Have you ever noticed the little voice in your head?
Every human who has learned to speak a language has a little voice in their head. Thinking is possible only because of that little voice.
I’m not big on formal New Years’ resolutions. But, I like to take stock of ideas I found interesting last year, and ones I am intrigued by now. Often these ideas come from books, or are embodied in them.
Books I enjoyed last year:
- Heads in Beds – snarky, insightful account of a young man’s ascendancy in the hotel business. He starts in New Orleans and moves up to New York, and has many interesting adventrues and encounters. He’s an amazing writer, but in addition to being entertaining, he offers practical advice on how to get good deals at hotels.
- No Easy Day – First hand account of the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden. It was riveting, but the big surprise was the account of how Seals are trained, and how they move up to become members of Team Six. These guys must be the most well-trained athletes in the world.
- The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden by Mark Bowden – I read this right after No Easy Day because it provided detail on how we figured out where bin Laden was. The surprise from this book is learning about the technology related to drones and information sifting.
Books I plan to read this year (or have already started):
- To Sell is Human – by Dan Pink – I always enjoy his take on things. Pink effectively argues that more of us now need to “move” people to adopt our ideas and proposals (e.g. a form of “selling”). Lawyers “sell” ideas or arguments, so this book is relevant to them, and I’m finding lots of good information here on how to be more persuasive.
- The Art of Explanation – by Lee Lefever. The author is the founder of CommonCraft.com, a company that helps companies explain their products by using short videos that make use of visuals. Dropbox is one of their clients and you can see Lefever’s handiwork if you watch the Dropbox video his company created. This book is a great primer on how to explain things better. I’m surprised at how much I am learning, mostly by simply becoming aware of how great explanations work.
New ideas and tools I’ll be paying more attention to:
- Mindmapping – I’ve used these for a few years now, but not extensively. This year I feel like I’ll be mindmapping pretty much every day. The trick will be to develop a workflow that lets me create and tweak my maps from anywhere, and on any device (e.g. computer, iPad, or iPhone).
- Presenting from an iPad – I love walking up to a podium to do a presentation with just my iPad. If I’m standing at a podium it’s really the easiest tool to set up and present from. The only limitation is that once the Keynote slidedeck gets too large it won’t work; and my slidedecks often contain lots of video clips. But if the presentation is not too large it’s the easiest way to present from a podium.
- Webinars – I love doing live CLE seminars. It’s great to get immediate facial feedback, and also I like the social interaction after the event. But the fact is: a lot of what I talk about could be explained better if the audience was at their own computer as I did a live demo from my computer. This is what webinars are optimal for, and I think they’re a great compliment to live seminars. Or they can be useful in their own right. The trick is for potential audience members to know how to log into a webinar, which I think most people now know how to do.
Anyway, that’s part of my list of books and tools I’ll be focused on next year. What about you? What are you reading or trying to learn?
Sorry I’ve been a little quiet on the blog here lately, but I’ve been busy with some good stuff. First, I just submitted the first draft of my book “Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers” to the good folks at the ABA Law Practice Management section. It’ll be released in late November if all goes right, and I’ll keep you posted when that happens.
I’ve also been busy ramping up the legal seminar business that Dane Ciolino and I started. Megan Hargroder came on board as a partner last year and has been busy working on a redesign of our blog, and a general branding makeover. We’ve changed the name of the website DigitalWorkflowCLE.com.
The new website name is PaperlessChase.com, and our new banner logo is awesome. We will be making some more small design tweaks in the coming days. The main thing about the change is that it’s easier to market our seminars to lawyers if they have a memorable idea of what we do. The new name is easier to remember, even if it sounds like we are more limited in the scope of what we teach.
Sure, we teach lawyers about how to use lots of different kinds of technology, but a core message is: lawyers who become paperless (or at least move towards a paperless law practice) have an edge. They can be more efficient, work on the go more easily, and save time and money for themselves and their clients. Lawyers who are mostly paperless find it easier to incorporate other types of technology; their tech skills are constantly being honed by the things that they routinely do in their paperless practice.
Tomorrow, Dane and I are doing one of our three hour introductory seminars on becoming paperless for lawyers in Baton Rouge. If you’re interested you can learn more about it, and sign up here. It’s almost booked up completely so you should definitely sign up in advance. If people wan to sign up at the door we’ll obviously try to accommodate them, but it’s more disruptive (so we charge a little more), and there are no guarantees for admission if we get too many folks.
There’s lots more stuff to announce, but for now that’ll give you a sense of what kinds of acorns I’ve been gathering. Be sure to follow PaperlessChase on Twitter! And sign up for our email newsletter so you get the scoop on future seminars. We’ve got a 3 hour seminar on iPads for Lawyers set in mid-September in New Orleans that will be awesome!
Here are some key takeaways from my reading (not yet finished) of Walter Isaacson’s book on Einstein. These aspects of Einstein’s personality seem to be largely responsible for his success. Interestingly, these traits were also the cause of his many early failures (e.g. professors tended to be put off by his smug certainty, which is why he couldn’t get an academic job after graduation from the university).
He always questioned authority; held no reverence for accepted views or common beliefs.
Disdained nationalism, religion, and most formal organizations.
He flourished in the Patent Office job not because he liked the job, but because it didn’t hinder the development of his revolutionary proposals. No one at the patent office cared if he wrote controversial academic papers; they didn’t even notice. If he had had an academic post (which is what he wanted) his career probably would have initially suffered after writing the iconoclastic 1905 papers.
Visualization always came first when he tried to understand things, including the insidious problems presented to physists. He learned the importance of visualizing at the college prep school in Aarau, a school that practiced the teachings of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (a Swiss education reformer).We can only speculate how much less successful Einstein would have been if he not been encouraged by the Pestalozzi approach; but it certainly helped him greatly. Einstein said of his education at Aarau: “it made me clearly realize how much superior an education based on free action and personal responsibility is to one relying on outward authority.”
Contrary to popular myth, did not flunk any math courses. But he did do poorly in mandatory subjects that he didn’t care about, such as French. It’s true that math was not what he was primarily interested in, and he didn’t do as well as he should have in that subject. But he crammed and learned it quickly when he saw the usefulness of it in physics. He learned mostly on his own, and when he was deeply interested he could learn a subject very quickly.
He had deep powers of concentration. He focused on one thing at a time, and could easily block out everything else while he focused deeply on one question or problem. People tended to see him as aloof. He knew this and didn’t care. He was more interested in solving problems than in reassuring people with social pleasantries.
He didn’t care about making money, and saw the lure of money as a corrupting influence on correct thinking. He was fascinated by science, but also with philosophy and ideas in general.