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Michael Fanuele

Michael has been a Marketing Strategist, working at ad agencies around the globe. He’s also been a client, helping...

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Judson Pierce

Judson L. Pierce is a graduate of Vassar College and Suffolk University Law School where he received his Juris...

Episode Notes

Can lawyers do better work if they approach it with a marketer’s mindset? In this edition of Workers’ Comp Matters, Judson Pierce fills in as host and talks with Michael Fanuele about his career as a marketer and his new book, Stop Making Sense: The Art of Inspiring Anybody. Michael believes lawyers can be better communicators and create more impactful arguments if they work to inspire others. He shares insights from his book and tips for applying them to the practice of law.

Michael Fanuele is president of Media Assembly, a marketing and advertising firm in New York City.

Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.


Workers Comp Matters

How Inspiring Others Makes You a Better Lawyer





Intro: This is Workers Comp Matters, hosted by attorney Alan S. Pierce, the only Legal Talk Network program that focuses entirely on the people and the law in workers’ compensation cases. Nationally recognized Trial attorney, expert, and author, Alan S. Pierce, is a leader committed to making a difference when Workers Comp Matters.




Judson Pierce: Welcome to another edition of Legal Talk Network and Workers Comp Matters. My name is Judson Pierce filling in for Alan Pierce, who’s probably signing himself on a beach in Florida right now. We’re talking to you from lovely Salem, Massachusetts. I’m an attorney at Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano here in Salem and we are bringing you another edition of Workers Comp Matters with guest Michael Fanuele.


Hello Michael.


Michael Fanuele: Hello Judd, it’s fantastic to be here. Thanks so much.


Judson Pierce: Thanks for being here. Mike has been a friend of mine for 30 years. We were college grads from Vassar College and for the last several years, he has been a marketing strategist guru working at ad agencies around the globe.


Michael’s experience in this field is amazing and I just want you Mike if you could, just give us a little bit of your background and how you’re doing and where you’re working these days.


Michael Fanuele: I’d be happy to though I’m not sure it’s amazing and I’m not sure I’m a guru. I have been lucky enough to work at ad agencies for most of my career in New York, in London, in Minneapolis as a brand strategist, helping companies figure out how they could make deeper and more valuable connections with their customers, and I’ve had the chance to create a few pretty, pretty fun campaigns including the most interesting man in the world for Dos Equis and we have the meets for RVs and the fun work for Cadillac and Volvo and Charles Schwab.


After doing that for a while though I crossed the Rubicon and I became a client myself. I was running creative marketing at General Mills helping big brands like Cheerios and Nature Valley get their groove back.


I left that job though to do what I had wanted to do for many, many years, which was write a book, and I published a book last summer called, “Stop Making Sense: The Art of Inspiring Anybody” which you won’t be surprised to hear is a book about inspiration and how it works and how we can move one another using emotions.


And now I am President of the media agency called Assembly which is here your New York but we’ve got offices around the country.


So, that’s my career in a nutshell.


Judson Pierce: Yeah. It’s been an amazing career in a nutshell, and you were kind enough to speak to a gathering a group of lawyers in Philadelphia last month, thank you very much for coming to that, and I think you were probably the most inspiring speaker at that conference to a group of lawyers who really –


Michael Fanuele: That’s very nice, that’s very nice, Judd.


Judson Pierce: It’s so true. I mean we are in our offices. We are with our clients and we are in courtrooms across the country and we rarely think about are we doing the most to not only inspire the judges or inspire our clients, but inspire ourselves to dig deeper into the law, dig deeper into our business practices and strategies, and I think that you’ve really opened up the book to that, to put it mildly, you have a book on that, which everyone should order on Amazon like immediately after this program by the way.


What would you say in terms of helping the legal market, the small firm practitioner, the people like myself and like the others who might be listening who are representing the injured worker? What type of synergy might there be between what you do and what we do?


Michael Fanuele: It’s an interesting question, right, because on the one hand marketing wizards seem to be people who trade in emotions, passions and all of those energies that obscure cold hard logic and facts and a reason, which is the realm of the legal world.


But I wonder if it’s a little more complex than that. You see, I as a marketer and you guys as lawyers and probably all of us as human beings are really obsessed with the same question, which is how do we make each other move?




