If you are here to find the one takeway that will make a difference in your life and career, here goes:

It is not how you treat your clients when you are feeling well that will matter, it is how you treat your clients when you are not feeling well. One other quick takeaway. It is not how you treat your clients when they are feeling well that they will remember. But, they will most definitely remember how you treated them when you knew they weren’t well.

First.I should say I am writing to celebrate our wonderful home at Diamante Cabo San Lucas. Nancy went down on April 11, her birthday to open our house. I hope I will be able to go May 24. We’ll see how I am doing.

Front of House
Back of House with Pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I started writing blog posts for lawyers I never dreamed the title of one would be I graduate today. My graduation will take place at around 9:50 this morning. I don’t think the doctor or nurses will call in graduation, but I will have lived through six chemo treatments and thirty radiation treatments.

If you are like I was a couple of months ago, you might think that means I can shake the hands of the doctors and kiss the nurses and say goodbye. I discovered, as many of you who have gone through this discovered, that when you are a cancer patient your specialist doctors and nurses will be taking care of you for the rest of your life. The radialogist will start scans with a CT scan in a month and I will visit Lauren, my surgeon’s nurse once a month for the next year (just to check on my neck). Lauren makes all the difference in the world to me and my care.

My friends have asked me how I feel now that radiation and chemo are finished, at least for the foreseeable future. I would like to tell them I feel excited I have finished. There is only one slight problem-I am too exhausted to be excited about anything and if I acted excited I would eventually have to swallow and that will both hurt my throat like you know what. I would like to be excited by that would also mean I would have to be awake. I didn’t know that a person can sleep all day and get up go to bed and be out like a light all night. I would like to exercise,  but I have’t done that in some time. I would like to read, but I can only concentrate for one to two minutes at tha most.

I know I should be happy to have gotten through this phase of my care, but I have no energy to show it. I tried to take a photo of my burned neck and ear, but I decided to simply say it is burned skin which has created open sores.  No matter what I do I leave blood stains all over my pillow case and sheet each night. Doing research on  the Internet, I am among the thousands who have had these same side effects. My doctors and nurses tell me they have seen way worse burns than I have.

While writing this blog post, I received a graduation gift from a group of lawyers I coached who have been supporting me. Our doorbell rang and when I went to the door there was a box. I opened the box and took out paper literally all the way to the bottom. When I got there I found a book the group had created of my blog posts each valued. Each lawyer who contributed received a copy of the book for their bookcase/desk. I am told the printer can print more copies.

Retired Toronto lawyer and my friend Phil Moore wrote a forward.  He had sat through the first time I met with McCarthy Tetrault lawyers in Toronto. He wrote about my discussion of Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow.. Seth Godin deserves all the credit for creating the Purple Cow marketing concept. In my coaching I found Seth Godin’s books and and blog posts applied to lawyers I coached.

Today I enter post radiation and chemo care. I have been told the next four weeks will be somewhat like the last couple of weeks when it has been hard to stay awake and hard to wallow.

May I end by saying I am looking forward to the first time I can say I am looking forward to the steak dinner I booked at my favorite Dallas or Fort With restaurant. Since it will be a really big deal for at least me, I could create a big fanfare and like a star high school player announcing where he will go to school. I will have hats for the four finalist steak restaurants on a table and at the appointed time I will put on the hat of where I plan to eat a steak dinner and maybe even enjoy a martini. If I go to all that trouble and make it a big deal, you’ll know my taste buds are back.

I have heard from so many of you asking for me to keep you informed on how I am doing. I hope you will forgive me, but posting blogs about it is the easiest way to reach the most people, and for me,  writing what I am experiencing is like therapy. If you know me, you know I am not a private person. I perhaps share too much information, but at 75 it is too late for me to change so here goes.

I started chemo and radiology yesterday. So today, Friday I have five more chemo treatments of four plus hours and I have 29 more radiation treatments. I will share a little more about that later.

I know some of you have experienced cancer, others have loved ones or close friends who experienced it. Everyone’s story is different. For doctors the types of cancer they are treating may seem like the same, but the experience is different for each person. I have told my friends we all have a story and life has not been a straight line for any of us.

