Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The Bottom Line of David Meister
David Meister, the guru of professional services firms, decided to retire. He resumes thirty years of giving advice:
First, be someone others count on. Clients come to you because they have a situation they cannot solve on their own. They want you to solve a problem. So solve it, don’t add to their problem by being hard to find, by missing deadlines, or by simply describing their problem back to them.
Second - be an interesting person. Read books, go to movies, be part of politics, go to lectures. You’ll meet people, you’ll be able to talk about things that other people find interesting, and you won’t burn out on your job.
Look out for yourself. Nobody cares about you like you do except maybe your parents, and you won’t be working for them. My late and very wise father used to tell me to not worry about what people were thinking about me, because they weren’t. They were thinking about themselves.
Determination matters. It matters more than intellect. The streets are littered with directionless geniuses with unexecuted good ideas. . Woody Allen had it pretty dead on when be said that 90% of success is simply showing up. You won’t suddenly have a great career. Nobody ever does. The secret is simple- great careers are the result of day after day deciding to do good work and being someone who others count on.
Be enthusiastic. Clients want to do things - they don’t call you so they can not do things. They want to stay in the borders of the law, but they want to be told how to do what they want to do.
Trust yourself. You are a very bright person or you wouldn’t be here today. I think among the most important conclusions I came to as a young lawyer was that if I didn’t understand something, it was because the thing in fact didn’t make sense, not because I was stupid.
Clients will say they want a tough son of a gun to make somebody life’s miserable, a real bulldog, etc. Don’t be that person. Bullies are jerks, they wreck the profession for everyone, and you can beat them every time.