Thursday, March 21, 2013

Curmudgeon tries, once again, to embrace his inner entrepreneur

Embrace it? I can barely pronounce entrepreneur, much less spell it (thank you, Spell Check). But, I'll tell you, I have to figure out a way I can attract business -- paying business.

I don't burden you with these posts too often, I hope. I note in quickly browsing the Archives this morning that I mentioned the need to embrace my inner entrepreneur in this April 2012 post, but I was writing then about my then-new flirtation with LinkedIn. By sending out invitations to every person with a pulse I'd fattened my connections list from about 6 to 270 in a short time. Of course, LinkedIn nearly dropped me a few weeks later because some (several?) of the persons to whom I'd sent LinkedIn invitations complained that they had no idea who I was and no desire to find out. (My privileges were gradually restored and I've got over 500 connections now -- but it hasn't led me to one case or one job offer.)

I had a bright idea recently to jump-start my moribund mediation business by offering my services to the biggest ADR provider in town -- I remembered that I had the president's email address from a file a couple of years back where I'd had to reach out to a retired judge on his panel and the company president jumped in to make certain I wasn't trying to hire his guy as a mediator 'out the back door,' as they say. Almost all of the mediators that work for this company are retired judges. And some of these retired judges are tremendous, even if I do carry a scar or two from decisions received at their hands during the course of their judicial careers. But not all the ex-judges on that firm's roster are stars. I thought there might be room for one more non-ex-judge, especially one who would be willing to work with some of these less popular ex-judges to raise their profiles... and get that company more business... by partnering with them on articles for legal or business publications.

Doesn't that at least sound entrepreneurial?

Well, it didn't work, but the email turning me down was at least polite.

Then, this morning, I was in here writing a variation of a post I guess I've written many times -- about a professional athlete who was 'insulted' by a contract offer that would have, by itself, fixed thee or me for life. My first, and still-favorite, story along these lines predates this blog by several years. Remember the Michael Ovitz debacle back in the mid-90's? Ovitz was hired as Disney's President -- and then canned after only 16 months. He was allegedly paid tens of millions in cash and stock... just to go away.

At the time, I said I could have failed for far less than that.

Anyway, even as I was writing it, I realized it was a song I've sung before... and then I thought of a marketing angle I could take with the post. Right click - select all - Ctrl X, out went the post from here and over to one of my real-life blogs where I have attempted to re-purpose it as a way to attract business.

This is not how I was raised.

My mother used to say, "Self-praise stinks" and "don't blow your own horn." A real professional doesn't have to shill for business, business should seek out the professional on account of the professional's own skill and good reputation. My father believed that. He lived it, too: Business did beat a path to his door, even in retirement, because he was recognized as a preeminent expert in his field. If my mother's final illness, and his own, had not intervened, he could have enjoyed a very profitable 'retirement' as a professional expert witness.

But, Mom and Dad, I think the world has changed. Now no one gets anything without asking for it. Maybe even begging and groveling are required.

It makes me very uncomfortable. But so does my credit card debt. So I call it entrepreneurship and I do my best....

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