I believe those who have or had cancer do share some similar experiences. I believe we go through stages. I think I am on the fourth stage which I call “I started the roller coaster.”

Let me tell you about my stages one and two.

Stage One: My first stage was I am in a dream and when I wake up everything will be okay. I have similar dreams about Russia invading Ukraine and the suffering of their people, paying $5.00 a gallon for gas, feeling unable to afford the filet Mignon at Costco.

I can go on, but I have always pledged to not write anything political here. At the risk of offending someone I will simply say in my dream all politicians who are my age and older are enjoying retirement and gone on to other things. As we know like most dreams we wake up and stage two sets in.

Stage Two: My stage two was “how could this happen to me” and intensely researching to understand it all better. What started as a pinched nerve in my neck and lots of arthritis that was going to be treated with steroid shots in the hopes of avoiding surgery all changed when an MRI my doctor ordered showed two lumps in the other side of my neck. In less than a month I went from life as normal to life never being normal again. A biopsy revealed I have Metastatic Squamous Neck Cancer.

The post surgery pathology revealed the surgeon removed 17 lumps. That is not a good thing, but “it is what it is”. So, my second stage with cancer was the “whoa is me” or I am sorry or really pissed off stage. This bad attitude existed while Nancy drove me to doctors virtually Monday through Friday every day. While already having a bad attitude,  I learned I might lose teeth, never have the same taste buds and I can go on. You can only imagine what it was like for Nancy and still is like for Nancy.

Before I had seen the post surgery pathology report I had dreams of no chemo and no radiation. Those were short lived. The radiologist explained my cancer situation was the highest risk. But then, perhaps to brighten my spirits he said there were two clinical studies that showed for my kind of cancer above with radiation and chemo the chances of it coming back are 10-to 15 percent. As a lawyer I should have asked if there were any clinical studies that showed what happened to patients who had the surgery but did not do chemo and radiation. I just made the assumption that if that had ever been studied the results weren’t especially good.

Stage Three: I call this the reality stage. My attitude has improved as I have come to grips with things I can’t change. Russia is killing innocent people in Ukraine, gas prices are over the roof and I am eating pork chops. That is just how it is and our life, my life has changed for whatever is left of it. We were supposed to move into our new home in Cabo on March 14 with our dog, Stella and stay until June. Come back then and go back and stay until September, go back and stay until the holidays. We know that isn’t happening.

So I did the math. Six weeks of chemo and radiation will be done the last week in April. I looked at airline reservations to go to Cabo then. But, yesterday I learned that the side effects are such that I won’t likely be able to travel on an airplane for a month. So, now we are up to the first chance I can go to Cabo is when we originally planned to come back to our home in Texas. But, maybe I will be able to keep the schedule after that. Then I learned that for the next 12 months and maybe beyond I have to go see the surgeon once every month and they will send me elsewhere if anything looks suspicious like new lumps showing on the outside of me neck. I never dreamed after putting over 5 million miles on American Airlines traveling for work, I would at 75 become a frequent flyer again back and forth every month. Thankfully the flight is only about 2-3 hours non-stop.

Stage Four: In a nutshell, I have started the roller coaster phase. I did almost five hours of chemo yesterday. I brought my laptop thinking I could work on my novel. That didn’t happen. For the IV to flow I had to keep my left arm straight with the palm up on a pillow. Supposedly I will have port installed in my chest before the next chemo so I can work for four hours. I did get to see my law school University of Richmond Spiders defeat Iowa so that was a pleasant surprise. Today is the game my heart will be pounding while watching. Go Hokies.

I call this the roller coaster phase because I am on it. I can do the countdown. Five more chemo treatments and at about 5:30 this evening 28 more radiation treatments. I don’t wait well and I deal with whatever the “it” is better when I am experiencing it not thinking about it. That said the nurses at both facilities went to great lengths explaining to me how bad the side effects are going to be starting about the third week. The one nurse told Nancy we have to find a 24-hour pharmacy. I don’t know of any so I guess that is more research.