How do you get other people to do whatever it is you think they ought to do and it might be buy this product, it might be quit this defendant, it might be grant this motion, it might be vote for this candidate, it might be order pizza with pepperoni on it for dinner. But all of us in every aspect of our lives are obsessed with how do we get people to do what we think they ought to do.


And I guess many millennia ago the answer was simple. You use sticks and stone to brute force in arithmetics of pain and pleasure. But about 2,400 years ago this guy Aristotle came along and he said, oh, that’s doing it the wrong way.


Judson Pierce: This guy.


Michael Fanuele: This guy, this guy Aristotle came along, listen, you’re doing it the wrong way cave people, because we are rational animals, we human beings. And if you want to change people’s behavior what you’ve got to do is change their mind, and you change minds using reason and evidence and logic and argument and facts and all the goodies, all the goodies in logic. You know if A = B and B = C and A = C, it’s sort of right, right there in Aristotle in a book he published called, called Rhetoric.


And essentially for the last 2300 years, we’ve all bought into that. We’ve bought into the idea that if you want somebody to do what you want them to do, you’ve got to make a case for it, and again, that’s not just something lawyers do in courtrooms, it’s something we do when we’re arguing with our friends about what movie we want to see on a Saturday night or it’s something that marketers try to do when they’re trying to get somebody to buy something or certainly we’ve seen it in some of the presidential debates so far this year, you make a case.


The problem is it doesn’t work and we know it doesn’t work because we’ve read all of the books over the last decade. This golden age of neuroscience is illuminated how we really do make decisions.


So we know that we blink that we are nudged. Daniel Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize talks about System 1 thinking, that unconscious emotional, impulsive thinking that drives most of the big decisions we make. Oh we certainly get to a point where we weigh the facts and look at pros and cons, those are very, very weak forces in the face of our instincts, in the face of our guts and our prejudices.


So it’s terrifying to imagine this on the one hand, but everything we’ve been taught about logic and reason might sound so logical and reasonable, but it very rarely moves people. It never inspires people, it never gets the best out of people.


Judson Pierce: One of the things I really enjoyed about your book was you talked about your experience watching U2 Live for the first time and you talked a lot about music in your book. Can you give our listeners a little bit of a taste of that first experience and what you took away from seeing Bono Live on stage?


Michael Fanuele: Sure. Sure. So I was forced to go see U2. I hated Bono. I thought he was a pontificating loudmouth as sort of ego in leather trousers and weird sunglasses, but it was a dear friend’s bachelor party, I had to go see him.


And the show was exactly everything I feared it would be, with Bono preaching about ending racism, sexism and homophobia, malaria, HIV and allergies like you name it, Bono was against. Which is exactly why I detested the man, and yet I found myself transported.


I was standing and my hands were in the air and I wanted to sign up for Amnesty International and I wanted to quit my job and I wanted to go to Africa. I was thinking holy crap, what is happening to me. Like how have I gone from hating this man to wanted to change my life in the course of an hour and a half of music.


And as when I got very, very interested in this idea of inspiration and face it, nothing moves us quite like music does, like music literally changes what we do with our bodies, the way we tap our feet, the way we dance, the way we run, music is such a powerful force. You might have heard about this famous behavioral psychology study called, the Eye of the Tiger Study.


In Japan in the 80s, they took a huge team of telemarketers and they divided them into two groups.




And one group, before their shift, listened to Eye of the Tiger and one group didn’t, and the team that listened to Eye of the Tiger, you know how this ends closed more sales deals and they’ve replicated this study again and again in different cultures, across different generations, with people who know the movies, the Rocky movies and those who don’t.


The same thing happened again and again. There is something about the propulsive nature of that song that makes people more irresistible sales people and there are other songs that get you to run faster and other songs that make you to swagger a little bit more, and other songs that make you cry and other songs that make you laugh.


Music has this amazing capacity to literally move us, to change our feelings, to change our moods, to change our behavior. And I think what I’ve learned is that music does that by not trying to tangle with our thinky-thinky prefrontal cortex. Music sort of mainlines itself straight to our deeper, more visceral, more emotional parts.


It doesn’t get caught up in a tangle of argument, the way arguments do. And I think we as communicators have a lot to learn from that. When you approach somebody with an argument, you insist on an argument back, that’s the way it works, do this because I say this then they think, well, I don’t believe that so I won’t do this.


