the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
"when you become an Entrepreneur, keep sharp objects away from yourself"
Quote attributed to James Altucher.

Sometimes, that line has more meaning than I would care for; and far more truth than is spoken. When my colleague and friend suggested I partner with her and join her startup firm, I enjoyed the sound of carving your own way and genuinely helping people change their lives was the sort of drive my passion needed. For the first three months, financially and emotionally speaking, it was great - new clients being helped, my living expenses were covered and we were making a difference. We were "crushing it", in the business parlez.

Now at the eighth month, it's a different picture. Months behind on many living expenses, my colleague ill and falling behind, the economy soured and we have clients who are not paying and few new clients are too much of a risk.

What has changed? Life. Something that every business school fails to truly install in its' students. Sometimes the picture changes; sometimes, unforeseen events "crush" your firm. It is truly something that makes the heart heavy and your shoulders droop. Seeing only failure and ruin. Hence, keeping the pointies away.

And yet, despite the financial challenges, we have made a difference in people's lives. We have won Court cases in which there was little chance of prevailing, yet we did. We have patently waited for the right moment and then proceeded with a heady mixture of confidence, chutzpah and quiet civility and won the day. We have forced uncouth and unethical lawyers to think twice and then run away. Sometimes with determination, sometimes with quiet resolve and sometimes grabbing the sod by the collar and explaining the unvarnished facts (yes, to my embarrassment, I did this).
It is in this I am grateful and have an abundance of gratitude. And should we fail, we fail financially.

And I'll keep the sharp objects for later.

Mistakes.

Aug. 31st, 2016 12:54 pm
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
I realize I have made a mistake, not writing here in several months. The response, however, can be formulated into two responses: The legal mind, that is to say commit Hari-Kari; or, or the business mind and find a creative solution.

The results of mistakes have been the subject of much reflection on my part. Humanity will always make errors or mistakes. It is not a question of if but when. The true question is how we respond to errors and mistakes that effects our minds and outlook on life.

To the legal mind, perfection is a not only a goal to strive for, it is a ridge code; as rigid as ancient Japan’s Bushido. No imperfection is minor. And the slightest infraction is warranted as virtual death. The example I like to use is that a law firm created a template for a lawsuit which had a comma inserted into the wrong position on the template. This was used by the other side to discredit their entire body of work – arguing that such an error was sloppy workmanship and that all other arguments which followed should be treated as sloppy. This was the argument presented and came very close to destroying the other side’s case completely. Suffice to say, that template was changed shortly thereafter.

On the other hand, the business mind is not immune to mistakes or errors, rather, the response is like the ancient Chinese philosophy – danger leading to opportunity. The example I like to think of is a wine maker’s error which made him a tidy profit. He had used a different yeast for his Merlot instead of the recommended yeast, simply wanting to try something different. The result was, instead of a semi-dry to dry Merlot, he got a “sweet” Merlot. Almost 100 gallons. At first, he was ready to dump the entire lot, when his son gave him an idea: Sell it as a unique wine at a premium price. The result was a successful vintage which netting a very, very tidy profit. And still a popular wine today.

It’s very easy to get into the mind of errors and mistake are fatal – you never try anything new and you are hyper cautious. Granted, errors and mistakes should not be treated as casual for new opportunities as some errors and mistakes can prove fatal. The key is finding a balance. The lock which that key opens is, freeing your mind of fatality and gross risk taking.

If given the two, I shall look at errors and mistakes as chances to find opportunities. Without the mess of Hari-Kari.

A late note. I came across this quote from the painter, Vincent Van Gogh: "I tell you, if one wants to be active, one must not be afraid of going wrong, one must not be afraid of making mistakes now and then. Many people think that they will become good just by doing no harm – but that’s a lie, and you yourself used to call it that. That way lies stagnation, mediocrity."
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
I had a conversation about Justice and Peace today....while getting my shoes shined.

This may sound like another opening line from a bad novel, such as "it was a dark and stormy night...", but sometimes the most meaningful conversations can happen quickly and deeply without much planning, media, and political agenda. That is the way it should be.

You see, I had meant to shine my shoes for a week; and given I had an important meeting that afternoon, I did not have the chance to shine them the night before. So I decided on a lark to go to a shoe shiner to have them professionally conditioned and polished. I was lucky I was the last customer before his break and he graciously accepted.

I sat in the chair, handed me the paper, and began to quickly clean and condition before dressing the heals, toes and applying a good polish. It was in the moment he asked a curious question:

"What do you think about the goings on in Ferguson?"

By this he meant, in 2014, the shooting of suspect African-American Micheal Brown by a Police Officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the ensuing riots, and response by Federal and State officials. I liked this to the conversation twenty years ago, "So, what do you think of all the Troubles (in Norther Ireland)?" which should be avoided. However, I could not avoid.

I looked him in the eye, and told him: "My hope is the Court considers the matter carefully so that Justice my truly happen. Then peace may occur." Consider this. In a Just Society, we have the rule of Law, we replace violence and discord with an agreed harmony. I have always held this to be true. It must be, lest we descend into might equals right. Even in the face of perceived in equality, even if the government steps in to assist, the Rule of Law and the Courts MUST be the arbiter of Justice in a equatable and peaceful society and not the government or the mob.

The shoe shiner touched on a simple concept, fairness or equality in the Law.

A fair concept, to be sure. But I remembered a quote attributed to the Roman Philosopher and Businessman, Seneca, which said, "What is Just is not always fair, and what is fair, is never Just!". I believe this soundly. If I were to be just fairly, I would never obtain justice. I would be most likely condemned, or as I told the Shoe Shiner, "need to pack my asbestos underwear".

It was the most agreeable discussion for me, and a very good shoe shine.

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