Just over a week ago I returned from The (somewhat delayed) 28th Marketing Partner Forum held at the fabulous Ritz Carlton, Dana Point, California. First of all, what a place – sat atop a cliff looking down on a fabulous surf beach. This is how you imagine Southern California to be :)
It is the first in-person event I have been to since February 2020. It was the first time I have been on a plane for the best part of 18 months. It really was quite surreal. I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a risk of course - and I made sure I tested for COVID every day on top of the mandatory tests all of us must take when traveling - but I would not have missed it for the world.
Over one hundred BD, Marketing, and other leaders from the ‘Fee Enabler’ side of law firms attended. It was fabulous to catch up with friends I have not seen for a long time and make lots of new ones.
Here are some of my observations from the two days:
- In-person events are way, way better than Zooms. This might be stating the obvious but I have really missed the energy, the laughter, and the chat between people you get when you are not ‘task focused’ on a call. Often the interesting stuff is not the thing you start talking about but the asides, the tangents, and all this is helped with a few drinks and a bit of sunshine.
- If you ever get the chance to listen to Duncan Wardle, Former Head of Innovation & Creativity, Disney do it! What a great presenter. He had the audience gripped from the first moment he spoke. Like all people who are brilliant at something he made it look easy. So many great points but the one that stuck with me is when it comes to thinking of new ideas remember to step into the lives of your clients. Disney's incredibly effective 'Making Memories' theme came from Disney researchers literally visiting the lounges and front rooms of potential Disney 'Guests' and noticing that every single family had photos of their kids at key moments of their lives. They realized that mums and dads, granny and granddads are far more motivated by making memories than the latest ride at Disney. They want a memory (and a photo) with their children and grandchildren before they inevitably grow up.
Duncan also talked about the fact our best ideas do not come at work but in moments when we allow our brains to roam - which brings me to my next observation...
- Everyone I met is really really tired. It has been a hell of a year and a half. I am not saying they were not on good form. They were - but we are all just a bit exhausted. I bring this up because events like this offer a break. Friends catching up, going for a beach walk first thing in the morning, laughing over a beer in the evening, listening to other experts who do what they do and having a moment to think and strategize. This time is important and being 'out of the office' should be encouraged. One thing my colleagues at Passle did (and always do) is that they leave me alone when I am away at an event. They cover for me and make sure I can be 100% present at the event. For this, I am extremely grateful. I noticed many of my fellow conference-goers were not so lucky. Can I just state to any boss it is simply not ok to email, text and call your colleagues at 9 pm whilst they are away at a conference. It shows a failure of leadership in my opinion and results in your colleagues feeling annoyed and demotivated. I know what you do is important but come on! I saw this happen more than once. Give your colleagues a break.
- Finally - and I knew this already - there are amazing people on the fee enabler side of law firms. They are super smart, dedicated and have heaps of brilliant ideas. If you want to grow your firm and you are on the fee-earner side of a law firm please invest in them and celebrate their efforts. My experience is that many of you do not do this enough. Those of you that do reap rich rewards. Here at Passle we are trying to do our little bit with our 'CMO Podcast series'. My trip to California has provided us with lots more fabulous experts to interview!
I cannot wait to see you all again soon :)