Judson Pierce: Right.


Michael Fanuele: But there’s something seductive and I use that word on purpose, there’s something seductive about the power of music that I think is deeply effective on changing the way people think and feel and behave.


Judson Pierce: Obviously, we can’t bring in a boom box or our mini, whatever portable listening music device we are — we’re using these days and plug it into the courtroom and play ‘Eye of the Tiger’ for the judge and get the judge to go our way and we can’t be like Ally McBeal in her great show and listen to the songs in our head whenever some situation arises.


Michael Fanuele: Right.


Judson Pierce: So how can we then use this power of say music or whatever else might you tap into that to get that level of energy to do our best work?


Michael Fanuele: Well, there are certainly times when we all need to rely upon what Daniel Kahneman called System 2 Thinking, which is that rational, reasonable, logical thinking, and then I imagine, and again, I’m sorry I don’t know much about your world, but there are times I imagine when you’re filing a brief, that you’re making an argument and the coin of the realm must be logical and reasonable.


But there are other times where I don’t know maybe there’s a close call, maybe there’s a jury you need to sway, maybe there’s a client or a defendant or a plaintiff that you need to sway in a certain way, maybe it is yourself before you march into that courtroom.


And in those moments when it’s sort of emotional go time, I think that reason, that logic that system 2 stuff gets in the way. So in my book I talk about these six skills of inspiration, the things to develop that help you get to a place where you’re capable of getting more out of yourself and more out of people because you are emotionally charged.


And one of them for example is all about ambition right, nobody is inspired to do small things, they’re inspired to do big grand delusional things. I saw this in my world of marketing. When a client, when a company, when a brand has a modest ambition, let’s grow sales 1.5% next quarter or when their ambition is hey, let’s launch this sub brand to a new demographic in a new market.


It might make perfect business sense but it doesn’t really result in the sort of marketing that moves people, and the brands that really do that kind of work or brands that think delusionally.


So Nike says they want to inspire the athlete in everybody and everybody who has a body is an athlete and Dove says, they want to make every woman in the world no matter her shape or size or color, feel beautiful.


Old Spice says, they want to take pimply-faced 14 year old boys and make them feel like strapping hulking men. These are delusions, they’re preposterous. But by being delusional, by being preposterous, they call forth what’s wonderful about people.


I mean Lincoln was a lawyer, wasn’t he?


Judson Pierce: I think he was.


Michael Fanuele: And you could trace. I think he was. You could trace the entire arc of the Civil War according to Lincoln’s ambitions becoming more grand and delusional, from can we have a compromise to let’s just stay together to let’s emancipate the slaves, to let’s be God’s perfect country on earth.




Judson Pierce: Oh my gosh.


Michael Fanuele: As Lincoln’s ambition became more delusional, he invested more people in fighting and ultimately succeeding. Small goals bring up a small mess of people, big goals bring out their grand F.


Judson Pierce: Before we move on and I want to tease this by saying, there was a — there was a beer that you helped immensely by targeting itself in a certain way. So before we have that beer, we’re going to take a quick break for a message from our sponsor. We’ll be right back.




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Judson Pierce: And we’re back with our special guest Michael Fanuele. Mike, it’s just so good to have you on the program because we’re talking about things that we lawyers don’t often think about, but we really should, not just as lawyers, but as human beings, as communicators, as partners, as parents, what you’re having to tell us right now really plays a role in all aspects of our lives.


And I do want to catch a beer with you right now. I wish I had one to open up, but you actually helped a beer company quite a bit not too long ago. Could you tell us a little bit about that campaign? What it was about and how that applies here?


Michael Fanuele: Sure, yes, it’s the Dos Equis story and it’s a good illustration of two principles of inspiration. So Dos Equis came to our ad agency with a very modest ambition. They wanted to be the second best selling premium imported Mexican beer in America, second best selling, and Corona was going to be number one, and they were going to be number two.


And Corona is about sunshine and the beach and chilling and Dos Equis wanted to be that nighttime and adventure and exploration. But of course, we quickly realized you don’t get to choose that. Nobody walks into a bar and says, can I have Corona or the number two.


They walk into a bar and there are dozens, there are hundreds of amazing options and they’re having them all. They’re having good beers and crappy beers and they’re having martinis and they’re doing Jägermeister shots and they’re having scotches and we shifted the brief.


