Oh, you know how I feel about unsolicited and pitches from vendors I’ve never heard of before getting their call/email.

I just have to say, Philip Lew, whoever the hell you are, you got me with your prose.

I want you to personally know that I couldn’t delete or mark-as-spam your e-mail, as it moved me beyond words. So I’ll just share it with my readers:

Legalwatercoolerblog.com Team,

I thought you might like to know some reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Legalwatercoolerblog.com.

1. Your website Legalwatercoolerblog.com is not ranking top in Google organic searches for many competitive keyword phrases.

2. Your company is not doing well in most of the Social Media Websites.

3. Your site is not user friendly on mobile devices.

There are many additional improvements that could be made to your website, and if you would like to learn about them, and are curious to know what our working together would involve, then I would be glad to provide you with a detailed analysis in the form of a WEBSITE AUDIT REPORT for FREE.

Our clients consistently tell us that their customers find them because they are at the top of the Google search rankings. Being at the top left of Google (#1- #3 organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company’s website traffic and online reputation. You will be happy to know that, my team is willing to guarantee you 1st page Google ranking for most of your targeted keyword phrases in our six month ongoing campaign.

Sound interesting? Feel free to email us or alternatively you can provide me with your phone number and the best time to call you. I am also available to meet you in person and present you this website audit report.
Best Regards,

Philip Lew

Marketing Consultant

PS I: I am not spamming. I have studied your website and believe I can help with your business promotion. If you still want us to not contact you, you can ignore this email or ask to remove and I will not contact again.

PS II: I found your site using Google search and after having a look over your website I recommend you to implement future technologies such as HTML5 and Responsive Design to make your site more accessible in mobile phone, tablets, desktop etc.

I get these emails with every post I make, so I know they come from spam-bots (no need to educate me on this one), but I am still taken aback by the tactic, and does this actually work?

Your blog sucks, so hire me to fix it. Hmmmmm. Is that like telling me I look fat in this dress, so you can work with me as a personal shopper?

At least Cassie Griggs tried to butter me up before I flagged her/it as spam:

I have read so many articles or reviews on the topic of the blogger lovers however this piece of writing is actually a nice paragraph, keep it up.

The Beach Body people don’t call me fat … they just send me pictures of people who look better than me in a bathing suit.

Come on, Philip. At least offer a girl a plaque.

You like me. You really, really like me!

Oh, fine, I’ll play the “please nominate and vote for me” game.

The ABA Journal is working on their annual Blawgs 100 list.

Well, faithful readers, followers, friends and my mom, I’d appreciate it if you’d take a few moments and nominate The Legal Watercooler for inclusion in this year’s compilation.

It’s super easy. Just visit the Blawg 100 Amici nomination page and fill in a couple boxes. Due date is August 9.

Not so humbly yours, Heather

I was out of the office sick on Friday (yes, I was legitimately sick, on a Friday before a 3-day weekend, thank you very much), and am slowly going through my 100+ emails.

The amount of spam is out of control. Usually I just “block” the sender and move on.

But I am noticing a new trend in here.

It’s the personal requests, that are turning into guilt, that turn into anger messages painting me as rude for not responding.

Some of these requests are so bold that they are now attaching meeting requests to drop onto my Outlook calendar.

Look, I didn’t ask you to email me. I didn’t ask for information about your product or service. And, frankly, if I responded to the emails, I think a tribble cascade would begin, so I delete. I mark as spam. I move on.

I just know if I were to reply “no thanks,” they will take that as a permission to start emailing me more. Or, worse yet, calling me and leaving messages.

So here’s my dilemma.

Sometimes I actually know these companies so I can’t block them.

Some of them are well-known service and product vendors in my industry. It might even be a product I am interested in for down the road, but I can’t let on, or the tribble cascade beings and the next thing you know it is out of hand.

I don’t think the onus should be on me to have to return an unsolicited call or email. If I don’t reply, can’t you take that as a “she’s not interested” and move on?

