, the answer is that lawyers have to make sure that they are picking clients that are good clients, okay? So if I hold myself out as a lawyer that’s aggressive and tough, I am pretty sure if I am saying those are my natural talents that I am going to attract clients like that, who are aggressive and tough with me, with me as the lawyer, right?
So it’s a problem. It’s a problem because I think we need to really with authenticity own who we are in our natural talents and not just put out there what we think people are going to want from us. You don’t know, which actually brings us to a great place to bring this home with is about being present and listening, okay? I watch so many lawyers who can’t hold my eye contact, who can’t hold my gaze, and a lot of what I teach, to Gyi’s point is, all communication, right, effective nonverbal and verbal communication, which brings the package together as a brand.
So if you are not listening, if you are not present, how are you going to really be able to figure out if that prospective client is a good one for you? At the end of the day I get it’s about money, but it can’t only be about money, because that’s a bad leading indicator, because you are going to get tough, difficult clients that you don’t want. So the biggest gauge is using your own, who you are and your own talents.
And let’s make it one step easier. I give everyone five adjectives in my programs, and I actually did this from the stage at Clio, just because I want people to actually have a take away without me even being able to coach them, but it’s good enough for that moment. But part of that is, what are your three values, if you don’t know your values that lead to your personal adjectives, then you are going to have a hard time running anybody through your filter of natural talents.
So I always say I have four values; freedom, fairness, faith and fun, and if prospective clients don’t go through that filter, then I don’t work with them. And it also then helps me actually own my natural talents, because my natural talents aren’t necessarily my values, but they represent my values.
So I hope that helped Kelly. I could talk about this for ten hours. This is why I am a trainer and a researcher, but I am hoping I gave everyone at least a bit of content so that they have a good start and they have at least introspection and some tangible bits to ponder for themselves.
Kelly Street: Yes, that was super helpful, the idea of a filter I think is something that can be hard to put in place, because you worry about excluding people, but is so necessary for someone in businesses.
Katy Goshtasbi: Yeah, you can’t be all things to all people.
Kelly Street: No, no. So I know you have a webinar coming up and we want to make sure people get directed to that. So can you share your webinar and where people can contact you?
Katy Goshtasbi: Sure, absolutely. So two things people are always asking me, what is your philosophy and what are these teachings of yours, because they are very different, like Gyi said, he kindly pointed out, I am not your traditional marketing person at all. And the second question they ask me, what is this Branding Bootcamp?
So Branding Bootcamp is a program, like I said that we have been running for a decade for law firms and people from all walks of life that want to learn the material. So I do a one hour webinar, 45 minutes to an hour once a month; we are skipping December because it’s the holidays, but January 10, 2020 at 11:00 Pacific. It’s free. And I give you all this content in a parsed out manner. It’s a little more palpable for people, because they can see the screenshots and follow along the presentation.
And then I also explain what Branding Bootcamp is for those that are interested or just want to find out what it is and then we offer that to them at a discount. Branding Bootcamp starts January 24.
So that’s coming up January 10, the free webinar. If they want they can go to our website, which is purisconsulting.com, and there will be lots of information on there, or they can contact you guys and you guys can put them in touch with me. It’s just [email protected], and we can give them access to the free webinar and the free recording that comes with it afterwards on Zoom.
And there’s all sorts of free content also out there and I am happy to share my summary of research on stress and self-confidence with folks. You guys can share it with them or they can email me directly, and whatever they need, whatever you need to feel supported so that you can carry on as a good healthy lawyer, knowing that you are in control.
Kelly Street: So great. Thank you so much Katy. I was so great to meet you and I hope our listeners got as much value out of the B word/natural talent/strengths as I did. So thanks for sharing.
Katy Goshtasbi: You are welcome. My pleasure. Thanks for having me you guys. I hope it was helpful.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Thanks again everybody for listening and please don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify or wherever you love to listen to podcasts. Have a great day.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: We should have sang a Thanksgiving song. Do you know any Thanksgiving songs?
Kelly Street: Turkey for you, Turkey for me.