We said instead of being the number two premium imported Mexican beer in America, be the most interesting thing in the bar, more interesting than the other drinks or brands, the people, the music, the stories, the jokes they were telling, be the most interesting thing and that’s delusional, but again, that’s how you create the most interesting man in the world, not some other interesting guy in a beer ad.


But there was another aspect of the story that might be useful for your listeners Jud and that is the importance and the power of breaking the conventional rules. Remember that campaign with the most interesting man in the world. He is an old man who says I don’t know anything about beer because I don’t really drink it.


It is the opposite of the way beer ads are supposed to behave. They’re supposed to have young cool people, there’s the type of 00:19:02 beer, people know the ins and outs. Here’s an old guy, he goes, you got me but I kind of like this one.


That moment of disruption, that moment of breaking the rules is so important if you want to move and inspire people, because when you show up in exactly –


Judson Pierce: It catches people’s attention.


Michael Fanuele: It is. It is and it’s not just attention getting, it’s opportunity making. So when you show up in a way that looks like you did yesterday and the day before and day before and the day before that, people don’t have a sense or an expectation that something new can happen. They’re literally in a rut, in a routine, this is the way it’s always been, their mind in a weird way are closed.


So breaking rules is really powerful and this happens in really subtle ways all the time as you know, right. When a coach says, hey team, 00:19:56 or when a manager says, hey, come into my office, take a seat and close the door.




Or when a boss comes to work and they’re not wearing a coat, a tie or she sits in a different area of the conference room at the conference table, than the boss usually sit, right these are a little subtle ways in which people show up to stir up some possibilities.


Judson Pierce: Yeah you also credit David Bowie as possibly bringing down the Berlin Wall. And that story that you wrote about in your book is so fascinating to me. Could you tell us a little bit about what happened there and it’s actually true, right?


Michael Fanuele: It is, it is, I didn’t credit Bowie was bringing down the Berlin Wall, Germany did. When he died the German Foreign Office, the German Foreign Office tweeted out, goodbye David Bowie, thank you for helping to bring down the Berlin Wall, you’re amongst heroes now.


And I didn’t remember that part of history. So I went back and tried to learn a little bit about story and quickly in the late 70s David Bowie was in a bad place, strung out, unhappy with his career and he went to West Berlin to record an album that he wanted to be his masterpiece.


And they were recording in a studio just a stone’s throw from the Berlin Wall itself. In fact it was an old run-down Nazi Ballroom, an old Nazi Party place, but with a hovel now. And Bowie had one song which was this really experimental instrumental number, and it had like whirring synthesizers and clanking ashtrays and it was really funky.


And one night as Bowie was mixing this, he looks out the window and against the Berlin Wall, he sees a man and a woman going at it, making out hot and heavy. And right above them he sees East German soldiers patrolling with their rifle, and that one image of love and romance and violence and guns all sort of wrapped together completely inspired him. And in a matter of minutes he wrote all of the lyrics to the song heroes, ‘We Can Be Heroes Just For One Day’, and that instrumental number got its words.


Now the next day when the band came back to the studio, David Bowie was so excited to share these words with them and the producer had a great idea. He said let’s make funky use of this giant ballroom. After each verse when he’s singing into the microphone David, I’m going to move the microphone ten feet away and then after the next verse ten feet away and after the next verse ten feet away, so that by the end of this song in order for you to be heard you’re going to have to be screaming. And if you listen to the recording by the end David Bowie is screaming his lungs out.


Now what’s interesting about this is that musicologists tell us that music itself which we think it’s such a weird and mysterious art is really just human sounds artfully arranged. So just so a climax in a song has the same sonic properties as a human scream, minor notes sort of echo babies crying. Then that’s really all that music is, it’s human emotion expressed in an interesting and artful way.


So, fast-forward to 1987, Bowie goes back to West Berlin to do a show and he’s playing right there at the Brandenburg Gate, right at the Berlin Wall and in the course of the show he hears that thousands of East Berliners had gathered on the other side of the wall. And they can’t see him and he can’t see them, but they could hear each other and for his encore he says, he’s going do his Berlin song, he’s going to do heroes.


And he is screaming through the Berlin Wall at these thousands of people oppressed by this system that they can be heroes, they can be heroes, they could take destiny into their own hand, even for a day.