And don’t make me feel bad for not giving you 15 minutes of my time. Because it will never be 15 minutes. You and I both know it.

I’m not looking for an answer here. I’m just venting and justifying my deleting and blocking so many emails today.


I had a day yesterday like no other. It began with the snake’s lunch getting loose (found later that day, by the Sports Dude, in the nanny’s lunch … ick factor 100 on a scale of 1 to 10). Business meeting. Major family drama. Which, having four siblings meant long calls with my mom, older sister, younger sister, brother, former brother-in-law, back to my mom, quick one with younger sister, long one with older sister, and closing the night off with my brother. Lucky for me, baby sister just had a baby, so one less phone call. Oh, crap. I just realized no one called our dad. Then my daughter opened up about all the drama that’s been going on with her circle of friends. I so hate 7th grade. One of my Girl Scout families popped by to pick up some more cookies. Then panic sets in as I realized, at 10:00 pm, I had yet to order all the cookies for our booths this weekend. Oh, and work in between all of this. Taking that all into consideration, one of the first articles to hit my stream this morning was Tech’s Best Feature: The Off Switch.

It’s Friday evening. The smells of rosemary chicken and freshly-baked challah fill the house. My daughters, 3 and 9, sigh as I gently detach the iPads from their laps. One by one, our screens are powered down. My husband, Ken, is usually the last holdout, in his office, madly scrambling to send out just one last email before the sun sets. Then he unplugs too. We light the candles, and sit down to a sumptuous meal. I’m prepared. I’ve printed out the next day’s schedule, along with maps and phone numbers that live on my cell phone. Most people in our lives know they will not be able to text, tweet, email, Facebook, chat, or Skype with us for 24 hours. If they want to reach us, they call our landline. Or they come over. And so it has gone, every week for three years. Our “tech Shabbat” lasts from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday.

I thought it was a God shot, until I realized that today is National Day of Unplugging. So it’s a coincidence. Yet I don’t believe in coincidences. DEFINITELY a God shot. I have fear around unplugging. I want to blame it on the fact that I would have to unplug not only myself, but a teenaged girl, her tweener sister, and the Sports Dude. Too many moving parts. What if there’s an emergency? (oh, yeah, I have a landline, too.) Yikes. What an order. Can I go through with it? It’s not like I haven’t done it before. Both the Sports Dude and I unplugged during our honeymoon, and our world did not come to a crashing end. I even blogged (irony) about it here: I think the Hippies were on to something:

The Sports Dude and I just returned from our honeymoon to New Orleans where we departed for a four-night cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. The Sports Dude and I headed off to Mexico via Carnival As we made our way down the Mississippi we knew we’d lose 3G reception at some point, so we snapped some pictures and got them posted to Facebook before we went dark. We had no cell phone, 3G or WiFi for three entire days, as in 72+ hours. For three days my iPhone 4, which is usually in my hand or on my person somewhere where I can easily hear/feel the phone ringing, sat in the safe in our stateroom. For three entire days I lounged around the pool with my fully loaded Nook enjoying my summer time reading. I blew through The Lincoln Lawyer, and made headway through New York: The Novel (an 800+ page volume that would normally NEVER make it onto my poolside reading list. I love my Nook).

We unplugged for four days, and they were a blissful four days. Leaving my phone behind, allowed me to be present. I gotta do this. I need to recapture that energy. I HAVE to recharge. And, how lucky for me, I will not be alone. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get my family to participate, but I don’t need their permission to turn it all off for 24 hours. But I don’t want this to be about the next 24 hours. I want it to be about reclaiming a part of my life. unplug HMM I’ll let you know how it goes. Yikes. I can do this!  

Words count. Words have meaning. Words on Facebook, Twitter and in the comments section of online publiations are searchable, fully visible, and can define you.

My friend Jayne Navarre at the Virtual Marketing Officer recently wrote this post, Facebook and Politics: Do they mix? Yes, no, maybe? taking on politics on our personal social media accounts.

For the record, I’m in the “maybe” column, as you can see from my comments in Jayne’s post.