I am very upbeat about being in the six weeks of treatment. I know I will face challenges when the roller coaster goes down at speeds I can’t control. I can’t say my life totally prepared me for these challenges, but more than anything I want to get off the roller coaster and live as normal a life as possible while I am able. I can always use the cancer excuse if my golf game is not up to par.

I believe at least one thing thing I have experienced is hearing from so many of you who I coached, and even from lawyers who I never knew who had used my blog and presentations to self-coach themselves. Hearing from all of you confirmed to me that I made the right decision to leave my law practice and follow my passion to help the next generation of rainmakers and leaders. Many of you have shared with me that you are passing on to lawyers in your next generation ideas we discussed. The feeling I have from hearing from you adds so much to my energy level going forward.

God Bless You.

If you are looking for any words of great wisdom here, (other than learning about the best gin and the best tonic in the world) I would move on. Several of you have sent me emails asking how I am doing and I thought this might be a good way to let you know. At the very least it is a good way for me to talk to old friends.

I am sitting in front of the computer at 5:00 on Monday, March 7. As you likely recall two weeks ago I had surgery to remove cancer in my neck. I believe the surgery went well and last Tuesday the surgeon’s practical nurse removed the tubes and stitches from my neck.

I am sitting here wanting to have an alcoholic beverage. Shortly before doctors discovered my cancer I was introduced to Monkey 47 Gin and Fever-Tree Tonic Water. I like both but not together. I had a price shock the first time I bought the gin. As a result I only want it in a martini.

People have asked how I am doing and I thought I would share my response with all of you. Based on what the surgeon said, I assume the surgery went well. It has been two weeks and I still have no feeling in my left ear and my left cheek. I had problems swallowing likely from the tubes that had been down my throat.

The speech therapist said it is swollen and greatly irritated there. She put me on a diet I would best describe as “don’t eat or drink anything you really like, and stock up on jello, pudding, bananas etc.” I am not drinking alcohol. She told me not to drink coffee so I cheat on that. In any event I can swallow better.

We go Wednesday to see the oncologist and the radiologist. Nancy thinks it is likely I will be doing at least the radiation. If so, that will start a couple of weeks from now and will be Monday thru Friday for six or seven weeks. There are many potential side effects including what will happen to my teeth and my mouth.

Most of you know we are building a home in Cabo San Lucas. We were supposed to be able to move in March 14. When they send us photos it always looks like a lot to get done in an extremely short period of time. That said it looks like I won’t be staying there for at least a few weeks.


With title credit to Jimmy Buffett.

To my great shock, some of you read “Maybe My Last Post After My Last Post” and asked that I write more. To those of you who really wanted more, I say I’ve said about everything I can about life, career development and client development, but I did have one more experience worth sharing.

Like the Maybe My Last Post After My Last Post, for those of you who are busy I’ll get right to the takeaway, then for those of you with more time I will share some reflections on writing for you.

Doctors did another biopsy on my neck and found more cancer. I received a call saying the surgeon had moved up the surgery for a week to this Monday, February 21st. I knew it wasn’t because someone had cancelled, so I got very little sleep thereafter.

The Surgeon’s nurse had us visit early Thursday morning. She was awesome. She went over in tremendous detail what would happen on Monday and what would happen thereafter. She even had drawings showing where my face and neck will be cut. Keep in mind, this was not her first rodeo. It may not be her only surgery on Monday and certainly not her only surgery next week.

I was able to enjoy an early celebration of my 75th birthday.

We went away feeling we were in good hands. Takeaway:

While your clients want to feel you have the right experience to handle their matter, never say words to the effect that you’ve handled one just like it because to your client, nothing you have handled before is just like their matter or as important.

Okay, well beyond the point for those who have time. I am a Harry Chapin fan. If search you will find I have written about him before. For those wondering who he is, do you know “Cats in the Cradle?” He was known for having given most of his concert money away to help with world hunger. He died in a car accident on his way to sing in a concert.

