If you are a regular reader, you likely know that I organize book groups for lawyers across North America where the group picks a book from a set of my recommendations that is relevant to professional, business and personal development.

The lawyers in the club exchange their thoughts on each chapter of the chosen book every second Friday with ideas on how they may implement what they have read.

One group recently finished Daniel Pink’s book: To Sell is Human. McCarthy Tetrault Toronto partner Leila Rafi volunteered to share her top takeaways from each chapter.

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Chapter 1: 

I found this quote to be right on target: “One of the most effective ways of moving others is to uncover challenges they may not now they have. (I can practically hear Cordell saying this.).”

Chapter 2:

The best way to make change is to motivate individuals to develop their best potential – this can only only happens when an individual is passionate about what’s at hand (recognizing that everyone is motivated differently). It’s important to connect individual goals to the larger picture in evaluating one’s potential.

Chapter 3:

I think that the changing role of sellers to having to clarify information as compared (pre-Internet age) as the sole source of information puts the onus on the seller (in our case, the lawyer) to know their product. Knowledge and passion are what distinguishes sellers nowadays. Typically those who know their product (industry and their clients’ businesses) and are passionate about the outcome, deliver the best results

Chapter 4:

I agree that getting into people’s heads is what fosters the ability to move people and in order to do that, one must be open to understanding other’s perspectives. As a lawyer who actively listens can accomplish this.

I have seen humility win the day at work – the most successful partners are those that lead the clients to the answer without telling them (or making them feel) that they have been led, allowing the client to ‘sit in the big chair’ of recognition.

Chapter 5:

I truly believe that emotions can be contagious as I have seen the effect positivity has on people, regardless of their initial state of being (being positive opens doors, and removes dread). Being authentic and genuine can only occur when you embrace the negative things that happen in your life and try to learn from them (instead of not self-aware and/or artificial).

I believe that one of the most effective traits of a negotiator is understanding what is important to the other side and being able to negotiate a deal whereby each side leaves the table satisfied (and doesn’t feel ripped off). This helps pave the road for a long-lasting relationship that is not fraught with resentment.

I believe in the power of asking and receiving. This includes asking management in one’s own law firm or asking a potential client for his/her business.

Chapter 6: 

I found the reference to ‘clarity’ eye opening (no pun intended) – the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways leading to the identification of  problems they didn’t realize they had

I found it interesting that most people who create breakthroughs in art, science or life tend to be problem finders and take more time with their work than others.

I liked reading about the VP of sales at the Italian company that makes Mentos mints and how he thinks of his best salespeople as those that think of their jobs not so much as selling candy but as selling insights about the confectionary business. We aren’t selling legal services and much as selling our ability to help clients achieve their goals in specific industry areas.

I agree with the author’s thought about it being important to “step out of our bubble” to better understand what we value in it. Traveling outside of North America (or at the very least, off Wall Street or Bay Street) is a good way to do that.


Chapter 7: 

I learned about three key abilities in this chapter: 1) to pitch, 2) to improvise and 3) to serve. A successful pitch does is not necessarily to move others to immediately adopt your idea but rather, is one that engages the audience for the purposes of collaboration – Be Compelling!

I believe the following three items Pink describes are crucial questions the pitch delivery person must answer before a successful pitch can be delivered:

  • What do you want the audience to know;
  • What do you want the audience to feel; and,
  • What do you want the audience to do?

Most lawyers fail on the last question one as they don’t follow-up after a pitch or provide the audience with links to additional information. Also, many lawyers make (potential) clients feel ‘less smart’ as opposed to feeling engaged or brighter as a result of the pitch.


Chapter 8:

Was surprised to learn that little to no effort is made in the educational process (including law school) to teach people how to listen more effectively. It is a client development skill that could differentiate one talented lawyer from another.

Believe the following statement is is true for a law firm: Making your partner look good, does not make you look worse – iIt actually makes you look better.

Word of mouth marketing has increased 10 fold by social media. Are law firms, and lawyers taking advantage of this? Generally, I think the answer across North American firms, is no.


Chapter 9:

I learned that sales and non-sales selling are ultimately about service and improving others’ lives, and in turn, improving the world. So I want to remember to make my selling activities it ‘personal and purposeful.’

I think that many times, people just need a bit of encouragement. An encouraged individual feels relevant and as though what they think actually matters in achieving the larger goal – this also helps strengthen the relationship between team members.

I liked the quote: “Really good salespeople want to solve problems and serve customers. They want to be part of something larger than themselves.” I think that is true of great lawyers I have known. They take joy in helping their clients and their law firm succeed.


Your Thoughts:

Have you read the book? If so please send a comment if you have anything you want to add.