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Create Moments that Matter

After graduate school and prior to attending law school, I taught college-level communications and theater arts for four years. What I enjoyed and remember most during those early years in my career was witnessing firsthand when a student would have an “aha” moment—understanding a concept or delivering a speech to an appreciative audience or nailing a cameo role.

Our memories are made up of similar “aha” moments. Memorable moments. Think about your last vacation. What do you remember most? The amazing sunset, the crazy waiter, riding electric bikes through the city, taking the kids to that special show? Memorable moments.

Recently, I was reminded about the importance of “aha” moments while reading the book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. Everyone who attended the Wicker Park Client Symposium this past July received a copy.

According to the authors, our lives are shaped by what they call “defining moments.” Importantly, they suggest that instead of waiting for for these moments to occur serendipitously, we can create these moments ourselves. The book is filled with numerous stories about individuals and organizations creating such moments.

The book reminded me of an earlier work, written the same year I started my career in legal marketing and business development. Moments of Truth, written in 1987 by Jan Carlzon, was a memorable read for me. Carlzon was president of Scandinavian Airlines at the time, and its premise (not so unlike the Heath brothers’ work) emphasized that customer loyalty in the airline industry is based primarily on those moments when travelers are interacting with company representatives at the ticket counter, while boarding or during flights. For Carlzon, these personal exchanges were defining moments of customer truth.

Safe air travel was a given, of course. In like manner, clients of most law firms consider quality representation as table stakes.

How might we apply this idea of memorable, defined moments to law firm marketing and business development? How can we help our lawyers create such moments for their clients?

The Heath brothers suggest that creating a defining moment sometimes requires us to reject the “soul-sucking force of reasonableness” and identify four characteristics, one or more of which can create a defining moment:

  • Elevation – Experiences that rise above the routine or what the authors call “breaking the script.” Do something truly surprising at a client event.
  • Insight – Moments that “rewire” how we understand ourselves. Train your mentors how to effectively push their mentees to “trip over the truth” and take new chances. Mentors push; mentees stretch.
  • Pride – Moments that commemorate achievement. Break a challenge into milestones that help attain a broader goal. (Think Fitbit and 10,000 steps/day.)
  • Connection – Moments that are social like weddings, anniversaries and vacations. Spruce up staff meetings with surprise competitions and crazy challenges.

As we look for ways to create meaningful moments for our staff, our attorneys and our clients, I am reminded of the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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