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When senior professionals who are used to being in charge must make way for new leadership, they may be able to stay productive in valuable new roles for the firm.

Here are some that have been developed at our client firms or that we know of, or we suggest:

*  Chief Learning Officer (professional development)

*  Chief Diversity Officer

*  Administrative Partner for a practice group

*  Hiring Partner responsible for lateral recruiting and integration

*  Chief Business Development Officer (to work with the Marketing Department and be able to meet with prospective clients as a firm “partner”)

*  Pro Bono Director (partner level)

Of course, the partners need to be willing to adjust their compensation, but they should be able to cut back hours - a flexibility bonus.

Obviously, in the case of many of these, a firm can only utilize one person in the position. A firm could have several administrative partners (non-equity) and project managers for practice groups and attorneys whose function is business development leads and client relationship management without performing billable work or being a major business generator.

Firms (desperately) need more mentoring, training and coaching for associates and junior partners. It is often not being done diligently and frequently because attorneys are not compensated for these functions and often not even given non-financial rewards, including much praise. Even people who don’t need the money want to feel valued. That is a big issue we find with our clients. Not feeling valued is often more of a source of resentment and poor morale than reduced or lack of financial compensation among transitioning partners.

So, one of our transitioning principles and recommendations is compensation during the transitioning process - compensation at the attorney’s highest level, but rather a figure sufficient to provide an incentive and security for doing transitioning right and helping the heirs apparent and the firm. Firm support of a transitioning process will take away potential stigmas and convey that the individual is valued and is continuing to contribute to the firm.

Transitioning partners also need to develop some excitement for what they can do work-wise after they leave the firm, should they want to keep working - and many Boomers will, in some capacity. So some transitioners will decide they have attractive options and not want to hang on.

(c) Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

Note: This blog is an excerpt from the 2014 edition of The Rainmaking Machine by Phyllis Weiss Haserot (Thomson Reuters/Westlaw) to be published summer 2014.


A panel of senior (in status) Boomer and Gen X law firm partners and corporate counsel imparted, with both wisdom and humor how they mastered their career trajectories at the Women in Law Empowerment Forum’s (WILEF East) March 19, 2014 program. The women, in several cases, described how their careers evolved in surprising ways, sometimes the opposite of what they thought they wanted until they gave it a shot.

Here is a collection of sound bites (not necessarily in their exact words) from the discussion that I found both appealing and valuable for the lawyers in the audience and even beyond the legal profession/industry.

  • Opportunity favors the prepared.
  • Listen for your boss’ priorities.
  • Have your boss’ back so he/she can trust you.
  • Propose solutions; don’t just do the rote thing with an assignment.
  • Be your authentic self and try to assure that everyone perceives you the same way.
  • Never say “never.”
  • Don’t consider what you at first perceive as failures to be failures.
  • Don’t cover up mistakes. Own up to them and immediately suggest a solution.
  • Show you are constantly thinking beyond what is required.
  • Never confess (especially to a man) what you don’t know. Go find it out.
  • Always look for both mentors and for opportunities to mentor others.
  • Wisdom only comes from an accumulation of experiences.

 On the theme of POWER:

  • People give up power by thinking they don’t have any
  • Men define power as control. Women define power as influence.
  • Assert yourself from the beginning when you negotiate compensation.
  • People perceive power from symbols
  • Project a sense of self-respect to be perceived as powerful.
  • Power is when people more experienced than you respond and do work for you.
  • Act confident and you will attain power.

Which ones resonate with you, whether you are a lawyer or not, a woman or not? Share your thoughts in comments here.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot            www.pdcounsel.com


I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. And with all the messages floating out there in the first days of the year, some of you may be feeling relief that I am not urging you to make resolutions. (If you typically do so and keep them, that’s commendable)  Nevertheless I do believe in reflection and setting goals and admire commitment, determination and focus. I do urge you to be resolute.

 I readily admit that I am talking to myself as much as any of you reading this, reminding myself to stay determined and focused on the big ideas I am committed to. Planning is in my DNA and fun for me. Staying with the execution takes more effort without external deadlines (which I always make) and people to hold you accountable.

 So here’s my deal offer: Keep nudging me and support my determination and commitment, and I will be happy to do the same for you. Give me a call out once in a while to see how it’s going. Let me know when you’d like me to do the same for you.

 And if you do make resolutions, here are some apps to record, track and remind you to make them stick. Resolve to Pay Attention to Resolution Reminders.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com 


Looking to a new year with thanks!

It’s almost time for the ball to drop for 2014, so don’t drop the ball.

Whether yours was a lucky ’13 or not, I hope you are excited about your future. What new challenge will you take on? What problem are you determined to solve? What new skill or knowledge will you acquire? What knowledge will you pass on to a younger – or older – colleague?

