A dear friend gave me great advice yesterday. We don’t have to give our trophies back. What she meant by that was that we don’t have to feel some need to repay recognition by pursuing the next great thing. She also suggested we don’t have to carry our trophies around with us everywhere we go (literally or figuratively) as that can burden us and prevent us from seeing/grabbing the next opportunity right in our midst.
That’s why these babies are going in the dining room. Lol. Because why not? Thank you, Crain’s Detroit Business, for both of these wonderful recognitions over the past couple of years. Really means the world to me. Back in my 20s, reading the print edition religiously, and studying lists like this, I wondered if one day I might be on one, let alone two! So thank you.
Thanks again to the organizations that allow me to be my best authentic self and contribute in ways that Crain’s deemed worthy of recognition: Clark Hill Law, Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, and Legal Marketing Association – LMA International. Grateful for the opportunity to serve and create. Thank you, Tanner Friedman’s Joel K. Epstein and Matt Friedman and colleague Leslie Smithson for deftly helping navigate the submissions processes.
Finally, lest you think I am not humble enough, Hudson is duly unimpressed. He is far more interested in the sprinkler guy tromping around in his beloved yard this afternoon. It has NOT been a quiet Saturday! I think he believes he’s a ferocious lion – but his “roar” is more like the incessant rat-a-tat of a cap gun. Woof!
Fab guests Laura Gassner Otting and Athena Dion joined Rob Kates and me to relive a bit of #LMA23. But quickly (sequins notwithstanding) the conversation turned toward authenticity and advocacy and framily. …
Learning that wonderhell isn’t a destination but a journey; that once you’ve achieved your goal living in a place of “how can I top that?” is doing yourself a disservice; that achievement is about what you learn about yourself and others in the process; that taking the pause after is ok and good because your next adventure will come naturally and organically through; and more.
Yes, we talked about Florida and how #dragisnotdangerous but also how this moment has revealed the good (and sometimes the disappointing) in those around us. We learned that “you don’t have to give your trophies back” after achievement. They’re yours. You earned them. Don’t feel an apologetic need to put them back in the universe. And that sometimes after achievement, a fulfilling path can be helping others then find theirs. And, oh, sometimes “rage and greed” (and borrowed couture) are the only spark one needs to go to that next level!
Shout outs during the show to Megan McKeon, Jennifer Petrone Dezso, Lee Ashby Watts, Danna Tauber, Rich Bracken, Jessica Aries, Holly Amatangelo, Lisa McDonald Kamen, Kevin Iredell, Jessica Haarsgaard, Susie Sexton, and more!
EXCERPT: The Legal Marketing Association – LMA Mid-Atlantic Region had a casual catch up today to recap on the brilliant conference nearly a month ago. Chris Fritsch of CLIENTSFirst led the panel of Tahisha Fugate of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, Bobbie Conklin of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, and Jason Levin of Ready, Set, Launch, LLC. There was also a brief cameo from Roy Sexton, current President of the Legal Marketing Association – LMA International.
The panel and Roy kicked off by all agreeing that the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in Hollywood, Florida was a HUGE success. Attendees included many first-time conference goers, and the panel all concurred with Tahisha when she described the conference as an inclusive experience with something for everyone.
The conference focused on so many topics under the umbrella of Legal Marketing. Sessions were interactive, engaging, and provided practical advice on how to implement marketing and business development strategies.
The highlight of the conference might have been Roy on stage during the opening remarks. His energy and the atmosphere he created was something that continued throughout the entire conference. Jason was keen to point out that there is something special about LMA, the amount of support everyone has for each other and the encouragement for the new attendees to get stuck in.
#KeepingFamiliesClose … Thank you, Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor CEO (and dear friend!) Kim Kelly for tapping me on the shoulder six years ago (tempus fugit!) to serve on this incredible board and to support this beautiful mission. I was deeply honored then … as I am now on my last day of board service. Term limits, people!
I’ve learned and grown so much from this experience, one I will treasure all my days. It was a privilege to serve alongside such brilliant, caring, vibrant community members. And to work with such a marvelous and creative operational team. Too many to list here – plus, I’m sure they’ll be glad to never be tagged again in a million posts from me! But the growth and evolution has been remarkable and heartening to witness.
