It’s funny how we always think we are adaptable. Yet most of us have a comfort zone, and in that comfort zone lays the risk of ‘stagnicity’. My special word for a lawyer’s, particularly a re-zoomer’s, failure to grasp what’s new with both hands and put it to use in their practice.
As I watched Tom Friedman, author of The World Is Flat and most recently, with Michael Mendlebaum, That Used To Be Us, on Meet the Press a few Sundays ago, I marveled at his discussion of 21 Century Adaptability. He spoke about how his book, The World is Flat (2005), never mentions “Google, Facebook, Amazon and twitter.” They weren’t around.
The Tech boom of the last 10 years, according to Friedman, had us go from “connected to hyper connected” in no time flat. Now people from third world countries can not only connect with us, they can compete with us. There is no longer a developed and developing country, rather as Friedman puts it, “the spark [idea] isn’t a commodity, but once you have the spark the commodity it creates is available to bring to market because China will build it, Amazon will market and sell it, you will find an accountant on Craig’s list and get your logo from Free Logo.com.”
What Friedman is saying, and which speaks so clearly to us all, is that to be a successful entrepreneur in the 21st Century one must be ‘hyper-adaptable’ to the “hyper connected” world they choose to practice in.
Freidman then outlined “The5 Pillars” the US has used to continually adapt and succeed since the time of Hamilton & Lincoln. He believes if we apply the 5 Pillars to our current situation we will get out of this economic crisis. I believe if we apply them to our practice-building we will have a framework in which to remain current and adapt as needed.
First – educate everyone up to and beyond the level of technology;
Second – Attract the best and brightest immigrant talent
Third – Infrastructure – Keep it the best
Fourth – Government Funded Research
Fifth – Create the right rules for managing incentive and risk; not reckless
(Pgs.34-36; That Use to be Us-Thomas Friedman & Michael Mendlebaum)
As applied to the Solo and Rezooming attorney, these 5 Pillars work as follows:
First – To keep yourself competitive you must become technologically savvy, there is no short cut when it comes to using technology in a 21st Century law practice.
Second – Attract the best and brightest to be in your network of colleagues. You need a mastermind colleague group to be challenged to excel as a solo. By exchanging ideas within your mastermind group you will increase the break throughs and limit mistakes you are bound to make. Using the group you will also achieve a higher level of practice acumen more quickly.
Third – Keep your options open for your office infrastructure. Evaluate whether a brick and mortar or virtual office will meet your needs. Don’t stagnate in the past. Recognize the benefits of this techno age and see if it fits your practice more efficiently and less expensively. (Check out Solo Practice University Contributor Rachel Rogers for the skinny on this pillar)
Fourth – The Federal Government has set aside monies for entrepreneurs to be retrained if their current career paths dry up. In fact the US Labor Department has provided funding for the education of re-zooming attorneys to get them back into the legal field.
Fifth – maintaining our ethics and integrity while navigating the new world of the techno-savvy solo practitioner in 2011 and beyond.
Re-zoomers, however, are uniquely challenged when getting back into the race as a solo practitioner. The track is so different, the horses more spirited. We remember ‘when’ and that can keep us in our stalls instead of entering the race. If we walk when we should trot and only trot when we should gallop, chances are we will not be as successful as we had hoped. Pick the pace that peaks your passion, make sure your blinders are off, adapt when needed and enjoy the challenge. In this technologically independent world, hyper connectivity makes the entire world our racetrack and we have a chance to win like everyone else.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.