Now literally three weeks later Ronald Reagan comes to that same spot. So Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall. And I might be naive Jud, but I’m going to believe David Bowie got the job done. I am going to believe that when those stones are chipped and chiseled and chunked away what people are hearing in their heads was David Bowie, not Ronald Reagan, because that’s the music does, screaming.


Judson Pierce: Oh man, I am with you on that. I am with you all the way on that as a big David Bowie fan. One of my first shows, ‘The Glass Spider Tour’ in 1987 and how big and outrageous that show was, yeah —


Michael Fanuele: Maybe that was the — maybe that was the same tour.




Judson Pierce: Could have been, right around that time. But what you said right there really sort of hit me and we’re close to closing but I really want to turn this back to what we do as lawyers every day, what we do is go out there and help folks who have been feeling oppressed by the system or their bosses have fired them just because they had an accident on the job or they feel betrayed because their credibility is being called into question and the insurance companies are saying that they didn’t actually get hurt.


So you really need folks to step in and be their heroes or even inspire your own clients to be their own heroes to really make some movement happen, right?


Michael Fanuele: It’s amazing Judd. I haven’t thought of that really critical part of the job that you guys do but it’s awesome. And you’re right at some point, you need to cross t’s and dot i’s but at some point, you’ve got a desire maybe even an obligation to make the people you defend, you advocate for feel, feel fantastic.


And one of the skills of inspiration that we haven’t talked at all about but it’s really, really germane to what you’re saying is actually all about love. It’s really hard to inspire people if they don’t feel like you are on their side. And the very best way of showing that you’re on their side is by identifying the thing about them that makes them awesome and unique and special, I call it their superpower. The ability to look at somebody and go I see something in you that is awesome and valuable and then tell them that, geez talk about something that’s disorienting, it breaks the rules and it’s emotional and like that’s when inspiration is possible.


Judson Pierce: Well that is absolutely amazing and something that we can all take a lot of consideration of and try to inform our practice more about it. It’s not about building our practices so much is just building up the people who are in our practices, our coworkers, our clients because then all of that sort of snowballs and materializes into a bigger practice if that’s what you want or just a more sound practice because there are a lot of detours that law takes us down and most of us I think became lawyers to do good and to inspire and to sort of bend the pendulum of justice a certain way when it gets to —


Michael Fanuele: The arch of justice.


Judson Pierce: Yeah when it gets too bent out of shape, you have to bring it back into equilibrium a little bit. So Michael again I want to just encourage, inspire everyone out there to go on Amazon or go to Barnes & Noble or go to your local bookshop and get ‘Stop Making Sense: The Art of Inspiring Anybody’ by Michael J. Fanuele. It is a fabulous read, a quick read and a fun read. You end up laughing kind of like I don’t know if you read him, Bill Simmons, he’s kind of a pop-culture guy who talks a lot about sports.


Michael Fanuele: Well, that’s flattering.


Judson Pierce: Well I hope you take it that way, a lot of people don’t like Bill Simmons so but as a Boston.


Michael Fanuele: I do, oh God and —


Judson Pierce: He knows basketball and I know you like sports too Mike like tennis and such but give my best to your family, Happy New Year to you and I just like to end this show by —


Michael Fanuele: Oh thank you Judd.


Judson Pierce: Yeah, thanking —


Michael Fanuele: Likewise.


Judson Pierce: Yeah, thanks so much.


Michael Fanuele: Thanks for having me on, this was a ton of fun.


Judson Pierce: It was, it was. Let’s do it again sometime soon. I want to thank our sponsor PInow, find a local qualified private investigator anywhere in the United States, visit to learn more.


And I’d like to thank Mike again for joining us. And for those of you listening out there, please tune in to our next show and go out there and make it a day that matters. From Salem this is Judson Pierce, take care.




Outro: Thanks for listening to Workers Comp Matters today on the Legal Talk Network, hosted by attorney Alan S. Pierce, where we try to make a difference in workers’ comp legal cases for people injured at work. Be sure to listen to other Workers Comp Matters shows on the Legal Talk Network, your only choice for legal talk.



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Episode Details
Published: January 23, 2020
Podcast: Workers Comp Matters
Category: Practice Management
Workers Comp Matters
Workers Comp Matters

Workers' Comp Matters encompasses all aspects of workers' compensation from cases and benefits to recovery.

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