As far as I am concerned, it’s not that you are doing it, it’s about how you do it. And here’s why (from Jayne’s post above):

Case on point. I had an opportunity yesterday to refer a professional and I had someone in mind. But, unexpectedly I found a Facebook post from that individual just before I made the call. It was a link to an inciting article, filled with negativity, along side his personal, polarizing comments. I immediately crossed this person off the list. I decided this referral would be wrong for my client—on several levels.

Will it make or break their bottom line, probably not. Still, it made me shiver a bit to realize thata single Facebook post—which is certainly within anyone’s right to free speech—impacted a business opportunity so decisively.

For the most part, people refer business and hire people they know, like and trust. Screw with one of those three and the stream of business you count on to pay your bills and feed your family might start slowing down and you will never know why.

I’m not saying we should never talk about politics. I’m a political junkie, and I enjoy a very thoughtful debate and discussion.

In fact, the sports dude and I had dinner with my sister and her boyfriend last night. It was a libertarian, an independent, and two progressive liberals chatting away. No voices were raised. No one was disrespected. We definitely did not agree on everything discussed. We avoided some topics entirely and on purpose.

We were most definitely spirited and passionate. And that’s the way it should be.

Now you take that “conversation” online, when you are alone, and at your computer, and all sense of decorum seems to get tossed overboard.

You share a meme or a video from a truly biased (right, left or “neutral” until you read the supporters) organization. You comment on that post what you really think. You tweet out a 100 character slam with a couple hashtags.

When you do that, no matter what you share, roughly 50% of the population is not going to agree with you. Add to that mix this truth: You, for the most part, have no idea which of your clients, referral sources, and influencers are in which 50%.

Sitting home alone, you don’t get to see the eye brows raising, the hiding of your posts, the unliking or unfriending of you all together.

A colleague called me last week to brainstorm on a speaker for a program he wanted to host for his firm. Almost in unison we agreed, “Well, you know so-and-so cannot be considered,” based on some online comments and actions.

The person in question just lost the ability to speak to their target audience, and they have NO idea that they were removed from consideration, from a prime opportunity, because of how they conduct themselves online.

I don’t care how locked down you think your Facebook page is, it really isn’t. And I don’t care if you think all of your friends agree with you, because they don’t.

Make no mistake, these things can happen IRL (in real life) as well:

You’re having a private conversation at lunch, and the new general counsel of that company you’re about to meet with later in the day is sitting at the table next to you. He recognizes the person you are talking to, they are acquaintances, which is how his attention made his way to your table and conversation. He is overhearing what you are saying, and he doesn’t like it. You just got bumped off the “go-to” list, and you’ll never understand why.

That’s what sharing an inflammatory meme, video, or article can do. It can show up in someone’s thread because when you share open content, others can see it as well, and can make judgments about you from that. This is often referred to as “listening with your eyes.”

I fully understand that when I comment on CNN’s Reliable Sources Facebook page (my favorite Sunday morning talk show, which I watch with my Twitter Politics List and political hashtags open on my Tweetdeck), everyone can see that, even though my personal Facebook page is closed.

When I share that meme from George Takei, everyone is privy to the fact that I did that.

When I Tweet, and add a hashtag, that is now part of a public conversation and is exposing my words to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people I don’t know.

Any reporter or publication can pick that up and quote me without me knowing about it, until the Google Alert I have set on my name pops up in my reader.

I’m not counseling you to not share or comment on politics, but to be aware of what you are sharing. When you are on a social network, liken it to an IRL open mike, or replying all to everyone at the office when you think you’re not.

Great advice today on CNN’s Reliable Sources from Roll Call’s Associate Politics Editor David Drucker. His comments were in response to the firing of Yahoo! News Washington Bureau Chief, David Chalian, and how reporters need to monitor themselves:

I don’t know how many times per week, I write up an e-mail with a snarky joke to somebody, or a tweet that’s snarky or sarcastic, and then I delete it. Because you have to be careful how your words are going to be interpreted and represented.