And special shout outs to the two incredible board presidents under whom I was honored to serve: Loree Collett (now emeritus – boo yah!) and John Zdanowski. I studied and observed everything you did and learned so much from you. Thank you for “seeing” me and for your grace, enthusiasm, kindness over all my ideas – be they big, small, terrible, indulgent, or just plain silly. And to incoming prez Mayuri Guntupalli, you are such a bright light with such deep insight and thoughtfulness. Can’t wait to cheer you and Kim and the board and the team on from the cheap seats! Go get ‘em!
Thank you, Gina Longo! I so enjoyed our conversation a few weeks back, and WOW! I love how you captured and framed it here. I come off like quite the good-hearted provocateur! I’ll take it! Love you
EXCERPT: “And I’ll add one more: live in abundance, not scarcity. Stop competing with your own colleagues over nothing. Don’t do that to people. Just be open and transparent and assume there’s enough to go around. Even in a recession, even when people are losing their jobs, still be open and honest and direct with people and you’ll find that you’ll be served well your whole life. …
“What I have seen in 25, 30 years of working is that people don’t know how to manage for outcomes, so they manage for style. What time did you show up? Did you do enough FaceTime? How long did you stay? When did you leave? …
“You hired smart people, so let them be smart. Let them do what they do best. Don’t tie their hands. I work the way I work; you work the way you work. And if I’m not delivering, then the door is open for you to tell me what kind of shoes to wear. But other than that, get out of my way.”
Thank you, Tasneem K. Khokha, Alycia Sutor, Debbie Knupp, Holly Barocio, and GrowthPlay 💕 … I am honored by this inclusion, but even more touched that this is my mom‘s mantra carrying on. Thank you for all you give to our community. Your hearts and brains and beautiful intentions inspire us all. Love you very much!
What would you learn and how could this impact your ability to develop more business as a lawyer? Let’s find out together with podcast host of BE THAT LAWYER, four-time author, and top lawyer coach in his own right, Steve Fretzin, as he brings together his best lawyer marketing maverick friends, Ashley Robinson, Michelle King, Conrad Saam, and yours truly to share our collective wisdom with you.
This show is LIVE, so we don’t know what direction things will go. What we do know is that there will be laughs and plenty of learning by you, the ambitious attorney attending.
When: May 25th at 1:00 PM CST
Where: By Zoom
Cost: It’s FREE for highly motivated attorneys and law firm leaders only!
As the saying goes, people support what they help create. Now that the dust (and sequins – more on that later) have settled and we’re back at it at our firms and organizations, I’m reflecting on what was extraordinarily created at LMA’s recent 2023 Annual Conference in Hollywood, Florida…abundant COMMUNITY. Nearly 1,200 of us coming together in person to network, learn ― and sometimes commiserate! But the energy and sense of community at this conference was unique, motivating and palpable. In addition to the many standing-room-only sessions taught by leadership and thinkers on top-of-mind issues in legal marketing, there was a widespread feeling of community, shared experiences and belonging – always LMA’s “special magic” and never more on display than at #LMA23.
True to our conference theme of “Amplify” (our voices, careers, teams, work), the stellar education sessions covered everything from how law firms are or are not using ChatGPT, what works/doesn’t work/needs fixing in the eyes of General Counsel (spoiler alert – they’re FOR using AI!), the crucial value of storytelling and narrative in client connection, how DEI can and must be a pillar of firm culture and evolution, the latest vistas in martech, how to develop and retain talent, and the crucial role of client teams in the engagement and growth continuum among myriad other hot topics.
One of my favorite a-ha moments came from Aarash Darroodi, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation General Counsel and Executive Vice President, and a compelling and provocative “contestant” on our GC panel “game show” (expertly moderated by conference co-chair Jennifer Dezso). He said, and I paraphrase, “Wining and dining is fine, but don’t take me to a football game. Come visit me AT my company and see our culture firsthand and learn what we do. THAT will show me you care.” He and the other panelists *might* have also noted (accurately) that marketing and business development ARE key differentiators in a firm and are crucial to clients’ understanding of capability and connection. You can take that to the bank!
And getting back to sequins, our 2023 conference theme, Amplify was kicked off with a highly-caffeinated, strobe-lit bang in our opening session. In a move to underscore LMA’s inclusivity and encouragement to amplify ourselves, we opened the conference with yours truly singing – well, big old community theatre-style belting – Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and sharing the stage with renowned drag queen and community activist Athena Dion. With a crowd on its feet singing along and cell phone cameras aglow, we kicked off the conference with an “everybody say ‘love’!” wake-up call (sorry/not sorry to those whose coffee hadn’t yet kicked in)! Sequined suits, rainbow chiffon and all.