Harry Chapin wrote songs that were stories. He ended his concerts with two songs sung together. The first: “You Are The Only Song.” The finale: “Circle.” Read on and then watch the video if you have time.

 

In “You Are the Only Song” he wrote:

I’ve sung it all tonight
Almost every story that I know
And now when they turn out the spotlights
I’m not sure where I’m s’posed to go
And I’m so hoarse I can’t hit the high notes
It’s just a whisper when I’m low
But when you sing from the inside
You hope that something shows

I have written all that I have in my head. To use his words: “Every story that I know.”

In the finale “Circle” he wrote:

It seems like I’ve been here before;
I can’t remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we’ll all be together again.
No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There’s no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.

I have this funny feeling that we’ll all be together again. Come Monday It’ll Be All Right.

If you are like me and want writers to just get to the point, my point here is for you to think once again on how you are spending your time. To use the title of a song I like: “Live Like You Are Dying.”

I am an Eagles fan. Nancy and I saw them perform at least 40 years ago. The only thing I can use to trace the date was my memory that Hotel California had just hit the record charts. It was either their tour in 1976 or 1977. Wow that seems like forever long ago now.

I know that I promised you that my last blog post was my last blog post. But, perhaps even turning 75 this month I struggle to let go. I mention that in the context of the Eagles asking you to excuse me because they have had more farewell tours than I have had last blog posts.

When I look now, I am not sure I know the singers making up The Eagles. It’s like watching the Beach Boys, but the only original singer is Mike Love.

Forgive me for posting again and interrupting your day and please take what I am to share with you as a fatherly advice about life. So here goes.

In the late fall I had a pinched nerve in my neck that made sleeping almost impossible because the pain radiated from my shoulder to my little finger. When nothing improved I went to a neurologist. Long story, but the only positive thing he did was send me for therapy.

Finally out of desperation I went to my primary care doctor, The next day I had an X-Ray. As expected it showed lots of arthritis in my neck and shoulder. The next day my doctor sent me for an MRI. In addition to problems with nerves and arthritis it showed two lumps on left side of my neck. The next day I had a CT scan which confirmed the lumps. A week later I had a biopsy.

You know where this is going, right? The biopsy showed the lumps were cancer. Last week I had what is called a PET Scan to see if the cancer had spread. The next day I saw the surgeon, a renowned guy from Fort Worth who will operate on me February 28.

Nancy and I have seen six doctors this week. I am still trying to figure out why they can’t share the answers to the patient application form.

I know two things. Without surgery I will be dead in a manner of months. With surgery I am not sure my life will ever be the same.

I will be 75 this month. I am several years older than my father was when he died. That said, I had never in my worst dreams thought I would get serious cancer.

I am working on my third novel for those of you who have followed my writing. Every novel needs a theme. Mine is this:

There is no greater pressure as a lawyer than representing a teenager whose entire future depends on you and whose trial is delayed again and again and again for 18 months due to COVID.

Are you an editor or a proofreader? I haven’t started either process and because of COVID I have changed the order that things happened.

I will leave you with something I have shared more than once. My partners and friends were astonished when I gave up my law practice after my most successful year to coach the next generation of lawyers. Wow, you will never imagine what a financial hit I took.

You will also never imagine my satisfaction working with the next generation. If you are one of them, your kids were in diapers and know many of them are in college. I hope I made a contribution that made my clients more successful. But, I know I helped some of you become rainmakers and firm leaders. For that and the relationships developed from that I will be forever grateful.

I will once again promise this is my last blog post.

You know there comes a time when it is time to hang it up and I have reached that time now. At 74, I’ve aged out of coaching lawyers. I spend my time writing fiction while realizing I will never be John Grisham.

If you remember the Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley song I Did It My Way you recall the line:

“Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention.”

I left my law firm at the end of 2004 after my best year. I still had some legal work I had to complete including a trial that lasted six weeks in early 2005 and ended up in a great result for our client.

I coached close to 1500 young lawyers across the US and Canada. Many of those, including many of you, have become top rainmakers and law firm leaders. While I took a severe pay cut to coach, to go back to the song, I don’t regret giving up my law career to work with young lawyers.