Before you hit “post” or “send,” take a look at that snarky e-mail, tweet, post or comment, think about it, and then hit the delete button.

No matter what we do, be it lawyer, legal marketing, consultant, chief, we are representing a brand: be it our firm’s brand, or our personal brand.

It is up to you to manage it.

So, my counsel: Don’t ignore the elections. For the next 60+ days it will be the news around the water cooler. You need to be aware and informed, even if you are not a political junky like me.

However, be respectful of all political opinions. Use judgment. Be observant of the people NOT chiming in on the conversation (those are the people who do not agree with you).

Treat online commentary the same as you would in-person converations. And, remember, you never, ever, ever know who is listening with their eyes.

At the end of the day it always comes back to who do you “know, like, and trust.” We don’t all have to agree politically, but we need to be respectful of differing opinions, as we all have to interact and work together.

Now, go out there and vote early, and vote often.

On Tuesday night I blogged here about an incident with my NOOK and my feeling that I, a loyal customer, wasn’t being taken care of by Barnes and Noble.

I got into a war of words with some loyal customers on Facebook who felt I should be satisfied with the offer I was being made by some mid-level managers (who were all very nice, by the way).

These managers were offering me the best “deal” that they were authorized to make. Which is fine.

But it wasn’t enough for me.

James Kane, whom you know I respect immensely from my post Why do some people stay, and some people leave?, talks about the difference between loyal and satisfied customers.

  • Loyalty is not a brand. It’s not about rewards programs. You cannot bribe someone to love you.
  • Loyalty is not about satisfaction. Dogs are loyal. Cats are satisfied.
  • Relationships with our clients is satisfaction. They are transactional. We do something, they pay us, and they are satisfied. They owe us NOTHING.
  • Satisfaction is a mood.
  • Loyalty is a behavior.
  • Satisfaction is the past. What you did for me yesterday.
  • Loyalty is about the future. What I will do for you tomorrow.

Loyal customers will promote you and sell your products for you. Satisfied customers will use your products because they don’t have a choice.

Sunday afternoon I was a loyal customer of NOOK.

By Tuesday evening I was a POd customer who might have been lost for good.

After speaking with Danielle in the Corporate Customer Relations Department this morning, who has resolved my issues with my NOOK 100%, I am back up to a “satisfied” customer.

So how does Barnes and Nobel return me to the loyal customer who has encouraged her immediate family to purchase,  or personally purchased for them, SIX different NOOK products in the past 18 months (2 NOOK first generation, 1 NOOK Simple Touch and 3 NOOK colors)?

Simple answer: I don’t know. I guess we’ll see how things go over the course of the next few months.

However, we’re off to a good start.

My new NOOK has already shipped, and I cannot wait to read the new Hunger Games book my daughter is lending me. Hopefully I’ll be finished with it in time for my new Sookie Stackhouse guilty pleasure coming out on May 1.

Either way, summertime reading is upon us, which is why I purchased my NOOK in the first place. For the e-ink. You can’t read from an iPad outdoors by the pool or at the beach.

ETA: please click here to expand the post and read my comment on how Danielle in Corporate Customer Service saved the day.

Steve Jobs died yesterday. I never met the man, but his impact on my life, and yours, has been monumental. Steve Jobs changed the world, like Thomas Edison. While Edison illuminated the world with electricity invented by someone else, Jobs connected it with the Internet created by someone else. The iPhone is one of those revolutionary, world shifting inventions. Without its clones and Droids, social media and social networking would never have taken off the way it has. The iPhone has literally allowed us to walk away from our desks with a computer in our hands. If it wasn’t for the iPhone, I don’t think Facebook would be the success it is today. I don’t know about you, but I’m not my most “social” at work or at home in front of my desktop computer (which is not a Mac) … it’s when I’m at a baseball game, or concert, or at Disneyland with my kids. It’s when I’m at a conference tweeting and sharing along with fellow attendees with that special hashtag. I look at who I am today, and I find myself to be a more open, honest and authentic person. I have blurred the lines of who I am at work, home and socially. That shy little girl who always lived inside of me is gone. I have comfort and ease in who I am because I allowed that person to grow and shine through. And, yeah, I credit a lot of that to social media … and Steve Jobs. So, Steve Jobs, may you rest in peace. May your family find comfort in that your achievements have brought this world closer together. You have enabled us to connect, and now hyper-connect. The world will never be the same because your dad, your husband, your son, your friend walked this earth. Thank you, #stevejobs. I don’t know who created this photo, but it’s been circulating on Facebook.