In 2013 I thought big, as I developed the Cross-Generational Conversation Day concept to raise awareness of the implications of inter-generational challenges at work on business success and our lives. I am grateful for the enthusiastic reception to the concept and plans. Now in 2014, it’s time to execute! Stay tuned for our research and more information as to how you and your organization can get involved.

Since I have always been future-oriented, I look optimistically onward – but not before thanking our wonderful past and current clients, the Cross-Generational Conversation Day Planning Committee, The Cross-Generational Conversation LinkedIn Group community, social media followers, my MasterMind Group, great friends and family and YOU – my valued readers.

 I urge you to light up the lives of people around you, especially in person. Start the new year with some great cross-generational conversations, and let us know if and how it changes your perspective and how you want to connect. Keep smiling, doing great work and spreading joy!

Warmly and thankfully, Phyllis

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


Part two follows a previous post about stories of some CEOs who were faced with the upside down reporting relationships early in their careers and happened upon a formula that became one of the pillars of their considerable business success.

In anticipation of the younger manager/older staff challenges, over the last five years I have written articles, done videos and webinars and conducted workshops and delivered talks on this topic as a component of professionalism, succession planning and cross-generational conversation.


Here are 7 more learnings we can take away from the two young manager success stories:

  • Senior managers were willing to take risks on these young new managers and thought they could do the job.
  • “Sink or swim” is a tough initiation for a leader or manager but a great learning experience and can build confidence and resilience.
  • Include. Don’t try to boss.
  • Build relationships through inclusion.
  • You aren’t expected to have all the answers. It’s better not to think you know better or you know everything.
  • Be confident enough to show some vulnerability. People will help you.
  • Respect breeds mutual respect.

Reminder to the older members of the team who might feel discomfort:

  • Keep focused on the common objective and the external or internal client or customer.
  • Collaboration will benefit all long-term.
  • Your mentoring and coaching can also be your reward.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


Whether it’s purely a cultural choice or economic necessity, we are seeing an increase in tow or three generations living together. This is even more prevalent in the workplace. So we need to get proficient and comfortable with initiating #cross-generational conversations and connections.

(Traditionalist generation) actress and author Marlo Thomas wrote about the benefits of multigenerational bonding she experienced since childhood hanging out with her father Danny Thomas’ fellow comedian friends.

Her advice on connecting with people of other generations you would like to connect with: Don’t make defensive jokes about your age difference; don’t try to force your wisdom and experience on them. Do smile and introduce yourself the way you would with a peer in age. Do share a bit of your story to begin. Importantly, listen to their story.

I am periodically asked about tips for intergenerational networking in a business context. Networking with people of other generations is a great pleasure to me and has resulted in many good friendships and business connections. As with all personal and professional relationships, the best way to nurture the connection is to show sincere interest in the other person, show respect, and appreciate what you can learn from each other.

Don’t expect too much until several interactions have built a bond. If you are thinking mostly of the ongoing time commitment rather than the value of connection, you will not reap the benefits of ties to the future with those younger and the wisdom and perspective of those older than you.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


Earlier this month a time span of over a week was designated as a time of reflection, atonement and rededication in the Jewish calendar. Reflection is something I do a lot of – I have for many years quite regularly in my daily or weekly goings on. At that time every year I reflect on my year and perspectives at that snapshot in time: my thoughts, what’s important at the time, my relation to people in my life, my work – purpose, where I want it to go and how I contribute in the larger scheme of things.

Coincidentally, on September 4th there was a small article in the Wall Street Journal reporting on studies indicating that reflecting on the positive at the end of each day significantly reduces stress for workers, Well, that’s another persuasive reason for regular reflection. Stress reduction – what a gift!

As far as I can observe, reflection time on the part of people of all ages has decreased and stress has increased. At least a loose connection would not be surprising. Our lives have undoubtedly become more stressful, and the popularity of yoga and meditation has not made a big dent in it overall. We are besieged by: more work with less time to do it; so many choices; economic challenges; the seeming need to be connected – always on; complex relationships that don’t get adequate attention; rapid change; and my personal big stress button second to health issues (other people and mine, if I have them) – which is technology breakdowns and glitches. They all add up.

People have little time to reflect, and the younger generations (to generalize) never seemed to have developed the reflection habit or even a reflection “gene.” What they are missing are the benefits of processing in their minds and bodies the implications of what has occurred and, as much as is in their control, to devise solutions and action plans.

Reflecting on positive achievements, even small ones every day, leads to good feelings. The reflection/stress study co-author Theresa Glomb of the University of Minnesota Carlton School of Management added, “The real impact comes from writing down why those things – the good things that happened - led to good feelings.” That sounds like a positive accomplishment in itself – a stress-busting habit we need to train high school and college students to adopt.