So, what now for us? As you may know, Nancy and I love golf and we love Diamanté Cabo San Lucas. We have sold our house in Prosper, Texas and we are building a Casita at Diamanté. We look at it as an extended retirement vacation and a way of not facing another Snowmageddon – Great Texas Snow Storm 2021.

As you can see in this link, we will be able to sit on our roof, drink in hand, and look at the Pacific Ocean, or the view below.

 

The home is turnkey meaning it will have everything other than clothes. So ever since our home sold we have been selling very cheaply or giving away our worldly possessions. In some ways it feels odd and in other ways it feels refreshing. For example, it felt odd to part with the roll top desk pictured here that had been in our family for over 115 years.

Last week a mother drove over an hour to pick up twin beds from our guest room. That night she sent me a text thanking us because it was the first night her teenage daughters slept in their own beds.

A Cuban couple drove over an hour this morning to pick up a couch we gave to them. They couldn’t speak English. As you know I spent a month in San Miguel de Allende learning Spanish, but I could not communicate effectively.  So he dictated into his phone and a translating program let us read it in English. The look on their face when they thanked us and hugged us made our day.

In the middle of June we are moving what little furniture we have left to an “Over 55” apartment closer to our daughter. It will be our first apartment since I was in the USAF in California in 1971. Our daughter and I found it after she told me that when she delivered food last summer during the break from teaching the under 55 apartments generally had an odor in the hallway from people smoking pot.

If you need career or client development advice you can still send me an email cordpar@me.com and my cell phone works even in Mexico. If a topic interests you put the topic in the search space on the blog and see if I have written on it before.

I want to lose weight. I’ve done it before, but I wanted help this time. So, I’ve signed up for Noom. It is a psychology based approach.

I started listening to the audio and thought I was listening to my coaching ideas for lawyers.

The first step for Noom is having a big picture in mind made up of three parts.

  1. Your Super Goal-Understanding and breaking down to small manageable goals
  2. Your Ultimate “Why” to find your motivation
  3. How your life will be different

If I coached you does that sound familiar? I posted what is below a couple of years ago.

I recently read Seth Godin’s blog: People Don’t Change. It is only a few lines and it applies to several lawyers I have known and some I have coached.

As Godin says the hard part is not changing. It’s wanting to change.

I have written that the only way you will make a change is to have a big enough answer to the “why” question. Why is making the change important to you.

When I was a young lawyer with senior lawyers feeding me work, I wanted to change and develop my own clients.

When I asked myself why that was important to me, I thought of making more money, providing more security for my family, not being beholding to a senior lawyer, the joy of knowing the clients hired me, and the independence I would feel from having my own clients.

I kept asking why each answer was important to me until I ran out of questions to ask. Those answers to the “why” question were enough to keep me motivated when I wasn’t succeeding.

A few weeks ago I received a call from a really outstanding lawyer I coached eleven years ago in 2010 and the call reminded me about what made him outstanding.

When I was working with his group, I was caught in an east coast snow storm. It was so intense that there were only a few cars on the streets.

When I went to breakfast I asked the two women who greeted me if they had spent the night. They told me they had gotten up at 3 AM and shoveled for a couple of hours to be able to get to work. Clearly they went the extra mile to be at the hotel to serve guests.

Snow scene

While I was caught in the storm, I received an email from the lawyer. He was excited that a court had bought his theory in a case meaning he was going to trial for his client with the chance of a nine digit recovery.  Many other plaintiffs had settled their cases for substantially less because their lawyers had not thought of the theory.

The email made me think what separates the best lawyers. In a nutshell they see their clients’ problems and opportunities other lawyers do not see. They also see creative solutions to those problems and strategies for achieving the opportunities that other lawyers do not see.

Part of this skill is God given, just being smart and intuitive helps. I believe the majority of this skill is being far more curious than other lawyers.

Being curious is right brain focused, so you might be interested in the book The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Betty Edwards.