Like many other law firms, mine is buzzing in regards to the tragic death last week of Los Angeles Skadden associate Lisa Johnstone. I thought this post from Above the Law to be a very well balanced discussion, and I don’t want to discuss Miss Johnstone directly as I did not know her, and I believe her family deserves better respect during this time of grief. That being said, I cannot believe that when Joe Flom joined Skadden Arps as their first associate THIS is what they envisioned for their firm’s future. 100-billable hour weeks. No vacations. Associates dropping dead of heart attacks from the stress. By the time I had made the decision to become a lawyer, Skadden was the gold-standard that young law students aspired to join. Law firms around the country emulated Skadden and would come to envy their PPEP. In 1988, as I studied for my LSATs at a local LA-based law firm of the Skadden model, I made several observations that changed my life. Turns out I didn’t want to work some place where:

  • they catered in Thanksgiving Dinner;
  • pregnant women hid their pregnancies lest they not make partner;
  • fax machines were delivered to laboring women at the hospital;
  • little boys went running “Daddy! Daddy!” to the wrong man.

It wasn’t a hard decision for me. As the envelopes from the law schools started arriving, I just threw them in the trash. I put together a decent resume, and got a job with what is now The Brady Campaign and eventually became a lobbyist. I have had an incredible career that lead me back to the legal industry 13 years ago. My only regret, looking back, is that I didn’t know I had other options for a legal career. I didn’t know that there were other types of law firms, and other lines of legal work outside Big Law, corporate law, criminal law or the DA’s office. Sure there were divorce attorneys and family law, but does anyone go to law school to become one of those? My plan was corporate law. I wasn’t a Chinese studies minor, taking three years of Mandarin, for nothing. When it comes to our careers, it is bad enough when we sacrifice the majority of the hours in our day to our job, but it’s entirely another to sacrifice all the days of our lives. I’ve written on how there are other choices for legal marketers (“Can I get a side order of work-life balance with that job, please?“). I would argue that there are other choices for lawyers (without abandoning the law altogether). But first, you have to get over the idea that you are a victim of your circumstances, or student loans. One of the comments to the ATL post summed my thoughts up well:

Stop blaming the partners for long hours. We associates should blame ourselves for doing this to ourselves. We are the ones choosing to stay late throguh the eveings (sic), come in on the weekends, not say “no” to work and travel, etc. If we grow some balls and push back, the partners will be forced to staff our cases with additional associates; and if there are not enough associates, they will have to hire more. It’s the associates fault for setting the new standard of billing 2500 to 3000 hours per year. If we treat ourselves like shit, why should we expect others (i.e., partners) to treat us any better?