The message (I hope) was clear – each of us is born to be special and we should bring our authentic selves to our work and lives every day. And as my mama taught me, and I offered to the beautiful assembly: “Tell others what they mean to you IN THE MOMENT when it will mean something to THEM.” (You can watch the full opening production here on Facebook; Thank you, Kates Media and By Aries, for the excellent video support!) Just after that, fabulous, motivating and authentic-badass-wrapped-in-a-warm-hug best-selling author Laura Gassner Otting, delivered a rousing keynote address about how each of us can and should live limitlessly and, well, get out of our own way, removing boundaries and inhibitions to achieve our true potential: Conquer Doubt. Dream Bigger. Be Limitless. Perfect for our Amplify theme!
(In what I think is an unprecedented move, our keynote wrote about her experience at the annual conference on her blog – it’s a lovely Valentine to all of us, so give it a read here.)
All of this would not be possible without the leadership of our outstanding 2023 LMA Annual Conference Advisory Committee (ACAC) Co-Chairs, Jen Dezso, Megan McKeon and Lee Watts, along with the entire ACAC. They fueled innovative thoughts and formats, brought together top thought leaders to share insights and knowledge, and helped more than 115 speakers share best practices and approaches to successful law firm marketing and business development with nearly 1,200 attendees. For those who couldn’t attend, attended but missed a session, or want to relive and review a session you attended, the CONFERENCE RECORDINGS will be available later this month, so watch your inbox. The recordings are included in the Conference registration and are also available for purchase if you weren’t able to attend.
There’s really nothing like being in person at an LMA Annual or Regional Conference. The connections you make, the important information imparted, the nuanced tips and tricks shared among colleagues that are immediately implementable, and meeting with and learning about the new services, platforms and technologies available to make our work better through vendor partners (90+ at #LMA23!) make for an invaluable experience. I strongly encourage each of you to plan now to attend the 2024 LMA Annual Conference that will be held next April 3-5 in San Diego. Registration will open this August (with an Early-Bird Discount) and there will be a Justification Kit available to help you gain approval to attend. I can’t wait to go “All In” at #LMA24 and hope to see you there!
In the meantime, the party continues over the coming months in the events and get-togethers of our eight dynamic regions and more than 40 local groups. They provide of-the-moment learning, support and community year-round. Check out the upcoming events and the fall regional conferences here ― and go! You won’t regret getting involved. I’ve had the privilege of chatting with our amazing regional presidents the past few days, and I know they have BIG things planned for this fall. You won’t want to miss these unique opportunities to reconnect with your regional communities and continue the conversation begun at #LMA23.
Whether you were at #LMA23 in person or not, take that AMPLIFIED, limitless mindset, enthusiasm for our profession and all the incredible learning – (or upcoming learning through the conference recordings) – back to your firms and organizations and use your own version of “sequins” to be your most authentic, amazing, amplified and successful selves. Without authenticity, you never achieve brand differentiation – for your firms, for your companies, for yourselves. And with a “community” like LMA, anything and everything is possible.
P.S. In a wonderful and authentic moment of serendipity, GrowthPlay‘s Deb Knupp stopped me in the hall late on day one of #LMA23 and said she was so motivated by the session opening that she found her key mentors – including CLIENTSFirst Consulting‘s Chris Fritsch and Content Pilot LLC‘s Deborah McMurray among others – and told them that they were instrumental in her setting off and developing her business. And that they needed to know that. Shortly thereafter, who do I run into, but Chris Fritsch who says, “Craziest thing! Deb Knupp just came up to me and told me how important I had been to her career and her personal and professional growth!” Funny that! Don’t hesitate to tell people the positive impact they have had in your life. It makes a big difference to them. And to you.
Fate brings people together at just the right time and just the right moment. Laura Gassner Otting is such a gift. This message below had me beautifully gobsmacked. I’m honored and touched – but more importantly I love how she sees our Legal Marketing Association – LMA International community. These are special souls and her message will mean the world to all.
This past week I keynoted one of the most fantastic events ever. It was the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference, and while you might think that an association conference could never be exciting or even surprise you… you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
And here’s why.
