I hope at least once in everyone’s career they get to have a boss like this. It looks like we are about to launch into a duet of “Islands in the Stream.” But actually this was at the end of our #simplytogether22 Clark Hill firm retreat. My boss Susan Ahern (pictured here) told me how much she appreciated my contributions, how meaningful they were, and how important I was to her and to our work family. I said I felt the same about her. There may have been tears (mine … natch).
It’s a rare privilege to work with someone, let alone an organization, that celebrates you for your authentic self, letting you shine in ways meaningful to you. I have that at Clark Hill. Susan has encouraged and inspired me to be myself fully at all times, to center my talents around empathy and grace and compassion, to leverage the strategic “pause,” and to work harder and smarter than I ever have in my life. She’s elevated me and my work in ways I’d never thought possible. She’s been my ally and my advocate, and she’s helped me discover a higher standard for what I do.
Ask for more in life. You deserve it. And one day you’ll find you have the good fortune to have a Susan in your life too.
Thank you to my beloved colleague Maram Salaheldin, an epitome of intelligence and wit and kindness, for snapping this moment for posterity.
P.S. I think that “encore” behind us is prescient and apropos after this amazing event.
One of the treasures unearthed at my parents‘ house. A cartoon my dad drew of my grandfather based on a Norman Rockwell image. Some of the humor clearly is of another era when a grown man taking good care of a cat was something tease-worthy.
That said, what I love about this, other than the creativity and the warmth it exhibits, is that it shows we’ve always been a “stand back and hold my beer” kind of family.
I will always be proud of that quality, and it will always be core to my personality.
There’s a bit more to all of this and I didn’t want to overdo my comment, but we were really struggling with a lot of this purging, and, as we pulled things off the truck, Susan was so complimentary about my mother’s taste and how well received her collection would be. It was such a relief and an encouragement.
And then we found out that Susan shares the same name … as my mother Susie Sexton. And there’s more: Goodwill Susan‘s mother was a professor at Ball State University in the speech department, and was one of my mother’s professors when she was there. My mother studied speech at Ball State. My mother wrote a couple of books, speaking at length about how much she loved her years there.
It all felt like fate, to be honest. And did our hearts a world of good!
Wonderful chat earlier this week with Gillian Ward, Matthew Fuller, and Simon P Marshall for Pinnacle about firm culture, global presence, and keeping your team engaged and energized during these challenging times. It is a fun and informative watch!
Picture it: 1992. Wabash College Lambda Chi Alpha house. Young Roy was walking through the “tube room” (where our ONE tv was) on the way to do my laundry. My frat brothers were going on in that performative way only young hormonal straight guys can for each other about how “hot” they were finding the “woman” performing on MTV. I giggled to myself when I realized the video they were watching was “Supermodel” by RuPaul.
After I put in my wash, I walked back to find them all a bit crestfallen, as the resident veejay had then interviewed MamaRu and they realized they’d been duped. To their credit, they weren’t spouting off any homophobic foolishness to cover for any embarrassment they may have been feeling. We were a really kind and inclusive house. Always.
All of that said, if you had told me then that I would be holding in my hot little hands today Fisher-Price LittlePeople depicting this fabulous superstar, I would’ve never believed you. But here we are. I’m sure there are some hyperventilating pundits out there sputtering that these charming toys are somehow harming our youth more than guns and devious politicians do. C’est la vie. All I know is that I’m delighted that we live in a forward-moving world where these exist … and that I own them. At age 49. 😅🌈✨
Clark Hill assembled a list of “meaningful media” to honor Pride month, with contributions and (most importantly) heartfelt stories from all across our great firm. Thank you to my colleagues Hannah Reisdorff who organized the list’s development and Ray Koenig and Tobias Smith who are leading our overall Pride recognition activities. Here is my contribution to the list …
For me, there were two albums that helped me as a young high school man living in a small town in Indiana still trying to figure out what his sexuality might mean. Might be surprising to hear but in the late 80s there wasn’t a lot of good guidance for people like me. Lol. But I found a voice in two records that weren’t overtly LGBTQ but were recorded by artists who have always been allies to our community.
In 1989, I wandered into our mall’s Musicland and bought a cassette of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. It was all the money I had in my pocket, and that album with its day-glo, percolating inclusivity gave me a summer soundtrack that made me feel like the world could be a better place.
The following summer, I was chosen by the US Senate as a youth ambassador to Japan. A bit homesick, I bought another cassette, this time of Madonna’s I’m Breathless, a pastiche of songs from Dick Tracy and songs inspired by the film. Problematic as the song “Vogue” has become as we are increasingly sensitized to cultural appropriation, nonetheless its thundering pulse and message of liberation – as well as the fizzy camp with which the queen of pop delivered the album’s other show tunes – spoke to my soul and gave me a sense of self.
I still listen to both of these albums often, now streaming, and they transport me to a time of discovery and give me a sense of great gratitude that these artists were willing to push the envelope of popular entertainment and acceptance.
Thank you, Pinnacle, Charlotte Takács, Simon P Marshall, and team for including me not only in your helpful report but also in this essential conversation. Honored to join Gillian Ward and Matthew Fuller for this discussion. Pinnacle’s 2022 Pitch Management report highlighted significant experiences of top CMOs, who deal with cross border politics, cultural differences, language barriers and overseas understanding in not only the pitching process but internally team to team. To keep firms running smoothly, it’s a balancing act of technology, understanding and communication, which we will explore on this webinar.
Event description: “In the global competitive market law firms operate in, we’re bringing together a panel of global marketing and BD leaders from across the AmLaw 200 to discuss how firms around the world function with cross border teams, what practices they share, what’s different and how they cater and adapt their differences if pitching across seas.
“We will get to the heart of the challenges and the opportunities faced internationally, drawing on the personal experiences of each leader, delving into elements such as how they drive efficiency, what technology they use to communicate across regions, and how they finetune each pitch to the client, plus much more.”