At 32-years old you should be celebrating life. Finding that life partner. Welcoming children. Buying your first house. You should not be dying from stress. Last week I had a moment when I questioned (for just a brief, brief moment) my exodus from Big Law. I have a healthy ego and pride. I admit that I liked the cache that came with saying “I work at (fill in the name of Big Law here).” And while my firm’s name has cache within our industry of practice, I do get inquisitive looks when I say I work at Barger & Wolen from some of my peers. But I don’t care. I LOVE my job. I really enjoy where I work and the people with whom I work side-by-side. I am so excited that we’re going to be conducting our first webinar. And, it’s going to be hosted by that partner who hated the new logo! This is HUGE for us! And we’re hiring associates. Three in total. I am even more excited that I didn’t have to work over the holiday weekend at all. Why??? Because the partners were all enjoying the holiday weekend as well. If anyone was working, they were most likely doing it poolside, or when it didn’t interrupt family and personal time. Partners in my firm go on vacation and they don’t take calls or work. And, when I am on vacation, they leave me be. I’m not saying people don’t work hard at my firm, oh, they do. But when the work is done life is allowed to take place. You don’t have to hide your family/personal life. What it comes down to is that we are all the architects of our own happiness. Mine comes from doing a job well, and celebrating the time outside of work with my family and friends. I talked a lot on my Facebook page that my friend KC Crain died a few weeks ago. He was a friend, father figure, and mentor in life to me. I had the privilege of being in the house the day he died. Sitting vigil, picking family and friends up from the airport. It wasn’t a sad and tragic day, but a celebration of a life well lived, and a beautiful and peaceful send-off. If you asked me what KC did professionally, I would have no idea what to say. He did a little of this, and a little of that. Yet, in the photo montage there was picture after picture of pure joy and happiness. A loving wife. Dear friends. Photos taken from around the worlds, and lots of golf! To me, he lived a life I aspire to live. It wasn’t about the used car he drove, or the rented townhouse in Westchester (Los Angeles) where you can feel the planes landing at LAX. It was about the room filled with more than 500 people who flew in from around the country to say goodbye at his memorial last week. The inspirational goodbyes from around the world captured on Facebook. My husband described the experience in his status update that day:

Attending a memorial service for, what appears to be, a much loved and well respected man, KC Crain. Hundreds of people are here to celebrate his life. I never met KC, but he obviously touched many people and was an inspiration to all who knew him. Here’s to you, KC!

And, isn’t that what we should strive for? To leave a void that cannot be filled when we depart this world? We are all expendable at work, but NONE of us should be expendable in our lives. It’s just not worth it.

Cruising down the Mississippi on our way to Mexico - New Orleans in the background
If we’re friends on Facebook, you know that the Sports Dude and I have a lot of fun. My kids have a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun. When we got back from our latest trip, I heard from several people that they live vicariously through our posts, and look forward to the pictures and things that we share. I was a bit taken aback by that. I enjoy sharing bits and pieces (and sometimes huge chunks) of my life, because I am so enjoying my life and I want to share that. It’s also easier than making individual calls to my mom, dad, three sisters, sister-in-law, brother and numerous nieces, nephews and friends, giving each of them an individual update. It’s simple, really. If you want to know what’s going on in my life, go to my Facebook page. So, when I saw this floating around Facebook recently, Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed, I had to pause and take the “test”:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Phew. I passed the test. To me, happiness and enjoying your life are choices. You can be miserable, or you can do something about it. Living your life fully and happily doesn’t mean quitting your job, leaving your marriage, getting into yoga and meditation, reconnecting with childhood friends, and rekindling a romance with your high school sweetheart. It did for me, but your path to happiness is unique and your own. Today I am happy because I choose to be. I am fully engaged in the lives of my kids, my husband and my friends. I love my job and my career. I have more energy to give to everything, because my energy isn’t being zapped by depression, and trying to “act” as if I am happy, engaged, etc. Yes, I will admit, the Sports Dude and I have a lot of fun. But we also deal with illness, sadness and heartache.

  • SD still needs a couple surgeries until he can be removed from the DL and back to work full time.
  • One of my dearest friend’s husband died last week after battling cancer.
  • On top of that, one of our mutual friends, who flew in to help this week, flew out last night as her brother died suddenly.

But through it all, there is a sense of purpose and peace amongst us all, because we have collectively chosen to live our lives to their fullest. So, please, enjoy my pictures, but go take some of your own. You don’t have to go on a cruise to to Mexico to have fun and live life to the fullest. You can hike to the top of the mountain, or down to the shore. You can find the simple things in a concert in the park, or strolling around a local zoo. I’m sure my posts will return to all things legal marketing when my heart is there, but just for today, I am much more than just a legal marketer. I am a mom, a wife, a friend, and I have no problems sharing those with the collective you. They are what differentiate me from the next person. And, isn’t that really what legal marketing is all about??