Roy Sexton is the chair of the association, and Roy knew his members, and he knew what his members needed: an emotional release, unbridled joy, and amplification of their truest selves after a long few years of taking it on the chin. And, he decided to give them exactly what they needed in the form rainbows, sequins, wigs, and platform heels.
Yes, my friends, there was a drag queen duet to start a conference of 1100 legal marketers. Because why not, right?
My call time for the stage was 9am. At 8:15am the doors opened. All 1100 of the legal marketers in attendance filed in and found their seats. (My parents, who had never seen me speak, were also there and filed in alongside the attendees.) People were subdued, back together for the first time in years, an early morning after late night travel, and while they were excited to see each other, there was a palpable nervousness in the air.
At 8:30am, the room went dark, and Roy, backstage and bejeweled from head to toe in a rainbow-sequined tuxedo tails and silver shirt and pants started singing the opening bars to Born This Way by Lady Gaga. The audience started clapping in time as he came out from behind the curtain and performed the first part of the song.
But, wait! There’s more!
As he began to belt out the chorus, Athena Dion, The Greek Goddess, strode out to join him, and together they sang. The audience was on their feet. The room was pumping. The audience sang and danced as they worked the room like a runway.
Regardless of where you stand on the nonsense fight going on about drag queens — I mean, let’s face it, with the existential climate crisis and rampant mass shootings, don’t we have bigger fish to fry?!? — you can’t help but fall in love with love.
(By the way, if this week’s newsletter offends you, feel free to show yourself out here by unsubscribing. It’s cool.)
Roy wanted to open this conference — the first time they were all back together in three years — with a message: a welcome mat laid out wide, love for all, amplification for every one of us.
Here’s what I know to be true this week: There are million billion miles between being loved and being seen. (Tweet this.)
So many of us feel unseen. Even if we feel loved, we stand nervously on edge, worrying about whether of not people will love the real us when we show them who we really are. Roy blew the doors off of that notion, inviting the entire audience in to his world, and showing them that they could invite him into theirs.
Oh, and, from now on, I’m going to insist in my rider that a drag queen opens every keynote for me.
I’m not sure I gave this its proper due last week. I had a *bit* going on with Legal Marketing Association – LMA International’s #LMA23 annual conference – drag queens, sequins, stellar keynote Laura Gassner Otting, and off-the-chain content and networking with THE best legal marketing pros in the business. Last week was, well, epic. And I will be on Cloud 9 for months/years to come as a result.
Still, being named one of this year’s “Notable Leaders in Marketing” by Crains Detroit Business is truly one of the honors of my life. 20 some years ago I remember sitting down and reading the paper edition of Crain’s every week and looking at lists like this with admiration and wondering if I would ever make it on to one of them. So this recognition really means the world to me, and particularly to be acknowledged in the broader category of marketing, regardless of industry supported, feels truly special.
Sexton manages a staff of 12 marketing professionals, a seven-figure marketing budget and two public relations firms at Clark Hill Law. There, he is also responsible for internal and external communications and social media content. His efforts to ramp up video marketing through social media helped increase online video views to 500,000 in 2021 and more than 750,000 in 2022.
“Roy’s enthusiasm for his work and community shows through in the way he embraces any activity he engages in,” said Detroit Regional Partnership President and Maureen Donohue Krauss.
Further, Sexton has championed and executed the firm’s Simply Smarter branding campaign and new website launch, for which Clark Hill received the 2022 Best Marketing Campaign award from the London-based Managing Partners’ Forum.
His many community and corporate service efforts include serving on the governance committee for the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit board and his work as chair of the marketing committee for Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor. Sexton also served as a governor-appointed member of the Michigan Council of Labor and Economic Growth.
From the original show description: “If you’ll be at the conference, come by The LMA23 / Kates Media: Video Studio, Booth 100 in the Marketplace, and watch this live event. If you can’t make it to the conference, watch us on the LMA Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube channels.
“Be part of our studio audience, get a chance to be on the show and meet the Legal Marketing Coffee Talk gang, Rob Kates, Jessica Aries, Tahisha Fugate, Andrew Laver, and moi.
“And… If you can’t make it to the live show, we’ll be bringing you #LMA23 highlights live on your favorite social media channel throughout the conference. See you from Florida!”