I learned of it reading Daniel Pink’s book: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. To get the idea read this blog post: Nature Study and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by HollyAnne Dobbins.

While nature study has little or nothing to do with practicing law, you will still get the idea of how learning to draw will make you a better lawyer.

Most lawyers I know in private practice have had an outstanding partner or the most promising associate leave their firm. Most have wondered why. I think I may have an answer: The lack of good communication.

I’ve enjoyed watching several 30 for 30 shows on ESPN. One of the best was 30 for 30: Marcus Dupree The Best That Never Was.

I watched amazed at the talent I saw on the screen. I have never seen a college running back like Marcus Dupree. He was remarkable during his freshman season at University of Oklahoma.

Here are some highlights:

In the 30 for 30 segment, Barry Switzer described Dupree as the most gifted player he ever coached. He also acknowledged that the biggest mistake he made as a coach was the way he coached Marcus Dupree. In a Tulsa World article I particularly enjoyed The real Marcus Dupree: Former OU running back at peace with his life, Marcus Dupree describes that communication was the problem.

I guess you could say the message is communication,” he (Dupree) said. “No matter what it is. If it’s marriage, if it’s being a good friend, if it’s a coaching staff, communicate.

As a sports fan, I am saddened that the young man who could have become the greatest running back ever, instead became “The Best that Never Was.”

Having practiced law for more years than I care to mention, I have seen first hand many of the very best lawyers leave a firm because of a lack of communication. What are you doing to improve the communication in your firm?

I guess you could say the message is communication,” he said. “No matter what it is. If it’s marriage, if it’s being a good friend, if it’s a coaching staff, communicate.
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/sportsextra/OU/article.aspx?subjectid=92&articleid=20110214_92_B1_Thirty442488

 

  1. Create a yearly Business Plan-If you need a template for a business plan just ask me.
  2. Breakdown Your Plan-Create 90 days or monthly goals (actions).
  3. Plan and Schedule Client Development Activities Each Week-Decide what you plan to do, estimate how much time it will take and then schedule it on your calendar.
  4. Keep a Client Development Journal-Keeping track makes it more likely you will actually do the activities.
  5. Have a Client Development Partner-Like a workout partner, a client development partner makes it more likely you will do the activities.
  6. Join Industry and/or Community Associations/Organizations and Seek Leadership Positions-Join just a few organizations and be active to raise visibility.
  7. Stay in Contact-Use multiple means (notes, calls, lunches, coffee, blogs, email, LinkedIn).
  8. Conduct Workshops and Seminars for Clients-(Get CLE credit if doing it for in-house lawyers)
  9. Put Links to Published Articles on Your Website Bio-You want prospective clients to read what you have written.
  10. Create a Blog-I feel certain you know that blog posts are shorter than articles and they are more timely and more easily shared.
  11. Create a Guide-This can be a handout at industry presentations. Make it short and concise.
  12. Read What Your Clients Read-Find out their industry publications and subscribe to them
  13. Identify Referral Sources-Referral Sources expand your network to prospective clients.
  14. Write Thank You Notes-Let clients know you appreciate the opportunity to serve them.
  15. Get to Know Assistants-A client representative’s assistant can be a great source of goodwill.
  16. Joint Venture Programs with Client Representatives-They will enjoy being asked and working together will help build the relationship.
  17. Become involved in your clients’ favorite charities-This is another way to build the relationship and let the client know you care about what is important to them.
  18. Return phone calls and emails promptly-Clients do not want to wait.
  19. Build database of information on your clients including spouse’s name, children’s names and ages, hobbies etc.-This helps you find reasons to be in contact with clients
  20. Go to events you would rather skip-You never know where you will run into opportunities.
  21. Have your elevator speech ready-Create several so you can use the appropriate one
  22. Have your elevator questions ready-People want you to be interested more than they want you to be interesting.
  23. Call, email and write clients-Just to see how they are doing.
  24. Do something no matter how small each and every day-Make a list of potential things you can do each and every day.
  25. Read books about sales and service-Figure out how other businesses do it effectively by reading about them.