Sweaty men, heavy machines, pizza and beer

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They’re re-paving the streets outside my house. I love watching the men do their job. Sorry ladies, I didn’t see any women on the crew. Just a bunch of sweaty guys doing back-breaking work. I can almost smell the testosterone. Okay, maybe it’s hot asphalt and diesel fumes I smell, but you get the picture.

They use trucks and machines I’ve never seen before, to do a job I don’t fully understand. But I can tell that they do the job well. Everyone knows what to do and I am fascinated watching them. In fact, I could watch them all day.

As a kid, I loved watching the new construction in my neighborhood. The sounds of big trucks and bulldozers, nails being hammered, wood being sawed, trucks backing up and dumping fill dirt. This is the stuff of childhood, at least it was for me, which is interesting because I can barely change a light bulb.

I still love watching people do their jobs, and not just construction. I love to see them do what they do with precision and confidence, like they’ve done it so many times before.

Wouldn’t it be great if people loved watching lawyers do their job?

Unfortunately, they don’t. People expect lawyers to do what they see depicted on TV. The reality, of course, is very different.

Nobody wants to see you dictate a letter or prepare someone for a deposition. Nobody wants to watch you read case law, stroke your beard, and look at the ceiling while you think about the issues in a case.

But alas, all is not lost. You can show people what you do and you can make it interesting. You can do that by telling work-related stories. The good news is that those stories don’t need to be exciting. They also don’t need to be very long. A sentence or two, a few paragraphs, are all you need to show people what you do for your clients.

But here’s the thing. Don’t talk about issues or statutes, pleadings or agreements. Talk about people.

No matter what kind of practice you have, your work helps to solve problems for or deliver benefits to people.

Talk about the people you represent and their business or their family. Talk about why they contacted you and what you did for them. But mostly, talk about them.

For example:

“Yesterday, I was hired to review a lease on a new property for my client, Charlie Booker. His company makes beer-infused pizza, and business has been great. He’s growing so fast, he needed a bigger facility. He wanted me to negotiate the lease on the new property and make sure there weren’t any ‘gotchas’.

Charlie started the company just two years ago in his garage. Just him and his wife. His two kids helped out after school, putting together the boxes for the pizzas and passing out fliers in the neighborhood. Today, Charile employs 40 people who are passionate about making the best tasting beer-flavored pizza known to humanity. I’ve eaten a lot of pizza in my lifetime, and I’ve had a few beers, too, and I’ve got to tell you, there’s nothing like Charlie’s Beerizza. Go to his website and see what they do and where you can get some Beerizza. Tell him I sent you.”

In other words, talk about the client, not yourself.

You did the lease. Fine. I’m sure you did a good job. But nobody cares. Leases are boring (to most people), so mention what you did, but tell stories about the people for whom you did it.

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