To add one more piece of ammunition, when asked what career advice he would give to a class of graduating students, Daniel Lubetsky, chief executive of Kind Snacks, related this in an interview with Adam Bryant for his Corner Office New York Times column: “…make sure that you talk to yourself, that you think hard about what is important to you and gives you meaning. When I was 19 and walking between classes, I didn’t have a phone, so my brain would take me in all different directions… But nowadays, we’re on our iPhones all the time, and you don’t have time to talk with yourself, to analyze… It’s very important for people to know what gives them meaning. But it’s hard for people to figure out if you are not connecting with yourself and taking the time to just be introspective and daydream.”

How do you build reflection into your daily life?  Please share your tips.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


Watching the 50th Anniversary of the MLK March on Washington, DC it’s hard not to feel the compelling power of a “movement.”  Witness the power of convening all those people of all ages and demographics in a common mission – to be there as a part of history.

Upon seeing the 1963 footage sprinkled throughout and hearing those who were present that day and the historians comment, I was struck by how important it is to teach and to remind people how things were – in many ways, thankfully, drastically different. No time for complacency, we need to reiterate how much still has to be done and broadened for a changed population.

Back then it was blacks (Negroes) and whites. Now the diversity and the “march” for inclusion and equity encompasses race/ethnicity, gender, LGBT, disability and generational diversity, and perhaps more.  Generational diversity was not mentioned in the speeches, but it was apparent viewing the crowds of marchers eager to participate and as people sought to pass on the knowledge to younger generations.

Dramatic events are necessary to bring focus to challenges that are not recognized sufficiently for their economic, social, political and cultural impact. With our cross-generational conversation we can further understanding and collaborative action on the issues that matter in our lives and at work.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com




For those of you on the move this weekend…

There’s still some magic in face-to-face meetings that electronic communication can’t match. They’re more effective for relationship-building, sales and revenue generation. The evidence is that those in-person conversations produce an impressive ROI. And don’t forget valuable new contacts that are made in serendipitous conversation in the act of traveling.

The United States Travel Association published the results of a recent study it had commissioned through Oxford Economics proving that business travel drives revenue and ultimately profit growth. For this study, "business travel” included sales trips, meetings, conventions, and incentive trips. Their comprehensive analysis covered 14 economic sectors over a span of 13 years.

  • For every dollar invested in business travel, Oxford Economics determined that businesses experience an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits.
  • Business executives cited customer meetings for having the greatest returns, in the range of $15 to $19.99 per dollar invested. That's a 1500 to 2000 percent return on investment (ROI).
  • The same executives identified the average return on conference and trade show participation to be in the range of $4 to $5.99 per dollar invested.
  • Both executives and business travelers estimated that approximately 40 percent of their prospective customers were converted to new customers with an in-person meeting compared to 16 percent without such a meeting.

Are web meetings and teleconferences are just as effective? Among corporate executives, 85 percent found these remote meetings with prospective customers to be less effective than in-person meetings. Virtual meetings are less effective than in-person meetings with current customers according to 63 percent of the corporate executives.

What about incentive travel in relation to compensation? According to the responding executives, companies would need to increase an employee’s total base compensation by 8.5 percent in order to achieve the same effect as incentive travel.

Now if only it was less of a hassle for the travelers!

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


Ilene Gordon was given the challenge at age 32 by a mentor to manage a group of people more than 20 years older. The challenge for this executive several years out of business school was to get the best out of them, to motivate and inspire them.

From this experience, she learned the philosophy of putting people in jobs where they had to stretch, jobs they were not ready for at the time, from this mentor who realized she was smart, analytical and focused and needed greater challenges. Now in her position as CEO of Ingredion, her employees love to hear that philosophy because they know they are going to get opportunities. A Boomer, she “gets it ” that what Gen Y/Millennials want is opportunity and challenge. Often impatient, many of them want that opportunity before, given their relatively short tenure at work, they would be judged to be ready.

This story was shared by Gordon in an interview with Adam Bryant in his Corner Office column in the New York Times (3/17/13). She urges young people to have tenacity rather than just leaving if things don’t happen for them quickly and to have backup plans because things don’t always work out. Young people have to learn to deal with adversity in life and work, and that’s where the backup plans come in. In promoting she looks for energy, drive and the ability to get things done through other people whether all on site or in virtual teams.

The lesson here for the young generations is that they are not entitled to rise quickly just because they think so or want to, but managers should give them opportunities to stretch and grow and prove themselves worthy of promotion and significant responsibility. It’s up to the individuals to figure out what to do, use their energy, and learn the interpersonal skills to lead a team to succeed. Their team members will make them look good if they provide the resources needed and make the team members look good.

What do you think of this philosophy?  Do you think many managers will take the risk and trust it will work out well? They also need a backup plan and create a culture where it is all right to fail.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com  

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